1998 Dayton Family Reunion-Paul’s Family

DFH Volume 1 Issue 14

During the 1998 reunion, we photographed the offspring of each of the children of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton who attended the reunion.  The following is ….

Paul’s. family.

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Paul Dayton’s Biography

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Paul Dayton was born June 29, 1923, during the roaring twenties.  His father was 53 and his mother was 43 when he was born.  His oldest sibling, Flossie, was 18 years older.  Then came his brother Chop, 15 years older, Chip, 13 years older and Wilber, 7 years older. By the time he reached his teenage years, his father was 66, his mother was 56 and all his brothers and sisters had left home, so baby Paul grew up as though he were an only child, even though he could call four siblings his brothers and sister. His parents raised him with the advantage of a lifetime of knowledge and experiences.  His mother and father were in a unique position of experimenting with the phrase “If I had it to do over again, I would…”,  with respect to rearing Paul.  His parents did have it to do over again, but without the energy and idealism that characterizes youth.  In his teenage years, Paul lived through the great depression.

To understand Paul, one needs to understand a little bit of his parents. His father, Wilber, was orphaned at the age of 13.  Wilber’s father and mother died just 6 months apart, he of kidney and liver disease in the autumn of 1882 and she of heart disease in spring of 1883. Without adults or government welfare programs to care for them, Wilber, his brother Jim,  and sisters Jennie and Carrie had to survive on their own.  They had their parents’ farm on Hadley Hill and little else.   They fed themselves from the land, had the farmhouse for shelter and clothed themselves with rags.  At one point, Wilber missed church and school because he had no shoes to wear.  Wilber quit school in the seventh grade when the teacher had taught him all she could about mathematics.   He figured if there was nothing new to learn then he had better things to do.  His older teenage brother James took care of the family, but it was a harsh, survival existence.  Wilber was a very industrious, hard worker throughout his entire life.  This came from that survival experience. 

Wilber was content with very little in the way of conveniences and possessions.  He never owned a car and never had a driver’s license even though he lived until 1957.  Although he lived in town, he heated his house with wood and coal.  Most houses had long ago converted to oil.  He had a very large garden and raised all the produce for his family up to the time of his death at age 87.  He worked as a laborer his entire life and preferred this type of work.  He was an extremely quiet man.  His own family hardly ever heard him speak and he never spoke in public.  He seldom smiled.  He had the characteristics of chronic clinical  depression, although being diagnosed and treated for the illness would have been nearly impossible because of his timid disposition.  Wilber attended church regularly, but never took a role in the leadership of the church.  He also did not provide the spiritual training at home.  He left that for Jessie.   But he did provide an exemplary model of humility, integrity and hard work that were his trademark.  It is easy to recognize this characteristic in his children.

In contrast, Paul’s mother Jessie Belle was outgoing.  She too grew up on a farm on Hadley Hill not far from Wilber.  She undoubtedly knew Wilber as she was growing up, although she was 10 years younger.  Her father died when she was 26.  Her mother was widowed a total of three times and lived her last years with Chester and Elizabeth Dayton.   She enjoyed school as a youngster and always wanted to be a schoolteacher.  She provided the spiritual training for her children and administered the discipline.  She was a great homemaker including cooking, sewing and other domestic skills. Her ginger snaps were my favorite.  She made “blueberry grunt” to die for!

Against this backdrop, Paul’s upbringing was very disciplined and strict.  He must have been very mature for his age, given the sum of all the conditions I have just described.  In fact, he was probably never a baby, but rather emerged from his mother’s womb as a young man.  Paul did enjoy toys though.  He had a large canister of marbles, bubble gum baseball cards, and Big Little books, including Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy.  One Christmas he dreamed of having a train.  He got a train which, at that time, seemed extravagant beyond reason. He inherited a newspaper delivery route from his big brother Wilber, as well as Wib’s Columbia bicycle.  He also earned spending money by picking and selling strawberries.  When the banks failed during the great depression, dad had $80 in the bank.  He recovered all of it.

He enjoyed many different sports, but never competed in school.  The coach encouraged him to play on the soccer team, but his newspaper route came first.  He enjoyed participating in soccer, cross-country running, ice-skating, ice hockey and baseball. At Corinth Central high school, he took a college prep course load including math, sciences and Latin.  He also took wood and metal shop.  He was first chair in the high school band, where he played the cornet.  He graduated from high school with a New York State Regents Diploma in 1941.

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He had courted Ruth Carter during most of his high school years, and he and Ruth were married on July 18, 1941.  As a newly wed husband, working at the International Paper Company, and expecting their first child, the United States Selective Service draft board served notice that he was to report for induction into the Armed Forces.  This was during World War II, and Paul recalls that he was convinced that he was going to be sent to a foreign country to die,  As frightening as the prospect of an untimely death was, it was magnified a hundred-fold because of his sense of commitment and responsibility to his young bride and unborn child.  At the induction ceremonies, only two men were singled out from the many army inductees to serve in the Navy.  He did not understand why he had been selected to serve in the Naval Branch. However, death at sea was as real as death in the trenches and foxholes.

Basic training was intense, but Paul persevered.  As a part of basic training, the sailors were given a battery of tests.  Paul scored high on the tests and was assigned to an electronics unit that was working on the development and testing of radar equipment.  Radar was a new technology that was developed to spot air traffic including inbound enemy aircraft and ships.  He was again singled out from a very large number of trainees that were bound for assignments on war ships, submarines and naval aircraft to fight the enemy.  Instead, he was sent to an electronics school in Grove City College, PA.  Upon completion of his schooling, he was sent to Cocoa Beach, Florida, Naval Air station.  There, he was a member of a crew who flew missions, in pontoon aircraft, up and down Banana River, near Cocoa Beach.  His job was to perform various tests on the new radar technology, so that it would be mission ready for deployment to the fighting forces.  They also dropped practice bombs on targets in the Banana River, which must have been a lot of fun. 

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While there, his wife and new daughter, Mary, were able to join him.  They lived in a small one-room cottage in Cocoa Beach.  During the height of World War II, when fighting men were deployed and killed all over the globe, Paul, Ruth and Mary were living together, safely within the borders of the United States.  Paul was at the leading edge of technological developments.  After Cocoa Beach, he was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas. His wife lived at home, but visited him.  At the end of the war, Paul was Honorably Discharged and returned to civilian life in Corinth, NY.  He had not only survived the war; he had never left American soil. Because of his electronics training, experience and recommendation, Philco Company offered Paul a lucrative job in the Philippines when he was discharged.  He refused the offer, and I don’t suppose he even thought twice about it.  He felt the Adirondack  Mountains calling him to return home, and he followed the call.

Upon his return, his brother Chester (AKA Chip) offered Paul employment in the logging and pulpwood business.  Their first job was logging Stone Mt.  Later they set-up a sawmill on Hadley Hill on land that was a part of the old Dayton homestead.  Chip had purchased the land from “Uncle Jim,” Wilber’s brother.  It was a very small-scale mill powered with a Buick engine.  While there, Paul had an accident in which he almost lost his leg.  While chopping the branches from a downed tree, his ax hit an overhead branch on the downswing.  The glancing blow struck Paul in the calf and sliced the calf down to the bone.  It left a huge scar on his leg.

