Dr. Wilber Dayton Jr. Interview (1997)

DFH Issue 1 Volume 18

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.

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Remembering Corinth, Part 9-Back Home In Corinth

DFH Volume 1 Issue 18

Remembering Corinth, by Dave Hayes, is a ten-part series about Dave’s remembrances of Corinth in the late ‘50s.  Dave, a retired elementary teacher and guidance counselor (36 years), and part time adjunct professor in the Counseling Dept. at nearby West Chester Univ. (24 years-8 after his “first” retirement) lives in Pottstown, PA.  He and his wife, Kathleen, had four children, Heather, Jeremy, Emily (d.2008) and Benjamin.  He descends from Wilber Sr. as follows: Wilber Sr., Rev. Charles “Chop” Dayton, Isabelle “Izzie” [Dayton] Hayes, David Hayes.

Part 9 – Back Home to Corinth

When Grampa passed away in 1992, I wrote a poem to commemorate his life and my return to Corinth after so many years.  I was no longer a young, starry-eyed 4th & 5th grader but a 43-year-old husband, father and teacher/counselor.  My arrival in Corinth took me quickly back to that year in my childhood spent there.  And as we gathered to honor and remember my grandfather, Charles Dayton, I also reflected on the impact that he and Corinth had on my life.  I penned my thoughts into a poem that I hadn’t read for years…until just now.  The same memories are still very much alive, I see, and I have repeated most of them in my writing here.  We moved from Corinth in late 1959 to California for 3-1/2 years, onto Italy for 3 more years, and then to Springfield, Mass. for another year (while Dad was in Vietnam and we lived near Uncle John & Aunt Dorie and the kids).  I have lived far and near but if someone asks me where my “home” was, I always say “northern New York, where my parents are from.”  Even though Dad was born and raised in Hague and Mom born in Corinth and lived in many places around the Champlain District, I would suspect that the village of Corinth would still feel like home to me.  That was a profoundly meaningful year in my life and I’m glad that I got to share it with my loving family.  Thanks, Corinth, for such amazing and meaningful memories you shared with this young boy.

Editor’s Note—Next week is the final part of this ten-part series.  Part 10 features a poem which Dave wrote upon the passing of his grandfather, Reverend Charles Alexander Dayton. The poem is a profound, eloquent and reverent tribute, and I will not trivialize nor diminish the impact of it by adding any other article or commercial next week.  We will resume the Dayton stories on July 7.  The only thing I have added are two Holy Bible scripture verses which I hope will complement the text and amplify the relevance of the poem to Corinth and our heavenly home.  The poem will surely soften your spirit and touch a special place in your heart.  Since Dave sent it to me for this newsletter, I have read it several times and it gets better every time I read it.  It will be a joy for you to read it next week. 

Dave, on behalf of the subscribers of this newsletter, we offer you a huge thank you for the masterful way you gave us a glimpse of your year spent in Corinth.  It makes me long for my home there too.  We all hope you can write for us again soon.

Remembering Corinth, Part 8-After Church

Remembering Corinth, by Dave Hayes, is a ten-part series about Dave’s remembrances of Corinth in the late ‘50s.  Dave, a retired elementary teacher and guidance counselor (36 years), and part time adjunct professor in the Counseling Dept. at nearby West Chester Univ. (24 years-8 after his “first” retirement) lives in Pottstown, PA.  He and his wife, Kathleen, had four children, Heather, Jeremy, Emily (d.2008) and Benjamin.  He descends from Wilber Sr. as follows: Wilber Sr., Rev. Charles “Chop” Dayton, Isabelle “Izzie” [Dayton] Hayes, David Hayes.

