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A neglected Nellie

By DONNA O'NEILL
DCN Correspondent

Where Nellie Adeline Smith’s story ends is where mine begins; it was a Sunday in February with a high of zero.

I took a trip to Forest Hill Cemetery on Woodland Avenue, which is connected to Park Hill Cemetery.

The cemeteries are separated by class. Lower-class citizens were usually buried in Park Hill, while citizens of higher class were buried in Forest Hill.

After falling through the snow numerous times, I found a headstone in section next to an area filled with beautiful mausoleums. It was surnamed Smith with four names and dates on it.

One of the names was Nellie Adeline LeDuc. According to her death certificate, she was born out-of-state, Feb. 15, 1871.

In the late 1800s, Duluth still had a large amount of immigrants. Seeing as I could not find the place of Nellie’s death, I am led to assume that it was not only out of the state, but out of the country.

It is apparent that she had gotten married because she was buried under the last name Smith.

When I searched marriage certificates I found that L.H. Smith married Nellie Widger on Dec. 27, 1882. This means Nellie would have been 11 when they got married.

Additionally, the name LeDuc and Widger were changed, but that could have been a mistake.

Stated on Mrs. Nellie Adeline Smith’s death certificate was her mother’s maiden name, Kosten.

It is hard for me to grasp that her mother’s maiden name is public knowledge, whereas her birthplace is not.

Perhaps Nellie immigrated to America as a young child, settled Duluth and married L.H. Smith.

On Nov. 21, 1957, Nellie died in St. Louis County. She was buried at her final resting place in Forest Hill; I found her there 51 years later.


This biographical sketch was written for the Research for Reporters class at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Each student in the class went to a cemetery in Duluth, got a name from a grave marker, and then used a variety of primary and secondary sources to find out as much as possible about the person.