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Dayton’s building the Sawmill in 1948

In September 1947, Paul and Chip founded Dayton Brothers Lumber Company, purchased land and built a permanent sawmill on Wall St. in Corinth.  Many Dayton men can truthfully affirm that they worked on Wall St. in New York during their illustrious careers.  It looks impressive on a resume. Their partnership lasted the remainder of their working lives, and Paul remained in the business for 50 years.  The greater part of Dayton Brothers lumber went to the International Paper Co. in Corinth, where it was used for many applications including boxcar bumpers, pallets, railroad ties, dam splashboards and various construction jobs.  Dayton Brothers also produced lumber for many local home building contractors and Arthur White and Sons Lumber Company in Corinth.  Over the years, they produced lumber for many industrial operations in the area – primarily for pallets.  They were known for their quality lumber, and they offered it at the lowest cost in the area.  Unlike many entrepreneurs, Chip and Paul took care of most of the overhead themselves.  Chip kept the books. Paul did the taxes.  They both were very skilled mechanics, and they took care of all the repairs and upkeep of the mill and vehicles themselves.  Paul handled most of the customer sales.  For mill operations, Chip was the sawyer.  He mastered the job and produced quality lumber with minimal waste.  Paul was the edger.  He was on the tail end of the saw and piled the wood after it came off the saw.  He also edged and trimmed the raw material.

The sawmill business was very physically demanding.  Of the two brothers, Paul had the larger frame and more muscle mass, so he did the bulk of the physical work.  He would muscle a log around the rollway with the skill that few loggers possessed.  His strength was extraordinary.   He never rested either.  He usually started work at seven and ended at four. Except for an hour every noon for a lunch break, he was constantly in motion doing some physical job.

Danger and injuries went with the job.  He was not careless, but accidents happened.  In the summer of 1959, a lumber pile of heavy timbers fell on him, causing a compound fracture of the leg.  He was laid up for several months.  I recall another time when he came home at an unusual hour when he should have been working.  He walked into the kitchen, and it became quickly apparent why he was there.  A sliver of wood about the dimensions of a six-inch dagger had penetrated his body just below the armpit. Instead of going to the doctor, Ruth helped him extract it, and then he returned to work.  His finger was severely injured when he stuck it into the revolving blades of the large planer in the planing mill.  One day he was working underneath his car when the jack gave way.  The Lord spared his life, but his knee was injured.  One day at the sawmill, the brakes failed on the forklift as he was backing it down a hill.  A tractor was at the bottom of the hill with forks raised.  The mammoth forklift struck the tractor, and its raised forks pierced the forklift on both sides of him at chest high level.  Six inches left or right, and he would have been killed instantly. Sawmill work was physically strenuous and dangerous.  It was an honest, yet difficult way to make a living, and Paul enjoyed it.

Dayton Bros. provided employment opportunity for many relatives and a few friends over the 50 years of operation.  In no particular order, and to the best of my recollection, the list of employees is as follows: Harold Chapman, Alex Winslow, Art Winslow, Roger Dayton, Steve Dayton, John Dayton, Jim Dayton, Danny Lamos, Andy Fuller, Bill Fuller, Ray Orton, Duane Orton, Priscilla Dayton, Ruth Mary Dayton, Carolyn Ruth Dayton.

Paul Dayton liting board from saw run off

The sawmill business provided a comfortable, middle-working class existence.  Paul bought new cars every 2-3 years from the late 40’s through 1966.  He was partial to Fords during his earlier years and later became interested in any model that was a bargain.  He had been living in a very small apartment on the 2nd floor of his parent’s house from the time he returned from the War until 1955.  In 1955, we moved into a newly constructed 3-bedroom, single bath ranch home at 7 West Mechanic St. in Corinth.  He selected and modified the plans and contracted the job to Beecher Carpenter, a local contractor and carpenter. Beyond the new home and the cars, Paul did not have many other material interests. He simply did not have time for them.  In his youthful family days, he frequently attended the stock car races at Menands, Fonda and later Malta.  He played on the Corinth Church Men’s softball team. He enjoyed deer hunting.  During his first fifty years, he always managed to find some time to fit hunting into his schedule.  He and Chip frequently had venison to eat.  Paul’s style of hunting was to go to where the deer were, instead of the usual method of waiting for the deer to come to the hunter’s blind.  In the process, he hiked several miles during a day’s hunt.   Sometimes, a deer was slain miles from the car, and it would be a Herculean feat to carry or drag the deer out of the woods.  Although he always carried a compass, he seldom needed to use it.  He had an instinct for location and direction when he was in the woods.   On many occasions when it was not hunting season, he enjoyed going for rides in the car to spot deer in the wild.  He would often drive the family to Sabattus (north of Long Lake, NY) to spot and count the deer between the main road and the dead-end about 10 to 15 miles into the Adirondack wilderness.  Once each year, in August, the annual logging show was held in Tupper Lake, NY.  It was a real family treat to attend the show on Saturday.  We viewed the exhibits that included heavy machinery, chain saws and other logging equipment.  If we were lucky, we would run across a booth with a free give-away.  There was always a parade that included bagpipe bands and the heavy machinery.  As an added treat, we would stop at Lake Eaton Campground for a picnic and a swim.

Paul was a family man, but his business prevented him from taking the typical family vacation that most working people enjoy.  We children never felt deprived of attention or deprived of family outings. The few special overnight occasions that occurred were memorable.  At least once per year, dad took the family to a baseball game in New York city.  Although we usually went to Shea Stadium, the most memorable events took place at Yankee Stadium and the old Polo Grounds.  In 1964, dad and I boarded a bus in Saratoga and attended a twi-night double header at Shea Stadium where the NY Mets played the Philadelphia Phillies.  We arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan and took the train to Shea Stadium.  We were early, and the World’s Fair was underway adjacent to the Stadium.  We spent a couple hours at the fair and then attended both games.  After the second game, we took the train back to Penn Station, and from there returned by bus to Saratoga.  The entire trip must have taken at least 16 hours, but I don’t remember being tired.  The trip with dad was exhilarating.

In about 1961, we made a family trip to NYC.  It was over Labor Day weekend.  The centerpiece was a double header at Yankee Stadium with the Los Angeles Angels.  We sat in the right field bleachers, very near Roger Maris.  My dad, Paul, was very amused by a spectator giving Maris verbal abuse.  During the same trip we stayed in a Motel in the Bronx.  Paul navigated the NYC subway system for most of our travel. We went to Coney Island, Times Square, 42nd St., Grand Central Station, rode the Stanton Island ferry, and visited the Bronx zoo.  At the zoo, a man with Parkinson’s disease gave us a guided tour.  My father paid him $20 at the end of the tour.  Paul was a generous man.  Around 1960, we went on a three-day vacation including the weekend to Maine and New England.  We stayed at a cottage called “Dayton’s by the Sea” at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  We also visited Plymouth, MA.  In 1958, we went to Wilber Dayton, Jr.’s home in Wilmore, KY for Christmas.  1953 found us in Marion, IN.  Wilber Dayton, Jr. was the President of Marion College, and we visited him.  I believe we may have been attending the graduation ceremonies of one of Paul’s nieces or nephews, but I am not sure.  I spent a good portion of the trip resting in the ledge across the top of the back seat.  We visited Houghton College on several occasions for graduations and other special events.  Paul attended the West Chazy, NY church campgrounds as frequently, and for as long as he could be  away from business at Dayton Brothers Lumber Co.  If he was a church delegate, he spent the last week of June there.  Otherwise, he was there for both weekends and often on the 4th of July.  He also attended many church sponsored events including national Sunday School conferences and General Conference of the Wesleyan Church.

