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Board of Trustees - Former Trustees
William Alexander Gaston
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William A. Gaston Spacer graphic

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1923-1927. Born 1859 in Roxbury and died 1927 in Barre, MA. Lawyer, banker and Democrat. The son of the Honorable William Gaston, former Boston Mayor and former Governor of Massachusetts, William Alexander Gaston graduated from Harvard in 1880 and was a classmate of Theodore Roosevelt and Josiah Quincy. He studied law at Harvard Law School and his father’s firm, and later organized his own Boston firm of Gaston, Snow and Saltonstall from which he practiced corporation law and the management of estates. His success as a corporate lawyer led to his selection as coordinator for the consolidation of the city’s various street railway companies into the Boston Elevated Railway Company. In the banking industry, Mr. Gaston was a leading and influential participant in overseeing several financial institutions as well as organizing the National Shawmut Bank of Boston, of which he was president for a number of years before becoming chairman of its board of directors. Following World War I, he was appointed by the U.S. Government as an arbitrator of labor disputes in Hartford, CT, and Bath, ME. Colonel Gaston was a prominent Massachusetts Democrat, serving on the staff of Governor William Eustis Russell where he attained his title, and ran unsuccessful for the Massachusetts Governorship. Outside his public life, he maintained a famous herd of cows on his Barre farm where he researched problems related to raising livestock and standardizing food production. In addition to his Library trusteeship, he was a member of the Overseers of Harvard University, of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and of Trinity Church. Colonel Gaston supported many other organizations and causes associated with education and charity with both his time and money.

Sources:
“Memoirs: Col. William Alexander Gaston”, The Register of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, vol. 82, October 1928, pp. 482-484..

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Illustration: "Col. William A. Gaston", photograph by United Photo Service, Boston Herald-Traveler Photo Collection, Print Dept.