Memories-Jessie Studio Photo Discovered

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

Shirley Tharp sent in a photo which has previously been unknown.  The portrait is of Jessie Belle Dayton, wife of Wilber Thomas Dayton Sr, and my generation’s grandmother.  My guess is that gramma would have been about 50 years old in this photo.  The photo, then, would have been taken about 1930.  Notice that she wore John Lennon iconic glasses forty years before he made them famous to rock and rollers like myself. You were cool, Gramma.

If any of you have any photos which you can contribute, I’d love them, and so would our readers.  I’ve got one of my family (15 of us) which I will include in a future edition.  I especially covet a portrait digital image of Elizabeth Dayton, either alone or with Uncle Chip.  I only have one photo of her, and it is a cropped photo from a poor-quality snapshot original..  The result is a blurry-grainy photo of such poor quality that you can hardly identify the person in the photo as Aunt Lib.  Please, please, send one (or two or three…no amount is too many).  I am the self-declared curator of Dayton family photos.  I would love photos you can send of your families, both immediate and extended.  Also, if you would like a copy of my collection of Dayton photos, then send a blank flash drive (16 gigabytes is sufficient) to Jim Dayton, 8366 Ridgestone Dr., Byron Center, MI 49315. Most photos are identified by name and date.   If you want to put your family photos on the drive for me to copy, that would be all the better.

A person looking at the camera

Description automatically generated

Shirley [Bortner] Tharp Whereabouts Found

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

Shirley (Denton Bortner Kuhn Tharp) daughter of Flossie [Dayton] Denton

Continued from Volume 1 Issue 23

In 2001, I moved to Overland Park, KS, to work at Headquarters, Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO. I worked there for five years as an Accountant for Nazarene Missions International. I remained single for eight years. On March 30, 2005, Rev. Robert Kuhn and I married in Dothan, AL. He was a retired minister in the Church of the Nazarene. We lived in Olathe, KS, for one year so I could finish my commitment to work there for 5 years. Upon retiring from Headquarters in April 2006, we moved back to Dothan, AL. In the summer we lived there, and in the winter we stayed at his property in Indiana. We did this for two years. On March 30, 2008, Robert died accidentally as a result of cutting a huge limb from a tree in our backyard. He is buried in Terre Haute, Indiana, next to his first wife, Dorothy. I continued to live in Dothan and bought a home there, which I am now renting since I live in Bozeman, MT.

Two people looking at the camera

Description automatically generated

I was acquainted with Rev. James Tharp and his first wife, Maxine, because they lived in Dothan, AL, for about 10 years and attended the Nazarene church. He had become an evangelist and traveled extensively in the US and other countries conducting Schools of Prayer and preaching camp meeting and revival services. He was a good friend of Robert Kuhn, and his office administrator was Rachel Kuhn, Robert’s daughter. So, you can see the connection between the two families. Also, James’s son Timothy and his wife Billie Jo live in Dothan, and I have been friends with them since 1984. In 2006, James and Maxine had planned to move back to Bozeman, MT, because she was in ill health; they had already started adding an apartment onto their daughter’s home in Bozeman. However, Maxine died in March 2006 from heart failure after knee replacement surgery in Dothan. James then sold their home in Dothan and moved back to Bozeman.

In June 2009, Rev. James Tharp and I began a relationship that resulted in our marriage on October 11, 2009. We live in Bozeman all year. We are blessed to have each other’s support as we experience the late senior years. Even though he will be 90 in October, James is still active in ministry; he broadcasts a sermon weekly on our local Christian Radio Station 99.1FM and on Saturday he leads a prayer meeting for revival and a great spiritual awakening. We are members of the River Rock Church of the Nazarene in Belgrade, MT. This is a new start of the Bozeman Church of the Nazarene, which James pastored from 1983 to 1993.

We send our greetings to the extended Dayton family. I have fond memories of our Christmas dinners at Grandma and Grandpa Dayton’s home in Corinth. If any of you have pictures of me, Robert, or Elizabeth as children, I would love to have a copy to show my children and their families. Apparently, my parents didn’t take very many pictures.