Part 8 – After Church

It wasn’t just “in” church where there are strong memories.  I have wonderful recollections of times spent in the parsonage with Grampa, Gramma Jo and Cammie.  We would run up and down those stairs and listen to the grownups in the kitchen through the grate in the bathroom upstairs.  We would play in the bedrooms and sometimes have sleepovers, too.  I loved to spin around in my grandfather’s chair in his study just inside the front door.  It somehow felt like a “holy place.”  After church, there were often snacks and a time of family fellowship.  That was after we got back from helping Grampa take home some of the folks from church.  Now THAT was an adventure.  We would drop them off at their homes and then Grampa would begin to coast down the hill in neutral to see how far we could go without accelerating.  We kids would laugh and encourage the car and even get out to push the extra few feet to see how far we could go.  When not coasting, we would be singing a rousing rendition of a hymn or chorus or listening as Grampa told us some outlandish story.  It was a magical time and I never wanted it to end!  Even after all these years, those after-service trips remain a very special memory.  [What got me thinking about those late Sunday evening trips was the picture in the latest Dayton Family Newsletter…the one with the map of Corinth and the corner by the Baptist Church.  Grampa was in a hurry one time (surprise!) and he took that corner on two wheels!  That moment is indelibly etched into my memory as is that particular corner.]

The Family of Wilber Thomas Dayton Sr.

DFH Volume 1 Issue 17

By Florence “Flossie” [Dayton] Denton (1906-1987)

INTRODUCTION: At our Dayton Family Reunion in 1998, Shirley Bortner, Flossie [Dayton] Denton’s daughter, brought a suitcase full of her mother’s family history, genealogical notes and photographs.  This story, written by Flossie, was among her many notes was the following manuscipt:

On August 31, 1904, Wilber Thomas Dayton, son of Charles Erastus and Nancy Goodnow Dayton, brought home his bride, Jessie Belle White, daughter of Alexander and Anna Maria [Flansburg] White. Wilber and Jessie Belle had just been married in a wedding ceremony at the home of the bride’s parents, who were living on the Lawton farm (now Madison place) on Hadley Hill. The groom was 33 years old; the bride 24.

Wilber and his brother James had been keeping “bachelor’s hall” on the Dayton homestead which had been established by their grandfather, Henry, son of David Dayton, one of the first white settlers in the town of Hadley. The house is no longer there. It burned several years ago, and the area has been divided into several portions. The caretaker’s house now occupies the place where the original house stood.

Wilber and Jessie Belle began their married life in the house built by Henry, while James took the land on the opposite side of the road and lived in a small one room house. Later another small house was moved to the property. Eventually the 2 buildings were combined. As a child, I remember seeing Uncle Jim’s bed which was composed partly of ropes. (NOTE: Now in the possession of Mark Humbert).  He lived there until the death of his brother-in-law, Thomas Roach. Then he went to Greenwich to help his sister, Jennie Dayton Roach, run her farm. He died there at the age of 71.

Jessie Belle and Wilber boarded the schoolteacher the year following their marriage. Her name was Gertrude Austin; hence the middle name of their first child, Flossie Gertrude, born July 19, 1905, who heard from early childhood that she was to be a teacher. I (Flossie) was the last Dayton to be born on the old homestead. About 3 years later the place was sold to Frank Ramsey, who had married my maternal grandmother, Anna Maria Flansburg White, widow of Alexander White. The later had died of a heart attack while plowing his garden on the Lawton place. So my maternal grandmother moved to the house which had been home to my paternal grandparents and great grandparents.

 
Baby Flossie

In 1908 Wilber, Jessie Belle and daughter Flossie, moved to Lake Luzerne, where we lived in part of the Morton house. The large rock over which it stood is still visible on Main Street in Lake Luzerne. I believe mother wanted to be near to a doctor as her second confinement approached. At my birth she had been attended only by a midwife named Mrs. Goodnow. Charles Alexander was born May 4,1908, in Lake Luzerne.

The next winter found us living on Hadley Hill again. This time we were staying at the Kennedy place while dad cut wood for Wm Garner, who own a wood lot nearby. We were living there when the fire broke out on West Mt. My earliest recollection is of spending a night with a neighbor family while the men were fighting fire. Mother and baby Charles were there too. I believe we were at the home of Alford Stewart, who lived on the road that now leads to the fire tower trail. About 1909 mother and dad bought the Lawton place, which, as a bride, mother had left in 1904. I remember the pretty pink locust shrubs that adorned the front of the house and the swing that hung from the butternut tree. My second brother, Chester Arthur, was born on the Lawton place January 6, 1910.  When it became apparent that confinement was eminent, dad hitched the horse to the cutter and drove five miles to Luzerne to get Dr. Thompson. The latter waited to eat a warm breakfast before starting out in the mid-winter snow storm. In the meantime, mother was having difficulty. Injuries suffered at this time affected her health for many years.

