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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
My brother, Steve, wrote a magnificent history of our Dayton’s early forefathers on American soil. The book is titled Our Long Island Ancestors: The first six Generations of the Daytons in America, 1639-1807. Here’s a summary of what Amazon says about the book.: The compilers’ motivations for publishing many years of research is to provide family and researchers a collection of material with which to confront both early scholarship and family legend, and to begin their own discovery.
● For more than 30 years, records and information were gathered and organized by brothers Stephen Dayton and James Dayton, both of whom possess professional backgrounds in analysis.
● The product is a 476 page compilation of all known records, documenting the descent of the authors’ Long Island line, six generations, from Ralph Dayton through Samuel, Abraham, Henry, to David Senior and David Junior (from about 1588 to 1807).
● 45 pages introduction and contextual information in England
● Extensive study includes critical, original research and examination of existing claims, with effort to label conjecture and theory as such, and to present alternative interpretation.
● Consultation of primary sources and from professional historians (cited).
● 49 images and illustrations including maps, drawings, figures, location photos, original documents and document entries.
● 14 pages of Work Cited; 7 pages of Vital statistics for spouses and children, with references; 19 pages of Index; 878 footnotes, most of which are citation.
This book, in hard cover and paperback would make a great Christmas present for children, grandchildren and other loved ones who want to learn about their Dayton heritage.
In other exciting news, Steve reported that he is starting a sequel. Steve says,I just started messing around with organizational ideas for the second book, picking up where I left off a year ago–forming the outline. The process began shortly before being diagnosed with gastric lymphoma in August 2018 and was then just too weak physically and mentally to get inspired. Since being declared “cancer free” this summer, I am gaining strength and am encouraged again to get more of Jim’s research recorded, continuing from the first book. This one will start with David Jr. to proceed through Henry and Charles to grandpa Wilber.
Steve, speaking on behalf of your Dayton family, we’re all looking forward to your book and offer our assistance to you. Feel free to call upon any of us.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
My visit to the land of the Dayton homestead and the gravesite of Henry Dayton [Henry← Charles Erastus← Wilber Sr.] and his wife, Christie [Cameron] Dayton made me realize that I have not mentioned our Cameron branch of the Dayton family in an earlier Newsletter. The Camerons [our ancestors] are prominent citizens in the Hadley, Stony Creek and Thurman area of Upstate New York. The Cameron surname is the most often found name in the town of Thurman, Warren County, New York, which the Camerons settled 200 years ago. Our link to this illustrious family is through the marriage of Christie Ann Cameron to Henry Dayton about 1816.
The name Cameron comes from the Gaelic and Welsh “Cam” meaning crooked and “sron” meaning nose – therefore, a crooked nose.
Christie’s parents were William (born in Scotland in 1770) and Mary Hodgson (born in England in 1776). In all, there were eight children, and Christie Ann was the oldest. Christie’s grandfather was James CAMERON and her grandmother was Christina Ann MORD. Christie Dayton was no doubt named after her grandmother. The grandparents also came from Scotland at the same time as Christie Ann’s father. There were thirteen children in this family and William was 2nd oldest. It’s not clear why James Cameron chose Thurman to live. They were from the Scottish Highlands and this may be why they chose the Adirondacks.
The author of THE CAMERON FAMILY OF WARREN COUNTY, NEW YORK, Gloria Bailey Jackson, provides a possible explanation for the Cameron’s emigration from Scotland. James emigrated about 1770 and settled in Thurman in 1773. At the time, Thurman was a part of Queensbury located in Washington County. The aftereffects of the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 included the British determination to clear the Scottish Highlands of the clan system. The Cameron’s probably lived in Lochaber under the protection of their chief Donald of Locheil. Following the Battle, the Duke of Cumberland declared that the “people must perish by sword and famine.” The Cameron’s fled after they experienced plundering and burning of homes in their own clan.
Once settled in America, James began lumbering the wilderness. (Chip and Paul resumed the lumbering business 6 generations later).
