Teenage photo of Jessie Belle Dayton discovered

Judy and I have been getting ready to move to an independent living facility here in Grand Rapids. In the process of cleaning out “stuff”, we ran across this photo which was sent to me by Izzie Hayes several years ago.

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Sad Day for Corinth Church

The Corinth Wesleyan Church, established in 1873, grew to be the largest church in the Champlain Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  At its zenith, it achieved a Sunday School attendance of over 300 persons.  The normal SS attendance was consistently over 200. In its later years, attendance waned to the extent that, in the early 2000’s, the pastor declared that “this church is no longer dying…it’s dead.” 

Shortly thereafter the Corinth Wesleyan Church discontinued all services and activities.  In one of the most irresponsible and bizarre actions I have ever heard of, the church officials simply locked the doors, walked away and listed it with a realtor.  It was a heartbreaking action for those members who loved the church which was their spiritual sanctuary.  The officials left everything behind.  They did not save or retrieve a single thing. 

Recently, my brother, Steve, was able to retrieve ALL of the churches baptism, marriage and funeral records from 1873 to the day the doors closed.  He also retrieved the financial books and the quarterly conference meeting minutes.  I have been scanning every non-financial page and will make the PDF’s available to anyone who wants them when I am finished.

You can’t image my excitement as I witnessed kinfolk after kinfolk showing up as elected officers…the backbone of the church.  Even grampa and gramma Dayton (Wilber and Jessie) were elected church officials several times.

From time to time in future posts, I will be revealing findings and observations.  I even held an elected position once…assistant bell ringer.  Hey…it’s in the official records so it must have been a big deal. Let’s face it, the pastor wouldn’t have known when to start, were it not for us bell ringers. Another Dayton ringer alumnus was Roger Dayton. Congratulations Roger.

Jim Dayton 1967

The Watch

If you found a watch lying in the street, what would you do?  If you were poorer than a church mouse, would you say, “God is Good, He just gave me a new watch?”  If you were greedy, would you say, “too bad sucker, it’s mine now?”  If you were rich, would you just leave it there for some other lucky person to find?

Jessie Belle (White) Dayton

Do you know what our gramma, Jessie Belle Dayton, did?  Our gramma Jessie, who WAS poorer than a church mouse?  She went to the newspaper office with her “widows’ mite”, purchased a classified advertisement hoping she could find its owner and return it.  How many people do you think would do that?  Was she nuts?  Had she gone off the deep end?  Or was she someone with exceptional integrity?  Someone with exceptional generosity?  She probably used grocery money to pay for the ad.  Thank you, gramma, for walking like you talked.  You taught us well.

Rev. William Flansburg Bio

William FLANSBURG, grandfather of Jessie (WHITE) DAYTON, (William1 Flansburg, Anna2, Jessie Belle3 WHITE) was a pure-bred Dutchman.  He was born January 30, 1809 in the Town of Day, Saratoga Co. NY.  His parents Matheus (Matthew) FLANSBURG and Maria CLUTE were early settlers of the Town of Day.

William was married three times.  His first wife, Lydia Lucretia DEMICK, died before 1850 leaving four children.  William was about forty years old.  He remarried to Charity Rosina JOHNSON, our ancestor, about 1850.  Rosina’s parents, Robert JOHNSON and Anna ELLIS are buried in the ELLIS Cemetery in Hadley.  William and Rosina had five children (Charles, Mary, Anna (Jessie’s mother), James, Harriet).   Rosina died before 1875, but we don’t know the exact date.  William remarried a third time to Sara ELLIS. 

William had a born-again Christian experience at about the age of 40. This was also about the time of his first wife’s death. 

After his conversion, he was called to the ministry.  After a brief pastorate in the Free Will Baptist Church in Hadley, William was ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1853.  He was one of the early pastors of the young Wesleyan Methodist denomination that was founded primarily because of its members’ opposition to slavery about ten years earlier.

His daughter Anna once said that her dad, William, corresponded with Abraham LINCOLN and that the President encouraged him to “preach against slavery from the pulpit and I’ll preach against it from the White House.”  (Wilber Jr recalled seeing the letter in Anna’s trunk when he was a kid).

William served as pastor to congregations in Johnsburg NY, Warrensburgh NY, Brandon, VT; Goshen, VT; Chester NY, Hadley NY, Stony Creek NY, Corinth NY, Forestdale, VT and probably other locations.  He is listed in the 1870 Saratoga County Business Directory as Wesleyan Methodist Minister and Farmer in Corinth, NY.

He had two sons that fought during the Civil War (Henry and James).  James enlisted at age 24 in 1862, just after his own wife had died.  James was despondent over her death, and he was killed in battle at Fort Harrison.  William died September 4, 1897 and is buried in a numbered grave in Day Cemetery.

We’re Big Dutch and Don’t You Forget It

The Dutch part of our Dayton pedigree has always fascinated me, and our move to western Michigan and our many Dutch friends rekindled my interest in this part of my (and your) heritage.  In addition, five of my grandchildren are over fifty percent Dutch.  The Dutch, and specifically the Dutch Reformed Church, kept meticulous records of births, baptisms and marriages, so we have a nearly complete pedigree of all the branches off the Flansburg line all the way back to the settling of New Netherlands.

Anna Flansburg, mother of Jessie Belle [WHITE] Dayton, was attributed with frequently reminding her children, “We’re big Dutch and don’t you forget it!”  She was obviously proud of her Dutch heritage and wanted all of her kids to never forget it. Well, my great grandma ……now none of your descendants down at least five generations will forget. 

Oh, how I wish I could ask great-gramma Anna what she meant by “big Dutch.”  My interpretation is that she considered persons of Dutch descent to be of a very hardy stock with certain characteristics exceeding the lowly English and other ethnicities.  If we took a poll of the readers of this publication, I’m sure that we would get many other interpretations.  If you feel inclined, leave a comment.  The next three posts will be a continuation of stories about this same Flansburg family and lineage.

Faith of Our Fathers

Doreen McCutcheon, my cousin Doris Lamos’ daughter asked me, a couple months ago, what I knew about the faith of our Dayton fathers.  I believe we Daytons have a rich heritage of the Christian faith.  I’ll tell you what I know of it, and you can decide.  Christian faith is difficult to judge because no one can know the heart of others.  I will have to base my opinion mainly on outward appearance, about which the Bible cautions us.  I believe that most of the time this definition works.  I would also add that Dayton females often live their Christian service vicariously through their spouses and their actual teamwork.  Christian women are often active as nurses, teachers, supporters of missions and missionaries, Sunday School and VBS directors and teachers, organists, pianists, choir leaders, Bible Study leaders, etc.  I KNOW, I know….I’m stereotyping.  We have several Dayton female pastors and church lay leaders.

Generosity (births and deaths spanning the years from 1905 to 2009)

The number one Christian trait in the Dayton family is the generosity in both service and finances. There is evidence of this everywhere we look. For example, among Wilber and Jessie’s offspring:

Flossie, the oldest child, was a schoolteacher and faithful member of the Free Methodist Church in Corinth where she was a part-time Adult Sunday School teacher.  In her later years, she read her Bible daily in foreign languages: English, Spanish, French and probably German.  Her favorite was Spanish. She had daily devotions with the children. She would play hymns on the pump organ while the family sang.  Then she and George would pray.  What she lacked in formal church activities she more than made up for in a sweet, loving and gentle spirit that oozed her love of Christ from every pore of her being.  She was a fine example of the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 (The wife of noble character).

Charles was a Wesleyan Methodist pastor and church administrator, including terms as President of the Champlain Conference and later District Superintendent of the Champlain District of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  He was the epitome of aid of all sorts to the underprivileged.  From his own personal resources, he assisted with shelter, food, personal visitation, transportation, friend and counseling of all types.  He often met their needs for sustenance by any means possible, including solicitating help from the likeminded.  He also had a vision and passion for planting new churches.  He wanted to spread the word as far as he could within the bounds of wise financing.   Chop’s generosity was frequently rewarded by the gifts of possession that were repeatedly left to him because the deceased knew he would do good with them.

He was pastor of churches in upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Following retirement, he assisted wherever an opportunity arose at the Wesleyan Retirement Village in Brooksville FL.   

Chester was a lay preacher, held numerous church offices and was much more than a nominal tither at the suggested 10% level. I know, for a fact, that one year he tithed and gifted 32%.  Other years could have been even more, but he shunned the public eye in such matters.  Chip stood tall in various pulpits as an active Gideon as he shared the importance of distributing Bibles.  He was a Sunday School teacher and lay leader of his local Wesleyan Church in Corinth, New York.  After his second wife, Elizabeth died, he married Marjean Chapman, who was an ordained evangelist in the Wesleyan Church.

Wilber Jr. was a pastor, a seminary professor, Christian college President and prolific Christian author.  He travelled extensively and internationally to lecture, teach and preach.  He was renowned on a worldwide scale. He was an active participant on the team of scholars who translated the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) from the original Greek into English.  He was affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, was a benchmark for scholarly endeavors and was highly respected and admired by his peers.  His wife Donna held post graduate degrees and was employed in various University capacities including Librarian, and assistant Professor at several Colleges and Universities.