Mother did not send me to school until I was nearly 7 years old. She taught me some things at home and encouraged me to sew. We children were brought up on Bible stories. Each time that I memorized a Bible verse, mother would make a garment for my doll. My first school days were spent in a little one room schoolhouse in the East Hadley district. It was toward the end of that term when we moved that summer to Pine Street, Palmer Falls, now part of Corinth. I entered the 1st grade in the Palmer Ave. school at the age of 7.

Our parents had bought 3 contiguous lots, each 50 ft. by 150 ft,  on top of the hill at the lower end of Pine Street. Dad built a small barn in which we lived for a few weeks until the house was habitable. Alon Smith built the house following a blueprint made by mother. Dad painted it pearl grey. However, it is not that color now, and it has been enlarged. It stands at the top of the hill on the right side of Pine Street, as one travels from the mill toward the outskirts of the village.

After working two years unloading wood from the train at the mill, dad longed to get back to farm work. So we sold the house on Pine Street and moved to the Angell District where he took care of Harry Shorey’s farm for about 6 months, Sept. to March. Charles and I attended a one room school taught by Mina Angell. I thought she was perfect. One day at recess the girls were discussing what they wanted to be when grown up. I said, “I want to be just like Miss Angell.” That pleased the teacher. Miss Angell later taught the 6th grade at Corinth school. Finally, she married George Peck and lived in Schenectady. She is buried in the cemetery on the Angell farm.

In March 1914 we moved back to Hadley Hill. Our parents had bought the Gailey place, located between Uncle Will White’s farm and the Gilbert place. In recent years the Gailey farm belonged to the late Mr. Nordmere, so Charles and I and eventually Chester attended the East Hadley Hill school.  The teachers for the next few years were Walter Moore, Ethel Parker, Clara Burnham, Blanche Earls, and Miss Sullivan.  In 1918, I went to Lake Luzerne where I tried the Regents Exams so that I could be admitted to high school.  When Miss Burnham was teaching on Hadley Hill, she gave me private organ lessons for twenty-five cents each.

While we were living on the Gailey place, Frank Ramsey, my step-grandfather, died.  So, my grandmother came to live with us.  She persuaded us to spend the summer of 1916 at her farm, which was the old Dayton homestead.  We did not move our furniture.  One day, as grandma was working in her garden, she told me that there was a cemetery up in the field.  She said some people who used to own that farm were buried there.  Evidently, she did not know they were my great-grandparents.  My father must have known, but he did not hear our conversation. Besides, he did not do much talking. He was very busy trying to earn a living for his growing family. I never knew until about 50 years later whose graves were up there in the field. Imagine my surprise to learn that my great grandparents were buried there.

That was the summer the tornado crossed the valley in front of the house, making a path through the woods and removing a part of Uncle Alex White’s barn roof. He was living at the “vly”, later known as Bell Brook Club. Chester caught his first fish that summer. He was fishing in Dayton Creek across the road from grandma’s house. “I got him! I got him!” he yelled.

We attended Sunday school and worship services in the East Hadley Hill schoolhouse. Billy Green’s wife was the minister, but Billy preached sometimes. He was also the organist, playing a portable organ donated by Mr. Ripley. Rev. Sarah and Mr. Green held services Sunday morning in the West District schoolhouse. In the afternoon they came to the East District. No doubt they held an evening service in the Wesleyan church at Stony Creek. They lived in the parsonage in that village. While we were living at grandma’s house, we were about halfway between the 2 schoolhouses; so some Sundays I attended services at both places.

In the fall we went back to the Galey place, taking grandma with us. She was present for the birth of Wilber Thomas Jr. in October 29, 1916. On December 3rd she married Warren Dingman and went back to her own home. Nobody on Hadley Hill owned a car until about 1917. Uncle Will White was the first resident to buy an automobile. It was a Ford touring car. Although we had no car, we sometimes left home for a day or two. Conklingville, where mother’s sister Bertha Hurd and her family lived, was only about 4 miles away, if one liked to hike, using an abandoned road.

