Mystery Photo #81: Markus Family, Christmas 1893

Some mystery photos are less mysterious than others. Often cabinet card photos have nothing written on the back, but this particular card comes with info suggesting the subjects are William Frederick Markus and his family. The photo was likely shot 125 years ago, around Christmas of 1893.

One thing that’s fairly easy to find on the internet about William F. Markus is that in the early 1900s he was the building appraiser for the city of Duluth. In 1917 he won a Minnesota Supreme Court case to force payment of his salary for a six-month period when he was suspended from his position.

Below are a pair of short Duluth Evening Herald stories regarding Markus.

Nov. 1, 1901: Free employment bureau to begin then

The free labor employment office established by the city council will begin its first operations at an office in the Armory next Monday morning. The commission held a meeting yesterday and discussed the plans for opening the office and William F. Markus was elected manager and secretary. Mr. Markus entered on the duties of his office this morning and will look over the situation and get ready for the opening of business next week. He will not, for the present, at least, have any assistant in the office work.

Nov. 1, 1917: Markus wins case in supreme court

The state supreme court today sustained the decision of Judge J. D. Ensign in district court in regard to the suit brought by William F. Markus against the city of Duluth to force payment of his salary as city building appraiser between the time he was suspended by the city assessor and the time the civil service board acted on the discharge. Judge Ensign held that the city was liable for the salary from April 1, 1916, until Oct. 1, the time between the discharge and its ratification by the board. The salary and interest amounted to about $600.

The children in this photo are certainly deceased, but living descendants are likely out there somewhere. Merry Christmas to them.

1 Comment


about 6 years ago

Lizzie, his wife, was called a pioneer settler of West Duluth in her obit. She died of Bright's Disease in 1914. The girl child is Leola Louise Markus, who taught high school at the Industrial School, and the elder boy is William F. (who later fought in WWI). The younger boy is George E.

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