Most frequently, we did something as a family on Saturday.  Often it was simply going shopping, and I remember that it was always a special time. We all packed into the car (seven people in a two-door coupe) and headed for Glens Falls shopping, or on more infrequent occasions, we would go the Montgomery Wards in Menands, NY.  In those days, there was not the proliferation of fast food restaurants.  When we went to Glens Falls, it was a real treat to eat hot dogs from the New Way Lunch on South Street. Mom would pick up an order to go and we would eat them in the car because they sold beer, and it was the “skid row” of Glens Falls.  On trips to Menands, there was a White Castle Hamburger restaurant across the street from Montgomery Wards, and we always looked forward to eating those little nuggets of beef.  About three or four times while I was growing up, the family would venture into downtown Albany to the State Museum.  At least once each summer, the family went to a local amusement park.  We would ride the tilt-a-whirl, the whip, the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel.  Paul tested his strength at the midway booth that was a tower with a bell at the top.  The swing of a wooden mallet propelled a metal ring towards the bell. Often, he could clang the bell.  His brother Chop rang the bell consistently.  All these events were very happy times.

One summer, Dad decided that we children needed to do something recreational on Saturday.  He got us out of bed at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning and at 7:00 AM we were at the Lake Luzerne beach.  Of course, we were the only people at the beach, and we swam or waded for an hour.  Dad was a good swimmer, but none of us children knew how to swim.  At about 8 AM we returned home, where mom made us a large breakfast.   This routine only lasted about 4 or 5 weeks before our protests ended the project. When I played High School football, dad and mom made it a point to attend all the games, even though they didn’t know what was going on.  They wanted to show their support and were proud of their son.

More than any other single thing, what set Paul Dayton apart from other men and made him very special was his unwavering integrity and generosity.  Paul was raised in a spiritually fundamentalist, holiness practicing, conservative Protestant household.  The denomination, Wesleyan Methodist (later Wesleyan), broke away from the Methodist church over the issue of slavery in 1843.  Later on (after Prohibition) the “Wesleyans” shifted from a progressive church at the cutting edge of  social change such as abolition of slavery and women’s rights, to become the “spiritual right-wing” of the Methodist Church.  Paul’s family attended all church services.  In addition, bible reading, scripture memorization and prayer were routinely practiced in the home.  In this environment, Paul became “born-again” as a young child.  From the moment of his conversion, he was determined to live a holy lifestyle.  Jesus Christ’s principles for living became the centerpiece of his life.

It was natural that as Paul and Ruth raised a family, church activities and spiritual training at home was the couple’s number one priority.  If there was a church service, Paul and his family could be counted on to be there. In addition to local church activities, they also attended local camp meetings and district church activities.

Paul administered discipline in the home.  He was considerate and tolerant of childish misbehavior like spilling drink or bouncing a basketball through the house, but he had no tolerance for sin, as defined by the Ten Commandments.  If we were caught lying or stealing, we were immediately disciplined.  We would be taken to a private place like a closed bedroom.  Then we would receive a spanking that was memorable, yet not abusive.  He would always say that “this is going to hurt me more than it does you,” and I knew he was sincere.  After the spanking, he would ask the culprit to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for the sin. Every day, we conducted a “family altar.”  We would all gather in the living room, usually after dinner.  We would be read either scripture or a Bible story.  Then we would get on our knees and each take a turn in prayer, in sequence from oldest to youngest.  We ended the session by reciting the Lord’s prayer.

Although he took his lumber business very seriously, Dad never worked on Sunday.  Sunday was the Sabbath—a day of rest.  He did not buy or sell, watch television or attend activities other than church on Sundays.

Paul was very active in his church.  He held positions of Trustee, Church Board of Administration, Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Church Bus driver, Young People’s Society sponsor, Choir member, special music duets with his wife, orchestra organizer and leader.  In addition, he plowed the snow from the parking lot and performed many maintenance tasks.  He performed much of the skilled labor during the construction of the church’s Educational Building and the new sanctuary.  For many years, he taught the junior boys Sunday School class.  He gave every boy a new Bible.  His instruction and example left a lasting impression on the youth of the village of Corinth even after they “grew up” and “outgrew the need to attend church.”

In addition to his stewardship of time and service, Paul was a very generous donor.  The Dayton Brothers donations to the local church went a great way toward support of the local building program and the underwriting of the local church operations. Paul Dayton lived a simple life, yet his actions, conduct and teaching have served as a model of moral, Christian living.  He has influenced hundreds of lives in a positive manner that few men ever can.

         As told by his son, Jim Dayton, September 1998.

About the Family: His wife Ruth

Ruth was born July 9, 1923, in Northumberland, NY.  She moved to Corinth when she was about 3.  Daughter of Archie and Blanche Carter, she had four siblings, Ernest, Harold, Marion and Arthur.  She enjoyed basketball and earned a varsity letter in it.  Just a month before she was to graduate from high school, Ruth quit school because she didn’t have confidence that she would pass her exams and didn’t want to face the humiliation of failure.  Based on Christian Education courses she taught, and Church financial responsibilities and leadership later in life, there’s no question that she was a bright woman. She was a humble servant from the time she developed personality until the time she passed away.  She always did for others and did very little for herself.  She was the most selfless woman I ever knew.  She always felt most comfortable being domestic, whether it was cooking, or cleaning up after messy kids.  She left all discipline to Paul.  She was a very emotional person, laughing hysterically at something funny until she cried. That is a common affliction in many sensitive people.  Her life centered around church and family.  She was a Children’s Sunday School teacher her entire adult life.  She was Sunday School Treasurer and Women’s Missions Treasurer.  She was church pianist, assistant organist and sang duets with husband Paul.  Ruth received recognition from the Wesleyan denomination for successfully completing all courses in their Christian Education curriculum.

Daughter Mary

Mary was born June 23, 1943, in Corinth. In high school, she played the reed woodwinds, but was most accomplished on the bassoon.  She graduated from Houghton Academy in 1961.  Mary worked for quite a while in administrative positions at Adirondack Hospital in Corinth.  She was also layout editor at The Penny Saver newspaper in Corinth.  She was on the board of the local library for years. In the mid-1980’s Mary began terrible suffering from the pain of fibromyalgia. Added to that was a back injury suffered in an automobile accident. These two injuries left her mainly homebound and in constant agony.  She is an avid reader, some might say a fanatical reader, and enjoys music, especially playing her piano until she could no longer sit up for extended periods of time.  When she can venture from the house, she enjoys dining at local restaurants, and would make a very good restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper.  Her husband Bill and she love to host guests in their home.  Bill’s early career found him in ever advancing, managerial and sales and administrative posts with local and regional companies.  From the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s he held several different elective positions, including mayor of Corinth.  After that he held the position of Village Treasurer until his retirement.  Since the beginning of Mary’s two painful illnesses, Bill has been a constant caregiver to Mary.  He is the role model for good and selfless caregiving.  He performs all domestic tasks.  He encourages her and is a patient and loving companion.  My wife has Parkinson’s and I want to be just like Bill, but no one else can be as good as he.  We siblings appreciate him more than he will ever know.

