Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sloan: Higher Up the River

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, Jason Sloan spent much time in Western Arkansas.  He was enthralled with his grandson, Marshall, and the boy adored his Grandpa.  Sloan’s wife had died only five years after her youngest child, Lewis, left home.  John Sloan graduated with honors from Princeton, took his JD from Harvard Law.  He married extremely well, remained in the East and became one of New Jersey’s leading lawyers.  He was later elected to the United States Congress.  He had no children.

Jason’s daughter, as we might have predicted, married old money from the Deep South.  She lived in New Orleans the rest of her life.  She had one child, a son.  This story is not about him.

Marshall Sloan had taken an early interest in mineralogy, and from the time he was seven years of age, he and his grandfather took extended camping trips to the Pencil Bluff area, searching for and studying the minerals to be found in that region.  It was good that these fellows had this time together, for in June 1901, at the age of 78, Jason Sloan, once known on the Great River as Geoffrey John Slade, played his last hand. Marshall, thirteen years old at the time, took this loss very hard; but his interest in all things mineral continued.

 In 1906 Marshall matriculated at Colorado School of Mines where he pursued formal studies in his beloved field.  For the rest of his life, he was given to telling one and all that “the years I spent in Golden were the key to my happiness.”  Indeed, it was at Mines that Marshall met Jacqueline Boyce who was to become his wife.  Miss Boyce matriculated as a civil engineering student when Marshall was in his junior year.  Though she finished only two years due to her decision to marry Mr. Sloan, she was a brilliant woman and a strong help-meet to her husband.  Mr. Sloan’s in-depth studies of metallurgy and chemistry positioned him well for the career that he envisioned.  Marshall graduated in the Spring of 1910 .  He was immediately hired by Colorado Fuel and Iron.  He moved to Pueblo and went to work at once.  He was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the first coke furnaces in the Pueblo works.  These went into service in 1916.  The successes Mr. Sloan had in his endeavors could only insure his future, and a stellar career he had.

In addition to achievement of success in his own right, which seems to have followed this line of the Sloan family down through the generations, we should note that the original Slade/Sloan progenitor disposed of his enormous financial holdings in a most interesting way.  His wife predeceased him, his children were all financially well-fixed.  So, naming each of his children, Jason bequeathed to each one dollar.  The balance of his estate, then, was to be divided equally three ways.  One third to Marshall, one-third to the Louisiana grandson, and the remaining third to establish and support “in perpetuity” a river transportation museum to be devoted to the conservation of the history of the role of the riverboat in America’s development.

For the purposes of our story,  it is sufficient to note that Marshall Sloan was an extremely wealthy man.  Jacqueline and Marshall had but one child, Jason, whom they named after Marshall’s beloved grandfather. We met Jason earlier as Uncle Jep spun one of this yarns in which we learned that Nancy Woodson was the object of one of  Uncle Mack’s daydreams, but she married Jason Sloan.  Uncle said, “You recollect the Sloans.”  Indeed, everyone on the Upper Arkansas knows the Sloans.  Today, there is scarce a charitable endeavor in the Valley which does not have the names and some of the money of Marshall and Jacqueline Sloan.

Text© 2014 David W. Lacy
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