"V" Biographies

Gilbert L. Van Eaton, the mayor of Little Rock, and the leading lumber dealer of the place, is a man who is gifted with the ability to disregard hard knocks. By virtue of his push and perseverance he has attained a position of considerable prominence in the village where he has resided for the past eighteen years. A very common everyday sort of man to meet, a man "educated in the rough school of life," "Van," as he is familiarly called, has a wonderful faculty for formulating schemes and carrying them through with a rush that has always been a surprise to his friends.

Mr. Van Eaton was born October 14, 1843, a Hoosier, and the eighth of nine children born to James and Gulie (Brown) VanEaton, a good old Holland name. The mother died when he was three years old, and soon after her loss the family settled in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, where he was reared to farm life, and becoming a farm hand when only fourteen years old, and from that time on he made his own living. At the second call for troops in 1861 the young man hastened to don the Union blue, and became a member of Company A. Sixteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. This regiment was sent immediately south and attached to the Army of the Tennessee. It very soon smelt powder at Shiloh, and participated in battles at Iuka, Corinth, and the siege of Vicksburg, where his company was in summer quarters at Lake Providence. Mr. VanEaton reenlisted before the expiration of his three years, and became part of the great body that under General Sherman swept from Atlanta to the sea. After the grand review at Washington the regiment was mustered out of service, and Mr. VanEaton received an honorable discharge, a token of an order of merit of which he is justly proud.

After the war Mr. VanEaton was again engaged in farming in Wisconsin, spent some two years in Minnesota, went back to Wisconsin, and in the spring of 1872 voyaged by "prairie schooner" to Osceola County, Iowa, where he homesteaded a quarter section of land, his resources at that time being three horses, a wagon and $45 in money, but he was young and full of energy. His wife joined him in the summer, and life was begun on the prairies.

Until 1883 Mr. VanEaton conducted his farming with much profit, but for the sake of schooling for the children he rented his farm that year and removed to Sibley, where for two years he sold farm implements. Two years later he came to Little Rock, and became the junior member of the firm of Shell & VanEaton, dealers in grain lumber and coal. The business thus established is still in existence, and he has become an old and honored resident of Little Rock. Active in public affairs he is now serving his third term as mayor. In political matters he is a Republican, and claims that "he votes as straight as he shot." He is chairman of the township Republican committee, a position he has filled for many years.

In 1865 Mr. VanEaton and Miss Elizabeth Fridd, a native of Wisconsin, were married, and to their union were born two children, Jennie, now the wife of A.Z. Minton, a hardware merchant of Little Rock; and Myrtie, the wife of Daniel Dean, railroad agent at Sheldon. It is the ambition of Mr. VanEaton to spend the rest of his active life on the farm, and it is his intention to very soon make the change.

MR. & MRS. I. W.
The Van Wagenen family was among the old settlers of Iowa, and since 1882 have resided in Lyon County, where their genuine worth and high character quickly won for them a most enviable standing. The father has passed to a well-deserved rest in the better land, but a numerous and honorable progeny remain, who well sustain the honor of the family name.

Isaac Walter Van Wagenen was born in Pickaway County, Ohio near what was then the pleasant little village of Williamsport, December 1, 1830, and numbered among his ancestors many distinguished characters. His childhood and early youth were passed in his native county, where he obtained such educational advantages as the somewhat primitive schools of his time afforded. In 1845 he accompanied his parents to Washington County, Iowa when that region was a wilderness, and assisted them in the construction of a home and the making of a farm. His marriage to Elizabeth Moreland occurred August 10, 1851. She was the daughter of a pioneer neighbor, and admirably adapted to second her husband's every effort to make his way in a new country. They remained in Washington County until 1882, when they removed to Rock Rapids, where in due course of time his honorable and useful life was terminated.

