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Fayette County, Iowa
Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa
Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of
Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
Robert Gaynor, deceased, deserves mention as one who took an active part in building up the business interests of Fayette. He was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, September 3, 1826, but his ancestors were not of Irish birth, his father being a Scotchman and his mother an English lady. After the death of his father in 1847, Robert, his mother and the other members of the family crossed the Atlantic to Canada. In his boyhood he had been apprenticed to learn the mercantile business, and after clerking until he had accumulated a small capital he commenced business on his own account. In Canada he wedded Abigail Van Lone, who bore him five children. Having continued business in the Dominion until 1855, he removed to Bremer County, Iowa, took up land and for a short time tried farming. Being wholly unacquainted with that calling, it was not congenial so he again turned his attention to his old pursuit. In 1859 he came to Fayette where he engaged in merchandising until 1878. He was a man of splendid business ability, of unquestioned integrity, and by industry and judicious investment he became one of the substantial citizens of the county.
In 1865, Mr. Gaynor was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died in November. Subsequently he married Mrs. Harriet E. Waite, who was born in Genesee County, N. Y., December 21, 1835, and is a daughter of Dr. Cyrus W. and Almira (Bigelow) Tennant. The grandfather of Mrs. Gaynor, Dr. Abel Tennant, wedded Mary Wightman, and emigrated from Connecticut to Herkimer County, N. Y., where they lived for a number of years and then removed to Genesee County, where he lived to be nearly one hundred years old. Dr. Cyrus Tennant was born in Herkimer County, N. Y., in 1811, and died May 9, 1847. He was a man of more than ordinary ability and professional skill, and his reputation and practice extended over a wide range of territory. His widow who now makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. Gaynor, is a native of New York State, where her birth occurred May 9, 1815. After the death of her husband, she joined her parents in Wisconsin in 1848, when Mrs. Gaynor was thirteen years old. Time passed and the maiden became a woman. In Kenosha County she wedded her first husband, Morris Waite, by whom she had two children, one yet living, Nellie. In 1859 the couple removed to Chickasaw County, Iowa, where Mr. Waite engaged in merchandising and money loaning. Competent in business affairs, he made a success at whatever he undertook. His death occurred in 1861. His widow subsequently became the wife of Robert Gaynor, by whom she had three children: George C., one of the leading and enterprising business men of Fayette; Hattie V., and one now deceased.
In political sentiment Mr. Gaynor was a Republican and was interested in the success of his party, but never sought public office. However, he was thrice honored with an election to the office of Mayor of Fayette, and served his fellow-townsmen very acceptably. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for many years held some church office. The cause of education found in him a warm friend, he being favorable to all institutions of learning, especially to the Upper Iowa University of which he was a Trustee for some time. He died August 7, 1882, leaving a large circle of friends to mourn his loss. The early training of Mrs. Gaynor by religious parents, did much to shape her character, and side by side she worked by her husband in the Methodist Church, to which she still gives her encouragement and support, doing what she can for its upbuilding.
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