IAGenWeb Project

 Iowa History

       An IAGenWeb Special Project










A name known to everyone who has the slightest acquaintance with the business history of Sioux City, Iowa, is that of the late Fred Laurine Eaton, whose death, on July 20, 1925, was considered an irreparable loss to the community.  He filled a large place in the commercial and financial life of the city, and as an energetic, far-sighted man, whose judgment and discretion were seldom at fault and whose influence made for the substantial upbuilding of the locality honored by his citizenship, he earned a reputation second to none of his contemporaries.  Fred L. Eaton, who at the time of his death was president and general manager of the Sioux City Stock Yards Company, was born at Calais, Washington county, Vermont, on the 10th of July, 1859, and was a son of Arthur G. and Ellen M. (Chase) Eaton.  He was the scion of a long line of sterling American ancestors, the progenitor of the family in this country having been John Eaton, who came from England in 1635.  He settled first in Watertown Massachusetts, but soon afterwards moved to Dedham, Massachusetts, and is known in the Eaton genealogy and in the records of old colonial families as John Eaton of Dedham.  The subject of this memoir was of the ninth generation in direct descent from this ancestor.  Arthur G. Eaton was a farmer in Washington county, Vermont, and became a soldier in the Union army during the Civil war, giving up his life in the service, when but twenty-six years of age.  His widow later became the wife of John R. Seaver.

From his sixth year, Fred Laurine Eaton was reared at Montpelier, Vermont, making his home with his maternal grandfather, Nelson A. Chase, who was a farmer, but later turned his attention to manufacturing.  He was made judge of the probate court and afterwards became registrar of the probate court, which office he held to the time of his death, at the age of eighty-two years.  Fred L. Eaton was given the advantage of a good public school education and during these years served before and after school hours as a newspaper carrier.  Later he obtained work in a book store and in 1877 secured a clerkship in the First National Bank of Montpelier.  By faithful and intelligent service he worked his way up to the position of teller and remained in that institution until 1881, when he went to Barre, Vermont, to become cashier of the National Bank of Barre.  He filled that position four years and in 1885 returned to the First National Bank of Montpelier as cashier, thus serving until 1894.  He then resigned and came to Sioux City, Iowa, as secretary and general manager of the Credit Commutation Company, which had been organized among the creditors of the Sioux City corporations which had failed in the disastrous panic of 1893, the aim of the organization being the rehabilitation of these concerns and the consequent protection of the investments of the incorporators, representing some four million dollars.  In the course of the readjustment an uncompleted bridge across the Missouri river was finished, at an approximate cost of a million dollars, which money was largely furnished by the creditors.  A new company was formed known as the Combination Bridge Company, of which Mr. Eaton was made secretary and treasurer.  He remained identified with that company continuously after that, though the bridge was later owned by a new company, the Missouri River Bridge Company, of which also Mr. Eaton was secretary and treasurer.

In 1894 the Sioux City Stock Yards Company was formed by a reorganization of the old Union Stock Yards Company, whose property the new company took over in 1895.  On the reorganization, Mr. Eaton was made secretary and treasurer, serving as such until 1900,  when he relinquished the treasurership.  In 1901 he was made general manager and in 1903 the office of president was conferred on him, so that he served as chief executive officer and general manager for twenty-two consecutive years, his service as such being terminated only by his death.  Baring his administration of affairs for the stock yards company he attained national recognition as one of the most capable men in the stock yards industry.  Many of the most important improvements in the yards here were adopted at his suggestion and in a large measure he realized his ambitions in the development of these yards, so that Sioux City became the second largest hog market in the world, it being generally conceded by live stock and packing plant experts that great credit was due Mr. Eaton for making Sioux City the market center that it is today.

In 1895 Mr. Eaton was one of the organizers of the Live Stock National Bank, of which institution he was made vice president and a member of the board of directors.  He was chosen president of the Sioux City Terminal Railway Company on its organization in 1907, continuing in that capacity until his death.  He was president of the Iowa Rendering Company, president of the Hawkeye Land Company, vice-president of the General Manufacturing Company and vice-president of the Sioux City Telephone Company.  In October, 1924, Mr. Eaton was elected president of the Sioux Falls (S. D.) Stock Yards Company on its reorganization, and just prior to his death was actively engaged in the development of the stock yards industry there.  When the Sioux City Grain Exchange was organized he was elected its first president, serving in that capacity during the early period of the development of that organization.  For twenty-one years prior to his voluntary retirement in 1924, Mr. Eaton had served as president of the Interstate Fair Association, being then elected chairman of its board of directors.  His accomplishment in that position gave him a place of prominence among nationally-known officials of expositions.  His development of the Boys' and Girls' club programs, and of the live stock exposition, both of which were leading features of the Interstate Fair, had earned for him commendation from both the state and federal departments of agriculture.  At the time of his death he was one of the five remaining members of the National Association of Fair Officials, organized in 1907.  He was secretary of the first Chamber of Commerce organization in the city, and at the time of his death was vice-president and a director of that organization, which he had previously served as president.  Considerable work was accomplished by Mr. Eaton in the development of inland waterways and in recognition of his eminent services in this direction he was made, just prior to his last illness, chairman of the Missouri river committee of the National Chamber of Commerce, and a director of the Mississippi Valley Association.  In recognition of his magnificent work for the development of Sioux City, he was awarded the Kiwanis Club medal for 1923, as the citizen who had done most for the city.