Son Jim

Second in birth order is Jim, born July 9, 1948, in Corinth.  Does his birthday look familiar?  It’s the same as Ruth’s.  That’s right, he was his mom’s birthday present.  She probably wishes she had re-gifted him several different times.  He enjoys sports and participated in some of them during high school.  His favorite was football.  After graduating from Corinth Central School in 1966, he attended Houghton College for two years,  was graduated from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), A.B. in mathematics, 1970.  Judy Potter and he were married August 17, 1968, in Corinth.  He and Judy have two daughters, Kari and Jennifer, six grandchildren and one great granddaughter.  He was employed by GTE until retirement in 1999, where he held various engineering, administrative and financial positions of increasing responsibility. He enjoys family, especially grandchildren and gr-grandchild.  His soulmate and he celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018.  Judy was the daughter of Bob and Becky Potter.  Judy’s career was in operations and finance for Bank of America and its two predecessor merger acquisitions.  She was an assistant vice president.  In her year of retirement, she earned the prestigious Employee Excellence Award—only 50 employees out of 200,000 did so. She graduated from South High in South Glens Falls and attended Houghton College.  She enjoys family activities and reading.

Daughter Priscilla

The third child of Paul and Ruth was Priscilla born July 19, 1953 in Corinth.  Priscilla is musically gifted.  She played the flute and the guitar.  She earned her B.A. in Social Science from Houghton College.  In her early career, she was a social worker. She married Keith Tyler July 14, 1979, in her home church in Corinth.  Keith was a professional musician and later a Music Pastor, so Priscilla and her family (daughter Mary and Son Sam) moved several times, including Moncton, New Brunswick and Fort Wayne, IN before settling in Milton, PA.  Priscilla home schooled her children Mary and Sam.  Keith died in 2007, and Priscilla, Mary and Sam still reside in Milton.  Her church family has become a large part of her family, and  Priscilla is manager of her church’s bookstore.  She is also the glue which holds our Paul Dayton family together.

Son John

The fourth child was born Jan. 12, 1955.  He graduated from Corinth Central high school in 1974.  Although John never pursued a career in mechanical engineering, he was a mechanical genius.  Among other technical feats, he would dismantle watches and reassemble them for fun.  He also made wooden clocks without patterns or instructions.  He also enjoyed making wooden projects, and his creativity knew no limits.  However, each project had to be made from Dayton Brothers lumber.  He was a gadget guy who couldn’t resist anything truly unusual.  He had a passion for the New York Mets baseball team.  He collected their memorabilia, and his man cave was loaded with Mets treasures.  He was a fast-pitch softball pitcher for the tri-county area church softball league.  John had the following children: Diana, John,  Jr., and Sarah, and stepchildren Karla, Sarah Leigh, and Peter.  John and his wife Lori had a passion for Children’s Christian ministries.  Lori taught  children at local churches in a multitude of capacities for many years.  She is also the Director of Children’s Ministries at the Holiness Association Camp Meeting at West Chazy NY each July.  John worked year-round, behind the scenes, to make wooden crafts for the children to assemble and paint.  Lori worked in janitorial services at Corinth Central school for several years.  John died on October 20, 2018, in Saratoga Springs Hospital.

Son Steve

The youngest child is Steve, born December 29, 1956.  He earned his B.A. in History from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University).  His post graduate work was at Penn State, with a certification in Institutional Research Analysis.  Steve is currently the Institutional Research Analyst at Taylor University.  He resides in Gas City, IN, with wife Nancy. Steve collected US Presidential Campaign memorabilia for 30 years.  His collection has been exhibited at local libraries and was presented to college and high school groups.  He enjoyed riding Triumph motorcycles until deciding lack of strength and flexibility should prevent it.  He married Nancy Klinger August 17, 1991, and the couple has three children. Catie graduated from Taylor 5/18/19, and twins Sam and Grace are freshmen there.  Dr. Nancy Dayton earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Miami University, in Ohio. She is presently Professor- of English Literature and Chair of the English Department at Taylor University.   Steve is the author of Our Long Island Ancestors, The First Six Generations of Daytons in America 1639-1807.

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Question Box – Dayton Lineage

DFH Volume 1 Issue 14

Last week’s quiz: Do you all know who your great-grampa Dayton is/was? 

Ralph Dayton1 was the first Dayton to set foot on American soil (in 1639…he emigrated from Ashford, Kent County, England).  His descendants down to Wilber Dayton Sr. were: Samuel Dayton2, Abraham Dayton3, Henry Dayton4, David Dayton, Sr.5, David Dayton, Jr.6, Henry Dayton7, Charles Dayton8, Wilber Dayton, Sr.9 .  How far down the line are you from Wilber, Sr.?  Congratulations if you know!  Otherwise, I’d be honored to help you learn!  After all, it’s not every day that someone can trace their roots to the New Haven colony in 1639. (it would probably make a good middle school or high school history project).

1998 Dayton Family Reunion-Wilber Dayton Jr. Family

DFH Volume 1 IIssue 13

During the 1998 reunion, we photographed the offspring of each of the children of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton who attended the reunion.  The following is the Dr. Wilber T “Wib”  Dayton, Jr. family.

Dr, Wilber Thomas Dayton, Jr. was the fourth child born to Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton on Hadley Hill in 1916.  His sibling pal, Chester, was gone from the Dayton home when Wilber was 13 years old.  His new “pal” Paul was born when Wilber was seven years old. So Wilber never had a sibling close to his age as he was growing up.  Paul, seven years his junior, looked up to his big brother as hero and role model.  Wib took the role seriously and was always very kind and loving to his baby brother. 

I had a chance to witness this love and affection for each other in the final chapter of Wib’s life.  Two weeks before Wib passed away [Nov10, 1999], I took Paul and his 2nd wife to visit Wilber at his nursing home in Macon, GA.  By then, Wib’s dementia was quite advanced, and he and Paul had a great deal of difficulty communicating.  Then it happened.  They started talking about Wilber’s Columbia bicycle, which he used for his newspaper route.  His trademark smile returned for what was probably the final time and a twinkle returned in what were moments before, dead, lifeless eyes.   Dad had inherited Wib’s newspaper route and bicycle, and that common bond was with them till the end.  For all that they had accomplished in their lives, they were still young boys in spirit.  The handing of the paper route from accomplished to novice had cemented a lifelong admiration for each other.

