My visit to the land of the Dayton homestead and the gravesite of Henry Dayton [Henry← Charles Erastus← Wilber Sr.] and his wife, Christie [Cameron] Dayton made me realize that I have not mentioned our Cameron branch of the Dayton family in an earlier Newsletter. The Camerons [our ancestors] are prominent citizens in the Hadley, Stony Creek and Thurman area of Upstate New York. The Cameron surname is the most often found name in the town of Thurman, Warren County, New York, which the Camerons settled 200 years ago. Our link to this illustrious family is through the marriage of Christie Ann Cameron to Henry Dayton about 1816.
The name Cameron comes from the Gaelic and Welsh “Cam” meaning crooked and “sron” meaning nose – therefore, a crooked nose.
Christie’s parents were William (born in Scotland in 1770) and Mary Hodgson (born in England in 1776). In all, there were eight children, and Christie Ann was the oldest. Christie’s grandfather was James CAMERON and her grandmother was Christina Ann MORD. Christie Dayton was no doubt named after her grandmother. The grandparents also came from Scotland at the same time as Christie Ann’s father. There were thirteen children in this family and William was 2nd oldest. It’s not clear why James Cameron chose Thurman to live. They were from the Scottish Highlands and this may be why they chose the Adirondacks.
The author of THE CAMERON FAMILY OF WARREN COUNTY, NEW YORK, Gloria Bailey Jackson, provides a possible explanation for the Cameron’s emigration from Scotland. James emigrated about 1770 and settled in Thurman in 1773. At the time, Thurman was a part of Queensbury located in Washington County. The aftereffects of the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 included the British determination to clear the Scottish Highlands of the clan system. The Cameron’s probably lived in Lochaber under the protection of their chief Donald of Locheil. Following the Battle, the Duke of Cumberland declared that the “people must perish by sword and famine.” The Cameron’s fled after they experienced plundering and burning of homes in their own clan.
Once settled in America, James began lumbering the wilderness. (Chip and Paul resumed the lumbering business 6 generations later).
In his will, William wrote, “to my eldest daughter Christian Dayton, one cow within one year after my decrease.” Joel Dayton, brother of Henry, was a witness to the will, dated 1 April 1816.
Among the earliest residents were Scottish immigrants, among whom were the Camerons. They came in 1773, bearing a letter of introduction from John Thurman. They settled on a large tract of land along the river often referred to now as “the Gillingham farm,” working the relatively rich bottomland and using cascading streams to power mills for sawing wood and grinding grain. James Cameron, often referred to as “Squire Jimmy,” was a Tory.
A state historical marker on the west side of Warrensburg-Stony Creek Roadnear the present boundary between Thurman and Stony Creek attests to his importance to the town : “James Cameron – Pioneer woodsman farmer, justice of the peace. Settled in this valley in 1773. Buried 100 feet west of this marker.” Family records indicate that he was 103 years old. The Cameron family still thrives in Thurman; a sawmill first built in the 1860s by Almyron Cameron and his son Henry remains in the family, though the blades are now stilled. Henry’s son Don ran the mill, and in 1938 the structure was destroyed by fire. The mill was rebuilt, with a new water wheel. In 1946 Don turned the mill over to his sons Myron and Don, who again replaced the wheel, but also added the option of diesel power to the existing water power. Don died in 1988, and Myron continued to operate the mill for some years.
Almyron Cameron lived in a log cabin on the flats below the mill, and after the cabin burned, he built a plank house, which he and his sons gradually enlarged. In the 1830s it became a destination for guests, a tradition they continued until the 1930s. Before one wing was removed, it boasted 16 guestrooms. Guests flocked there to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming, playing shuffleboard and croquet, and standing around the Tonk piano singing songs. Vegetables, milk butter and eggs were raised on the farm to serve the guests. Generations of the family ran the facility. When the Farmhouse was unable to accommodate all who wished to visit, the Camerons built what was known as the “Lodge”, a long structure with ten more bedrooms that was built on the hill behind the house.
