Theodore Horatio Eaton Jr.
Born: Jan. 16, 1842 Skaneateles, Onondaga County, New York, USA
Death: Nov. 6, 1910, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
THEODORE HORATIO EATON (Junior) of Detroit, the son of Theodore H. Eaton, whose biography appears elsewhere in the work, and Anne Eliza Gibbs, was born in Skaneateles, New York, January 16, 1842, in the home where his mother spent her childhood, and where his parents were married in 1839 and lived until May, 1842. He died in Detroit on November 6, 1910, following a short illness.He was taken to Detroit when four months old, and his father’s large residence on Jefferson avenue, near Russell street, was completed in 1852 when he was ten years old. This remained his home until his death fifty-eight years later, and was occupied by his widow and children for only a few years afterward. It is still owned by his family and occupied in the capacity of a hospital.
Mr. Eaton was educated at the school of the Rev. M. H. Hunter, on Grosse Ile during the earliest days of his boyhood, with others who have since gained considerable prestige in the city and in later years were known as the “Hunter Boys.” Mr. Eaton was president of this alumni society 1885-1890. He also was a student at Burlington College, New Jersey. Another one of the schools he attended 1858-59 was the French Institute of Monsieur (the Professor) Elie Charlier, located then at 48 East Twenty-fourth street, New York city, and thereafter he went abroad for study and business training before entering his father’s chemical business in the year 1859. Instead of electing to attend a university he visited the dye and chemical institutions of England, Switzerland and Germany, which was the basis of his knowledge of those trades in later years, making in all four trips abroad. In 1866 he was admitted to the partnership known as Theo. H. Eaton & Son, then located at the corner of Woodward avenue and Atwater street, which remained his office to the time of his death. He received an excellent business training under his father who was one of the most prominent business men of the city. Later it was necessary for him to give more and more time to his personal affairs and Mr. Benjamin F. Geiger acted as his manager in the chemical business. At Mr. Geiger ‘s death in 1905, Mr. Eaton’s nephew, Rufus W. Clark, Jr., took his place and developed the business until and after Mr. Eaton’s death in 1910 when it became known as Eaton-Clark Company. In 1920 Mr. Clark was succeeded as president of the company by Mr. Eaton’s son, about whom an article appears elsewhere in this work.
Mr. Eaton was married in 1880 at Augusta, Georgia, to Miss Louise Casey, to whom a son, Louis, was born. He died in infancy, September 21, 1882, and his mother died September 15, 1882. At this time Mr. Eaton was a vestryman of St. Paul’s church, of which his father was senior warden, and in 1888, at his father’s death, he succeeded him and remained senior warden for twenty-two years, until he died. In 1895 he built, in memory of his mother, the new St. Paul’s Chapel at the corner of Woodward and Hancock, which was opened by Bishop. Davies on February 6, 1896. The building was so located that space was left for the erection of a cathedral adjacent which was planned at that time, and completed just a few months after Mr. Eaton’s death. During the construction of the cathedral Mr. Eaton drove up to supervise it regularly every morning before going to his office. He broke ground for it, he attended the laying of the cornerstone, but did not live to see its ultimate completion. A few months before his death Mr. Eaton ordered a beautiful carved reredos, dean’s chair, and altar railing to be erected in memory of his father, former senior warden of the church. These memorials now stand and above them a magnificent stained window in memory of Mr. Eaton of this review given by his widow and children. This same window was earlier selected by Mr. Eaton himself with a view to putting it in later on.
Bishop Charles D. Williams delivered a memorial address in the cathedral on Sunday, April 19, 1911, of which an extract shows better than the editor could review Mr. Eaton’s life and interest: “He was in a large manner public-spirited; interested in all the best things that concerned the public welfare; generous and benevolent in his gifts everywhere and always, but the first and foremost of his public narrative was his devotion and loyalty to his church—St. Paul’s cathedral was the dream of his heart—but, by one of those strange dispensations of Providence, it was not to be, that he should see the completion of his cherished plans. It stands here largely as a memorial, not only of his benevolence, but of his thought and of his care.” An appropriate sermon in memory of Mr. Eaton was also delivered on this occasion by the Rev. Samuel S. Marquis, D. D., then dean of the cathedral.
The vestry of St. Paul’s adopted the following tribute to Mr. Eaton’s memory: “His simple and unostentatious manner of living in an era of luxury and display, upright and patriotic as a citizen and deeply concerned in the welfare of his country, state, and community, cultivated, refined, and courteous in his social intercourse with his fellows, pure, affectionate, and exemplary in his life, loyal and devoted to his church—the type of the true Christian gentleman.”
He was yearly elected as delegate to the church conventions, in which he took deep interest. Next to his family and his church, his greatest affection and interest was in the Society of the Colonial Wars, in the State of Michigan, of which he was a charter member in November, 1897, then elected its first deputy governor, which office he held until May 7, 1900, when he was elected governor of the Society. This office he held for a period of three years, and again in 1908-1909. He was a delegate to nearly all the sessions of the general assembly and whether in office or not, he was constantly solicitous for the welfare of the Society (Extract from Resolution of the Michigan Society, following his death). Coming from a long line of New England ancestors Mr. Eaton naturally affiliated with many of the patriotic and hereditary societies. He was a member of the Huguenot Society of America, the sons of the American Revolution, Colonial Governors, The New England Society, Detroit Board of Commerce, The Detroit Club, Country Club, and the Detroit Boat Club. He was a director of the Detroit Iron and Steel Company and advising director of the Security Trust Company. He was a republican and an Episcopalian. He enjoyed his recreation gardening on his summer estate at Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, where he spent about twenty
summers, and in driving his selected teams of coach horses.
On September 19, 1888, Mr. Eaton married Miss Eliza Walton Clark of Albany, New York, daughter of Rev. Rufus Wheelwright Clark, D. D., and Mrs. Clark, who was Eliza Walton. Mr. and Mrs. Eaton were married in Glenside Park, Murray Hill, New Jersey, by the latter’s brother, Rev. William Walton Clark of Brooklyn, New York: Their children were: Theodore H. Eaton, Jr., born June 22, 1889, and who died May 5, 1891; Margaret Montgomery, born May 9, 1892, was married April 17, 1920, to John Weeden Grout of New York city, formerly of Detroit; and Berrien Clark Eaton, born August 3, 1893, who married in Chicago, August 15, 1917, Miss Gladys Hambleton. Two grandchildren of Mr. Eaton are living, Berrien Clark Eaton, Jr., born February 12, 1919, in Chicago, and Margaret Louise Grout, born April 8, 1921, in New York.
The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Vol. 3, edited by Clarence Monroe Burton, William Stocking, Gordon K. Miller, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co, Detroit-Chicago, 1922, pp 193-194
Burial: Elmwood Cemetery
Detroit Wayne County Michigan, USA
Plot: Section I