Jessie [White] Dayton, my grandma and wife of Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr., was a very attractive young woman. In 1902, she was a 22 year old, single, and working in a nearby hotel (see news article at above). A dam was being built in the area (Spier Falls Dam between Corinth and South Glens Falls, built from 1900 to 1903 and 15-20 miles from Hadley Hill) At the time, it was the largest hydroelectric dam in the world1. Men from outside the area were hired to work on the construction of the dam. Many probably stayed at the quarry hotel referenced in the news item at the left. Jessie would more than likely have been a chamber maid, although she could have also been a waitress. Either way, she had plenty of interactions with men who had not been with a female for many days or weeks. Can you imagine how many times she was propositioned? She must have been under a great deal of pressure with many tension-filled emotional moments. We’ll never know for sure, but I’ve got to believe she remained chaste. She was a very religious woman. Thank you, Grandma, for knowing right from wrong, and for taking that summer off. She married Grandpa two summers later (21 Aug 1904). Family folklore has it that grandpa had proposed to her about 6 years before they were married. She declined the offer, but later realized how much more of a true man my grandpa was. He was a man of good intentions and good, honest character. I imagine she learned that from observing the men at the quarry hotel..
Most of you are familiar with the book which Steve and I collaborated on a few years ago. In case you didn’t get a copy, you can find it on Amazon.com. The paperback is $19.95. The book title is the headline above. We also have a hard cover for sale, although it’s quite expensive ($59.95).
My sister, Mary, got me interested in stamp collecting when I was about eight. By the time I was ten, I was passionate about it. I even knew when the new issues were coming out, and I went to the local post office to feed my addiction. During this time, we had a kids Bible memorization contest at church. Roger Bartlett won. He was a twelve-year-old stamp collector and Uncle Chop [Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton] knew him well because Uncle Chop was a collector too. During the Sunday morning service, the week after the contest ended, Uncle Chop gave him his prize. It was a specimen of the first stamp ever issued by the US government in 1847. Today its worth about $1,500. My generous Uncle Chop had given away the best stamp in his collection to a young kid. Can’t you visualize the envy oozing out of every pore of my being. Around that same time, Uncle Chop learned that I collected too. During summer vacation, he came to me and said that he had a box of stamps still on paper, and he wondered if I would soak them off the paper, dry them, sort them and place them in separate glassine envelopes. I was thrilled at the idea. I wasn’t expecting it, so I was overwhelmed with gratitude when he told me to take one of every duplicate he had. He had been tearing the corners off letters and packages for years and I now shared in his good fortune. He was a giver. A few weeks later, he said to come to the parsonage…that he had something to give me. He pulled out his good mint stamps and proceeded to shower me with one treasure after the other. The love and appreciation that I felt at that moment was nothing like I had ever felt. He taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten that day. Over the years I’ve collected stamps, coins, baseball cards, matchbox cars, toy soldiers and lots of other stuff. Whenever I find out a ten-year-old kid has a collecting interest like mine, guess what happens next? Thanks Uncle Chop, for keeping a little ten-year-old pip-squeak inside me for all these seventy years. They say you can’t be all things to all people, but Uncle Chop came very close.
You know how important our family altar time was to Dad and Mom [Paul and Ruth Dayton], and we all had to take turns praying. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t appreciate it. I really liked those rare times when we were not all required to pray or kneel by our dining room chair on the hardwood floor. I did learn that prayer is a very important part of life, though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
There have been many prayer requests with some pretty wild answers – the lesson is to be watching for whatever you ask. God will always answer with a “yes” or “no”. I’d like to tell you of two instances that involved my kids. We taught them about sharing, and on one occasion when Mary chose not to share a toy that she had saved and purchased, Sam reminded me that it says in the Bible that we are supposed to share. I responded with, “Yes, Sam, you’re right.”
Much to my chagrin, he handed me his Bible and said, “Now where is that?” I have never been good with Bible references, and do you think I had any idea where it was other than in the New Testament? I prayed super quickly, “Lord, where is it? Please show me.” I didn’t want to disappoint Sam or put a hiccup in his faith. Without hesitating, I opened right up to it, and I said, “Well, Sam, it’s right here” and I read the verse to him! It happened so fast, it was almost as if there had been a book mark in the page. Talk about a boost to my faith!
