No Post This Week

 I have been in the hospital with a dangerous blood infection. The doctors removed my defibrillator and installed a penicillin infusion pump.  It will be in for 6 weeks.  Then I graduate to an antibiotic in pill form the rest of my life. In addition, when I went to the emergency room, my diabetes glucose reading was 23. That nearly always means coma or death. Needless to say, they injected me with a lot of sugar water.

I have run out of material for the blog.  If you have a story, please send it.  I will post stories as they come to me.   Please. Won’t you send a story.  The blog is now yours.  Please write soon.


Jim Dayton’s Recollection’s of Growing Up

One of the Dayton-Family-History readers wrote to me, “Here’s a question for you… what was your recollection of growing up in a family of 5 kids?  What memories stick out to you?  Was the age gap a big deal? We’re you close as kids?”

I don’t remember any complicated or unpleasant consequences. Our living, eating, clothing and transportation resources seemed routine.  I guess when you don’t know differently, then what exists is normal.  I suppose our ancient Daytons felt normal living in a two room home back in the 1600’s on long Island. Anyway, our Paul Dayton family of seven lived in a small three bedroom, one bathroom home. I don’t remember it being more inconvenient than other homes I lived in later in life.  I’ll admit it was an inconvenience needing to use the toilet when someone else was using it.  There were no disasters…you accepted all circumstances. 

Meals were at a table built for four (with one leaf) in a very small kitchen, but we ate as much as we wanted and never went away hungry.  We had a larger dining room table with seating for 8, but that was saved only for company. Later on, Judy and I had 2 girls living in a home with 2 ½ baths, 3 bedrooms, large living room, den, kitchen with large breakfast nook and dining room, but we were no more or less crowded than in my growing up house.

Growing up,  our car was a 2 door Ford Fairlane coupe.  It didn’t seem crowded even though there were 3 persons in front and 4 in the rear.  I have a video of everyone getting out of the car.  It looks like a circus clown comedy drill, but we tolerated the accommodations well.  However, once having upgraded, that becomes the new norm and you can’t go back without great inconvenience. 

My life was sports.  The role of a mother as a taxi driver didn’t exist.  I made my own arrangements to get home after practice.  Most of the time it involved walking home.  After football practice, I walked home with a friend who still had about 6 miles to go.  He hitchhiked or walked, after he had walked with me for ¾ miles. It was normal for him.

The age gap for the children in our family was 13-years from oldest to youngest sibling.  We were never a close, touchy-feely family.  The older you get, the smaller the age gap and the bigger in closeness and adoration.  I’m 72 years old and closer to my siblings than ever before… especially my brother who is 9 years my younger.  I didn’t know him growing up.

I was closest to my older sister mostly because of parental intervention.  My parents expected me, as a 10 to 13 year old, to be a protective escort for Mary.  My dad insisted on it. My sister enjoyed taking evening walks after sundown and going to the local diner to hang out with friends from town and out of town. They hung out at a table, drinking coffee and listening to the jukebox for a couple hours at a time. Mary always was telling me to stand erect so I would look taller.  The point is, we got to know each other a little.  My playmates were always neighborhood friends my age. 

I can only vividly remember two instances of direct interaction with my brothers.  I suspect there was daily happy interaction, but it was normal, not memorable. 

I haven’t done these questions justice in this brief account.  I wrote an autobiography for my family a few years ago, and it took about 15 chapters to answer the growing up questions.  I would highly recommend that each of you write or “video” an autobiography so your descendants can carry on your legacy to future generations.

Neighborhood Caroling

DFH Volume 1 Issue 25

By Jim Dayton

   The Joy of Christ in Christmas was never so real as the evening our neighborhood in Connecticut got together for caroling and refreshments.

We lived in a new 88-acre development, and we were all corporate gypsies.  Its residents came from every corner of America, and we cherished the geographical, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of our roots, especially our local Christmas traditions.  None of us had family close by, so we neighbors were one big family.  One Christmas season, someone organized a neighborhood gathering for Christmas caroling and a time of refreshments.   About fifty people showed up.