 One of the highlights of the Paul Dayton family was a Christmas journey to Wilber’s home in Wilmore KY about 1958.  Our two families spent about two or three days together…brother with brother…cousins with cousins…wife/aunt/mother with the same.  It was a vacation we never forgot and talked about every Christmas.  On our Kentucky Christmas morning, we woke up to a Christmas stocking for each of us hung on the mantle.  We kept those stockings, and my mom, Ruth, hung them on our mantle every Christmas afterwards.  The stockings weren’t the gaudy style which you buy at a department store.  They were lovingly hand-made by Aunt Donna… she was family…Dayton family.  Good memories of a loving, caring family.

Wilber excelled academically for his entire academic life (1st grade to post graduate studies).   At his high school graduation, not only was he valedictorian of his class, but he accomplished it in three years.  College was no different.  Other educational, academic pursuits and professional assignments were the same.  EXCEL, EXCEL, EXCEL.  A person could be very generous with superlatives and kudos when describing Dr. Wilber Thomas Dayton.  I will let the following three-page resume speak for itself.  NOTE: Notice the spelling of College in the very last word of the resume.  I ALWAYS thought my uncle was academically perfect, but he did make an academic error at least once in his life. He spelled college Collette on his resume.

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Question Box – Oyster Stew

DFH Volume 1 Issue 13

If you have questions about anything Dayton, or you have Dayton trivia, please write. Can you stump me?

Last week’s quiz… What was the food which was a staple at the yearly Wilber and Jessie family Christmas get together?

AnswerOYSTER STEW. Gramma made it year after year, except once! Here is what Paul [my dad] had to say about it, “We always had oyster soup back then. In fact one year, Chop was coming from Vermont, he was preaching over there then, he could smell the oyster soup, and it turned out when he got here we had chicken.”  I’d like to think, that it was a centuries – old Dayton tradition to have oyster stew on Christmas Day.  Steve and I discovered that Samuel, Abraham and Henry Dayton* were merchants of sea food products.  They all lived by the sea on Long Island and were whalers.  It would have been natural for them to eat seafood …perhaps a hearty oyster stew.  This tradition would have passed through five generations to get to gramma Jessie Belle.  Improbable, but why else would a back woods couple, far from the sea, be eating oysters?

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*The descendancy from Samuel to Wilber’s children is as follows [Samuel, Abraham, Henry, David Sr., David Jr., Henry, Charles, Wilber Sr, [Wilber and Jessie’s children Flossie, Charles, Chester, Wilber, Jr., Paul].

This week’s quiz: Do you all know who your great-grampa Dayton is/was?  If not, write me and I’ll tell you (tell me who your dad and grampa were and I’ll tell you your Dayton grampas back 8-10 generations (all the way back to the first grampa on American soil in 1639).  You can write privately or for inclusion in the newsletter, whichever you prefer.

Who Was Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr?

DFH Volume 1 Issue 13

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Wilber & Jessie Belle Dayton
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Wilber was the patriarch of all the modern-day Daytons in our lineage.  Nearly all the people featured in this newsletter, and the subscription list for this newsletter, descend from him.  He was born October 30, 1870, on Hadley Hill, in Saratoga County, New York, to Charles and Nancy Dayton.  He didn’t have much of a childhood.  He was forced to become an adult when he was orphaned at the age of 13.  In those days, there were no government social services or welfare programs.  So, he and 3 of his 4 siblings ran the family farm in order to survive.  His older brother Jim, two younger sisters, Jennie and Carrie and he lived together at the farm.  The sibling’s oldest brother, Delbert had moved to Iowa so he was unavailable to help them.  Family lore has it that Wilber quit school when he was 13.  The teacher ran out of new material towards the end of the school year and so started teaching the same material over again.  Wilber had “learned that already” so he decided he had more important things to do.  According to his daughter, Flossie, he once stopped going to church one summer because he didn’t have any shoes to wear.  Wilber stayed at the farm until he was married to Jessie Belle White on August 31, 1904.

After he and his siblings sold the farm, he had enough assets to buy and sell several properties around Hadley, Luzerne and Corinth. They settled down at Mechanic St. in Corinth around 1920.  In his early life, he mainly cut pulp wood and sold it to International Paper Company in Corinth.  Paul marvels at the fact that Wilber cut all the pulpwood with an axe.  No saw.  No machines! He must have had extraordinary strength and endurance. My dad called him, “all man.”  Later, he was employed by the paper company in Corinth where he worked until he was in his 70’s.  Wilber never owned or drove a car.  He never even had a driver’s license.  He did have a horse and buggy until probably about 1915-1920.  At one point, he had a horse named Pontiac that ran away.  Grampa knew right where to search—down the road a short distance a water trough had summoned his errant beast.  He was thirsty.  

He and Jessie reared five children.  In birth order, they were Florence (Flossie), Charles (Chop), Chester (Chip), Wilber Jr. (Wib), and Paul.  Wilber and Jessie and their children were faithful members of the Wesleyan Methodist church in Corinth. Wilber never had an opportunity to learn social skills, because he wasn’t around adults growing up, he was shy and withdrawn his entire life.  Some, including my dad (Paul), suspected that he may have also suffered from clinical depression.  Unwelcome personality traits are often misinterpreted or ignored.

The following is a page from his pastor’s diary, written at that time, clarifying some of the behavior he often exhibited.  This is what he said about Wilber:

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I can’t imagine grampa was offended by his pastor.  My belief is that grampa had several psychiatric conditions, which manifested themselves in some of his undesirable behaviors. At that moment, grampa was frightened by people. So was his daughter Flossie, who quit school teaching, her love and passion for many years, because she had an inability to cope. I have struggled with similar reactions to stressful situations and are well aware of the merciful benefits of medication. Full acceptance of a need, and the availability of services and treatment for personality disorders is fairly recent.

This tempers my personal take on grandpa’s episode with his pastor.  People often let mental issues fester and simmer without seeking treatment; the issues don’t get better, and they don’t go away. It’s possible that we Dayton’s have a predisposition to malfunctions of many types, inherited from Wilber Dayton, Sr.  I hope you will forgive me for making that observation about our family, but it needs to be said and understood.

Wilber left the family rearing and discipline to Jessie Belle, who he called “Jess”.  He was an extraordinarily good gardener (see Volume 1 Issue 1 of this weekly newsletter).  I remember his well-stocked food staples in a separate room in his root cellar.  Wilber was well known around the small mill town of Corinth, with a reputation for honesty and a hard work ethic.  He died July 18, 1957 at his home. His death certificate sites hypertension-Cardiovascular Disease as the cause of death.  That may be medical jargon for saying he died of old age. He was an honorable man who “wore himself out!”  A crowd attended his viewing in the living room of Paul Dayton’s home, including the Roman Catholic priest who mentioned what an industrious man of integrity he was.  I know it’s fashionable to say something like that of the dead.  The big difference in this case, though, is that he was!

At Wilber and Jessie’s passing, here is their parental scorecard …their legacy:

  • Flossie-School teacher -A.B. degree from what was to become SUNY/Albany;
  • Charles-pastor and superintendent of his northern district;
  • Chester-Business Entrepreneur, co-owner of Dayton Brother’s Sawmill;
  • Wilber-Th.D.-Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, theologian, professor, pastor, writer, lecturer;
  • Paul-Business Entrepreneur, co-owner of Dayton Brother’s Sawmill.