It hardly seems possible that it’s been 21 years since our Dayton reunion in Corinth. Kids that attended are now married with their own offspring, thus starting a new generation of Dayton’s. I think especially of the Humbert kids and their cute rendition of “King of the Universe.” Video of our 1998 Dayton Family Reunion is now available on my youtube channel. Jan Manley taped the entire event, and now, thanks to her, we can relive that fun time spent together in June in Corinth. Nearly the entire event has been filmed. The filming has been broken down into 26 individual videos, so you can only watch what you want. These are the videos:
Wilber Dayton sends his greetings from Macon, GA
Breakfast footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting
Tour of Dayton Brothers sawmill led by Paul Dayton.
Tour of Henry and Christie Daytons graves in Dayton cemetery on Hadley Hill led by Paul Dayton with Family History commentary by Jim Dayton.
Tour of Charles and Nancy Dayton’s graves at Dean Cemetery in Stony Creek led by Jim Dayton.
Tour of David and Chloe Dayton’s graves at 9N Cemetery in Lake Luzerne led by Jim Dayton.
Viewing of outside of Wilber and Jessie’s House on Mechanic St by Jan Manley and Cammie Luckey.
Priscilla Tyler leads children’s games (watermelon seed spitting).
Interview with Sam Tyler.
Invocation by Wilber Dayton with accompanying photo montage of reunion.
Chester Dayton reciting Psalm 93.
Congratulatory letter from Governor George Pataki (New York State).
Prayer for Wilber by Rev. Leonard Humbert.
Dinner footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting.
Audience participation in singing of George Washington Bridge led by Keith Tyler.
Photo montage set to a hilarious light bulb joke about religious denominations.
Nancy Dayton sings a beautiful rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
Keith Tyler’s little Tommy joke.
Chester Dayton [Chip} reciting Mia Carlotta, by Louis Untermeyer.
Humbert Kids sing “King of the Universe”.
Jim Dayton tells a story about Charles (Chop) Dayton’s strength.
Roger Dayton tells a story a Chop, Gerald Ralph and he on scaffolding.
Chester Dayton Tells the Story of Chop and the Cigar Cutter.
Jenn VanTol presents a plaque containing Psalm 23 and the signatures of the attendees.
Jim Dayton thanks everyone for coming to the reunion.
In 1997, I interviewed Wilber Dayton, Jr. for Volume 2 Issue 2 of an earlier version of the Dayton Family History. Since most of you were not subscribers back then, I repeat it here in this issue as follows:
Interview with Dr. Wilber T. Dayton, Jr.: Remembrances of Dad & Mom
Dr. Dayton, or Wib as the family fondly knows him, was one of the early professors of the Wesleyan Methodist Denomination to receive an earned doctorate – Th.D. He taught 15 ½ years at Marion College, 13 ½ years at Asbury Theological Seminary, was President of Houghton College for 4 years, Professor of Wesley Biblical Seminary for 11 years and short-term missionary teacher India and South America. He is the author of books, articles, etc. He is presently enjoying retirement in Macon, GA with his wife Edna.1
I recently interviewed Wib along the theme of his remembrances of his parents – Wilber T, Sr. and Jessie Belle Dayton. As usual, Wib’s comments are very insightful and give a very comprehensive view using his mastery of language and wit.
DFH: Wilber, Sr.’s parents were both dead by the time he was 13. Where did he and his brothers & sisters stay, who took care of them, what did he do in his teenage years?