On October 15, 1884, at Barre, Vermont, Mr. Eaton was united in marriage to Miss Lillian Gale, who was born and reared at Barre, and they became the parents of two children:  Lieut. Col. Stanley Gale Eaton, of Sioux City; and Dorothy, who is the wife of Edward C. Palmer, vice president of the Palmer Candy Company, of Sioux City.  Stanley G. was married to Miss Sibyl Wright, of Montpelier, Vermont.  The mother of these children died in 1917.  Fraternally Mr. Eaton was a member of Aurora Lodge No. 2, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of Montpelier, Vermont, to which lodge his grandfather had also belonged; King Solomon Chapter, No. 7, Royal Arch Masons, of Montpelier;  Montpelier Council, No. 4, Royal and Select Masters; Mt. Zion Commandery, No. 9, Knights Templar, of which he was a past commander; Sioux City Consistory, No. 5, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite; Abu-Bekr Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, with which order he had been identified for thirty-eight years; and Sioux City Lodge No. 112, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.  He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of Veterans, the Sioux City Country Club, the Morningside Country Club and the Sioux City Boat Club.  His religious connection was with the First Unitarian church.  In 1894, while still in Montpelier, Mr. Eaton was appointed a member of the staff of Governor Urban A. Woodbury, of Vermont, in which connection he gained the honorary title of Colonel.  He was division commander of the Sons of Veterans of Vermont.  He had also served several years as city treasurer of Montpelier.  Possessing a broad, inquiring mind, he was keenly alive to all the issues and problems of the day.  Though modest and unassuming and easily approached, he possessed a strong and vigorous personality and in the best sense of the term was a leader of men and well fitted to manage important enterprises.  Few were more sought for counsel than he and the correctness of his opinions in practical matters was almost proverbial.  By a straight-forward and honorable course in every relation of life, he won the hearty admiration of the people of his adopted city and earned a reputation not only as an enterprising, progressive man of affairs, but also as a broad-minded, charitable and upright citizen.


M. M. Elk, one of the substantial business men of Galva, has made his own way in the world and represents that type of well bred foreign born American citizen whose inherited tendencies of industry, enterprise and integrity have contributed so largely toward the development and prosperity of our nation.  A native of Sweden, he was born March 31, 1854, and his parents, Morton Larson and Annie Johnson, were lifelong residents of that country.  They had seven children:  Lewis, Peter and Ernest, all of whom are deceased; M. M.; Beatrice, the widow of Nesls Johnson, of Sweden; Johanna, who still resides in that country; and Annie, who has passed away.

M. M. Elk was educated in his native land and in 1870 severed home ties, responding to the lure of the new world.  His brother had preceded him to the United States in 1869 and both adopted American names after coming to this country.  Our subject was engaged in farming near Princeton, Illinois, for seven years.  In 1876 his brother came to Ida county, Iowa, acquiring a quarter section of land, and he was later joined by M. M. Elk, who was a partner in the transaction.  For several years they were associated in the operation of the place, which they converted into a fine ranch, supplied with many modern improvements.  M. M. Elk was identified with agricultural activities of that district until 1917, when he purchased land near Galva, and is now the owner of a desirable farm of two hundred and ninety-four acres.  He utilizes scientific methods and through systematic work has brought his land to a high state of productivity.  He is also president of the galva Union Elevator and a salacious, farsighted business man, well able to cope with modern commercial conditions.

On February 18, 1890, Mr. Elk married Miss Ida Jacobsen, and eight children were born of their union, namely; Mable, who is the wife of Ray Walter, of Harlan, Iowa; Florence, a resident of Long Beach, California; Clarence C., cashier of the State Bank of Galva; Lewis, Vernie and Ruby, all of whom are deceased; Harold, who lives in Galva; and Ethel, who is engaged in teaching at Arlington, Illinois.

Mr. Elk reserves the right to vote according to the dictates of his judgment, regarding the qualifications of a candidate as a matter of first importance, and is liberal and broadminded in his views on all subjects.  He has ever placed the general welfare before personal aggrandizement, and he has held every office in the township.  He has been a member of the local school board and was assessor in 1892.  He served for sixteen years as secretary of the Farmers Elevator Company and has been the recipient of many important trusts, all of which he has discharged with ability and fidelity.  He is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and conforms his conduct to the teachings of the Methodist church.  Correctly understanding life's values and purposes, Mr. Elk has wisely conserved his powers, and although he has reached the age of seventy-two years, he still remains at the helm of his business, wisely directing his affairs.  His devotion to duty, public spirit and strict honesty are well known to the residents of Galva and Ida county and have met with a rich return of personal regard.