Another cool one – and honest, this really happened – we were staying in a motel. Mary and Sam were very young and watching a kiddie show on cable. The host of the show started saying I see so and so, calling kids by name. I thought how wonderful if he would say “Mary and Sam”. Immediately after I quickly prayed that he would, he said, “And Mary and Sam” – I kid you not! Not all of my prayers are trivial, nor do I always receive the answers I long to receive, but these were for my kids – they were important to me!
Are you ready to take the first baby steps into Dayton family research? If you are, then you may want to explore collections of ancestral information on the Wilber Dayton Sr family. I have a vision for preserving my family history information, which I’ve been collecting for forty years, so that future generations can enjoy it as well. Fifty years, maybe even two hundred years, from now, I want descendants of Wilber Sr. to be able to view our information and even to add to or change it. The internet medium I’ve chosen to make this possible is a web site called familysearch.org. It is a website developed and maintained by the Mormon Church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. I have chosen this site because:
It is free, and most likely always will be.
You and future Dayton decedents can add or change information as new information emerges.
The Mormons have much research available, including Birth, Death, Marriage, Immigration, land records, and probate records just to name some..
The website will last as long as there is a Mormon church [probably centuries], unless an evil governmental organization destroys the software owned by the Christian Churches.
The Mormons will stay current with the latest technology. Preserving family history is a core belief of the Mormon church and always will be.
The website will do nothing but improve.
The Mormons will always have a passion for preserving my information regardless of what new technology and user desires dictate.
Commercial websites such as Ancestry.com will come and go because of financial debacles and bankruptcies, but the well-financed LDS, since church members are required to tithe, will undoubtedly never have a financial crisis. Currently, the LDS Church has more assets than any Corporation in the world.
NOTE: Do not be intimidated or “turned off” because my plan is affiliated with the Mormons. I have spent countless hours on their website and visiting their Family history Centers inside their “brick and mortar” churches and have never been “approached about their religion.” They teach their volunteer genealogists not to proselytize their patrons because the patrons, you and I, are giving them genealogical information that can feed their hunger for family history data. Their belief system makes Family History a requirement. Thus, they never bite the hand that feeds them.
In later issues, I will help you with accessing features of familysearch.org, but for this week, click on the following links to view my “work in progress.” NOTE: YOU WILL FIRST HAVE TO ESTABLISH A USER ID AND PASSWORD. The website is familysearch.org.
For those of you who are “tech savvy”, you will be able to navigate around the website now. I’ll teach the rest of you later. Please be advised that for individuals who are alive, none of our information is available to other “prying eyes,” even if we’ve already entered photos etc. on-line. Information for deceased individuals, on the other hand, is available to anyone.
NOTE: If you are concerned that a photo(s) or document(s) which I have added of your loved one is too personal to be shared with the world, please inform me and I will remove it.
Uncle Chip’s (Chester Dayton) mid-life crisis spanned the years from the late 1950’s through about 1965, when he was around 45 -55 years old. In those years, his thing was cars. In about 1962, he bought a Karmann Ghia. To a teenage kid, and probably adult boys too, it was near the top of the list of the finest piece of machinery ever built. It was sold by Volkswagen, which also made Porsches, and it looked just as fast. Of course, the company also sold bugs; the Ghia had the horse power of that putt-putt car and so much class! It was respectfully fast, but not a killer machine.
In the summer of ’63, when my hormones were racing, Uncle Chip decided he would ride up to West Chazy Camp Grounds with dad (Paul Dayton). He left that heart stopping beautiful work of art in our driveway. To make matters tempting, my entire family was already at camp and I was home alone. And to really make matters worse, Uncle Chip left the Ghia keys on top of the refrigerator. What do you suppose a kid would do in a situation like that? That’s right. Steal that gorgeous machine and go on a joy ride, even if he didn’t know how to drive and didn’t even know how to shift a four-speed transmission.