Occasionally dad would hook up the horse and take us up to West Day to visit his sister, Carrie and her husband, Dee Harris. Aunt Carrie wouldn’t sit down to eat until everyone was served. She would insist that you would put plenty of homemade butter on those delicious pancakes and then pour on maple syrup. Her neighbors were impressed by her gas refrigerator. That was before electrification reached their area. I was impressed by the Victrola and the Uncle Josh records. The separator amazed me too. Uncle Dee would come from the barn with milk, pour it into the top of the separator, and turn the crank. Cream and milk would come out of separate spouts! Aunt Carrie raised colts and helped with the barn chores. I thought it was strange to see her wearing men’s shoes.

I remember a trip to Greenwich to visit dad’s other sister, Jennie Dayton Roach and her husband Tom. We took this trip while we were living on Pine Street the first time. Dad, mother, Charles, Chester and I took the bus to Saratoga Springs, where we boarded another bus that took us to Schuylerville. Then we walked about 2 miles crossing the river to Thompson. From there a trolley took us to Greenwich. Then we walked two miles to Aunt Jennie’s farm. My new shoes skinned my heel; so I took them off and walked with bare feet. I remember being impressed by Aunt Jennie’s strutting peacock.

The summer of 1918 we lived on the Charley Kennedy place, which was adjacent to the other Kennedy place where we had resided when Charles was a baby. Dad had sold the Galey farm and was helping Frank Wood do the work on the Ripley farm (formerly Kennedy place). In the fall we moved back to Pine Street, Palmer Falls, so I could go to high school. We repossessed the house we thought we had sold. However, in less than two years we sold it again and moved up town to 11 Mechanic Street, where we were closer to the school, church, and stores. There Paul Delbert was born June 29, 1923. He grew up in that house. When he married Ruth Carter, the newlyweds set up housekeeping upstairs, while mother and dad lived downstairs. Paul and Ruth lived there until they built the home on West Mechanic St.

In my senior year of high school, Mother made arrangements for me to attend the teacher training class in Hudson Falls.    I was to live at the home of the Seventh Day Adventist minister.  During the summer, it was learned that I had been awarded a state scholarship which would provide $100 each year for four years of college.  Harris Crandall, the high school principal, persuaded Mother to let me attend State College at Albany.  Mother accompanied me to the city and found a suitable place for me to live.

My first teaching assignment was in Richmondville, where I taught Latin, History and Civics.  In my second year there, my health broke down and I returned home. The next September I began teaching in the West district on Hadley Hill, living with the Burnhams.  After three years, I started teaching at Porters Corners, but was unable to finish the term.  Much of that year I spent with Mildred and George Archer in Hadley.  In September 1932, I began teaching at Wolf Lake, living at home and driving my car to work.  In February 24, 1934, I married George Denton.   At his request, I resigned my teaching position.

My parents continued to live at 11 Mechanic St until July 18, 1957, when dad died at the age of 86. The following autumn mother went to live with Chester and his wife Elizabeth on Walnut Street. Mother passed away there in January 1958 at the age of 77. Although she had a colostomy in her 60’s, the cause of death was a stroke. For some time, her vision had been poor because of glaucoma.

I have mentioned my 4 brothers only incidentally. However, each has a big place in my heart. In their preteens, Chop and Chip took me over the cliff and down to their secret cave by the river. In later years, they transported me to Hadley Hill when I was teaching there. I remember those walks across the river and above the dam with Charles and Gladys. When I was 19, Chester and I rode bicycles to Greenwich to visit Aunt Jennie and Uncle Jim. Chester taught me to recognize various trees and shrubs. Wilbur was my right-hand man, always doing errands for me at a time when I was suffering from what I now recognize as agoraphobia. Later I was amazed at his scholastic attainments. Paul, who was nearly 18 years younger than I, was my baby brother. I admired his blue eyes and rosy cheeks. One day he surprised me by his dexterity in getting my automobile tire on the rim when I was unable to do so. These 4 fellows, were, and are, quite different in appearance and talents, but so alike in Christian character.

Remembering Corinth, Part 7-Life Revolved Around the Church

DFH Volume 1 Issue 16

Remembering Corinth, by Dave Hayes, is a ten-part series about Dave’s remembrances of Corinth in the late ‘50s.  Dave, a retired elementary teacher and guidance counselor (36 years), and part time adjunct professor in the Counseling Dept. at nearby West Chester Univ. (24 years-8 after his “first” retirement) lives in Pottstown, PA.  He and his wife, Kathleen, had four children, Heather, Jeremy, Emily (d.2008) and Benjamin.  He descends from Wilber Sr. as follows: Wilber Sr., Rev. Charles “Chop” Dayton, Isabelle “Izzie” [Dayton] Hayes, David Hayes.