Not bad for poorly educated, poverty level, orphaned child/man.  How could it happen? In a Christ-centered home with integrity, generosity, consistency and LOVE!

John Dayton Memorial

DFH Volume 1 Issue 14

John Dayton
Born January 12, 1955                         Died October 20, 2018

This weekend, May 25-26, the Paul Dayton family is meeting in Corinth for a memorial service and graveside committal for John Carter Dayton Sr., loving husband of Lori.

To the extended family of John:  May God be with you and bless you today as you celebrate John’s life.

1998 Dayton Family Reunion-Chester Dayton Family

DFH Volume 1 Issue 12

During the 1998 reunion, we photographed the offspring of each of the children of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton who attended the reunion.  The following is the Chester “Chip”  Dayton family.

Chester “Chip” Dayton was the third child of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton.  He was born in 1910, during the presidency of William Taft.  Ford’s Model T had been invented only 2 years earlier, so there were very few roads and mainly dirt with ruts, as were all streets in towns and cities.  The preferred transportation was still horse and buggy.  Chip was raised in a home with Christian training and did well in school.  He was one of three graduates to speak at his high school commencement ceremony. He enrolled at Houghton College after high school where he met and fell in love with Clara Stanton from Long Lake, New York.  They married in 1929 when Chip was just 19 years old.  Tragically, just three months after marriage, Clara died of tuberculosis.  After a time of seclusion, Chip rebounded and married Elizabeth “Lib” Duell in 1931. Out of this union, Chip and Lib had Mary Lou, Betty, Nanette and Roger.  Tragedy struck Chip and Lib in 1936, when their 4-year-old daughter, Mary Lou was struck and killed as she ran into the street after getting a piece of ice from the ice truck.

Chip worked at International Paper Company until about 1946, when he decided to launch into a business venture which would fulfill a lifelong dream.  He asked his kid brother Paul, who was also working at International Paper Company, to become an equal partner with him in the Dayton Brothers Lumber Company.  It was a lifelong partnership of best friends.  As far as I know, they never had a major confrontation or disagreement.  Most remarkable!  They were partners for 35 years.  Lib, his wife of 50 years, died in 1981.  He remarried to Marjean Chapman in 1982.  Chip died in 2005, at the age of 95. 

He and Paul loved deer hunting.  They both had a natural harmony with the forest and mountains.  Chip loved being in the outdoors and enjoyed woodworking of any kind.  He was a gentleman and a gentle man.  His strength was his generosity.  He was devoted to the Christian faith in a very active and profound fashion, he was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Corinth, New York. He held nearly all officer positions of the church at various times, even serving as a local pastor to provide assistance in the absence of the senior pastor. His favorite charity was the Gideons, an organization which spreads the gospel and places Bibles in the hands of personnel in the armed forces, hotel patrons and students at educational facilities.  He was unusually generous with both his money and his abilities, not only for the local church, but with family and friends who needed a helping hand.  He was so humble that it was sometimes difficult to recognize what a tremendous contribution he was making.  He was indeed the role model that we all need in our lives.

Children of Chester:

Mary Lou was tragically killed when running into the street and being struck by a car when she was only four years old.

BettyI’m quite sure that Betty got her degree from Houghton and was an R.N.  She and husband Ramon (Ray) Orton had children David, Dennis, Duane, Pamela and Robin.  Betty passed away in 2011.  Ray enjoyed a prestigious career in Engineering at IBM. After a period living on his boat in Virginia, he now lives with his daughter, Pam Pichette in Michigan.

Nanette-Nan first attended Marion College (Indiana Wesleyan University) and then Kentucky Mountain Bible College.   She married Rev. Leonard Humbert and was married for 51 years before Len passed away in 2012. In recent years she went back to Roberts Wesleyan College to receive the necessary education for her ordination.  She has since been ordained in the Free Methodist Church.    Nan is still very active in church and community affairs [81 years old].   She lives in Rose, NY near her son, Mark.   She and Len had children Mark, Maribeth, Paul, and Heidi.

Roger-Roger spent the early part of his career working at Dayton Brothers Lumber company.  After he left the sawmill, he worked in construction for a short time.  He then established Dayton Pest Control which he owned and operated for many years.  Roger and his wife Dale have a blended family of Tamara, Lydia, Katie, Amanda, Stacy. [Roger had carrot top red hair -the envy of many of us in the Dayton family]

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Do You Remember This Building or the Surrounding Buildings? Answer

DFH Volume 1 Issue 12

Last week I asked you if you remembered this building.  I think probably only those born before 1960 would remember it.  The tabernacle was rebuilt by the time that most of us attended there, but it was similar enough to the old one that most of us knew what it is.  It is the West Chazy Champlain District Tabernacle located in West Chazy, New York. The following description of the campground came from the Sun, Jan. 12, 2008, WEST CHAZY “Since the turn of the last century, the Wesleyan Bible Camp has been a fixture in West Chazy. However, mounting finances and decreasing revenue have put the camp in danger of closing permanently. The camp, which was first established in its current location in 1901, consists of 145 private cottage sites, three dormitories, a tabernacle, dining hall, 16-room motel, maintenance directors residence, and 24 campsites spread over nearly 35 acres off West Church Street.”  I’m nearly certain that the campground actually dates to about the 1870’s.  Most of you attended there summer after summer but have amnesia when it comes to remembrances which others would enjoy hearing about.  Three of you have sent me some of your fond memories. Here are some of the favorites.

Priscilla recalls

  • standing by the open window in the girls’ dorm bathroom and hearing Keith play the piano in the nearby Youth Tabernacle.  I remembered how he played the previous year and very distinctly remember thinking, “Hmm.. the Tyler boy is coming along pretty well with his playing…must’ve practiced a lot this year.” I had no idea we would end up together.  (Keith and Priscilla were married in 1979.  Keith passed away in 2007).
  • wondering if Dorrie Lamos ever did anything else at West Chazy besides play the organ or piano for services. She was so faithful, always there to play for EVERY service. I’m sure her husband was there, too, but mostly I remember her always in position.
  • me trying not to touch anything in the ladies’ shower- it looked so gross from age and many months of non-use between camps although I know someone spent time scrubbing for the next season.
  • watching for UFOs because it seemed like such a logical place for one to be.
  • trying desperately to keep my eyes open during marathon meetings.
  • trying to get away with something—anything…!
  • hearing a little camper excitedly shout, “Look at the birdie!” as Robin Mattoon and I (Crusaders counselors) laughed and pulled the blankets over our heads because the bird was a bat and was flying around the dormitory.
  • wondering if the world was going to end when I went to bed… 1967, the 6-day War—is this IT?!
  • being on the 2nd floor of the Crusader dorm when a huge airplane skimmed the top of the trees. It was deafening!.
  • checking out the merchandise at the “book store” in the tabernacle (now I manage a Christian book store at church).
  • the day Dad was trapped under a lumber pile at the sawmill and The Hayes family came to the rescue….  I could go on and on, but I guess I have already.