   We gathered, after dark, at the turnaround of a cul-de-sac.  The air was frigid, so the men had built a fire in a 55-gallon drum.  The neighborhood “friendship leader” had the foresight to hand out copies of the words to the carols.  We read the words by firelight or flashlight.  Nearly all the carols we sang honored Christ—I don’t remember singing about Rudolph or Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  We sang about Christ In a Manger, about a Little Town Called Bethlehem, about a Silent and Holy Night, about Joy, about Angels Singing, about Merry Gentlemen Resting.  It thrilled my soul to see and hear my neighbor’s families joyfully singing about Christ.  Godliness and practicing Christianity aren’t very high priorities in New England.  That night, the presence of Christ came to the end of Horse Stable Circle, and I saw the love of Christ on the faces of my friends and neighbors.  I heard the love of Christ in their voices.  The Johnsons opened their home to us, and when we finished singing our praises to God for the babe in the manger, we filled their house with laughter and joy.

Corporate gypsies move on.  None of our families live there anymore.  But every Christmas, I’ll bet there are a dozen or so families that fondly remember the love they felt for their neighbors and the presence of Christ at the end of Horse Stable Circle one Christmas eve.

Ruining a Friend’s Belief System

DFH Volume 1 Issue 25

By Jim Dayton

I never believed in Santa Claus.  From my beginning, dad taught me that Santa was mythological and that the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ was the entire purpose for Christmas.  When I was in 2nd grade, I let my friend, Ron Dunn, in on the secret.  Not only did I tell him that there was no Santa, but I explained the reasons why St. Nick could not be real.  I convinced him, and he ran and told his mother.  His mother got so mad at me, she ordered me to leave.  On the way home, I analyzed what had just happened, and I couldn’t make any sense out of getting in trouble because I had told the truth.

Memories-Jessie Studio Photo Discovered

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

Shirley Tharp sent in a photo which has previously been unknown.  The portrait is of Jessie Belle Dayton, wife of Wilber Thomas Dayton Sr, and my generation’s grandmother.  My guess is that gramma would have been about 50 years old in this photo.  The photo, then, would have been taken about 1930.  Notice that she wore John Lennon iconic glasses forty years before he made them famous to rock and rollers like myself. You were cool, Gramma.

If any of you have any photos which you can contribute, I’d love them, and so would our readers.  I’ve got one of my family (15 of us) which I will include in a future edition.  I especially covet a portrait digital image of Elizabeth Dayton, either alone or with Uncle Chip.  I only have one photo of her, and it is a cropped photo from a poor-quality snapshot original..  The result is a blurry-grainy photo of such poor quality that you can hardly identify the person in the photo as Aunt Lib.  Please, please, send one (or two or three…no amount is too many).  I am the self-declared curator of Dayton family photos.  I would love photos you can send of your families, both immediate and extended.  Also, if you would like a copy of my collection of Dayton photos, then send a blank flash drive (16 gigabytes is sufficient) to Jim Dayton, 8366 Ridgestone Dr., Byron Center, MI 49315. Most photos are identified by name and date.   If you want to put your family photos on the drive for me to copy, that would be all the better.

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Dayton Book for Sale at

DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

My brother, Steve, wrote a magnificent history of our Dayton’s early forefathers on American soil.  The book is titled Our Long Island Ancestors: The first six Generations of the Daytons in America, 1639-1807.  Here’s a summary of what Amazon says about the book.: The compilers’ motivations for publishing many years of research is to provide family and researchers a collection of material with which to confront both early scholarship and family legend, and to begin their own discovery.

    ●  For more than 30 years, records and information were gathered and organized by brothers Stephen Dayton and James Dayton, both of whom possess professional backgrounds in analysis.

    ●  The product is a 476 page compilation of all known records, documenting the descent of the authors’ Long Island line, six generations, from Ralph Dayton through Samuel, Abraham, Henry, to David Senior and David Junior (from about 1588 to 1807).

    ●  45  pages introduction and contextual information in England

    ●  Extensive study includes critical, original research and examination of existing claims, with effort to label conjecture and theory as such, and to present alternative interpretation.

    ●  Consultation of primary sources and from professional historians (cited).

    ●  49 images and illustrations including maps, drawings, figures, location photos, original documents and document entries.

    ●  14 pages of Work Cited; 7 pages of Vital statistics for spouses and children, with references; 19 pages of Index; 878 footnotes, most of which are citation.

This book, in hard cover and paperback would make a great Christmas present for children, grandchildren and other loved ones who want to learn about their Dayton heritage.

Click here to view the book on Amazon.

In other exciting news, Steve reported that he is starting a sequel.  Steve says,I just started messing around with organizational ideas for the second book, picking up where I left off a year ago–forming the outline. The process began shortly before being diagnosed with gastric lymphoma in August 2018 and was then just too weak physically and mentally to get inspired.  Since being declared “cancer free” this summer, I am gaining strength and am encouraged again to get more of Jim’s research recorded, continuing from the first book. This one will start with David Jr. to proceed through Henry and Charles to grandpa Wilber

Steve, speaking on behalf of your Dayton family, we’re all looking forward to your book and offer our assistance to you.  Feel free to call upon any of us.