If we don’t see you again here on earth, we want to see all of you in Heaven. May the Dayton circle be unbroken!

Dayton Book for Sale at

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

My brother, Steve, wrote a magnificent history of our Dayton’s early forefathers on American soil.  The book is titled Our Long Island Ancestors: The first six Generations of the Daytons in America, 1639-1807.  Here’s a summary of what Amazon says about the book.: The compilers’ motivations for publishing many years of research is to provide family and researchers a collection of material with which to confront both early scholarship and family legend, and to begin their own discovery.

    ●  For more than 30 years, records and information were gathered and organized by brothers Stephen Dayton and James Dayton, both of whom possess professional backgrounds in analysis.

    ●  The product is a 476 page compilation of all known records, documenting the descent of the authors’ Long Island line, six generations, from Ralph Dayton through Samuel, Abraham, Henry, to David Senior and David Junior (from about 1588 to 1807).

    ●  45  pages introduction and contextual information in England

    ●  Extensive study includes critical, original research and examination of existing claims, with effort to label conjecture and theory as such, and to present alternative interpretation.

    ●  Consultation of primary sources and from professional historians (cited).

    ●  49 images and illustrations including maps, drawings, figures, location photos, original documents and document entries.

    ●  14 pages of Work Cited; 7 pages of Vital statistics for spouses and children, with references; 19 pages of Index; 878 footnotes, most of which are citation.

This book, in hard cover and paperback would make a great Christmas present for children, grandchildren and other loved ones who want to learn about their Dayton heritage.

Click here to view the book on Amazon.

In other exciting news, Steve reported that he is starting a sequel.  Steve says,I just started messing around with organizational ideas for the second book, picking up where I left off a year ago–forming the outline. The process began shortly before being diagnosed with gastric lymphoma in August 2018 and was then just too weak physically and mentally to get inspired.  Since being declared “cancer free” this summer, I am gaining strength and am encouraged again to get more of Jim’s research recorded, continuing from the first book. This one will start with David Jr. to proceed through Henry and Charles to grandpa Wilber

Steve, speaking on behalf of your Dayton family, we’re all looking forward to your book and offer our assistance to you.  Feel free to call upon any of us.

West Chazy Campground-Observance Present, Memories Past

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

Continued from Vol 1 Issue 23

By Camilla [Dayton] Luckey, daughter Of Rev. Charles and Josephine Dayton.

Gerald Ralph was there, old guard and “extended family”— his mother was sister of Charles Dayton’s first wife, Gladys MacDonald, making him cousin of Izzie Hayes. Gerald was putting vinyl siding over the wood siding my Dad and I long ago salvaged from Chazy’s Miner (Minor?) Institute as it was being razed, early ‘60’s (same era as the cement block frenzy began; same era as my dad built that whole row of four or five cottages). The oak flooring throughout the Ralph cottage is still tight and gorgeous. I remember helping lay it. Gerald has changed the windows to vinyl and added an interior partition. He even has installed a hood above the stove!

Gerald stopped for a break, and we enjoyed a leisurely chat about various Daytons and about campground changes. Gerald told me about the Baptist youth group, I believe numbering a few hundred, that rents the grounds for a week or so annually. The kids are quite the “Jesus Group,” he says.  Sounds to me they are what everyone wished my generation to be.  Gerald and I also talked about Gerald’s fabulous collection of vintage woodworking hand tools and his and Carol’s recent move from Corinth to a Queensbury condo. They spend a lot of the summer season on the campground. “It’s home,” he said. They’ve had the cottage for more than forty years, first owners.

Carol was antiquing in Canada with Beth and Amy until Sunday morning, when I caught her in her bathrobe on my last lope, my third that morning, ‘round  the grounds, looking and listening for sounds of people stirring so I could say good-bye before my own departure. There were lights and sounds (these cottages aren’t soundproof) at the Ralph’s. Carol had been awake for hours, she said, but just relaxing in bed, where Gerald serves her coffee every morning!. My intended five-minute chat became a two-hour heart-to-heart; I was her flower-girl in the ‘fifties.

