Monday, September 12, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ken Eaton

Kenneth Nye “Ken” Eaton was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on March 13, 1900. The birth date is from Eaton’s World War draft card and the birthplace is from the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. His parents were Clark, an elevator agent, and Jessie.

According to the 1910 census, the Eaton family resided in Park River, North Dakota. Eaton had two sisters. His maternal grandmother, Esther Nye, was part of the household. Eaton’s father was a wheat buyer.

Eaton signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived in Park River where he was a grain elevator assistant at the Farmers Elevator Company. He was described as of medium height, slender build, with dark blue eyes and brown hair.

The 1920 census recorded unemployed Eaton in his father’s household in Park River.

It’s not known when and how Eaton began his art training. His talent was recognized at a local fair as reported by the Grand Forks Herald, July 23, 1920. In the category “Ink, Sepia, Charcoal”, Eaton won second place in the section, “Pen and Ink Sketch of Head or Figure”, and first place in “Pen and Ink Sketch of Landscape”.

The 1921 and 1922 Minneapolis, Minnesota, city directories listed Eaton at the YMCA. Eaton was a student at the Federal School in Minneapolis and was one of several students featured in the school’s advertisement in Cartoons Magazine, May 1921. The Des Moines Register, February 6, 1941, said Eaton was an artist on the Minneapolis Journal.

At some point Eaton found work in another state. He was in the 1926 Sioux City, Iowa, city directory. He and his wife, Rose, resided in an apartment at 4 Valentine. According to the Register, Eaton was a Sioux City Journal staff artist.

The 1930 census said newspaper artist Eaton married at age 26. He, his wife and son, Keith, lived in Des Moines, Iowa, at 1909 Eleventh Street.

Iowa Oddities, 3/7/37 - Ken Eaton's debut on the feature

 American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Eaton followed Bud Sauers on the panel, Iowa Oddities. Eaton’s run was from March 7, 1937 to December 8, 1940, with Sauers filling in November 10, 1940. Five artists drew the panel for the Register. One of Eaton’s oddities was mentioned in 124 Years Before The Navy Mast–The Patten Family (2006).

In 1940, Eaton owned a home in Des Moines at 3313 52nd Street and had a second son, Roland. The census said Eaton completed three years of high school.

Eaton passed away February 5, 1941, in Des Moines as reported the following day in the Register.

Kenneth Nye Eaton, 40, an artist for The Register and Tribune, 15 years, died Wednesday afternoon at Iowa Methodist hospital of a stroke. He had been ill of high blood pressure since Oct. 1 and was stricken after returning to work last Monday.

Mr. Eaton’s work included sketches for the Iowa Oddities, a regular feature of The Sunday Register, news maps and sketches of screen personalities and prominent personages.

Before joining The Register and Tribune, Mr. Eaton worked as an artist for the Minneapolis, Minn., Journal, now the Star-Journal, and the Sioux City, Ia., Journal.

Mr. Eaton's survivors are his wife, Rose; two sons, Keith and Ronald; mother, Mrs. Jessie M. Eaton; and two sisters, Esther and Ruth Eaton, all of Des Moines. The Kenneth Eaton home is at 3313 Fifty-second st.
Eaton was laid to rest at Resthaven Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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