|Irving Eaton, ca. 1940. From Grems-|
Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.
Eaton was born in Cold Springs, New York, to John Eaton and Emeline Parks. He grew up near Coxsackie. Eaton enlisted at Kingston, New York, on April 28, 1861. He served as a private in Company A, 80th Regiment of New York State Volunteers. In a 1933 Schenectady Gazette article, Eaton related that when he first enlisted as a private, he intended to be a drummer boy, but under some pressure from the lieutenant of his company, he entered the war as "a full-fledged fighting man" alongside his father. His brothers Sylvanus and Warren also served in the Ellsworth Zouaves and the 57th New York Infantry, respectively. Irving Eaton took part in the battles at Gettysburg, South Mountain, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Second Bull Run, Norman's Ford, Warrenton Springs, Gainesville, Groveton, Petersburg, and Chantilly. One of Eaton's most treasured memories of the war was seeing Abraham Lincoln on October 1862 following the battle at Antietam, when Lincoln, along with General George McClelland, came on horseback to inspect the camp. Irving and his father were honorably discharged at Portsmouth, Virginia on January 29, 1866.
After the war, Eaton returned to live with family in Coxsackie. He stayed in the Coxsackie area until approximately 1881, when he moved further north. In Malone, New York, he met and married Elizabeth Connors in 1883. The family moved to Casaville, Quebec, Canada, and had four children -- Ernest, Emeline, May, and Irving Barron. The family moved back to New York after Eaton learned that he could only apply for his Civil War pension as a United States resident. After living briefly in Franklin, New York, the Eatons moved to Schenectady around 1900.
|Black-and-white photograph of portrait of Irving|
Eaton, painted by Harold Mott-Smith. Photograph
from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.
A dinner in Eaton's honor was held at the Hotel Van Curler in Schenectady on February 21, 1941. His portrait, painted that year by General Electric Company artist Harold Mott-Smith, was given by the American Legion to the city to hang in City Hall and was accepted by mayor Mills Ten Eyck. The portrait is now in the care of the Efner City Archives and History Center. During the last year of his life, he helped to urge Schenectadians to purchase defense savings bonds.
Eaton died at his home at 325 Division Street on October 15, 1941, following a brief illness. He is buried in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna.