This post is the first of a multipart series of posts on Dayton family sports interests.
When you think of the activities the Dayton family are involved in, sports hardly ever comes to mind. The words Dayton and sports used in the same sentence is an oxymoron. We Daytons are more into books, learning, religion, the fine arts and nature. Seemingly, the Dayton family is not known for sports at all. We seem to have a distaste for them. Other than hunting, the Dayton boys seemed quite devoid of sports. At least that’s what I thought until I started doing research for this story. Now I’m finding sports stories popping up all over the place. Hail Dayton Sports! Viva Dayton sports!
I have several ideas which will turn this topic into a multi-post series. I’ll cover Paul Dayton first. By doing so, you will get an idea of types of sports information I’d like to report. You can help by sending me sports stories or information or leave comments on posts which you’ve read. Any person affiliated with the Dayton clan is fair game… your patriarchs, father, mother, son, daughter, etc. This post about Paul may give you ideas for subsequent posts.
Paul Dayton–The Sportsman I Never Knew
I love sports of all types, especially baseball, and college basketball, but I got that from my Carter side of my family. The Dayton boys loved hunting. I’m not sure where they developed their skills because Grandpa (Wilber Dayton Sr) never hunted. Perhaps their interest came from the White family. Hunting was certainly in Chop’s DNA, and I think the other boys just followed in their big brother’s footsteps. I’ve written about deer hunting and probably will again in the future. But can you think of any other sport they liked?
Softball—As I was recently searching though old newspapers, much to my delight, I ran across the article at the left. Paul Dayton had hit a home run in an organized, town softball league. I didn’t even know he played. The EMBA was a very respectable town league made up of former high school and college ball players. I don’t know anything more about his softball endeavors than this article. I do know that he had another baseball glove dating from the 50’s. It was also in the garage, buried under more imporyant stuff like firewood. I imagine that glove was the one he used in the EMBA league games. I kept that one, had it framed, side by side with my first glove, and gifted them to my grandson Luke.
Baseball—Each year, dad took our family to New York City to see either a Yankees or Mets baseball double header. They did it for me. Dad was frugal, and two games for the price of one was a deal he couldn’t pass up. In those days, you could take a picnic basket of goodies into the stadium, so mom packed enough to feed setion 207. The year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record we sat in the outfield stands so close to Maris that we could have hit him with a baseball or a bottle when he went to the fence to catch a ball.
In 1964, dad thought it would be a good father-son bonding experience to take me to a Mets-Phillies game at Shea Stadium in New York. It was a twi-night doubleheader, game time 6:00 p.m. We travelled by Greyhound bus, leaving about noon and returning about 5 a.m. the next morning. It was a long day and one I will never forget. Thanks, dad.
Stock Car Racing
Stock Car Racing—Paul was a fan of auto racing. Most Thursdays we went to the track in Menands, NY, then on Fridays we often went to Saratoga Speedway. His favorite track was Fonda Speedway where we enjoyed a Saturday evening filled with entertainment.
Corinth Wesleyan Methodist Church held a weekly Prayer Meeting service on Thursday evening until the mid-1950’s. That conflicted with the Stockcar races, so Paul petitioned the church to change Prayer Meeting to Wednesday evening. I don’t know the circumstances or motivation for the other board members’ votes, but dad’s reason was clear to everyone. And they did change to Wednesday evenings.
Swimming—Paul always enjoyed swimming. He was a good swimmer, and he had to be. He was in the Navy. Not one of his five kids nor his wife knew how to swim a single stroke. One summer he was determined to change that. He thought it best if we were at the beach at 7 A.M. every Saturday morning. Probably it had something to do with both modesty and timidity. We returned home around 9 to the greatest breakfast a mom could make (bacon, ham and eggs with all the trimmings). However, dad’s mission was a failure. We never learned to swim, and we kids protested so much he ended the experiment after a month.