In his will, William wrote, “to my eldest daughter Christian Dayton, one cow within one year after my decrease.” Joel Dayton, brother of Henry, was a witness to the will, dated 1 April 1816.
Among the earliest residents were Scottish immigrants, among whom were the Camerons. They came in 1773, bearing a letter of introduction from John Thurman. They settled on a large tract of land along the river often referred to now as “the Gillingham farm,” working the relatively rich bottomland and using cascading streams to power mills for sawing wood and grinding grain. James Cameron, often referred to as “Squire Jimmy,” was a Tory.
A state historical marker on the west side of Warrensburg-Stony Creek Roadnear the present boundary between Thurman and Stony Creek attests to his importance to the town : “James Cameron – Pioneer woodsman farmer, justice of the peace. Settled in this valley in 1773. Buried 100 feet west of this marker.” Family records indicate that he was 103 years old. The Cameron family still thrives in Thurman; a sawmill first built in the 1860s by Almyron Cameron and his son Henry remains in the family, though the blades are now stilled. Henry’s son Don ran the mill, and in 1938 the structure was destroyed by fire. The mill was rebuilt, with a new water wheel. In 1946 Don turned the mill over to his sons Myron and Don, who again replaced the wheel, but also added the option of diesel power to the existing water power. Don died in 1988, and Myron continued to operate the mill for some years.
Almyron Cameron lived in a log cabin on the flats below the mill, and after the cabin burned, he built a plank house, which he and his sons gradually enlarged. In the 1830s it became a destination for guests, a tradition they continued until the 1930s. Before one wing was removed, it boasted 16 guestrooms. Guests flocked there to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming, playing shuffleboard and croquet, and standing around the Tonk piano singing songs. Vegetables, milk butter and eggs were raised on the farm to serve the guests. Generations of the family ran the facility. When the Farmhouse was unable to accommodate all who wished to visit, the Camerons built what was known as the “Lodge”, a long structure with ten more bedrooms that was built on the hill behind the house.
It hardly seems possible that it’s been 21 years since our Dayton reunion in Corinth. Kids that attended are now married with their own offspring, thus starting a new generation of Dayton’s. I think especially of the Humbert kids and their cute rendition of “King of the Universe.” Video of our 1998 Dayton Family Reunion is now available on my youtube channel. Jan Manley taped the entire event, and now, thanks to her, we can relive that fun time spent together in June in Corinth. Nearly the entire event has been filmed. The filming has been broken down into 26 individual videos, so you can only watch what you want. These are the videos:
Wilber Dayton sends his greetings from Macon, GA
Breakfast footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting
Tour of Dayton Brothers sawmill led by Paul Dayton.
Tour of Henry and Christie Daytons graves in Dayton cemetery on Hadley Hill led by Paul Dayton with Family History commentary by Jim Dayton.
Tour of Charles and Nancy Dayton’s graves at Dean Cemetery in Stony Creek led by Jim Dayton.
Tour of David and Chloe Dayton’s graves at 9N Cemetery in Lake Luzerne led by Jim Dayton.
Viewing of outside of Wilber and Jessie’s House on Mechanic St by Jan Manley and Cammie Luckey.
Priscilla Tyler leads children’s games (watermelon seed spitting).
Interview with Sam Tyler.
Invocation by Wilber Dayton with accompanying photo montage of reunion.
Chester Dayton reciting Psalm 93.
Congratulatory letter from Governor George Pataki (New York State).
Prayer for Wilber by Rev. Leonard Humbert.
Dinner footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting.
Audience participation in singing of George Washington Bridge led by Keith Tyler.
Photo montage set to a hilarious light bulb joke about religious denominations.
Nancy Dayton sings a beautiful rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
Keith Tyler’s little Tommy joke.
Chester Dayton [Chip} reciting Mia Carlotta, by Louis Untermeyer.
Humbert Kids sing “King of the Universe”.
Jim Dayton tells a story about Charles (Chop) Dayton’s strength.
Roger Dayton tells a story a Chop, Gerald Ralph and he on scaffolding.
Chester Dayton Tells the Story of Chop and the Cigar Cutter.
Jenn VanTol presents a plaque containing Psalm 23 and the signatures of the attendees.
Jim Dayton thanks everyone for coming to the reunion.
In 1997, I interviewed Wilber Dayton, Jr. for Volume 2 Issue 2 of an earlier version of the Dayton Family History. Since most of you were not subscribers back then, I repeat it here in this issue as follows:
Interview with Dr. Wilber T. Dayton, Jr.: Remembrances of Dad & Mom
Dr. Dayton, or Wib as the family fondly knows him, was one of the early professors of the Wesleyan Methodist Denomination to receive an earned doctorate – Th.D. He taught 15 ½ years at Marion College, 13 ½ years at Asbury Theological Seminary, was President of Houghton College for 4 years, Professor of Wesley Biblical Seminary for 11 years and short-term missionary teacher India and South America. He is the author of books, articles, etc. He is presently enjoying retirement in Macon, GA with his wife Edna.1
I recently interviewed Wib along the theme of his remembrances of his parents – Wilber T, Sr. and Jessie Belle Dayton. As usual, Wib’s comments are very insightful and give a very comprehensive view using his mastery of language and wit.
DFH: Wilber, Sr.’s parents were both dead by the time he was 13. Where did he and his brothers & sisters stay, who took care of them, what did he do in his teenage years?
WIB: Thanks for the information that my Dad lost both parents by the time he was 132. That means that it was over 20 years before Dad married Mom. I can only assume from what I’ve heard that five children were left to fend for themselves in the old Dayton Place in West Hadley Hill. They probably had to take over the farming and housework to keep eating and wearing clothes. I don’t know whether there were any relatives close enough to help or not. I would judge that people were pretty scarce in the area in those days to help with their social, physical and spiritual health. I never heard much discussion of home training in Dad’s youth. (I think there was a James Dayton of some prominence in the early days of the Champlain Conference, but I never got a clear picture of his relationship to us3 or to the Judd Dayton who lived around the corner from us in Corinth. Mother was about 10 years younger than Dad and was not married until about 244. There was no abundance of people for mates – especially of vitally Christian ones. Rurals spread the Gospel with the Bible and Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible5 – and a concordance. I don’t know if it was early enough to have made much effect on my parents – except I was told that Mom’s Dad could read only the Bible, and that Dad quit school in the 7th grade when the teacher got far enough into the arithmetic book that she turned back into the part they already had. Mother finished the 8th grade, I think. I think Dad had a fairly good ability to handle intellectual concepts, but worked day and night and didn’t have too much relief or encouragement. Mom was faithful with the Bible and Hurlbut. She dreamed about being a teacher. She was practiced and helpful in spiritual matters and carried her end of the load.
DFH: How did Wilber and Jessie Belle meet?
WIB: I don’t know how the parents met. I suppose in the small community the few people had contacts. I remember once that Mother got to thinking that Dad was a “decent man” that was worth considering. If the standard was respect for virginity, the field was not very broad. If I understand correctly, both of my parents were patiently waiting longer than usual to find someone that they could trust. And they were both more spiritual in their choices than their brothers and sisters. I don’t know how deeply spiritual both of my parents were at the time, but they did cling to the standards of pure marriage, as far as I know, though not all brothers and sisters benefited by the same convictions.
DFH: It is said that his occupations included farmer, woodsman and laborer at International Paper Co. Can you elaborate on his work life?
WIB: Farming and cutting wood were natural things for people who didn’t have time or inclination to escape the hard work that they grew up with. So Dad sharpened his skills and worked real hard to make out with thrift to get ahead as he could, and the cash crop was cutting wood. After he’d get up and do the chores, he’d wade through the snow with his double-bladed axe to a wood lot and cut down and cut up the wood in 4 ft. lengths split and piled in 4×8 piles. Then he’d hurry back through the snow to do the evening chores. If he had good luck, he probably made 50 cents for his day’s work. Some of the money he later gave to help my education was probably saved from his wood cutting.
