On July 4, 1892, a son was born to Tom and Rosa (née McDonald) Gaston in Demopolis, Marengo County, Alabama; although named “Arthur George”, he would be later known as “A.G.” As a small child, Arthur was reared by his paternal grandparents, Joseph and Idella Gaston. He lived with his formerly-enslaved grandparents due to the death of his father, a railroad worker, not long after his birth, and the relocation of his mother, who worked as a family cook twenty-five miles away in Greensboro. The family for who Rosa worked was of A.B. Loveman, a wealthy Jewish entrepreneur who founded the largest department store in Alabama.
At an early age, A.G. saw the promise of entrepreneurship to improve his life. Although the Gaston elders were poor, they were the only family in the neighborhood who had a swing in their yard. Because of this exclusivity, a young Arthur “charged”, in the form of buttons and pins, the children in the neighborhood for the privilege of playing on the swing.
By the time he was thirteen years old, Arthur and his mother were reunited, as permitted to accompany her when, in 1905, the Loveman family relocated to Birmingham. Upon being settled, Rosa enrolled her son to study at Tuggle Institute, a private educational institution for African-Americans. The institute was founded by Eufaula native, Carrie Tuggle, in 1903. An education and legal reformer, Tuggle centered the mission of her school on the education principles of Booker T. Washington, author, orator and advisor to presidents. He was also the founder and president of the historically Black institution of higher learning, Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.