At first thought, it was a battle of good and evil. “To steal or not to steal, that is the question!” Evil prevailed. I briefly wondered if Chip was testing me and knew the odometer reading. The urge was more than I could bear. I learned to shift without jerks and grinding gears right away. Now, where would I go? More evil filled my mind. In kayaking, class 5 rapids are as good as it gets, and I was determined to do a class 5 drive. Up and down blind, winding roads, over an unguarded railroad crossing–without peeking left or right for terror… “OK, Wimpy, let’s get it on.”
In a short time, I was bearing down on a slower car. There was a solid yellow line and a blind bend in the road. The imp, which now controlled the wheel, screamed, “So what! Go for the adrenaline rush.” And I did. Then, it was full throttle up West Mountain. I came down the hill much faster than I went up. Finally, having exhausted my curiosity, I returned home about a half hour later. I suppose I may have logged 35 miles on the odometer. Again “So what!” I had had a thrill and had survived. If Uncle Chip wanted to press charges with the town cops, it was OK, and well worth the penalty. I never heard anything more about my adventure from Uncle Chip or my dad, but about four years later Uncle Chip wanted to sell the dream machine to me. I was headed to college and needed every penny I could save, so I was forced to decline his offer. I could tell it hurt his feelings. Now that I’m much older, and I’d like to think a little wiser, I realize he would have sold it to me for practically nothing. That’s just the way he was. Another very generous Dayton.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t realized how much I missed that Karmann Ghia until I started writing this article. I may shop for one, even though I’m overweight and too decrepit to get in and out of one. Perhaps I’ll just get it so my grandson can drive it. After all…he’s a fifteen-year-old kid with raging hormones. I could accidentally leave the keys on top of my daughter’s refrigerator.
My dad (Charles) may have inherited a bit of his showman style from his mother, Jessie. I deduce this from a single experience—the one occasion she and I spent alone. For some reason I cannot recall, I spent the night, not just the evening, with her. We slept together in her big bed, she in what I recall as a voluminous nightgown. But that voluminous nightgown memory seems impossible, in retrospect, as just as we were settling in together she said sort of secretively, sort of like I saw my dad do dozens of times, “Come look; I want to show you something.” And whatever she was wearing she pulled it up enough to show me the surprise. It was a Ping Pong-size, bright, shiny red ball, located about where an appendix would be, and attached to her skin. She gave a huge grin at what must have been my dropped jaw. It was awesome. It was, I learned years later, a substitute bladder (or something of the sort). That’s all I remember from that one night, but it’s enough.
Donna [Fisher] Dayton was the sister of Josephine [Fisher] Dayton. Donna was the wife of Wilber Jr. and Josephine was the second wife of Charles. You guessed it. Sisters married brothers. In 1929, Aunt Donna was a 15 year-old, (probably Freshman) on the Flushing, Ohio women’s Basketball team. I don’t know if she played college ball, but it’s impressive to think that, during the roaring twenties, women played basketball. Aunt Donna was definitely a trend setter. And since she held an M.A. from the University of Kentucky, we Dayton’s would like to think of her as an Academic All-American.
Q. Many years ago, I remember grandma Dayton talking about us having a relative that was on the mayflower.
What I don’t know if it was on her side or the Dayton side.
Do we have anyone on the Dayton side?
A: Yes, in fact we actually have eight Mayflower grandpas and grandmas who were Mayflower Pilgrims. Steve Dayton put together a brilliant ancestral chart which shows the lineage from Wilber and Jessie Dayton back to the Mayflower pilgrims (SEE NELOW). There is just too much information available to share to share it in this answer. If you wish to ask more specific questions, fire away. Deane Dayton has gone through the rigorous process of joining the Mayflower Society whose membership is restricted to members who can prove their lineage I’m sure that he would be glad to discuss the process with you. He proved John Billington, the most interesting of all of the “commoners” on the ship. Another Dayton grandpa, John Howland, is mentioned on every documentary about the Mayflower Atlantic crossing (including Snoppy’s cartoon version of the crossing). Grandpa John Howland fell overboard during a fierce storm, and he was miraculously rescued, and lived to tell about it. Thank you for your question.