WIB: Thanks for the information that my Dad lost both parents by the time he was 132. That means that it was over 20 years before Dad married Mom. I can only assume from what I’ve heard that five children were left to fend for themselves in the old Dayton Place in West Hadley Hill. They probably had to take over the farming and housework to keep eating and wearing clothes. I don’t know whether there were any relatives close enough to help or not. I would judge that people were pretty scarce in the area in those days to help with their social, physical and spiritual health. I never heard much discussion of home training in Dad’s youth. (I think there was a James Dayton of some prominence in the early days of the Champlain Conference, but I never got a clear picture of his relationship to us3 or to the Judd Dayton who lived around the corner from us in Corinth. Mother was about 10 years younger than Dad and was not married until about 244. There was no abundance of people for mates – especially of vitally Christian ones. Rurals spread the Gospel with the Bible and Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible5 – and a concordance. I don’t know if it was early enough to have made much effect on my parents – except I was told that Mom’s Dad could read only the Bible, and that Dad quit school in the 7th grade when the teacher got far enough into the arithmetic book that she turned back into the part they already had. Mother finished the 8th grade, I think. I think Dad had a fairly good ability to handle intellectual concepts, but worked day and night and didn’t have too much relief or encouragement. Mom was faithful with the Bible and Hurlbut. She dreamed about being a teacher. She was practiced and helpful in spiritual matters and carried her end of the load.
DFH: How did Wilber and Jessie Belle meet?
WIB: I don’t know how the parents met. I suppose in the small community the few people had contacts. I remember once that Mother got to thinking that Dad was a “decent man” that was worth considering. If the standard was respect for virginity, the field was not very broad. If I understand correctly, both of my parents were patiently waiting longer than usual to find someone that they could trust. And they were both more spiritual in their choices than their brothers and sisters. I don’t know how deeply spiritual both of my parents were at the time, but they did cling to the standards of pure marriage, as far as I know, though not all brothers and sisters benefited by the same convictions.
DFH: It is said that his occupations included farmer, woodsman and laborer at International Paper Co. Can you elaborate on his work life?
WIB: Farming and cutting wood were natural things for people who didn’t have time or inclination to escape the hard work that they grew up with. So Dad sharpened his skills and worked real hard to make out with thrift to get ahead as he could, and the cash crop was cutting wood. After he’d get up and do the chores, he’d wade through the snow with his double-bladed axe to a wood lot and cut down and cut up the wood in 4 ft. lengths split and piled in 4×8 piles. Then he’d hurry back through the snow to do the evening chores. If he had good luck, he probably made 50 cents for his day’s work. Some of the money he later gave to help my education was probably saved from his wood cutting.
As the family grew, he finally thought he would venture to move to Corinth and see if he could better things for himself and the family. So he bought a lot down in Palmer Falls and bought a load of cut and prepared lumber from Sears and Roebuck and put it together in a house that we lived in for a year or two until he decided to sell out and get a house that he fixed up in downtown Corinth. He made more money at the Paper Mill but still economy was needed and he worked at odd jobs and raised potatoes and vegetables. He found the tour work exhausting because when he was home in daylight, he worked all the time and he couldn’t bear to work at night cooped up over a pulp machine. So he worked on the woodyard at 42 cents an hour for many years. I used to cash his weekly checks for $20.16 less 25 cents for insurance or $19.91. So he kept working on neighbors’ yards and gardens and raised potatoes, etc. to get a little extra money to put into the family of 5 children and the bank. Dad worked in the woodyard at the mill until he was too old. Then for years he cleaned up offices and recreation facilities until about 80. Finally the mill thought they couldn’t justify keeping him employed. So they let him go and gave his job to three younger men. Finally, at nearly 87, when his body lay in state at the little Corinth house, an amazing number of people came by to express their respect for him and his family. Even the Catholic priest said more complementary things than Dad ever testified to verbally in Church.
DFH: What were his and Jessie Belle’s education?
WIB: He took advantage of the school system until in the seventh grade he ran out of the part of the arithmetic book that the teacher could handle. When she turned back to the earlier part of the book, he figured he had better use of his time. Mother faithfully finished the eighth grade. She appears to have liked school and expressed her desire to be a teacher. But there was little opportunity, especially when 3 of the 4 parents were already dead before such decisions were possible.
DFH: Did he ever have a car? A driver’s license? How did he get around?