Judy Dayton recalls

  • Listening to the metal box springs at night.
  • Peeking through the knot holes into the room next door.
  • Best hot dogs ever.
  • Listening to an etiquette “sermon” by Aunt Jo in the missionary tabernacle.
  • Having to wear dresses all the time (no gym wear).
  • Walking the back lanes of the camp grounds where there was no lighting holding hands.
  • Sleeping over the dining hall….wondering what to do if there was a fire.
  • Listening for the dinner bell…Pavlov’s dog training.
  • Looking over my shoulder to see what relative was watching me and reporting to my parents.
  • Going to the mail window to get any cards from home.

Jim Dayton recalls

Good, Good memories.  Memories that, in a small way, gave me some spiritual roots I have cherished for my lifetime.  I wouldn’t trade these memories.  I suspect you feel this way too. Why not join in the conversation?  After all, they’re our memories too.

  • Taking up residence in the unfinished boy’s dorm; the walls were half finished concrete block walls (about four feet high) and the roof was the starry sky.
  • Marching from the West Chazy tabernacle to the West Chazy church to attend bible school [see photo above]
  • “Dating” girls and holding hands during the evening service.  Then buying them a hot dog and coke at the snack bar— with sticky fly paper everywhere above the food and ice cream
  • Going to St. Armand beach and hoping we would see a French Canadian in a bikini (this was the 1950’s).
  • What counselor, in his or her “right mind” would take 50 to 100 kids on a mountain climb to a summit, where, if you walked a very short distance, to the eastern side, you could climb back down the mountain with one step?
  • US Air Force 8-engine B-52 strategic bombers [armed with a nuclear payload] flew directly over the tabernacle in the direct flight path to Plattsburgh Air Base. They were flying at perhaps 500 ft over the tree tops.  It was cool when it would disrupt the evening evangelistic service with a sound so deafening it had the potential to permanently damage your hearing.
  • Trying to find a dark place after the evening service where you could attempt to kiss your date. The campground had a militia that walked around with flashlights to prevent that very thing.  Rev. “stubby fingers” led the posse, and Rev. Ed “the peeker” Elliott was a pretty good hunter too.  I don’t remember the rest, but they had so many hunters that we kids didn’t stand a chance.
  • One year, rumors started to circulate among the younger kids that I had signed a contract with the New York Mets.
  • Trying to “score a date” with the coolest of the camp meeting girls.
  • Jackie Tyler and Mary Jane Murray wearing baseball gloves on their heads to the evening evangelistic service.
  • Dorrie Lamos playing the organ.
  • Carl Timpson playing a musical solo on the saw.
  • The bookstore in the tabernacle
  • Getting your meal ticket punched by Rev. “Stubby fingers” Chapman
  • Fund raising by uncle Chop during the service with public financial pledge commitments from the floor. “Dayton Brothers will give $1,000” brought gasps all over the congregation.
  • Saturday night was “Sunday School night” during the evening service.  It was “Statistics evening” and I loved stats…I still do. (Glens Falls had highest average attendance at X, with Corinth finishing at Y….rats, we’ll beat ‘em next year)
  • Sneaking out during the Sunday Ordination service to be first in the outrageously long dining hall line (always Turkey).
  • Buttering the toast with a paint brush.
  • Gary Tyler, Rich Cook, Dwight Hayes and a fourth, in a very good quartet singing Down by the River Side.
  • Roger Rounds, a teen evangelist with muscles bulging from one end of the platform to the other end— (A “wannabe” Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • Don Klob – a pastor with a heart for youth and a very good man.
  • Rev. Ed “the Peeker” Elliott who never shut his eyes during prayer.
  • Rev. Howard Chapman’s VW pickup, the envy of all young boys
  • My heart throbbing over Judy Potter who was too popular (and uppity) to date me. She’s been my soul mate for 55 years and my wife for 51 years.  Thank you, West Chazy, for Judy Potter.
  • Teens vs. Preachers softball games in a cow pasture.
  • Dirt poor, dedicated pastors with hearts of gold.
  • “thou shalt not’s”  seemed to be the theme of every camp meeting.
  • Sword Drills…a race to be the first to find a bible verse and read it.
  • Praise ye, the lord, hallelujah.  During the evening service we played calisthenics.  Now that I look back on it, I cannot believe that grownups, did that during a church service.  It certainly seems like trivializing worship.
  • Shouts of “Amen” or “Praise the Lord” or “well, glory” during the service.
  • Scary altar calls with “tarrying”, “just one more verse”,  “with every eye closed raise your hand.” Altar call theme songs: ”Just as I am” and “Lord, I’m Coming home”.
  • Dirt floors, with wood shavings over the dirt to keep down the dust and dirtiness, and you were still expected to kneel.
  • Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton standing tall in the pulpit.
  • Trying 24×7 to get away with something.
  • I’m in the Lord’s Army” with hand and body motions.
  • Good food in the dining hall.
  • Bare naked men in the public restroom…there were two shower’s which were just shower heads mounted on the wall…no curtains or anything.  We boys stayed dirty for two weeks.
  • My dad ‘s largest cottage  located on “Board walk” (near Mediterranean Ave).
  • Doc Steven’s “mansion” including a TV.
  • Missionaries displaying poison dart blow guns, and 20-foot snake skins.
  • You knew you were at the end of a missionary slideshow because the sunset picture appears on the screen (sometimes you were glad and sometimes you wanted more)
  • “chalk artists” drawing the abracadabra black light sunset scenes during the offertory.
  • Youth night choir and youth dress up.  I got to wear my red sports jacket!
  • Accordions galore.
  • Dormitory pillow fights.
  • A knot hole in the floor of the boy’s dorm.  We poured sand on the bunk bed below.
  • Pauline Streeter…the camp meeting nurse dressed in her nurses’ uniform and staying in the infirmary near the tabernacle.

Cammie Luckey had a different perspective on Camp Meeting life because her father [my uncle Chop AKA Rev. Charles Dayton] oversaw the Camp Meeting facilities, its conference meetings, the overall administration and much of the physical labor for keeping the camp meeting apparatus functioning properly and dynamically.  Chop was “the glue that held the thing together.”  He did the job well, and Cammie had an eyewitness view of the “goings on.”  Here some of her remembrances:

That West Chazy tabernacle roof was a lot higher and steeper than it appears from the photograph’s perspective.

I was up there on the upper roof, once to shovel off the heavy snow that threatened to bring down the entire structure, and at least once to shutter tight (slide- and wing-bolts) those square roof vents, not visible in this front-on photo, that ran along below  the soffit on both sides of that upper roof and were only open during the campmeeting season.

These were just two chores unseen by typical camp-goers. Most campers left West Chazy on Sunday to return to their 9-5 lives in Watervliet or Glens Falls or Springfield or wherever, oblivious to what happened on the WC grounds the rest of the year. Only a few, mostly clergy, for whom 9-5 lifestyles were rare, waited till Monday to pack and leave.

So what may have been the camp season’s most holy moment, an annual sacred rite even if the participants would probably be appalled at that four-letter “r” word, was never experienced except by a relative few. Most people remaining on the grounds late Sunday night, the hour of that sacred rite,  were scrambling to pack or were saying sentimental farewells or, if they were of a certain age, trying to catch one last canoodle behind some bush as far away as they could get from the tabernacle.