Saturday afternoon I slipped into the tabernacle, closed but not locked. I sat for a while on the platform steps. They seemed in the exact same place, maybe even the same steps, as in the former tabernacle, the one that collapsed under a heavy snow and was rebuilt as The Charkas Dayton Tabernacle in 1970(?). Lots to remember, lots to regret, lots to wish to re-live. Then I worked out a little minor-key melody on the old upright (piano), right next to a timepiece organ (surely not the Stevenson original?!), and finally I dared stand at the pulpit to pray and pretend. Lots of noise in those rafters and that metal roof when the place is empty, and the trees fan the wind. Of course it wasn’t really empty!

A small house in the middle of a field

Description automatically generated
Chow Line at Old Dining Hall in early 950’s
A vintage photo of a group of people standing in front of a crowd

Description automatically generated

The dining hall was closed except for the men on retreat, so I bought a terrific country breakfast at Guma’s, a sort-of-new (new to me) local restaurant on the edge of town and a fave for campers.  Best raspberry jam I’ve ever tasted. I assumed Guma’s was empty, as I walked in at seven a.m. Mine was the only car in the front parking lot and I didn’t know there was another lot at the side. So I was extremely startled when I heard “Cammie! Come join us!” Whoa! Where’s the ghost? And who would immediately recognize me after decades of absence?  But the voice was Phil Hunter’s. He and the campmeeting association president were seated, nearly hidden, in the corner booth. After introductions we three embarked on a conversation so engaging my eggs were cold before I touched them Truthfully, I don’t think we really did finish the conversation, just put it on pause. That’s what I hope.  I can hardly wait for more. The subject was holiness camps and the Holy Spirit. No chitchat breakfast, that one!  I liked both guys and I am pretty sure the new president liked me. He certainly seemed to enjoy our discussion. He is relatively new to West Chazy camp life. His name is Paul Robar.

As you exit the campground, if you turn your head left  (as a driver always should, before turning right) you can see, looming large, a silver silo with … ears?…propellers?…antennae for receiving  messages direct from heaven? No!….there’s a newly built windfarm on yon hill, in the direction of Altona!!

Other than that, the whole area seems as economically depressed as ever, except for the deservedly popular Guma. But the fields and hedgerows are heaven if you love native plants.

An old barn in front of a house

Description automatically generated
Old, Original Tabernacle

The cow creek (remember the swimming hole in the back pasture?) has shifted course a little and has filled in quite a bit. I can’t imagine Bud Hewitt, nephew of Reginald and childless Jo, taking a dive, as I once saw him do. I think Dad dared him. They use the creek for baptisms now. Looks to me they’d have to prostrate themselves to get their bellies under! And they mow to the creek! The place is packed with lovely buzzing creatures, a few flowers and ferns that look to be on steroids, so rich and free.

Shirley Pauling (in his 90s and, as mentioned above, owner of Dad’s fireplace cottage near the tabernacle, between the Seaman and Stevenson cottages) is the association volunteer who mows the “back forty,” the former cow pasture that stretches to the creek. He has an eye—beautiful job, nice balance between mown grass and waving wildness. We must remember, of course, it was the time of the annual men’s retreat, so the grounds were what is probably unusually spiffy. (Meaning: freshly mown.) I hope the Paulings eventually offer Dad’s cottage to me. I have no idea how much they paid or to whom. Or why they chose my dad’s! I told Shirley Pauling,  perhaps not wisely, of the night the priest at St. Joseph’s (across street) noticed a car convoy slowly rolling, lights out, down the campground road beside the dining hall. The priest, good neighbor, called the cops. But by the cops’ arrival the crowd of kids already in the attic of my dad’s cottage was heavy enough that some kids downstairs heard a rafter crack, I learned later. It could have been a catastrophe.