WIB: No, Dad never had a car in his own possession. When Dad was in his 60’s, Mom and I thought about getting a cheap used car to go where the bicycle wouldn’t take us. But when I decided to sample college, that’s where the money went. Chop and Chip had cars but they were seldom at home any more for convenience of their cars. So we walked, rode bicycles or used public transportation or friends. And after the first year in college, I learned to hitch-hike until I was married and had to get a car to go to South Dakota to teach in Wessington Springs Junior College in the dust bowl days.
No, Dad never had a driver’s license. Born in 1870, he probably wouldn’t have needed a license when he was young. And the 5 orphans were probably slow getting where they needed or could afford cars. I don’t know when horse and buggy came into their lives. But it must have at least by the time of Dad’s marriage at age 34. At least, I remember tales of horse and sleigh rides which one of the first babies was dumped into a snowdrift, and other incidents of farming with a horse called Pontiac. Probably Dad disposed of the horse and buggy when he moved to town when I was about 2 – 78 years ago. At least, I have no memory of seeing the horse. And I do remember a favored anecdote of an event that took place probably before I was born. Dad had got down to Greenwich – about 40 miles south of Hadley Hill to help Aunt Jennie (then Roach) on the farm. In the days of barter, or exchange of gifts, they gave him a heifer to take back to Hadley Hill. Whatever strain it may have been on his “Dayton ingenuity” Dad saw only one way to get the heifer home. He tied a rope to the heifer and took off on foot for the 40 miles. As he passed through one of the towns on the way, someone rebuked him for forcing the beast to trot so far. His response was that he wasn’t forcing the heifer. She was forcing him. So far as I know, Dad never bought a car or applied for a license. But he must have had a horse or horses that could meet the rural needs of the family.
DFH: Did he have any debts or mortgage?
WIB: If Dad ever had debts or mortgages, it was probably before my days or memory. I don’t know how he came to live in the old Dayton Place after his marriage. Uncle Delbert had apparently left the area to make his fortunes elsewhere. I’ve heard tales of his settling a while in Florida in a bean patch that later became a city. And he apparently died in Cedar Ridge, Iowa, where I attended the funeral of his only daughter, Ida. Jim never did marry. I saw Jim as an old man living on the farm in Greenwich with widowed Jenny. Aunt Carrie married Dee Harris of Corinth. They apparently lived a fugal and successful life on a farm in the town of Day – west of West Hadley Hill. They had one son who died in his youth. So Dad was the last and most fruitful successor of the Charles Dayton – grandfather.
DFH: Was he a hunter or fisherman?
WIB: So far as I know Dad was not a hunter or a fisherman. Though I am his only son who was content to miss deer season every year, Dad and I were otherwise occupied.
DFH: Did he have any personal interests other than gardening?
WIB: It is hard for me to report on Dad’s other interests. I never saw Dad until he was nearly 50 and by that time his interests were pretty well fixed on the survival or development of life and the welfare of his children. His interests broadened as his children scattered and broadened their interests and capacities. Basically his interests were people, I think.
DFH: Did Jessie have any unusual talents or interests?
WIB: Jessie had a happier childhood with more parental helps. She took the lead in many aspects of parenting and leadership. Though she was very aware of professional limitations, she had a lot of practical wisdom that made her a good counselor and disciplinarian. She saved a lot with her abilities as cook and homemaker and seamstress. She never lost her interest in people and her desire to be a teacher – though she never had the opportunity for professional training. Her spiritual example and discipline were more effective and stable than most.
DFH: You and all your brothers and sister have/had a very strong Christian faith and spiritual daily walk. What was the extent of your parents spiritual guidance and training?
WIB: The faithfulness and consistency of the emphasis on spiritual values and rightness of obedience to God was a strength. The only alternative to holiness was hell , and we didn’t want that. And a part of the obedience was to attend all the services where these things were emphasized. Whatever differences existed in the prevailing interpretations of the gospel; we had no doubt of the essentials of the gospels. The influence of the home was always solidly for the gospel.