Logging Competition—Although dad never competed, we went to a logging competition in Tupper Lake, NY every summer. The logging show was an outdoor extravaganza with all the latest in logging and sawmill gear. Kids loved it. They received vendor samples, watched a big parade of logging machinery, and viewed competitions of chain saw log cutting, axe log cutting, tree climbing and log rolling. Dad was positively sure that he and Red Allen would be undefeated in the log rolling race, but they never tried. Any combination of Chip, Paul and Roger would probably have won too. Dad and I would have come in last. I was pathetic.
Other sports—A few years before he died, I asked dad if he was interested in any particular sport besides hunting and he said, “oh, I don’t care as long as it isn’t football,” and he reached over and teasingly and lovingly slapped my arm. I had been the MVP running back on our high school football team. My mom and dad attended every game, and much later in life they told me they went to the games to make sure I didn’t get hurt. I’m not sure of the logic of that statement, but I appreciated it. He went on to mention that he ran cross country for Corinth High school. The coach begged him to play soccer, but it conflicted with his paper route. In the winter he liked to play hockey with neighborhood kids.
Although he didn’t like sports all that much, he knew I did so he always read the sports page and was prepared to talk about what happened the day before. I can remember discussions about Cassius Clay (AKA Mohamad Ali) knocking out Sonny Liston, Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a basketball game, and Warren Spahn pitching his 300th baseball game win. He knew they were my favorite players.
My mom was involved with sports too…she was constantly yelling at me to stop bouncing the basketball in the house.
Today’s post find’s two characters, Chip and Chop Dayton, daring each other to cross the Hudson River by walking across pulp wood blocks which filled the river. I’ll leave it up to you to decide the outcome. These brothers were the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn of the Hudson River. If I had to guess, about 90% of you chose the correct outcome of the story. It’s always fun to listen to Chip, the master story teller, recount the event.
The Dayton brothers loved to hunt deer. Chip and Paul played “hooky” from work a couple times each fall to hunt, and they hunted most Saturdays and Thanksgiving day. They never hunted on a Sunday, but their minds may have drifted there during Sunday dinner. They were at home in the woods. They loved the outdoors…it didn’t matter if they were working at the sawmill, or going hunting.
Nowadays, most hunters hunt from behind blinds. They set up for the day in a likely speciific location and wait for the deer to come to them. Not Chip and Paul. They walked all day long…over mountains, around swamps, though the forest. They were constantly on the go, tracking them, looking for runways, looking for their beds, driving them…anything to gain the upper hand and spot them.
I asked Chip to tell me a hunting story, and what a treat it was to hear him excitedly recall the event. It had been many years ago, but he told it like it happened yesterday. Listen in while he invites us to the hunt one fall day.
Dr. Donald Dayton Rememberances
If you would like to Send a rememberence for me to publish, please forward it to email@example.com
Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton, my Uncle Chop, was a man who was bigger than life. He was the Paul Bunyan of Upstate New York country pastors. But in his younger days he was the Huckleberry Finn of the upper-Hudson River. Todays story is a tale of a childhood prank gone bad as told by his younger brother Chip [Chester]….the master story teller.
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.
Dayton Brothers’ Lumber Company was an “environmentally green” company as early as the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This was 30 years before we began to hear about “green” on a national scale. Besides their obvious cash crop of lumber, the brothers sold every scrap product of the log, letting nothing go to waste.
Most obvious was the sawdust pile. Sawdust was sold to farmers for spreading over the floor of the barn’s cow stalls to make cleanup more sanitary. One day a farmer drove his truck into the lumber yard expecting to pick up a load of sawdust. The truck had a Budweiser sign on it. Dad refused to service him because of the sign. Dad was opposed to alcohol of any kind. The farmer came back later with a milk sign on the truck and dad sold him his load of sawdust.
If we did a lot of sawing, then the sawdust pile grew to mountainous heights (25-30 feet). Kids loved to play in it. I remember one time it was covered with newly fallen snow and Roger skied down it. Under pressure and decay from both high concentrations of moisture and lack of sunlight, the sawdust would generate lots of heat. In fact, sawdust piles have been known to spontaneously combust into flame. Kids would dig deep into the pile just far enough to feel its heat. Sawdust serves as an excellent insulator. Around the periphery of the pile where internal temperatures remained normal, you were guaranteed to find snow if you dug down about a foot to two feet…in July and August. I can remember Roger and I throwing snowballs at each other on a hot July day when the air temperature was probably 85°.