Mr. Van Wagenen was one of the most useful and highly respected citizens of Rock Rapids, and universal testimony is borne to his kind heart and unaffected delight in well doing. He was a great reader, and his wide information gave his conversation unusual interest. Seventeen months before his death, October 27, 1902, he was suddenly prostrated by alarming sickness, from which he never rallied. For more than a year he was kept to his bed almost continuously. During all this time he kept his spirit and concealing his suffering as much as he possibly could did everything in his power to lighten the burden to his family. A devout Catholic, his faith was firm and he had no fear of that death which he soon realized was not far from him. At his funeral services, which were conducted at the Church of the Holy Name, Rock Rapids, were eleven priests to participate in the services, with Father Sanders of Cherokee, to celebrate requiem high mass, and Father Cook, Rock Rapids, to preach a funeral sermon singularly touching and beautiful

Mrs. Van Wagenen, who is still living in Rock Rapids at an advanced age, was the daughter of a pioneer who came into Iowa as early as 1836, when she was but six years old. She was later sent east to school and in 1845 returned to her parents' home where she found herself on the very edge of the western wild. Wild game abounded, and the Indians were still numerous. They were accustomed to gather at her father's house, where they were always kindly treated. She became a great favorite with them, especially after she had mastered their language through the instructions of one of their medicine men. She could mount her horse and ride anywhere in the wilds without fear, as the Indians would protect her with their lives.

Mrs. Rose Moreland, mother of Mrs. I.W. Van Wagenen, was born in Ireland, February 12, 1812 and came to her death in Rock Rapids November 9, 1902, after a year of close confinement to her bed and much suffering resulting from a fractured him produced by a fall. She was brought to this country by her parents when but five years of age, and when she married, lived for a time in Washington, Iowa. In 1898 moving to Rock Rapids to make her home with her daughter, Mrs. Van Wagenen. Until the hour of her broken him she was regarded as a wonderfully hale and active old lady, and as long as she was able, attended the services of the Catholic church, of which she was a faithful member, with the utmost regularity. Her remains rest in the Catholic cemetery at Washington by the side of her husband who preceded her to the better world by some nineteen years. The Moreland family has a somewhat remarkable history for longevity. There was an aunt of Mrs. Van Wagenen who lived to be one hundred and twelve years old, and her grandfather attained the age of a hundred years. One of the brothers of Mrs. Rose Moreland became a noted lawyer of Pittsburg.

Solomon Van Wagenen, father of Isaac W., died while still a young man; but his father Solomon, was a carpenter by trade and a soldier in the War of 812. The mother of Isaac W. Van Wagenen, Elizabeth Atherton, was born in New York, and lived to be seventy-five years of age. Her father, Theophalis Atherton, was a clergyman, and lived to be ninety-nine years old. He preached his own funeral sermon, and then dropped dead. His father also a preacher, gave his own funeral sermon, and died when over a hundred years old.

To Mr. and Mrs. Van Wagenen have come the following children: Anthony, studied law, and graduating from the State University, began his professional career in Washington County, but later removing to Rock Rapids, where he was appointed Judge of the eleventh judicial circuit. One account of this position he made his home at Sioux City, where later he was elected to succeed himself, and here he still lives, engaged in the practice of his profession. He is married, and has two children, Gertrude and Anthony. The second child was James E., who became a merchant, and died at the age of thirty-eight. Theresa and Joseph died while children. Mary, the wife of P.H. McCarthy, is engaged with her husband in the newspaper business. Francis lives in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he is engaged in the practice of law. In 1898 he graduated from the Iowa State University. He has two children, Arthur and Raymond. Nora, who is finely versed in the mercantile business, is engaged in the largest retail store in Rock Rapids. John A., who graduated from the Des Moines law school, is now interested, with his brother Anthony, in valuable patents covering an automatic telephone switch board that enables the user to press the button and be instantly connected. They have headquarters at Pierce, Nebraska, where they are building up a large business in installing their outfit in many towns. Sarah is at home. Anna died at the age of twenty-six years and Genevieve at the age of eight months. Agnes lived to be twenty-seven years old, and Margaret is attending St. Clair College in Wisconsin.

Mr. Van Wagenen and his excellent wife celebrated their golden wedding August 10, 1901, in time to occupy the new home which he had but recently erected and filled with everything that could add to the comfort of his family. In it he had many quaint and curious relics of the old days and the vanished races. A set of solid mahogany chairs, which had been in the family for more than two hundred years, was highly regarded by him, as was a looking glass, a bonnet and a silk dress all more than two hundred years old.


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