DFH: What church(es) did they attend?
WIB: The Corinth Wesleyan Church was about my only memory of home influence. For a while Dad and, I guess, Mom felt less than fully satisfied with Corinth Wesleyan. But instead of forsaking it, they mostly added Hadley – 5 miles away. So I went to Sunday School, Preaching Service, and Class Meeting in the morning at Corinth, the same three on Sunday afternoon at Hadley, and back to Corinth for Young Peoples Prayer Service, Young Peoples Meeting and the Evening Preaching Service. That was normally only nine hours and travel time and altar services. But most of the time we were served only 6 or 7 hours at Corinth – except for special Revival Services. But on the whole the church life was positive and helpful.
DFH: Did either Wilber or Jessie Belle have a favorite hymn and/or Bible verse(s).
WIB: I don’t seem to be able to recall favorite hymns or verses. Maybe “Standing on the Promises”, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “Rock of Ages” or other “experience” hymns. Maybe Psalm 23.
DFH: Who was the family disciplinarian? What type of discipline was used? (I know – you were all too perfect to receive any discipline!)
WIB: Mother was the family disciplinarian of my memory at least. She was very conscientious and thorough about insisting on the benefits to us. If she thought misbehavior reflected a willfulness that needed to be broken, she would not “spare the rod and spoil the child.” The only specific memory I have of the “rod” was when Mom took a leather belt and gave me a little lacing. She was terribly mortified and apologized when she discovered that there was a buckle on the end of the belt that contacted me. The only time I remember Dad trying to discipline me was when I must have been about 3 years old. He was in the process of moving the outdoor privy to clean it out. I was adding to his frustration by trying to use the privy. He took a little switch to correct the balance of power. I have no evil memories of either episode.
DFH: Did your parents give any financial support for your college education?
WIB: Yes, my parents did give what they could to my college education. They had helped my older sister go to the State College in Albany with what the state made available, so they squeezed $500 from their life savings to help with my college expenses at Houghton. Of course, in the 30’s, it covered vastly more of the tuition than today. And it showed their heart’s support.
DFH: Were the children given an allowance?
WIB: No, allowances for children were not so common 60 or 70 years ago as now. And money could not be spared out of the paycheck for family. I did mow lawns and peddle papers about 7 years to save about $400 from which I was refunded about $300 after the bank failed. That was largely what made college possible.
DFH: Wilber seemed like a very serious, quiet man. What was his temperament like?
WIB: Yes, Dad was a serious and quiet man. The frustrations and agonies of the parentless and deprived youth cast a shadow over his adult life that burst out in spells of melancholy and despondency. This was a great burden to Mom and a great pain to Dad. But, otherwise he was of a good disposition and a good citizen and church member.
DFH: Describe Jessie Belle’s temperament.
WIB: Mom was well balanced in temperament. She was concerned about the problems of others and tried hard to help, but she mostly kept her balance and was kind and understanding. Her friends and relatives often sought her out for advice.
DFH: Are any of Jessie Belle’s cooking recipes still around?
WIB: I doubt if there are many of Mom’s recipes around. She mostly cooked by memory and instinct. I can’t remember whether she used a cookbook or file. She did make delicious meals for healthy appetites, but it is hard to measure a dash of salt a bit of something else as she remembered it.
[EDITORS NOTE: What about the blueberry grunt? This was a blueberry muffin about 1 ½ feet in diameter and about 6 inches high. It was made with a dough that was probably like a Bisquick. It makes me hungry just thinking about it! Thanks for that one grandma!]
DFH: Jessie had a life-threatening illness and then lived a normal life span. Tell me about it!
WIB: Yes, Mom had ailing health for a long time which she mostly called Female Trouble, which I got the impression that it dated to some extent from Chip’s difficult birth – her abdomen opened clear through. For many years she had a colostomy, but was put back together for 2 or more decades of mature living. I think that cancer developed in the need for surgery until it became necessary.