Among those who have contributed their part in making Sioux City what it is in relation to the live stock business of the country stands Harrison H. Epperson, manager and member of the firm of Steele, Siman & Company, live stock commission merchants.  He has had long experience in this field of effort, in which he is considered an authority, and in all his operations has met with a very fair measure of success.  Mr. Epperson was born at Afton, Iowa, on the 12th of June, 1884, a son of Thomas H. and Emma (Weeks) Epperson, the former a native of Illinois and the latter of Vermont.  They were married in Princeton, Illinois, where the mother had come to live with an uncle, and soon afterward they moved to Afton, Iowa, where the father was engaged in mercantile pursuits for many years.  Both parents are still living and have resided in Sioux City since 1901.

Harrison H. Epperson received a public school education, graduating from the Preston high school in 1901.  He then came to Sioux City, and the remainder of that year he spent in Morningside College and at Brown's Business College.  In 1902 he worked for the Cudahy Packing Company and in the following year entered the employ of T. J. Steele & Company, live stock brokers of Sioux City.  In 1906 Mr. Steele, R. E. Siman and Mr. Epperson organized the live stock commission house of Steelke, Siman & Company, and on the death of Mr. Steele, in 1920, our subject was made the active manager of the business.  He has been more than ordinarily successful, being a man of alert mentality, great energy and sound business judgment, and now holds an enviable place in the business circles of this city.  In 1918 Mr. Epperson was one of the organizers of the Morningside Savings Bank, of which he has since served as president.

In 1908 Mr. Epperson was united in marriage to Miss Edith Alqyer, of Paullina, Iowa, and they are the parents of two children, namely:  Helen E., who is a senior in high school; and Harrison A., Jr., who is in the grade schools.  Mr. Epperson is a member of Morningside Lodge, No. 615, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Sunrise Chapter, No. 141, Royal Arch Masons; Sioux City Consistory, No. 5, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and Abu-Bekr Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.  He also belongs to the Sioux City Chamber of Commerce and the Morningside Country Club.  He and his family are members of the Morningside Presbyterian church.  Through normal and worthy means, Mr. Epperson has become a dominating power in the particular field in which he is interested, but in business, as in every phase of his life, he is fair and the soul of honor.  He is a man of action, essentially utilitarian, and his judgment is greatly valued among his business associates.  While his business affairs make heavy demands upon his time, he is not unmindful of his obligations to the community, as his efforts to advance the public good and promote the welfare of his city and vicinity have abundantly attested.


William Eubank, a successful florist, is proprietor of the Riverside Greenhouses at Sioux City and for fifteen years has conducted this business, which has constituted his life work.  He was born December 28, 1887, in New Madison, Ohio, and is a son of William T. and Anna Elizabeth (Nyswonger) Eubank, also natives of the Buckeye state.  The father engaged in farming in Ohio and Indiana for many years and is now living retired at Richmond, in the latter state, but the mother passed away on the 12th of July, 1915.

Mr. Eubank received his first instruction in a rural school in the vicinity of New Madison, Ohio, and afterward attended a public school near Richmond, Indiana.  He remained on the home farm until he reached the age of sixteen, and then started out in life for himself, securing work in the Hill Greenhouse at Richmond.  He was subsequently employed by florists of Newcastle, Indiana; Webb City, Missouri; Fremont, Nebraska; Junction City, Kansas, and Chicago, Illinois.  He spent two years in the western metropolis and in 1910 came to Sioux City, Iowa.  After working for about four and a half months he purchased the Elder Greenhouse in partnership with J. N. Nordstrom, with whom he was associated for two and a half years, and then acquired the business, which he has since controlled.  In 1919 Mr. Eubank demolished the old buildings and constructed his present fine plant of seven houses, twenty-seven by one hundred and thirty feet in dimensions, each containing thirty-four thousand feet of glass.  He has also recently built a modern office building which is one of the finest in connection with any greenhouse in Iowa.  The Riverside Greenhouses at No. 1734 Riverside boulevard are conveniently located, being the only ones situated on a car line in the city, and railroad connections have also been established.  Mr. Eubank raises choice varieties of flowers and plants and has six regular employees, increasing his force during the busy season, which occurs in the spring.  His expert knowledge of the business is supplemented by good judgment and executive force and his trade has now assumed large proportions.  He maintains hi-class service and has established an enviable reputation for enterprise and reliability.

On June 26, 1911, Mr. Eubank was married to Miss Grace Arnold, of Fremont, Nebraska, by whom he has three children:  Mildred Grace, whose natal day was October 7, 1913; Dorothea Marie, who was born April 1, 1916; and William Arnold, born November 16, 1919.  Mr. Eubank is a trustee of the Methodist Episcopal church and casts his ballot for the candidates of the republican party.  He is a Yoeman and also belongs to the Riverside Community Club and the Chamber of Commerce.  A public-spirited citizen, he lends the weight of his support to every project for municipal growth and betterment.  He enjoys his work and his record proves that the old-fashioned virtues of industry and honesty still constitute they key to prosperity.


Northwestern Iowa Table of Contents