EATON, CYRUS STEPHEN (27 Dec 1883-9 May 1979), a controversial capitalist who promoted better U.S.-Soviet relations, was born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, son of Joseph H. and Mary A. (McPherson) Eaton. He graduated from McMaster University (1905) and came to Cleveland to work for the EAST OHIO GAS CO. With the help of JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, he went into business in 1907, securing natural-gas franchises in Manitoba, Canada for a New York banking syndicate, which collapsed. With the franchises, Eaton organized the Canada Gas & Electric Corp., consolidating his companies into the Continental Gas & Electric Corp. in 1912. Eaton settled in Cleveland in 1913 and diversified, in 1916 joining Otis & Co. banking firm, in 1926 organizing Continental Shares, Inc. investment trust, and in 1929 consolidating the Republic Steel Corp. His 1929 wealth was an estimated $100 million, most of which he lost in the Great Depression.
Eaton rebuilt his fortune in the 1940s and 1950s, becoming a director (1943), then board chairman (1954), of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad; and also board chairman of the West Kentucky Coal Co. (1953). In 1955, Eaton transformed his boyhood home in Pugwash into a "Thinker's Lodge," inviting scholars for a week's retreat. He invited a Soviet scholar in 1956, and in 1957 the first Pugwash Conference of Nuclear Scientists brought scientists from around the world to discuss international issues. During the Cold War, Eaton cultivated friendships with Soviet leaders and urged the U.S. and Soviet Union to develop better relations, receiving the Lenin Peace Prize in 1960.
Eaton was active in Cleveland. He was a founder and trustee of the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY; helped transform the YMCA night school into FENN COLLEGE; and was a trustee and benefactor of Case School of Applied Science. Eaton married twice; first, in 1907, to Margaret House; then to Anne Kinder Jones in 1957. He had seven children: Margaret Grace, Mary Adelle, Elizabeth Ann, Anna Bishop, Cyrus S. Jr., Augusta F., and MacPherson. Eaton died at his home and was buried in Nova Scotia.
Cyrus S. Eaton Papers, WRHS.