- Philip J. Weimerskirch
Lanston, Tolbert (03 February 1844–18 February 1913), inventor, was born in Troy, Ohio, the son of Nicholas Randall Lanston, a tanner and leather merchant, and Mary Jane Wright. His given names were John Tolbert, but he dropped his first name shortly after the Civil War. Until 1856 he lived within forty miles of Troy and grew up in extreme poverty. In 1856 the Lanston family moved to Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa, and remained there until at least 1860. In that year or shortly after the family moved to Dayton, Ohio. In 1861 a noted phrenologist said of him, “He never sees a thing done without at once inquiring of himself, ‘Is there not a better way to do it?’ ” Lanston enlisted for Civil War duty (Company I, Eighty-fourth Ohio Infantry) in Dayton on 31 May 1862, giving his occupation as stencil cutter, and was discharged as a private on 20 September 1862 at Delaware, Ohio. According to family members he reenlisted, became a sergeant, and at the close of the war was mustered out as a sergeant. There is, however, no mention of a reenlistment in his Civil War service or pension records in the National Archives....