Anyway, before the dissolution of Wesleyan ownership several years ago, long before the association’s re-organization,  I, not being Wesleyan, was not allowed to own, either through inheritance or purchase. How things have changed! This summer I recognized approximately half the cottage names. I wonder, how many are still Wesleyan? The president of the board is not Wesleyan. This year’s men’s retreat speaker was. And the Charles Dayton Tabernacle no longer has pews but cushy, stackable chairs!!

“Everybody” was kind enough to welcome me, a non-member never mind a non-man, at the Saturday night end-of-retreat campfire. Imagine, a crackling, ember-tossing open fire right under those trees!  And my dad was the pyromaniac?! It was a beautiful stacked-stone pit with a Scout-worthy blaze, located midway between the Perry Motel and the kiddie tabernacle area. That area is now furnished with various genuine playground equipment, gone the stony sandpile and its few rusty toy trucks.

Many Dayton readers won’t see much that is immediately personal or relevant in this West Chazy report. Never mind; I didn’t write it for you but for your grandchildren and my own.

Thanksgiving in the Mountains-Mountain Man Apprentice

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

By Jim Dayton

From 3rd grade until I was a junior in high school, my dad, Paul Dayton, took me deer hunting on Thanksgiving morning.  We’d drive one or two hours far into the heart of the Adirondack mountains, park the car by the side of a logging road and wait for dawn so we could find our way. 

Dad would hunt like the Iroquois Indians did.  He went to the deer, instead of waiting in a blind for them to come to him.  He found their bed and then he would track them, trying to stay down wind so the deer wouldn’t catch our scent.  We used to walk miles, climbing over mountains and ridges, around swamps, across streams and creeks, through thickets…he’d stop every so often and survey the terrain.  Then he’d tell me where the deer probably were based on weather, topography and vegetation.  Then he would explain how we would get there based on wind direction and noise factors… we’d sneak up on them.  We always whispered or used hand gestures.  His two-hundred-pound frame walked silently, but my hundred- and twenty-pound footsteps thundered through dried leaves, and twigs and small branches which snapped underfoot. 

He always carried a compass, but he hardly ever took it out of his pocket.  He depended more on observing nature to “get his bearings.” He was a master at reading the sky, but the frequent cloudiness made following the sun undependable.   So he relied on the tell-tale signs of vegetation to get his orientation.  The density and location of moss and fungi, the “pointing” of the forest canopy, and the species of trees growing in that location were all tell-tale signs of north, south, east and west. 

A picture containing person, man, indoor, sitting

Description automatically generated

It used to scare me half to death when he would say to me, “I’m going to go over that ridge over there.  I want you to go around the ridge in that direction and meet me at the other side.  Maybe you’ll stir him up and I can get a shot off as he’s running away from you.”  I immediately pictured myself getting lost, but my dad always had confidence that I could find my way.  He never carried binoculars or a rifle scope, so I was truly on my own.  I think he was testing me.

After walking for hours in unfamiliar forest, we would came out of the woods within a quarter mile of the car.  I could never understand his precision.  I think it’s instinct.

He was at home in the woods.  He wouldn’t dare drive a car in Irving, TX, because he would get lost driving from O’Connor Blvd. to Grawyler Ave, two miles away with one turn. He was very uncomfortable in cities and urban sprawl.  But if you dropped him, by parachute, onto an unfamiliar peak in the Adirondacks mountains, he would find his way back to civilization before the plane landed (a slight exaggeration).   He taught me to follow a stream downhill if I was lost.  I wish I could remember a tenth of the survival skills he taught me.  He couldn’t pass by a winterberry without stooping to pick two—he’d always expect me to eat one whether I wanted it or not.  “No thanks, Dad”, was not a part of his vocabulary.  I’ve eaten dozens of different kinds of berries, nuts, grasses, and roots, but I don’t remember most of them anymore.  He always called it hunting, and it’s taken me sixty years to realize that the actual hunting part of the Thanksgiving ritual was just an excuse to get his young apprentice in the woods for a day of mountain man indoctrination and training.

