Ohio Biographies

John H. Gholson

A life of steadfast integrity and honor and of large and worthy achievement was that of the late John H. Gholson, who was a resident of Lawrence County from the time of his birth until he was summoned to eternal rest, at his home in the City of Ironton, on the 6th of October, 1906, secure in the confidence and high regard of all who knew him. He was long numbered among the representative business men of Ironton, and the undertaking business which he here conducted for many years is continued by his widow and sons. He was a scion of a sterling pioneer family of Lawrence County, and as an honored and influential citizen whose course was ordered upon a high plane in all its relations, it is incumbent that in this history there be accorded a definite tribute to his memory.

Mr. Gholson was born at Kelley's Mills, in Elizabeth township, Lawrence County, Ohio, on the 24th of July, 1844, and was the youngest of the nine children of James H. and Sarah Gholson, early settlers of the county. He was but six years of age at the time of the family removal to Ironton, and in this city his parents passed the residue of their lives, his also being the privilege of continuing to maintain his home in the metropolis and judicial center of his native county until he too was called from the stage of life's mortal endeavors, after having attained to the age of more than three score years. Mr. Gholson made good use of the advantages afforded in the common schools, as is evident when we revert to the fact that when sixteen years of age he was granted a teacher's certificate, though his active work in the pedagogic profession was of brief duration. After holding for a short time the position of storekeeper in one of the pioneer mills of Ironton, he here engaged in the retail grocery business, in which he continued until the early part of the year 1871, when he withdrew from this line of enterprise to become associated with the undertaking business conducted by his brother-in-law, the late George F. Buchanan. He entered upon his new duties on the 20th of May, 1871, and at the time hee inscribed the date on the wall of the building in which the business was established. This inscription remained in evidence until after his death, more than thirty years later. Mr. Gholson was soon admitted to partnership in the business, and upon the death of Mr. Gholson, about the year 1892, he became the sole owner of the undertaking establishment and business. Eventually he admitted to partnership his two sons, Walter W. and John Harvey, and thereafter the enterprise was successfully continued under the name of J. H. Gholson & Sons until his death, the establishment since that time having been conducted under the original title and under the direct supervision of the sons and their mother, the stock and facilities having at all times been maintained at the highest standard and the sons being recognized today as the leading funeral directors of their native city. At the time of his demise Mr. Gholson was the oldest undertaker in the city, and the community has every reason to remember his name with reverent affection, for he was a man whose heart was attuned to deep human sympathy and his consideration, kindliness and many acts of charity and benevolence gained to him secure place in the hearts of all who knew him.

Mr. Gholson manifested his intrinsic loyalty and patriotism at the time of the Civil war, for he enlisted in Company I, Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he proceeded to the front and with which he participated in many engagements marking the progress of the great conflict through which the integrity of the Union was preserved. He served during the major part of the war and proved a gallant soldier as well as one popular witii his comrades in arms. In later years he perpetuated the more gracious memories of his military career by retaining membership in the Ironton Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. He was a republican in his political allegiance and was a zealous member of the Presbyterian Church in his home city. Here also he was affiliated with Ohio Valley Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fra ternity with which he was identified for forty years, and with the Ironton lodge of the Knights of Pythias. Mr. Gholson had been in impaired health for several years prior to his death, which resulted from a dropsical affection of the heart, and he bore his sufferings with characteristic patience and fortitude, ever showing consideration for those who ministered to him. The entire community manifested a sense of personal loss and bereavement when he was summoned to the life eternal, and his funeral was attended by all classes, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows appearing in respective bodies.

The domestic chapter in the life history of Mr. Gholson was of ideal order, and there can be no wish to lift the gracious veil that made the home a sanctuary, though it is incumbent that brief record be made concerning his marriage and children. In the City of Ironton, on the 10th of December, 1878, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Gholson to Miss Susan S. Wells, who was born at Delaware. Ohio, on the 24th of January, 1854, and who is a daughter of William W. and Mary Margaret (Bogan) Wells. Her father was born in Germany and died when Mrs. Gholson was a child, and she was about seven years old when the devoted and widowed mother likewise was summoned to eternal rest, in 1861. Mrs. Gholson was reared in the home of her elder sister, Mary, who is the wife of Martin Heller, their home being at Delaware, Ohio. The three eldest children of the Wells family were Samuel G., Mary and Virginia, all of whom are now deceased; Anna was the next in order of birth; Charles is a resident of Delaware, Ohio; Chauncey is deceased; and Mrs. Gholson is the youngest of the number. Mrs. Gholson is a woman of most gracious personality and has been a loved and prominent factor in the representative social activities of her home city, which has been endeared to her by the hallowed memories and associations of many years. She holds membership in the Wesley Chapel and has been active in the various departments of church and benevolent work. Mr. and Mrs. Gholson became the parents of three children, Walter W., John Harvey, and Grace B., the only daughter having died at the age of two years. The active management of the undertaking business so long conducted by the subject of this memoir is now entrusted to the sons, Walter W. and J. Harvey, who, with the able co-operation of their mother, are fully upholding in this line the high reputation of the honored father. Walter W. Gholson wedded Miss Lydia Deering, and they have three children, Doris D., John D., and Nathaniel R. J. Harvey married Birdie Sandford.


From "A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor.  Published by Lewis Publishing Company, 1916