Beautifully engraved certificate from the Ahumada Lead Company
in 1926. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of men working inside of a mine. This item is hand signed by the company's vice-president and assistant secretary and is
over 85 years old. The certificate was issued to Elisabeth Mannering Congdon, the last surviving child of Chester and Clara Congdon who was murdered in the Glensheen Estate and is said to haunt it.
Elisabeth Mannering Congdon (1895 - 1977) was a millionaire resident of Duluth, Minnesota who became famous after she and her nurse were found murdered on June 27, 1977.
Elisabeth Mannering Congdon was born to Chester Adgate Congdon, and his wife, Clara Hesperia Bannister Congdon on April 22, 1894 in Duluth, Saint Louis County, Minnesota. Her father was considered the richest man in Minnesota upon his death in 1916. Elisabeth later inherited this mining fortune, which amounted to over US$40 million at the time of her death in 1977.
In 1932, Elisabeth, a single woman in her thirties, adopted a little girl and named her Marjorie Mannering Congdon. Marjorie was always the black sheep of the family, as she constantly borrowed money from her mother and married numerous times. Early in her life Marjorie was diagnosed a sociopath, was put into institutions and for a time appeared to be improving. Marjorie's second marriage was to a man named Roger Sipe Caldwell. She and Roger kept asking Elisabeth for money, reportedly so they could realize their dream of a horse ranch. Marjorie and Roger, however, were never satisfied. Marjorie had seven children and she spoiled them with luxuries, the majority of which were furnished by Elisabeth.
On June 27, 1977 Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse Velma Pietila were found murdered. Pietila had been beaten to death with a candlestick, and Elisabeth was found suffocated in her bed. The motive was unclear at the time because few valuables were looted from the room.
Marjorie Congdon was to receive $8 million from her mother at the time of her mother's death. In addition, Marjorie had authored a paper saying Roger was to receive about $3 million of her share. This paper was written three days before Elisabeth's death. This apparently was the motive. Marjorie and Roger were having financial difficulties and it is believed Majorie conspired against her mother for the inheritance.
The authorities never proved the guilt of Marjorie and her husband, though they had substantial reason to do so. Evidence included a letter and a ring of Elisabeth's that Marjorie was found wearing after her mother's death.
Years later, Marjorie was sent to Perryville prison in Arizona on July 19, 1993 on insurance fraud and arson. Roger's worsening mental illness brought him to suicide a few years earlier on May 18, 1988. Marjorie was released from Arizona State Prison on January 5, 2004 and is said to be living in or around Ajo, Arizona.
In 1905, Elisabeth's father Chester began working on Glensheen, their infamous 7.6 acre estate in Duluth, Minnesota. It took three years to build, with 39 rooms, and sported a 17th-century look. Over two million visitors and tourists have visited the estate since it was opened to the general public in 1979. In 1968 the estate was given to the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
It is rumored that Elisabeth Congdon still haunts her old estate.
Glensheen, Duluth's American Castle, as showcased on Art and Entertainment's America's Castles, is a 7.6 acre estate built between 1905-08 by Chester A. Congdon. The estate's gently sloping terrain may have enticed Mr. Congdon and his wife, Clara, to select this site for their family home. The area was heavily wooded then and the lake shore was rugged. Yet they saw the potential and an idea for a family home evolved into a formal estate.
Glensheen resembles an English, early seventeenth century country estate. The focal point of English estates were the manor house which were located near the center of the property. Formal gardens dotted the grounds and added color.
What is phenomenal about Glensheen is that, to this day, it closely resembles the way it looked when the Congdon family first moved in on November 24, 1908. The majority of the furnishings are original to the time the estate was first occupied. However there are items to the collection that were added while the family lived in the home. Glensheen is historically important because of its original condition. A significant part of Duluth's history has been preserved at Glensheen and is available for you to experience.
In 1968, Glensheen was given to the University of Minnesota by the heirs of Chester and Clara Congdon. The goal was to preserve Glensheen and use it for "public pursuits which might not otherwise be available because of growing pressure to budget demands upon public and educational institutions."
On July 28, 1979, the estate was opened to the public as a museum. Since then over 2 million people have experienced a visit to Glensheen.
The 7.6-acre, 1900-era neo-Jacobean estate built by Chester Congdon ranks among the state's most beautiful pieces of real estate. Congdon and his wife, Clara, designed this mansion for their large family. Glensheen's 39 rooms still have many of the original furnishings and boast stunning views of Lake Superior. Tour two or all four floors. There are guided and unguided grounds tours, including a bedroom-slipper tour, for which you wear slippers and walk behind the ropes.
Most visitors go to see the inside of the gorgeous old house, but some come because it's the site of one of the state's most notorious murders. In 1977, heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse were bludgeoned and smothered to death in a case of insurance fraud. Fans of the paranormal rank the mansion among Minnesota's haunted houses.
On June 27, 1977, an intruder entered Glensheen, the stately manor built along the Lake Superior shore by Chester A. Congdon, patriarch of one of Duluth, Minnesota’s most generous and respected families. Before leaving with a basketful of stolen jewelry, the intruder used a satin pillow to smother Chester’s last surviving daughter, Elisabeth Congdon, after killing the heiress’s valiant nurse, Velma Pietila, by beating her with a candlestick—crimes set in motion by a hastily hand-written will penned just days before the killings.
Elisabeth Mannering Congdon, the last surviving child of Chester and Clara Congdon, who built Glensheen on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. Elisabeth and nurse Velma Pietila were murdered in Glensheen June 27, 1977. Elisabeth’s son-in law, Roger Caldwell, was convicted of two counts of murder. Her adopted daughter Marjorie who she adopted in 1932 was acquitted.
History from University of Minnesota, Duluth and Wikipedia.