Sometimes he’d stop and gaze at something on the ground.  He’d say, “Look, a wolf has been here in the last 24 hours.“  I didn’t even see anything.  He knew the footprint of every animal that roamed the Adirondacks.  His deductive reasoning told him how old the track was.  He often pointed out bear paw tracks, but we never hunted them.During the few hours we had spent in the woods, I had stepped out of my childhood and had become a man.  By the time we got home, I was a boy again.   We always made it back home in time to dry off, warm up and sit down to a Thanksgiving feast that was made better because of the huge appetite we had worked up.  Those Thanksgivings in the woods were some of my dad’s most precious memories.  They are mine too

Shirley (Denton Bortner, Kuhn) Tharp, daughter of Flossie (Dayton) Denton

DFH Volume 1 Issue 23

When, John Phillip Bortner and I married on July 31, 1954, I became a US Air Force military spouse. Phil had served in Korea for a year during the Korean Conflict. Upon returning to the United States he was stationed at Niagara Falls, NY, and we were married during that assignment. Uncle Charles Dayton performed the wedding ceremony at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Corinth.

Following the wedding we returned to Niagara Falls and lived in North Tonawanda, NY, until his enlistment expired. Our son Stephen Paul was born while we lived there.

Phil had decided not to reenlist, but after 89 days of being unemployed, he reenlisted and was sent to Saratoga Springs, NY. During the next two years, we were blessed with two more children: John Phillip Jr, and Pamela Sue.

Then, in the spring of 1959, Phil was sent to Itazuki Air Force Base in Japan for a 3-year tour. I and the three very young children joined him six months later.

In April 1962, we returned to the States and went to Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, NY, for another three-year assignment. This is where I began my Civil Service career, which I will tell about later.

At the end of that tour of duty, Phil received orders to go to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for two years. Again, I and the three children joined him there 11 months later. While there, I worked in the middle school office as secretary to the principal another Civil Service position.

In 1964, Phil was sent to a remote site in Alaska for a 1-year tour. He said that he read 80 books that year! When he returned in 1965, he was assigned to Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, TN, and we moved our mobile home to Manchester, TN. While there, I worked at Smyrna, TN, and then at AEDC both Civil Service positions.

When we returned to the States in August 1969 to take a new assignment at Fort Lee, VA, I was expecting our fourth child, Rebecca Lynn. She was born in the base hospital at Fort Lee on December 14, 1969. Three months later, I went back to work on Fort Lee and eventually became an Editor of Army technical manuals.

In 1971, Phil retired after 20 years of military service. Phil’s last civilian employment in Virginia was with the I95 Turnpike near Richmond, VA. In 1980, my mother, Flossie Dayton Denton, came to live with us in Hopewell, VA.

In 1983 I accepted a Writer-Editor position at Fort Rucker, AL, and Phil, Rebecca, Mother and I moved to Enterprise, AL and later to Dothan, AL. In 1985, Mother’s cancer returned, and she went to be with the Lord in September 1987. During my years of working full-time at Fort Rucker, I decided to get the transcripts from all of the colleges I had attended over the last several years to see what courses I needed to get my bachelor’s degree. I then attended night school at Enterprise Junior College and Troy State University and finally graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Management). In May 1993, I retired after 30 years of Civil Service employment. After that I worked about six years as Office Secretary for the Nazarene church in Dothan. On July 9, 1997, Phil died at home as a result of a heart attack. We had been married 43 years.

(To be continued next month—November 2019, Vol 1 Issue 24)


DFH Volume 1 Issue 23

This month starts a new feature called Memories.   It will include one or two photos from my vast collection of Dayton family photos.  If you would like a complete copy of my collection of photos, send a flash drive to Jim Dayton, 8366 Ridgestone Drive, Byron Center, MI 49315.  Be sure to include your return address.  I would like to continue adding to my collection.  Do you have digital images of your family or your parents or grandparents?  Please send them to me at (or send them to me on the flash drive which will be returned containing my photos.)