William Henry Gaston was born on October 25, 1840, near Prairie Bluff in Wilcox County, Alabama. William was the second of five sons of Robert Kilpatrick Gaston and the former Letitia Elizabeth Suddath. In the mid 1840's, Robert K. Gaston emigrated west and moved his family to Winston County, Mississippi. From there they moved to the area around Anderson County, Texas, in 1849; where Robert farmed extensive land holdings and served two terms in the Texas legislature. William, along with his brothers Robert and George, attended the nearby Mound Prairie Institute. In 1860, the family moved to Tyler, Texas; leaving William to manage the old homestead.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the three brothers joined the Confederate cause and served in the CSA army. William Gaston joined a volunteer company being recruited in Anderson County for Confederate service. By October 1861 he had been elected captain, and his company became part of the First Texas Infantry regiment of Hood's Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. Captain Gaston, known as the "Boy Captain" commanded his company with distinction through the terrible battles in Virginia in 1862. After recovering from typhoid fever, he was detailed to Texas on recruiting duty for the regiment. He was subsequently reassigned to serve as Confederate purchasing agent in the Trans-Mississippi Department, where he spent the remainder of the war.
During this time, William Gaston married Miss Jane Laura Furlow, daughter of George Washington Furlow and the former Jane Pope. William & Jane had three children:
Willie Gaston (1864 – 1864)
Edwin Gaston (1865 – 1929)
Florence Laura Gaston (1866 – 1938)
After Captain Gaston was discharged in June 1865, he returned to Anderson County and farmed. His first wife died in 1867, and a year later he married Laura's sister Ione; with whom he had four children:
Robert Kirkpatrick Gaston (1869 – 1951)
Frank Coleman Gaston (1872 – 1884)
William Henry Gaston Jr. (1875 – 1960)
Annie Ione Gaston (1877 – 1965)
After living a few years, William & Iona moved their growing family to Dallas; where William entered into partnership with Aaron C. Camp and opened the Gaston & Camp Bank of Dallas, the first permanent bank in Dallas. Within a short time Gaston had expanded into real estate, merchandising, and general speculation; the bank became the Exchange Bank and later the First National Bank of Dallas. Only five years after his arrival the Dallas Herald declared that William Gaston was most responsible for the transformation of Dallas into a city. He was reported to be one of the city's first millionaires, and another of his banks, Gaston & Gaston Bank, was the predecessor of the Republic National Bank.
William Gaston helped to bring the railroad to Dallas and developed a streetcar system throughout the city. In 1886, William Gaston donated eighty acres for the State Fair of Texas grounds.
William Gaston died on January 24, 1927, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. The City of Dallas honored his civic work by naming the W. H. Gaston Junior High School in his memory.
A founder of Dallas
Captain in First Texas Infantry regiment of Hood's Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. Reportedly one of Dallas' first millionaires. For more information on Gaston, go to: http://www.tsha.utexas.edu
Ione Furlow Gaston
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