Paul probably held more church offices and performed more gifts of service than anyone in the entire Wesleyan denomination.  Besides official church offices, many building projects leadership, fund raising responsibilities, Sunday School teaching and administration, and youth leadership, he did more behind the scenes physical work than even I, his son, can remember.  For example, he was electrician, plumber, carpenter, snow plower, infrastructure planner and repairer, vehicle mechanic, bus driver, transportation director, orchestra founder, and conductor, etc. Beyond all that, he was a passionate financial backer to the extent that church donations trumped his own needs. Paul annually contributed much more than the nominal 10% tithe.  I believe it was more than double, as, I believe, his brothers might have done also.

So how could poorly educated and poorly financially endowed parents like Wilber and Jessie Dayton raise children who were such stellar members of the Christian faith.  It was because of their example and their consistency in rearing their children.  Click here to hear what Chip had to say on this subject.  Younger generations, please heed Chip’s advice!

My conclusion is that this characteristic of generosity is still at the forefront of Wilber’s grandchildren’s Christian experience, as well as their own descendants.  Generosity “rocks” in the Dayton family.

Wilber and Jessie’s Faith (Wilber 1870-1957)  (Jessie Belle (1880-1958)

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Jessie Belle [White] Dayton, wife of Wilber, wore the spiritual leadership pants in Wilber and Jessie’s marriage.  Wilber loved the Lord and was born again, but his shy disposition and backward social skills left the family training largely to Jessie. I am in possession of Wilber and Jessie’s tithe can (see photo).  We know they tithed. Despite their poverty, they still gave at least 10% to the church and did it before anything else was paid for. Jessie read to her children from the Hulbert Bible story book, an 800-page illustrated book with beautiful black and white etchings, now in the possession of Stephen Dayton.  Family altar was the first priority every day.  Family altar was a time when the family got together for a time of Bible reading and prayer.  It lasted 30 minutes or more.  In Paul’s family, the tradition continued.  After a Bible passage or story, each family member knelt and prayed, from the eldest to youngest, and the session was completed with the Lord’s prayer.  I imagine family altar was practiced in all the Dayton families.   On Sunday, Jessie, Wilber and their children attended the Corinth Sunday School, morning service, “class meeting”, a time of testimony and witnessing, evening prayer service and evening worship.  In the afternoon, they attended Hadley Wesleyan Methodist church, where Jessie was Sunday School Superintendent.  I doubt they had time to eat until after Corinth’s evening service.  They didn’t set aside Sunday as a day of physical rest.  They practiced spiritual rest.

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Jessie’s mother, Anna [Flansburg] [White] [Ramsey] Dingman (1855-1935)

We know nothing of Jessie’s father’s faith (Alexander White Sr), but her mother, Anna Maria [Flansburg] White, was a Wesleyan Methodist preacher’s kid.  Her faith was strong, and she was a devout saint. I personally know little about her specific spiritual attributes, although Wilber and Jessie’s children all knew her since she lived until 1935. She was a member of the Hadley Wesleyan Methodist Church.  This could have been the reason Jessie’s family attended there in addition to Corinth.  Hadley certainly would have been the church both Wilber and Jessie called their own.

Rev. William Flansburg, Jessie’s grandfather (1809-1897)

Anna’s, father, Rev. William Flansburg (Jessie’s grandfather) became a “born-again” Christian farmer in the mid-1840’s,  when he was in his early 30’s.  He started his first pastorate just a couple of years later in the Free Will Baptist Church in Johnsburg, New York.  In the mid ‘50s, he joined the Wesleyan Methodist church, and thereafter was a pastor in Vermont, and in Hamilton, Warren and Saratoga counties in New York state.  O.D. Putnam, his friend and colleague, wrote a wonderful tribute which will appear in next month’s newsletter.

Charles and Nancy Dayton (1832 – 1882)

Charles and Nancy were the parents of Wilber Sr.  They died when Wilber was only thirteen, and he never talked about his parents, so we know nothing about them.  Charles was a sheep rancher.  All that we know of Charles’ faith was inferred in a comical folklore story that Chip tells.  Click here to hear that story.  That’s all we know about Charles.

Henry Dayton, grandfather of Wilber Sr (1792-1849)

Henry Dayton was the father of Charles.  The primary spiritual declaration and affirmation of Henry’s faith is engraved on his gravestone.  It reads, “Why stand you weeping round my tomb Wilst I with Jesus rest in peace.  When God has called and took me home prepare my friend to follow soon”   Obviously, he was a Christ lover and follower.  He claimed, with confidence, the presumption that he would be taken to heaven.  He challenged all who read his stone to get their own lives “right with God” so that they too could inherit eternal life.  Regarding church denomination, we know that he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal denomination.  Today, the denomination is known as United Methodist.

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David Dayton Jr, father of Henry  (1766-1807)

We know very little of David Jr.’s spiritual situation.  He raised several Christian believer children who were all Methodist Episcopal, so it stands to reason that he too was a Methodist Episcopal believer. I base this opinion on the truth of the adage, “Like father, like son”.  The closest church was across the Hudson River on the road from Luzerne to Buttermilk Falls.  We suspect that David may have used his buckboard to ford the river at a shallow point just upriver from the church.

