DFH Volume 1 Issue 22
Dayton Brothers’ Lumber Company was an “environmentally green” company as early as the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This was 30 years before we began to hear about “green” on a national scale. Besides their obvious cash crop of lumber, the brothers sold every scrap product of the log, letting nothing go to waste.
Most obvious was the sawdust pile. Sawdust was sold to farmers for spreading over the floor of the barn’s cow stalls to make cleanup more sanitary. One day a farmer drove his truck into the lumber yard expecting to pick up a load of sawdust. The truck had a Budweiser sign on it. Dad refused to service him because of the sign. Dad was opposed to alcohol of any kind. The farmer came back later with a milk sign on the truck and dad sold him his load of sawdust.
If we did a lot of sawing, then the sawdust pile grew to mountainous heights (25-30 feet). Kids loved to play in it. I remember one time it was covered with newly fallen snow and Roger skied down it. Under pressure and decay from both high concentrations of moisture and lack of sunlight, the sawdust would generate lots of heat. In fact, sawdust piles have been known to spontaneously combust into flame. Kids would dig deep into the pile just far enough to feel its heat. Sawdust serves as an excellent insulator. Around the periphery of the pile where internal temperatures remained normal, you were guaranteed to find snow if you dug down about a foot to two feet…in July and August. I can remember Roger and I throwing snowballs at each other on a hot July day when the air temperature was probably 85°.
When the lumber had been airdried in the yard, it was taken to the planing mill where it was “”smoothed’ on all four sides. The dry shavings were sold to butchers to spread over the flooring of their butcher shops. There was an old, deaf, Afro-American man who used to buy shavings by the large-truckload and resell them to butcher shops. He had exclusive rights (preferential treatment) to Dayton Brothers shavings. Dad called him “the darky.” This was before desegregation and dad meant no disrespect. Dad knew his name, but we didn’t. We knew him only as the darky. When dad had a load of shavings ready, he would call the old white-haired man and tell him that a load was ready for him. Humm…something is suspicious. How could dad call him if he was deaf? Must be his wife answered. He always arrived with a cup of coffee and a doughnut for each of us. Dad would send me to the shaving pile to help the old man fill his truck. He would put the shavings into potato sacks (burlap bags) each weighing probably 20-30 pounds when full. It was my job to pack them into his truck as tightly as I could. I was only a pre-teen, so it was hard work. I remember that one day on a Saturday evening dad and I drove to the sawmill to do a security check and discovered that the old man had left a bird house kit for me in the planing mill. The world would be a far better place if we only had more great men like the darky. He was like a grandpa to me. Even though we couldn’t communicate with speech, we communicated in many other ways like the exchange of genuine, loving grins at each other.
The first cuts of the log are called slabs which are sold as firewood for heating homes and for campfires. Dad would load the “slab truck” and, when it was full, then we would head out across town to deliver it to the person who had ordered it. The slab dump truck was very old and beat up and was an embarrassment every time I rode in it. I hoped I would not be seen by anyone I knew. But it did the job and helped to keep the community green (except for the smoke that was emitted as it was consumed by fire).
The lumber was sold by length, width and thickness (board feet). The lumber’s length was always an even numbered size between 4’ and 14’. So the cutoff saw cut the length to conform to these dimensions. This was perfect for campers. Dayton Brothers had already cut the lumber into a length that could be tossed into the fireplace or firepit. As I recall, the price was $5.00 per pickup truck load. This “dirt cheap” slab wood, kept the slab pile empty or small, which was Dad’s objective. Too large a pile of “cutoff” slabs was a nuisance.
So the Dayton brothers were “Green” long before it was a politically correct treatment of our environment. It didn’t make them rich…it made them responsible community citizens.
DFH Volume 1 Issue 22
My visit to the land of the Dayton homestead and the gravesite of Henry Dayton [Henry← Charles Erastus← Wilber Sr.] and his wife, Christie [Cameron] Dayton made me realize that I have not mentioned our Cameron branch of the Dayton family in an earlier Newsletter. The Camerons [our ancestors] are prominent citizens in the Hadley, Stony Creek and Thurman area of Upstate New York. The Cameron surname is the most often found name in the town of Thurman, Warren County, New York, which the Camerons settled 200 years ago. Our link to this illustrious family is through the marriage of Christie Ann Cameron to Henry Dayton about 1816.
The name Cameron comes from the Gaelic and Welsh “Cam” meaning crooked and “sron” meaning nose – therefore, a crooked nose.