As the family grew, he finally thought he would venture to move to Corinth and see if he could better things for himself and the family. So he bought a lot down in Palmer Falls and bought a load of cut and prepared lumber from Sears and Roebuck and put it together in a house that we lived in for a year or two until he decided to sell out and get a house that he fixed up in downtown Corinth. He made more money at the Paper Mill but still economy was needed and he worked at odd jobs and raised potatoes and vegetables. He found the tour work exhausting because when he was home in daylight, he worked all the time and he couldn’t bear to work at night cooped up over a pulp machine. So he worked on the woodyard at 42 cents an hour for many years. I used to cash his weekly checks for $20.16 less 25 cents for insurance or $19.91. So he kept working on neighbors’ yards and gardens and raised potatoes, etc. to get a little extra money to put into the family of 5 children and the bank. Dad worked in the woodyard at the mill until he was too old. Then for years he cleaned up offices and recreation facilities until about 80. Finally the mill thought they couldn’t justify keeping him employed. So they let him go and gave his job to three younger men. Finally, at nearly 87, when his body lay in state at the little Corinth house, an amazing number of people came by to express their respect for him and his family. Even the Catholic priest said more complementary things than Dad ever testified to verbally in Church.
DFH: What were his and Jessie Belle’s education?
WIB: He took advantage of the school system until in the seventh grade he ran out of the part of the arithmetic book that the teacher could handle. When she turned back to the earlier part of the book, he figured he had better use of his time. Mother faithfully finished the eighth grade. She appears to have liked school and expressed her desire to be a teacher. But there was little opportunity, especially when 3 of the 4 parents were already dead before such decisions were possible.
DFH: Did he ever have a car? A driver’s license? How did he get around?
WIB: No, Dad never had a car in his own possession. When Dad was in his 60’s, Mom and I thought about getting a cheap used car to go where the bicycle wouldn’t take us. But when I decided to sample college, that’s where the money went. Chop and Chip had cars but they were seldom at home any more for convenience of their cars. So we walked, rode bicycles or used public transportation or friends. And after the first year in college, I learned to hitch-hike until I was married and had to get a car to go to South Dakota to teach in Wessington Springs Junior College in the dust bowl days.
No, Dad never had a driver’s license. Born in 1870, he probably wouldn’t have needed a license when he was young. And the 5 orphans were probably slow getting where they needed or could afford cars. I don’t know when horse and buggy came into their lives. But it must have at least by the time of Dad’s marriage at age 34. At least, I remember tales of horse and sleigh rides which one of the first babies was dumped into a snowdrift, and other incidents of farming with a horse called Pontiac. Probably Dad disposed of the horse and buggy when he moved to town when I was about 2 – 78 years ago. At least, I have no memory of seeing the horse. And I do remember a favored anecdote of an event that took place probably before I was born. Dad had got down to Greenwich – about 40 miles south of Hadley Hill to help Aunt Jennie (then Roach) on the farm. In the days of barter, or exchange of gifts, they gave him a heifer to take back to Hadley Hill. Whatever strain it may have been on his “Dayton ingenuity” Dad saw only one way to get the heifer home. He tied a rope to the heifer and took off on foot for the 40 miles. As he passed through one of the towns on the way, someone rebuked him for forcing the beast to trot so far. His response was that he wasn’t forcing the heifer. She was forcing him. So far as I know, Dad never bought a car or applied for a license. But he must have had a horse or horses that could meet the rural needs of the family.
DFH: Did he have any debts or mortgage?
WIB: If Dad ever had debts or mortgages, it was probably before my days or memory. I don’t know how he came to live in the old Dayton Place after his marriage. Uncle Delbert had apparently left the area to make his fortunes elsewhere. I’ve heard tales of his settling a while in Florida in a bean patch that later became a city. And he apparently died in Cedar Ridge, Iowa, where I attended the funeral of his only daughter, Ida. Jim never did marry. I saw Jim as an old man living on the farm in Greenwich with widowed Jenny. Aunt Carrie married Dee Harris of Corinth. They apparently lived a fugal and successful life on a farm in the town of Day – west of West Hadley Hill. They had one son who died in his youth. So Dad was the last and most fruitful successor of the Charles Dayton – grandfather.