When the lumber had been airdried in the yard, it was taken to the planing mill where it was “”smoothed’ on all four sides. The dry shavings were sold to butchers to spread over the flooring of their butcher shops. There was an old, deaf, Afro-American man who used to buy shavings by the large-truckload and resell them to butcher shops. He had exclusive rights (preferential treatment) to Dayton Brothers shavings. Dad called him “the darky.” This was before desegregation and dad meant no disrespect. Dad knew his name, but we didn’t. We knew him only as the darky. When dad had a load of shavings ready, he would call the old white-haired man and tell him that a load was ready for him. Humm…something is suspicious. How could dad call him if he was deaf? Must be his wife answered. He always arrived with a cup of coffee and a doughnut for each of us. Dad would send me to the shaving pile to help the old man fill his truck. He would put the shavings into potato sacks (burlap bags) each weighing probably 20-30 pounds when full. It was my job to pack them into his truck as tightly as I could. I was only a pre-teen, so it was hard work. I remember that one day on a Saturday evening dad and I drove to the sawmill to do a security check and discovered that the old man had left a bird house kit for me in the planing mill. The world would be a far better place if we only had more great men like the darky. He was like a grandpa to me. Even though we couldn’t communicate with speech, we communicated in many other ways like the exchange of genuine, loving grins at each other.
The first cuts of the log are called slabs which are sold as firewood for heating homes and for campfires. Dad would load the “slab truck” and, when it was full, then we would head out across town to deliver it to the person who had ordered it. The slab dump truck was very old and beat up and was an embarrassment every time I rode in it. I hoped I would not be seen by anyone I knew. But it did the job and helped to keep the community green (except for the smoke that was emitted as it was consumed by fire).
The lumber was sold by length, width and thickness (board feet). The lumber’s length was always an even numbered size between 4’ and 14’. So the cutoff saw cut the length to conform to these dimensions. This was perfect for campers. Dayton Brothers had already cut the lumber into a length that could be tossed into the fireplace or firepit. As I recall, the price was $5.00 per pickup truck load. This “dirt cheap” slab wood, kept the slab pile empty or small, which was Dad’s objective. Too large a pile of “cutoff” slabs was a nuisance.
So the Dayton brothers were “Green” long before it was a politically correct treatment of our environment. It didn’t make them rich…it made them responsible community citizens.
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.
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.
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, 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 6 – Dirty Bucks and a Sawmill
What makes a small town so compelling? Sometimes it’s the time in which you find yourself there. Or maybe it’s a local custom that is new and interesting. And yet, perhaps it’s the location of a special place that keeps drawing you back time after time. Corinth was all three of these things. So here I am, a 5th grader in the late 50’s trying to find where I belonged in my adopted town and with the changing, rock-n-roll culture swirling around me. I took a leap and begged my Mom to buy me a pair of dirty bucks. Hey, if they were good enough for Pat Boone, they were good enough for me. I strutted around in them until one day they got scuffed. I panicked and then realized that they were supposed to be “dirty,” so I relaxed and enjoyed my venture into 50’s fashion even if I was way up here in northern NY. I also discovered a unique custom in Corinth—May Day. According to tradition, we would find little baskets, fill them with homemade goodies or candies to deliver to special people around town on May 1st. But here’s the trick: it’s a secret who they are from. So you sneak up to the door, deposit the May basket on the porch, ring the doorbell and run. The idea is to hide nearby to see the person’s surprise to find the unexpected treat. I remember, in particular, that we gave one to a very sweet lady from the church, Aunt Daisy, and she was so pleased to be remembered. What a loving tradition…I still wish we did that. My other remembrance was the times I spent just outside of town at the Dayton Brothers sawmill. What an awesome place that was, with the tower of sawdust, the piles of wooden beams perfect for hide-and-seek, the sounds of the saw cutting the trees into long planks and, always, the friendly greetings from my uncles, Paul & Chip. I adored those two men, and they returned my admiration with open arms and warm smiles. My visits there were magical and I would go as often as I could.