The rite was not begun until after the final “seeker” arose from the altar bench (originally sort of like a chopped-off saw horse and only eventually a genuine, polished rail) but before the lights went out for another year. Then, a circle was formed.  Shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand, the circle followed the inside perimeter of the tabernacle. The circle stretched across the entire front, between the altar benches and front pew, from side door to side door. It went along both sides to the rear, actually the front, the main-entrance wall as shown in the photograph, where one corner held Rev. Ross’ Bible shop full of enticing biblical toy paraphernalia effective at keeping little kids quiet during long sermons. A personal favorite was the 2×2” flat square on which you slid little squares the size of Chiclets until you formed the verse John 3:16. Today it would be Rubic’s Cube.

Anyway, the circle closed ranks and stood still, waiting at attention. These were the league’s team captains, so to speak. This was end-of-season wrap. A few solemn words were given by “names of note” such as Ray Smith of Watervliet, who regularly delayed his own 9-5 electric utility job for this higher, holy priority. Or he drove home to Watervliet in the wee hours of Monday morning. Sometimes these were words of victory, sometimes triumphant resolve. Often they included knowing phrases of foreboding, experience having taught that the circle would never be exactly the same twice. Who would fall?

After a few shared memories of sad moments and spiritual highlights, someone,  such as John Lamos, husband of Dorrie Dayton Lamos, sounded the first note of the two songs traditionally sung. “Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by?” Everybody knew the answer when it came to the matter of this earthly tabernacle circle;  but everyone in this holiness circle also was well aware of other ways to fall. They usually had to deal with a fall or two every year at the “annual conference” that preceded the campmeeting.

The final song was always “God Be With You ‘til We Meet Again.”

These lines sound like something straight from John Boy Walton, a family-values TV icon circa 1970. But I could also reminisce about other “nearby structures,” as Jim referred to in his request for recollections. I recollect the Sunday afternoon I, the conference president’s (aka district superintendent) daughter spent “making out” with Steve in the Special Speaker cottage behind the tabernacle while Steve’s dad stood a few dozen yards away, at the pulpit.

(In those days there were three services daily. Typically only the evening and Sunday services featured the altar-calls that perhaps unfortunately defined the campmeeting experience. The other services were for those who wanted to “go deeper,” for folks such as Ray Smith and various little old ladies, the unappreciated, anonymous spiritual powerhouses.)

“From the person to whom much is given, much will be required.” At the time and for many decades I resented that I was not among those who packed up and pulled out on Sunday to a life far distant from West Chazy. I did not appreciate the feast table at which I was feeding despite myself,  reluctantly living fifty-two weeks of the year in the three-century house known as the “President’s Home” (burnt to the ground by a hair dryer) adjacent to the campgrounds. I regret how long it took me to realize the rare, rich and eternal significance of those acappella voices rising to the rafters and roof vents and way beyond.

by Cammie Dayton Luckey, May 2019

The Mysterious Alexander White

DFH Volume 1 Issue 12

Until this article, we have focused our stories on the Dayton family and for no one older than Wilber and Jessie.  However, Alexander White’s life and death is so intriguing that what I know of it must be told.  I asked Chester, Wilber, Jr and Paul (three of five of Jessie’s children) what they knew about their grandfather White, and the answer was a resounding nada, zip, zero, nothing.

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Don’t you find it curious that Alexander lived until 1906, when Jessie was 26 and knew her father well, yet she spoke nothing of his life or death to her children?  In fact, Jessie had been married two years when her father died, and yet she spared her children from knowing about him.  It seems that most mothers would want to let their children know about the grampa they never knew—-unless there was something to hide.  It seems that there was something, and I’ll now tell you about that. While doing research for something else, my brother Steve stumbled onto an article about Alexander White.  We began pouring over old newspapers and found the following two newspaper articles which were 10 years apart:

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John Costello was an Irish immigrant who married my gramma Dayton’s aunt Martha.  John and his brother-in-law, Alex,  apparently had difficulty getting along.  We found two occurrences of confrontations which were significant enough to be reported in local papers.  There were undoubtedly other unfortunate confrontations between the two men not significant enough to be reported in the newspaper.  Costello nearly died in one altercation, and my great-grampa, Jessie’s dad, appeared to be the aggressor.  There was a great prejudice in America against the Irish in those days, and the establishment considered the Irish to be monkeys and apes. Today, it would be considered a hate crime.  It could be that the altercations were a simple derogatory remark against Costello.  Whatever the case, both men were incarcerated in the jail in Ballston Spa, after at least two of these fights. At the time of the first fight,  Alexander White was 28 years old and John Costello was 42.  The fact that Alexander White was the aggressor in these fights, and that he was incarcerated in the county jail suggests that the White family had something to conceal from future generations.  If not for the press, he would have.  Ironically, Alex’s wife, Anna Marie Flansburg, was the daughter of a minister in the first generation of Wesleyan Methodism, and a godly, Christian woman, a saint.  More will be said about her minister- father in a future issue.

NOTE: I have concluded that Alexander White may have been an evil man.  If you would like to weigh in with your own opinion of this scenario, I would love to publish it, and certainly respect your opinion.  Next week I will publish the circumstances of Alexander’s death, which is equally fascinating.

Wilbur Vs. Wilber

I had seen my Grandpa Dayton’s name spelled Wilber and Wilbur, and it always confused me. Recently I set about to settle,once, and for all time, which way was right.  I wish I hadn’t.  Now I’m more confused than ever.  I remember my dad insisting that it was spelled Wilb(ur). However, Wilb(u)r’s son, Wilb(e)r Junior, always spelled his own name with an “e”, suggesting that Senior’s name must have been also spelled with an “e”. That seems logical, but nothing about his spelling is logical.

There is no document of his name at birth since he was born before NYS required birth certificates.

Three different deeds (1898,1908, and 1909) each show his name as Wilb(e)r.  Yet a purchase of property in 1942, spells it with a “u”. Three news articles, during the early 1900’s, report his name as Wilb(ur). They are a Hadley news article from the Daily Saratogian Newspaper, Nov. 1, 1904; the New York State Department of Agriculture record of his farm being for sale in 1914 as Wilb(u)r; and a 1915 Saratogian Newspaper announcement of the relocation of his household, recorded his name as Wilb(u)r.

Near the end of his life, his name was usually spelled Wilb(e)r. Those included the Town of Corinth registry of Deaths, Jessie Dayton’s obituary, and Wilb[e]r’s own obituary.

A surrogate court judicial settlement, in 1939, spelled his name as Wilb(u)r. His daughter, Flossie’s genealogical notes from 1960, spelled his name with the “u”, yet in a short biography that she wrote about him, in 1986, she spelled it with an “e”. A 1986 correspondence from Wilb(er), Jr. spelled his name with a “u”. His employment record, at International Paper Co., spelled his name with a “u”. His guest signing book at his funeral spelled his name with an “e”. 

Where does this leave us? Totally confused!  I bet my grandpa was just as confused as I am. Spell it either way you want. You’ve got a 50% chance of getting it right!