Thanksgiving in the Mountains-Mountain Man Apprentice

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DFH Volume 1 Issue 24

By Jim Dayton

From 3rd grade until I was a junior in high school, my dad, Paul Dayton, took me deer hunting on Thanksgiving morning.  We’d drive one or two hours far into the heart of the Adirondack mountains, park the car by the side of a logging road and wait for dawn so we could find our way. 

Dad would hunt like the Iroquois Indians did.  He went to the deer, instead of waiting in a blind for them to come to him.  He found their bed and then he would track them, trying to stay down wind so the deer wouldn’t catch our scent.  We used to walk miles, climbing over mountains and ridges, around swamps, across streams and creeks, through thickets…he’d stop every so often and survey the terrain.  Then he’d tell me where the deer probably were based on weather, topography and vegetation.  Then he would explain how we would get there based on wind direction and noise factors… we’d sneak up on them.  We always whispered or used hand gestures.  His two-hundred-pound frame walked silently, but my hundred- and twenty-pound footsteps thundered through dried leaves, and twigs and small branches which snapped underfoot. 

He always carried a compass, but he hardly ever took it out of his pocket.  He depended more on observing nature to “get his bearings.” He was a master at reading the sky, but the frequent cloudiness made following the sun undependable.   So he relied on the tell-tale signs of vegetation to get his orientation.  The density and location of moss and fungi, the “pointing” of the forest canopy, and the species of trees growing in that location were all tell-tale signs of north, south, east and west. 

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It used to scare me half to death when he would say to me, “I’m going to go over that ridge over there.  I want you to go around the ridge in that direction and meet me at the other side.  Maybe you’ll stir him up and I can get a shot off as he’s running away from you.”  I immediately pictured myself getting lost, but my dad always had confidence that I could find my way.  He never carried binoculars or a rifle scope, so I was truly on my own.  I think he was testing me.

After walking for hours in unfamiliar forest, we would came out of the woods within a quarter mile of the car.  I could never understand his precision.  I think it’s instinct.

He was at home in the woods.  He wouldn’t dare drive a car in Irving, TX, because he would get lost driving from O’Connor Blvd. to Grawyler Ave, two miles away with one turn. He was very uncomfortable in cities and urban sprawl.  But if you dropped him, by parachute, onto an unfamiliar peak in the Adirondacks mountains, he would find his way back to civilization before the plane landed (a slight exaggeration).   He taught me to follow a stream downhill if I was lost.  I wish I could remember a tenth of the survival skills he taught me.  He couldn’t pass by a winterberry without stooping to pick two—he’d always expect me to eat one whether I wanted it or not.  “No thanks, Dad”, was not a part of his vocabulary.  I’ve eaten dozens of different kinds of berries, nuts, grasses, and roots, but I don’t remember most of them anymore.  He always called it hunting, and it’s taken me sixty years to realize that the actual hunting part of the Thanksgiving ritual was just an excuse to get his young apprentice in the woods for a day of mountain man indoctrination and training.

Sometimes he’d stop and gaze at something on the ground.  He’d say, “Look, a wolf has been here in the last 24 hours.“  I didn’t even see anything.  He knew the footprint of every animal that roamed the Adirondacks.  His deductive reasoning told him how old the track was.  He often pointed out bear paw tracks, but we never hunted them.During the few hours we had spent in the woods, I had stepped out of my childhood and had become a man.  By the time we got home, I was a boy again.   We always made it back home in time to dry off, warm up and sit down to a Thanksgiving feast that was made better because of the huge appetite we had worked up.  Those Thanksgivings in the woods were some of my dad’s most precious memories.  They are mine too


DFH Volume 1 Issue 23

This month starts a new feature called Memories.   It will include one or two photos from my vast collection of Dayton family photos.  If you would like a complete copy of my collection of photos, send a flash drive to Jim Dayton, 8366 Ridgestone Drive, Byron Center, MI 49315.  Be sure to include your return address.  I would like to continue adding to my collection.  Do you have digital images of your family or your parents or grandparents?  Please send them to me at (or send them to me on the flash drive which will be returned containing my photos.)

Dayton Brothers Sawmill-“Green” Long Before Its Time

DFH Volume 1 Issue 22

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. 

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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°. 

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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).

Conveyer for cutoff saw

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.