Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trevanion William Hugo (1848-1923), Trevanyon Levonia Matthews (1849-1944)

   This bearded fellow is Mr. Trevanion William Hugo,  a two-term Mayor of Duluth, Minnesota who was also a prominent figure in American Masonry. I first discovered T.W. Hugo on a historical roster of past Duluth mayors and during the course of research on his life, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a number of articles and pictures of him existed in some form or another. I wish this could be the story behind some of the other profiles on the site here, and considering the overall obscurity of Mr. Hugo, the wealth of articles mentioning him are a lasting testament to his reputation and public stature.
  Hugo was originally born in Boddinoc, Cornwall, England on July 29, 1848, the son of Nicholas Trevanion Kemp Hugo (1823-1906) and his wife Mary Rendle Marks. While Trevanion was still quite young the Hugo family resettled in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he attended the common schools. After leaving school, Hugo worked as a machinist for a number of years and later served as a marine engineer aboard numerous steamships on the Great Lakes. In September 1872 he married in Kingston to Ms. Jean Lanigan (1851-1902), with whom he had two sons, Victor Rendle Marks (1873-1913) and Rene Trevanion (1881-1924).
  Hugo resettled in Duluth, Minnesota with his family in 1881 and during the mid-1880s was employed as the chief engineer of the Consolidated Elevator Company. Hugo also used his engineering expertise in connection with the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, where he was a consulting engineer. 
  Sources of the time stress Trevanion Hugo's activity with the Masonic Fraternity, both in Canada and Minnesota. During his life, he was accorded numerous honors from this organization, including a stint as Grand Chancellor of the Supreme Council Scottish Rite of Free Masonry and later as the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Minnesota. He was also active in publishing Masonic literature and authored an index on the Morals and Dogma of Masonry
  In addition to his prolific Masonic activities, Trevanion Hugo was also a highly regarded public official in Duluth, serving as a member of the Duluth Public Library Board and later earned a term as the President of the Duluth School Board. While these activities garnered Hugo a high public profile, he didn't actively pursue political office until 1890, when he won a seat on the Duluth City Council. He later was named as the President of this Council and in 1900 was elected as the Mayor of Duluth, serving a term of four years. A newspaper photo mentioning Hugo's tenure as mayor (as well as his service as a Republican National Convention delegate) is posted below.

              This picture of  Hugo appeared in the March 17, 1904 edition of the Minneapolis Journal.

    After his mayoral term, Hugo helped compile and edit the first volume of the History of Duluth and St. Louis County, which was published in 1910. The portrait of Hugo at the beginning of this profile was discovered in the aforementioned book. He returned to the political stage in 1920 when he was named as the acting Mayor of Duluth, upon the resignation of Clarence R. Magney (1883-1962). Hugo served out the rest of Magney's unexpired term into early 1921 when a successor (Samuel Snively) was elected.
  Trevanion William Hugo died at age 75 on February 27, 1923, as a result of "a relapse from a slight attack of influenza". The Duluth News Tribune memorialized Hugo as a "cultured gentleman in the best American meaning of the word" and that "few men better deserved the title of useful citizen."

                     This portrait of Trevanion Hugo appeared in the 1902 edition of "Men of Minnesota".

  In an interesting update to this article..... on March 4, 2012, a previously unknown politician was discovered who also has the given name "Trevanion", albeit with a slight variation in spelling. Read on to find out more!

  This newly discovered gentleman is Trevanyon Levonia Matthews, a resident of Cass County, Illinois who served one term in his state's House of Representatives. Matthews (some sources spell his name with only one "t") later relocated to Nebraska, where he gained additional notoriety as a United States Marshal. Earlier today I discovered his name in the Biographies of the State Officers and the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, which was published in 1883. This book offers up the only available biography on Matthews and the majority of the information in this addition comes from that source.
  He was originally born in the town of Florence, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1849. Matthews migrated to Cass County, Illinois in the mid-1860s and eventually removed to the town of Virginia in 1876. It was here that he became apprenticed to a carriage manufacturing outfit and engaged in this vocation for several years. Also during this time he began learning the printing trade and in the late 1870s became the editor of the Virginia Gazette newspaper.
  During his career as a publisher and printer, Matthews became active in local political circles and eventually mounted an unsuccessful campaign for county circuit clerk. His political fortunes changed in 1882 when he was elected by the citizens of Cass County as a Republican to the Illinois State House of Representatives. During his two year term, Matthews held a seat on the House Committees of Revenue, Canal and River Development, and Fish and Game. A roster from the 1883 legislative session (in which Matthews served) is posted below.

  Trevanyon L. Matthews resettled in Nebraska sometime in the 1890s and in 1899 was named as United States Marshal for Nebraska. Little references could be found on Matthew's tenure in this position, but it is known that he left this post in 1905. Nothing else is known of Matthews's life after this point, with the exception of his death, which occurred in Fremont, Nebraska on June 2, 1944. One can note that Matthews reached the great age of 95 and died over sixty years after serving in the Illinois Legislature! The portrait of him above was discovered in the 1904 work 1854-1904 Nebraskans, available on Google books.


  1. The name Trevanion has become traditional to the Hugo family who were descended from one of most ancient and wealthy families in Cornwall, England - the Trevanions. Trevanion William Hugo's G.G.G.Great grandfather was Richard Trevanion, governor of Pendennis Castle in Cornwall. They can trace their lineage back to King John and beyond.

  2. I found another Trevanion: "Trevanion Theodore Teel, Confederate Army officer and lawyer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 18, 1824, the son of Dr. Benjamin van der Mark Teel and Ann Gilmore (Weir) Teel. Teel's company was one of the last Confederate units to abandon New Mexico and far West Texas. After the war Teel returned to the practice of law and gained great prominence in criminal defense. He claimed to have defended more than 700 clients charged with capital offenses and to have saved them all from execution. He became a Mason in 1849 but was expelled from the lodge in 1854."