David Dayton Sr, father of David Jr (Between 1737 and 1739 – 1782)

We also know very little of David Sr.’s spiritual testimony.  In writing our book, Our Long Island Ancestors, The first six generations of Daytons in America 1639-1807, Steve and I have reason to believe that when David and Anne moved to Setauket [Brookhaven] from Egg Harbor, NJ, they attended the Setauket Presbyterian church for a short period of time.  However, the pastor, Rev Elam Potter, was an abolitionist;  David owned a slave, so we suspect David was not welcome in that church.

Henry Dayton, father of David Sr (1706-1759)

He was a member of the Setauket Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York.  I have a family transcript of the members (including Henry) of that church about 1750.  Curiously, his wife, Abigail, is not listed as a member.  For many of the male members, the roll reads “and wife,” so it isn’t clear why she wasn’t listed.

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Abraham Dayton, father of Henry (about 1654 – after 1726)

Records were found of Abraham being a Setauket NY Presbyterian financial pledger both for the salary of a pastor, and the building of a new “meeting house” for the new pastor.  These were all within the Town of Brookhaven (Long Island).  Being a big donor (there’s that Dayton generosity again), it stands to reason that he was a regular attender and probably at some point was a lay elder.

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Samuel Dayton, father of Abraham (1624 – 1690)

Steve and I believe, without direct confirmation and primary sources, that Samuel was a Puritan.  We know more about Samuel’s life than any other early ancestor, but there is no mention of a religious choice.  He was a Puritan by baptism (in England) rather than through practice.

Ralph Dayton, father of Samuel (about 1588 – 1658)

Ralph was a Puritan.  Steve and I have a record of his assignment of seating at the meeting house in East Hampton, NY.  (Yes, even way back then, people sat in the same pew every Sunday). Prior to coming to America, he worshiped at St Mary’s the Virgin in Ashford, Kent County, England.  He was a dissident Puritan, meaning that he openly opposed the Church of England and the King.  These dissidents experienced much persecution, but it is unclear whether Ralph experienced it.  It may have been the reason he, and most of his family, sailed to the New World.

Hey Doreen, below is the real answer

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.

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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.

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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!

Clara Stanton: First wife of Chester Dayton

DFH Volume 1 Issue 23

In 1929, Clara [Stanton] Dayton died of tuberculosis a mere one hundred days after her marriage to Chester Dayton.  Clara and Chip were sweethearts at Houghton College where Chip was a sophomore and Clara was probably a senior. (Chip is in the yearbook, but I could not find Clara).   

Clara was born to George and Linnabelle Stanton in Long Lake New York on April 22, 1908 two years older than Chip. Prior to marriage she was a resident of Long Lake.  Long Lake is a tiny village (under 1,000 residents) in the Adirondack Mountains.  It’s a great vacation spot if you want to be away from the crowd and are willing to ”rough it”.

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Since she was born in 1908, she probably entered Houghton College as a freshman in 1926.  Chip entered college in 1927 so they met in 1927.  We know nothing about her from her birth until the following announcement appeared in the newspaper, The Warrensburg News, November 22, 1928.   Crown Point and Broadalbin were locations of sanatoriums where persons with tuberculosis were located.  It is curious why they would send her home, and we don’t know how long she had been a patient at the sanatorium.  This was Thanksgiving time in 1928.  Chip was a sophomore at Houghton.  This was the year of their courtship, but it is not known when the courtship began.  Since the disease is contagious through microscopic droplets released into the air, it is not likely that Houghton would have let her return to school without a clean bill of health.

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A variety shower (nowadays called a bridal shower) given shortly before the wedding had a large crowd and was a festive affair (Warrensburgh News, July 11, 1929).  She and Chip were married July 4, 1929.  Apparently, the tuberculosis was abated to the point of appearing cured or being cured at that point.

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The next time we hear about Clara is when she enters the Homestead Sanatorium in Middle Grove (near Corinth) on October 5, 1929. This was only three months following the wedding of she and Chip.  Note that in October 1929 they were living with Chip’s parents (Wilber and Jessie Belle).  Perhaps my grandma was taking care of Clara while Uncle Chip was working at International Paper Co. 

Her final bout with tuberculosis was first noticed three weeks before her final admission to the Homestead Sanatorium.  Then, sometime around October 16, 1929, Clara [Stanton] Dayton rested from her illness.  I can’t begin to even imagine the pain and anguish that Uncle Chip had to endure.  I have heard, without proof, that he went into seclusion for a while.

Chip eventually began to court Elizabeth Duell, and they married March 7, 1931.  We are all blessed that they did.  My aunt Lib was one of the sweetest and humblest women I have had the privilege of knowing.

Houghton College