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John S Gaston


Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 5/8/2010 at 18:29:52

With Boone as a railway center, naturally a considerable proportion of its citizens are connected with the railway service, among whom are those whose efficiency has been acknowledged in promotion by the railway corporation which they serve. One of these is John S Gaston, a passenger conductor on the Northwestern between Boone and Omaha. He ahs been a conductor since 1890, while his connection with railroad work dates from 1883, more than three decades ago. His first position was that of brakeman, while later he became freight conductor, and in 1904 was made passenger conductor. He was born upon a farm near Traer, Tama county, Iowa January 3, 1859 a son of Hug Ford Gaston, a native of Muskingum county, Ohio , born n August 1810. While still a resident of the Buckeye state he married Elizabeth Stokes, of Wellsville, Ohio a daughter of John and Martha (Van Tilberg) Stokes. On leaving his native state Hugh Ford Gaston removed to Iowa with his wife and child, settling in Tama county. The journey was made by wagon and they crossed the Mississippi river at Muscatine. Pioneer conditions existed in the state, where the work of progress and improvement had scarcely been begun. They settled among the Indians in Tama county and the father purchased 160 acres of government land at a dollar and a quarter per acre. His farm was situated in Perry township and was mostly prairie land. He later acquired and adjoining tract of 160 acres of land for which he gave a team of oxen. This was virgin soil, and with characteristic energy he began to turn the sod and prepare the place for cultivation. He built a house of logs and it was in that pioneer cabin that John S Gaston was born. Later the primitive home was replaced by a frame dwelling and this in turn gave way before a thoroughly modern two story frame residence containing ten rooms, one of the attractive modern homes of the twentieth century. About fifteen years ago Mr Gaston retired from active life and removed to Traer, where he is still living, active, hale and hearty and possessing a most retentive memory. He is one of the honored pioneer settlers of his part of the state and has ever been acknowledged a citizen of worth. He was one of the builders of the congregational church, and he has always given stalwart support to the republican party. His wife also survives and is now eighty-four years of age. Theirs is the remarkable record of having been married sixty-six years and having never been separated for a single day. In their family were the following children: Etta at home, James who died at the age of forty-one years John S, Ella now the wife of Professor O P Berber of Cornell, Iowa, Mattie who died at the age of twenty-one years, Willis living at Reinbeck, Iowa, Wallace who makes his home at Traer, Denver Dayton at home, and Zay the wife of George Franzenberg of Tacoma, Washington.
Born and reared on the old home farm, John S Gaston was a pupil in the public schools of Traer between the ages of five and fifteen years. With the family he shared in the usual experiences, hardships and privations of pioneer life, at a time when Waterloo was the nearest town to the Gaston homestead. The entire country was new and the land unbroken, and there was no railroad until the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern was built through Traer. Even in his boyhood days Mr Gaston was deeply interested in the development and progress of the district. After leaving the public schools he continued his education at the Tilford Academy in Vinton, Iowa and also spent a year at Cornell College in Mount Vernon. When about eighteen years of age he finished his studies and later remained upon the home farm until he attained his majority. About 1882 or 1883 he came to Boone and soon afterward entered the employ of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company in eh capacity of brakeman. After serving in that way for two years he was called home to take charge of the farm, for his father had been elected county treasure of Tama county and needed the assistance of his son in the work of the fields that he might be thus relieved to take charge of the duties of his official position. In 1887 John S Gaston returned to Boone and once more entered the employ of the Northwestern as brakeman, continuing as such until June 1, 1890, when he was promoted to freight conductor, his run being between Boone and Council Bluffs. He ahs sine served as passenger conductor and is a popular official of the road because of his unfailing courtesy and obliging manner and his ready and willing assistance to the many patrons of the road.
On November 22, 1888, Traer, Iowa, the Rev. Bingham pronounced the words that made John S Gaston and Miss Helena Schroeder husband and wife. Mrs Gaston was born in Marne, Holstein, Germany, June 19, 1865 and was brought to the Untied States when a year old by her parents, who located in Davenport, Iowa. When she was five years of age they went to Toledo, Tama county, and when she became a maiden of twelve summers a removal was made to Traer, Iowa, where she continued her education in the public school. Her father Peter Schroeder, was educated in Germany and served for three years in the German army. He afterward learned and followed the masonís trade in his native country, but thinking that he might have better opportunities in the new world, he crossed the Atlantic to the United States, as previously stated, accompanied by his wife and two children. He was the only one of that branch of the Schroeder family to come to America. He followed the masonís trade for a time after reaching the new world, but ultimately turned his attention to other pursuits and is now a retired farmer living in Davenport. Unto him and his wife were born the following children: Mrs Gaston, Charles who makes his home in Spencer, Iowa, William deceased, Henry a practicing physician of Braymer, Missouri, Peter a physician of Davenport, Iowa, and Emma the wife of Charles Anderson of Peoria, Illinois.
Unto Mr and Mrs Gaston have been born three children. Mildred born November 18, 1889, in Boone, attended the public schools until graduated with the class of 1908. She then pursued a four yearsí course in Ames College, taking domestic science, and for a year and a half she was a teacher at Ida Grove. On February 11, 1914, she became the wife of John M Gould and resides in Cleburne, Texas. Mary Elizabeth, born November 13, 1894, was graduated form the Boone high school with the class of 1913 and is now a teacher in the Ericson school of Boone county. Donald S born April 17, 1899 is a high school pupil in Boone. The record of the children indicates the interest of the parents in education and their efforts to give their daughters and son excellent advantages along that line. In politics Mr Gaston is a stalwart republican, believing firmly in the principles of that party. He belongs to the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen and to the Boone Lodge, No 79, F & A M. He and his family are consistent and faithful members of the Presbyterian church and they occupy a pleasant ho eat No 204 Tama street, which Mr Gaston purchased eight years ago. Fidelity to duty is one of his strong characteristics, his ability has developed through effort and his energy and industry have made him one of the trustworthy representatives of railway activity in Boone.

1914 Boone County History Book


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