Christie’s parents were William (born in Scotland in 1770) and Mary Hodgson (born in England in 1776). In all, there were eight children, and Christie Ann was the oldest. Christie’s grandfather was James CAMERON and her grandmother was Christina Ann MORD. Christie Dayton was no doubt named after her grandmother. The grandparents also came from Scotland at the same time as Christie Ann’s father. There were thirteen children in this family and William was 2nd oldest. It’s not clear why James Cameron chose Thurman to live. They were from the Scottish Highlands and this may be why they chose the Adirondacks.
The author of THE CAMERON FAMILY OF WARREN COUNTY, NEW YORK, Gloria Bailey Jackson, provides a possible explanation for the Cameron’s emigration from Scotland. James emigrated about 1770 and settled in Thurman in 1773. At the time, Thurman was a part of Queensbury located in Washington County. The aftereffects of the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 included the British determination to clear the Scottish Highlands of the clan system. The Cameron’s probably lived in Lochaber under the protection of their chief Donald of Locheil. Following the Battle, the Duke of Cumberland declared that the “people must perish by sword and famine.” The Cameron’s fled after they experienced plundering and burning of homes in their own clan.
Once settled in America, James began lumbering the wilderness. (Chip and Paul resumed the lumbering business 6 generations later).
In his will, William wrote, “to my eldest daughter Christian Dayton, one cow within one year after my decrease.” Joel Dayton, brother of Henry, was a witness to the will, dated 1 April 1816.
The following article is copied from an internet article titled “James Cameron – Pioneer woodsman farmer, written and published by the Warren County Bicentennial Celebration, URL http://warrenny200.org/towns/thurman/cameron.php
Among the earliest residents were Scottish immigrants, among whom were the Camerons. They came in 1773, bearing a letter of introduction from John Thurman. They settled on a large tract of land along the river often referred to now as “the Gillingham farm,” working the relatively rich bottomland and using cascading streams to power mills for sawing wood and grinding grain. James Cameron, often referred to as “Squire Jimmy,” was a Tory.
A state historical marker on the west side of Warrensburg-Stony Creek Road near the present boundary between Thurman and Stony Creek attests to his importance to the town : “James Cameron – Pioneer woodsman farmer, justice of the peace. Settled in this valley in 1773. Buried 100 feet west of this marker.” Family records indicate that he was 103 years old. The Cameron family still thrives in Thurman; a sawmill first built in the 1860s by Almyron Cameron and his son Henry remains in the family, though the blades are now stilled. Henry’s son Don ran the mill, and in 1938 the structure was destroyed by fire. The mill was rebuilt, with a new water wheel. In 1946 Don turned the mill over to his sons Myron and Don, who again replaced the wheel, but also added the option of diesel power to the existing water power. Don died in 1988, and Myron continued to operate the mill for some years.
Almyron Cameron lived in a log cabin on the flats below the mill, and after the cabin burned, he built a plank house, which he and his sons gradually enlarged. In the 1830s it became a destination for guests, a tradition they continued until the 1930s. Before one wing was removed, it boasted 16 guestrooms. Guests flocked there to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming, playing shuffleboard and croquet, and standing around the Tonk piano singing songs. Vegetables, milk butter and eggs were raised on the farm to serve the guests. Generations of the family ran the facility. When the Farmhouse was unable to accommodate all who wished to visit, the Camerons built what was known as the “Lodge”, a long structure with ten more bedrooms that was built on the hill behind the house.
DFH Volume 1 Issue 22
My dad [Paul Dayton, son of Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr.] , often got out his cornet from the closet, wiped it off with a rag and began playing it at home when I was growing up. Occasionally, he played a cornet solo at church and he organized a church orchestra which played each Sunday evening during my teenage years. The coronet is a slightly smaller version of the trumpet. The only difference is the way the tubing flares.
I never knew just how accomplished dad was until I started researching old newspaper articles. The first public performance which I discovered was in a March 24, 1934 vaudeville show when he was 10 years old. He was playing with the Junior class band. That was quite an accomplishment, but his career was just taking off. There was an article in the May 15, 1934 issue of the Saratogian, titled School Band and Chorus score at musical festival, Paul was listed in the high school band. He had not yet attained his 11th birthday. In December of that same year, he performed a solo which the band director said, “received high praise.” This was all before his 12th birthday.
I could go on and on with news articles (perhaps a dozen) that carried his name as a soloist in band program performances until his graduation in in 1940. He played a solo at nearly every performance the band played. In his junior and senior years, he was secretary of the band.
My dad was a humble man to a fault. I wish he had told us kids about his experiences so we could have passed it on as a part of his legacy. Don’t make the same mistake. Tell your kids stories about yourself, even if you think they are trivial. My kids laugh at me and poke fun every time I tell one….over and over and over and over again. They’ll never forget them and they will cherish them.