DFH: How would you describe Wilber and Jessie’s intellect? Dad (Paul Dayton) always talks about “Dayton Ingenuity.”
WIB: It is hard to describe the intellect of my parents. I think they both functioned pretty well in the essentials of life. They make the best of the situations that overtake them and make life worth living. They recognize their shortcomings and lack of opportunities. But they stick to their convictions and never give up. They didn’t have all of the stimulation or opportunities of our day, but were able to cope with life as they saw it. And they survived in spite of the difficulties and made possible a better chance for our generations. And they kept the faith and, I believe, made it to heaven. They must have been smarter than a lot of godless people who aren’t wise unto salvation. Given the chance, Dad could probably do better with abstract theory and Mom might be more practical. But I appreciate both. Maybe that’s what Paul means by “Dayton Ingenuity”-the ability to triumph over circumstances and “do it anyway.”
Wilber and Edna Dayton
DFH: Did Wilber ever talk about his parents?
WIB: No, I don’t remember Dad ever talking about his parents. I think they died too early to have the impact they probably desired upon the children. And if the statement I’ll quote is true and not misunderstood that Rev. James Dayton is an ancestor of Chop and me, the early death of grandfather Charles Dayton may have stifled the Christian influence from James Dayton on the development of the orphans (including Dad).
DFH: Are there any family stories or family lore that need to be handed down to the next generation?
WIB: I don’t know if there are family stories or family lore that I know that future generations should hear. Would the accounts of Dad’s trotting the heifer home – 40 miles – by “Dayton Ingenuity” be worthy? Or would you be more interested in Uncle Chop’s engaging in a mile race of swimming in the Hudson River at Corinth as a young man? He won third place. How many finished? Three. But he accomplished his goal. A work-horse completing the race with play-boys who lived in the water.
DFH: Thank you for your candid answers. I can’t wait until I see them again and thank them for my Dayton heritage.
1(b. 1916 – d. 1999)
2 He was orphaned March 17, 1883
3 He was 1st cousin twice removed from Wilber Sr. He was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister in the late 19th century. (b.1820-d.1892)
4August 31, 1904
5Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible was used by Jessie Belle to teach her children. The book was inherited by Paul Dayton and has now been handed down to Stephen Dayton, and designated for his son Sam.
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.
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:
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!
Q: 40 years ago, grampa gave me “Uncle Jim’s” rope bed. It came out of grampa’s attic and was used on Hadley hill. He told me who Uncle Jim was, but I have forgotten. How is he related?
A: Great Uncle Jim was the 2nd child of Charles and Nancy [Goodnow] Dayton, and he was brother of my grandpa, Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr. and Jessie Belle Dayton. Jim went to live with his sister, Jennie [Dayton] Roach, in Greenwich New York, after Aunt Jennie’s husband died. Jim was a bachelor his entire life. I’ve included two photos of Jim [see beow]. The photo on the left is of Delbert Dayton and his brother, Jim Dayton. The photo on the right is a circa 1880 11×14 wall hanging photo, given to me by Jan [Dayton] Manley, who is Dr. Dayton’s daughter.
When Christie Ann Dayton, wife of Henry, died in 1865, Christie’s son, Charles, took over the managing of the Dayton Farm. That year, the farm pastured 8 sheep and 7 lambs. The farm produced primarily grains, produce and dairy products. Charles had different ideas for the farm. Fifteen years later, in 1880, Charles had turned the pasture into a sheep farm. His herd included 57 sheep and 80 lambs. That year, the enumerator of the 73rd New York District reported Charles herd this way, “In sheep husbandry, Charles Dayton, of Hadley Hill excels. He reports 57 sheep and 50 lambs.”
Two years later, he died unexpectedly, from heart failure. Six months later, his wife, Nancy, died. The orphaned teenagers weren’t equipped to run the farm, and it soon fell into disrepair. It was finally sold in 1913 by Wilbur Dayton Sr.
1 The Weekly Saratogian, Saratoga, New York, July 1, 1880