DFH: Was he a hunter or fisherman?
WIB: So far as I know Dad was not a hunter or a fisherman. Though I am his only son who was content to miss deer season every year, Dad and I were otherwise occupied.
DFH: Did he have any personal interests other than gardening?
WIB: It is hard for me to report on Dad’s other interests. I never saw Dad until he was nearly 50 and by that time his interests were pretty well fixed on the survival or development of life and the welfare of his children. His interests broadened as his children scattered and broadened their interests and capacities. Basically his interests were people, I think.
DFH: Did Jessie have any unusual talents or interests?
WIB: Jessie had a happier childhood with more parental helps. She took the lead in many aspects of parenting and leadership. Though she was very aware of professional limitations, she had a lot of practical wisdom that made her a good counselor and disciplinarian. She saved a lot with her abilities as cook and homemaker and seamstress. She never lost her interest in people and her desire to be a teacher – though she never had the opportunity for professional training. Her spiritual example and discipline were more effective and stable than most.
DFH: You and all your brothers and sister have/had a very strong Christian faith and spiritual daily walk. What was the extent of your parents spiritual guidance and training?
WIB: The faithfulness and consistency of the emphasis on spiritual values and rightness of obedience to God was a strength. The only alternative to holiness was hell , and we didn’t want that. And a part of the obedience was to attend all the services where these things were emphasized. Whatever differences existed in the prevailing interpretations of the gospel; we had no doubt of the essentials of the gospels. The influence of the home was always solidly for the gospel.
DFH: What church(es) did they attend?
WIB: The Corinth Wesleyan Church was about my only memory of home influence. For a while Dad and, I guess, Mom felt less than fully satisfied with Corinth Wesleyan. But instead of forsaking it, they mostly added Hadley – 5 miles away. So I went to Sunday School, Preaching Service, and Class Meeting in the morning at Corinth, the same three on Sunday afternoon at Hadley, and back to Corinth for Young Peoples Prayer Service, Young Peoples Meeting and the Evening Preaching Service. That was normally only nine hours and travel time and altar services. But most of the time we were served only 6 or 7 hours at Corinth – except for special Revival Services. But on the whole the church life was positive and helpful.
DFH: Did either Wilber or Jessie Belle have a favorite hymn and/or Bible verse(s).
WIB: I don’t seem to be able to recall favorite hymns or verses. Maybe “Standing on the Promises”, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “Rock of Ages” or other “experience” hymns. Maybe Psalm 23.
DFH: Who was the family disciplinarian? What type of discipline was used? (I know – you were all too perfect to receive any discipline!)
WIB: Mother was the family disciplinarian of my memory at least. She was very conscientious and thorough about insisting on the benefits to us. If she thought misbehavior reflected a willfulness that needed to be broken, she would not “spare the rod and spoil the child.” The only specific memory I have of the “rod” was when Mom took a leather belt and gave me a little lacing. She was terribly mortified and apologized when she discovered that there was a buckle on the end of the belt that contacted me. The only time I remember Dad trying to discipline me was when I must have been about 3 years old. He was in the process of moving the outdoor privy to clean it out. I was adding to his frustration by trying to use the privy. He took a little switch to correct the balance of power. I have no evil memories of either episode.
DFH: Did your parents give any financial support for your college education?
WIB: Yes, my parents did give what they could to my college education. They had helped my older sister go to the State College in Albany with what the state made available, so they squeezed $500 from their life savings to help with my college expenses at Houghton. Of course, in the 30’s, it covered vastly more of the tuition than today. And it showed their heart’s support.
DFH: Were the children given an allowance?
