John Roy Panton


John Roy Panton

Elgin, Moray, Scotland
Death 1932 (aged 69–70)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Section G, Lot 73 Space 4
Memorial ID 66740247 View Source

John Roy Panton was born at Bridgend, Duffus, Moray (near Elgin) Scotland September 24,1862 to William Panton (1811-?)and Mary Roy Panton (1821-1917)landowners originally from Urquhart parish, east of Elgin. The farm remains in the family today.

John attended school in Moray, Scotland. He began his working life in Scotland as an assistant draper. John immigrated to United States in 1881 departing on the Eturia out of Liverpool, England.

John Panton began his career in the United States as a merchant first working in St. Louis, MO for Marshall Fields; and then, at Donaldson's in Minneapolis, MN. John moved to rapidly growing Minneapolis by 1885, where he for two years appears in that city's directories as a clerk for William Donaldson & Company. Donaldson was another Scottish immigrant. Soon, John Panton found opportunity in the rapidly growing city of Duluth, MN. The result was the first department store in Duluth-Panton and Watson. His partner, Mr. Watson, had been a colleague at Donaldson's. The store's elegant culture came under the influence of Donaldson's and Marshall Field in Chicago, Ill. and St. Louis, MO (that same influence from which Selfridge's of London took its cue).

John married Sophia McDonald (1868 Germany - 1939 Portland, OR)of (Red Jacket)Calumet, MI on Feb. 19, 1889 in Calumet (Red Jacket), MI. (see: Red Jacket Silver Mine)John traveled to Europe in his business including with his wife, Sophia, to the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, France.

The history of Panton's success in Duluth is best told in a summary timeline from the University of Minnesota Duluth:

"In 1887, John Panton of Morayshire, Scotland, and Joseph Watson of Belfast, Ireland rented a 1,500 square foot space at 1st Avenue West and Superior Street. The original store name was Panton and Watson. Success resulted in a new building of their own, completed in 1892. It was called "The Glass Block," a term used for dry goods and department stores at the time. Within eight months, they moved to a 5,750 square foot, two floors and a basement space at 188 West Superior Street. In the spring of 1893, a week long celebration marked the firm's opening at its long held location of 128 West Superior Street with 11,500 square feet of space with two floors above street level and two below. It used a Martin Cash Carrier Cable System that carried sales slips and money from departments to a cashier who made change and sent it back in a wire basket; there were twelve arc lights on each floor; and a stock of merchandise valued at $300,000. In 1896 Mr. Watson retired and William White of the L. S. Donaldson Company of Minneapolis became a partner, forming The Panton and White Company.

Three floors were added in 1902 for a total of six, plus a sub-basement for stock.

The Pantons celebrated success by building a grand house at 1931 East Second Street (Sellwood House) in 1903: Panton was considered one of the leading figures in the city's business and social world, and a home he built here was at that time one of the showhouses of Duluth."

The architects Kees and Colburn designed the two-and-a-half story house, described as Neoclassical in an architectural resources survey, and as "Colonial Revival as Georgian mansion" in Guide to the Architecture of Minnesota. It is imposing, partially due to the site, which slopes up from the street. In any case, one looks up at "two-story Ionic columns, rounded-arched dormers, and a large two-story front porch." The house includes twenty-one rooms, an elevator, a separate carriage house and furnace room connected by tunnel to the main structure, and formal gardens.

The building has been surveyed from architectural preservation perspectives at least twice, and among the phrases used were "an exceptional landmark of irreplaceable value," and "it represents the work of a master architectural firm."

John Panton was a good and kind man - also, a great outdoorsman. He pursued his outdoor passion with many adventures to Isle Royale, Michigan, Canada, Scotland and the Northwest United States. He was acquainted with James J. Hill and Diamond Jim Brady.

John Panton sold Panton and White in 1912. He was clearly not ready to retire or was working his retirement? John Panton opened four more stores: The John Panton Company in Seattle, Washington in 1912 on Second Street between today's Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market, The Panton Merchantile in Bellingham, Washington, Panton Dry Goods in Davenport, Iowa just two blocks from the Mississippi River; finally, in San Pedro, a town then adjacent to Los Angeles, the store as described in the 1923 City Directory:

John Panton Co.
Ladies Ready to Wear, Ladies Furnishings and Millinery
399 W 6th Tel 1423

John Panton closed this final store, moved to Alahambra/N. Hollywood and continued working as a sales representative of ladies apparel until he passed away suddenly in 1932. Alhambra was, in the early 20th century, worlds away from what it is today.

John Panton is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, California with his sister, Jean Panton McLaughlin, at the McLaughlin/Shopp grave sites.

Survivors were at the time of his passing: Wife, Sophia MacDonald Panton, Hollywood, CA.; Three children: Margaret Ruth Panton Chalmers (Alexander Jessiman)(1892 Duluth -1977 Portland, OR), Dorothea Roy Panton Phoenix (John)(1897 Duluth- 1978 Davenport, IA), John McDonald Panton,Jr.(1894 Duluth-1934 New York);Grandchildren, Margaret, Nancy and Mary Chalmers, Portland, OR; Dorothea, John Phoenix, Davenport, IA; Sisters, Margaret Reid Petrie (George)Elgin,Moray,Scotland, Jean Panton McLaughlin ,Niece, Helene Shopp, Los Angeles,CA.

The writer wants to thank Steve Heimerle for his thorough research and historic text of the MacDonald, Holst and Panton families provided to complete this short biography.

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  • Created by: APC
  • Added: 10 Mar 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 66740247
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Roy Panton (24 Sep 1862–1932), Find a Grave Memorial ID 66740247, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by APC (contributor 47456797) .