Part 7 – Life Revolved Around the Church

School life and home life and exploring the town were secondary to the time spent in the Corinth Wesleyan Church.  Most of my memories that year are associated with time there and with the special people with whom I interacted at church.  Grampa would be up front in the pulpit leading the hymns with unmatched gusto or preaching with fervency & deep conviction or encouraging even the youth to give their testimonies during prayer meeting.  Gramma Jo would be sitting in the pews hoping Charles would not make a personal reference or she would be leading a women’s meeting or directing Vacation Bible School each summer.  I’d be in the back pews with Jimmy & Cammie & Keith trying to keep a low profile but still managing to goof around from time to time.  Everyone was SO friendly and welcoming from the beginning and we felt at home here right away.  There were folks that my Mom knew from her childhood & teen years, assorted cousins from both sides of her family and all those precious aunts and uncles who were glad to have Izzie around, if only for a season.  They were supportive and gracious, knowing how tough it was to have a husband so far away for so long.  That church enveloped us and made us “family” the minute we walked through the door.  We had Sunday School and church suppers in the recently completed Education Building and played softball in the summer and went ice skating in the winter out behind the church.  When it was time for Bible School, we gathered outside, lining up with our class behind our class banner.  We followed the American & Christian flags and the Bible into the sanctuary and pledged allegiance to each before singing the theme song for the year.  Then it was off to our classes for Bible stories, crafts, snacks and games.  Those two weeks were the highlight of my Corinth summer!  It wasn’t until years later, when I was directing my own church’s Bible School, that I again copied Gramma Jo’s formula for marches, pledges and opening songs.  What a wonderful tradition I learned there.

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).

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.

Remembering Corinth, Part 4-Our Corinth Family

DFH Volume 1 Issue 13

Remembering Corinth, by Dave Hayes, is a ten-part series about Dave’s remembrances of Corinth in the late ‘50s.  Dave, a retired elementary teacher and guidance counselor (36 years), and part time adjunct professor in the Counseling Dept. at nearby West Chester Univ. (24 years-8 after his “first” retirement) lives in Pottstown, PA.  He and his wife, Kathleen, had four children, Heather, Jeremy, Emily (d.2008) and Benjamin.  He descends from Wilber Sr. as follows: Wilber Sr., Rev. Charles “Chop” Dayton, Isabelle “Izzie” [Dayton] Hayes, David Hayes

Part 4 – Our Corinth Family

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            The best thing about living in Corinth in 1959,while dad was on a hardship tour in Greenland, was that we were surrounded by family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and lots of new church friends!  Grampa was now my pastor (from father to grandfather…now there’s a switch) and Gramma Jo was my pastor’s wife.  My Aunt Cammie (really, more like a cousin in terms of age and relationships) was a constant companion and new best friend.  Then there was Uncle Paul and Aunt Ruth and their kids—my “new” cousins—who lived across town and Uncle Chip & Aunt Lib, who lived just a few doors up from us on Walnut Street.  Not only did we see Cammie & Jimmy and the other cousins on Sundays and weeknight prayer meetings, but we saw them passing in the hallways in school and we played with them as “instant family friends.”  Jimmy was a year older than I, so we got to explore and bike and run around the town together.  After we moved again, a year later, I didn’t see Jimmy until we were in Houghton College together 8 years later!  But our time in Corinth cemented our cousin-friendship! Jimmy & Cammie introduced us to the behind-the-scenes places in Corinth, like the supposed Indian burial ground at the top of the hill from the church.  Local legend, according to the Corinth kids, was that Indians were buried underneath the big rocks that were on the hillside.  We ran around, jumping from rock to rock, thinking that we were somehow part of ancient history.  They also showed us the famous Stewart’s Ice Cream shop, where you could eat the toppings off of your make-your-own sundae and then add more on top.  Now that’s a yummy memory!  And we learned that the town beach (swimming in the Hudson) was next to the town library and just down the street from the center of town.  We loved the small town feel and being surrounded by family—all in all, a great place to be for a year!

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!