John Drew, a successful businessman, was born in Connecticut in April 1817 and moved to Duluth in 1869. By the time he was elected mayor in 1876, Duluth was in a grave financial state. The city's debt was so large that in order to get any settlement, the city itself had to be dissolved and replaced by the village of Duluth. John Drew presided over this transition in 1877, and once the city had become a village he resigned his post as mayor. In 1879 Drew was again elected to office, this time as president of the village, and used his one year of office to help get Duluth back on its feet. He later enjoyed a successful furnishing and clothing business until his death on September 1, 1909. He had three children with his wife Emma H. Drew and was believed to be one of the oldest residents of Duluth when he died.