WIB: No, allowances for children were not so common 60 or 70 years ago as now. And money could not be spared out of the paycheck for family. I did mow lawns and peddle papers about 7 years to save about $400 from which I was refunded about $300 after the bank failed. That was largely what made college possible.
DFH: Wilber seemed like a very serious, quiet man. What was his temperament like?
WIB: Yes, Dad was a serious and quiet man. The frustrations and agonies of the parentless and deprived youth cast a shadow over his adult life that burst out in spells of melancholy and despondency. This was a great burden to Mom and a great pain to Dad. But, otherwise he was of a good disposition and a good citizen and church member.
DFH: Describe Jessie Belle’s temperament.
WIB: Mom was well balanced in temperament. She was concerned about the problems of others and tried hard to help, but she mostly kept her balance and was kind and understanding. Her friends and relatives often sought her out for advice.
DFH: Are any of Jessie Belle’s cooking recipes still around?
WIB: I doubt if there are many of Mom’s recipes around. She mostly cooked by memory and instinct. I can’t remember whether she used a cookbook or file. She did make delicious meals for healthy appetites, but it is hard to measure a dash of salt a bit of something else as she remembered it.
[EDITORS NOTE: What about the blueberry grunt? This was a blueberry muffin about 1 ½ feet in diameter and about 6 inches high. It was made with a dough that was probably like a Bisquick. It makes me hungry just thinking about it! Thanks for that one grandma!]
DFH: Jessie had a life-threatening illness and then lived a normal life span. Tell me about it!
WIB: Yes, Mom had ailing health for a long time which she mostly called Female Trouble, which I got the impression that it dated to some extent from Chip’s difficult birth – her abdomen opened clear through. For many years she had a colostomy, but was put back together for 2 or more decades of mature living. I think that cancer developed in the need for surgery until it became necessary.
DFH: How would you describe Wilber and Jessie’s intellect? Dad (Paul Dayton) always talks about “Dayton Ingenuity.”
WIB: It is hard to describe the intellect of my parents. I think they both functioned pretty well in the essentials of life. They make the best of the situations that overtake them and make life worth living. They recognize their shortcomings and lack of opportunities. But they stick to their convictions and never give up. They didn’t have all of the stimulation or opportunities of our day, but were able to cope with life as they saw it. And they survived in spite of the difficulties and made possible a better chance for our generations. And they kept the faith and, I believe, made it to heaven. They must have been smarter than a lot of godless people who aren’t wise unto salvation. Given the chance, Dad could probably do better with abstract theory and Mom might be more practical. But I appreciate both. Maybe that’s what Paul means by “Dayton Ingenuity”-the ability to triumph over circumstances and “do it anyway.”
Wilber and Edna Dayton
DFH: Did Wilber ever talk about his parents?
WIB: No, I don’t remember Dad ever talking about his parents. I think they died too early to have the impact they probably desired upon the children. And if the statement I’ll quote is true and not misunderstood that Rev. James Dayton is an ancestor of Chop and me, the early death of grandfather Charles Dayton may have stifled the Christian influence from James Dayton on the development of the orphans (including Dad).
DFH: Are there any family stories or family lore that need to be handed down to the next generation?
WIB: I don’t know if there are family stories or family lore that I know that future generations should hear. Would the accounts of Dad’s trotting the heifer home – 40 miles – by “Dayton Ingenuity” be worthy? Or would you be more interested in Uncle Chop’s engaging in a mile race of swimming in the Hudson River at Corinth as a young man? He won third place. How many finished? Three. But he accomplished his goal. A work-horse completing the race with play-boys who lived in the water.
DFH: Thank you for your candid answers. I can’t wait until I see them again and thank them for my Dayton heritage.
1(b. 1916 – d. 1999)
2 He was orphaned March 17, 1883
3 He was 1st cousin twice removed from Wilber Sr. He was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister in the late 19th century. (b.1820-d.1892)
4August 31, 1904
5Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible was used by Jessie Belle to teach her children. The book was inherited by Paul Dayton and has now been handed down to Stephen Dayton, and designated for his son Sam.