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.
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.
During the 1998 reunion, we photographed the offspring of each of the children of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton who attended the reunion. The following is ….
Paul Dayton’s Biography
Paul Dayton was born June 29, 1923, during the roaring twenties. His father was 53 and his mother was 43 when he was born. His oldest sibling, Flossie, was 18 years older. Then came his brother Chop, 15 years older, Chip, 13 years older and Wilber, 7 years older. By the time he reached his teenage years, his father was 66, his mother was 56 and all his brothers and sisters had left home, so baby Paul grew up as though he were an only child, even though he could call four siblings his brothers and sister. His parents raised him with the advantage of a lifetime of knowledge and experiences. His mother and father were in a unique position of experimenting with the phrase “If I had it to do over again, I would…”, with respect to rearing Paul. His parents did have it to do over again, but without the energy and idealism that characterizes youth. In his teenage years, Paul lived through the great depression.
To understand Paul, one needs to understand a little bit of his parents. His father, Wilber, was orphaned at the age of 13. Wilber’s father and mother died just 6 months apart, he of kidney and liver disease in the autumn of 1882 and she of heart disease in spring of 1883. Without adults or government welfare programs to care for them, Wilber, his brother Jim, and sisters Jennie and Carrie had to survive on their own. They had their parents’ farm on Hadley Hill and little else. They fed themselves from the land, had the farmhouse for shelter and clothed themselves with rags. At one point, Wilber missed church and school because he had no shoes to wear. Wilber quit school in the seventh grade when the teacher had taught him all she could about mathematics. He figured if there was nothing new to learn then he had better things to do. His older teenage brother James took care of the family, but it was a harsh, survival existence. Wilber was a very industrious, hard worker throughout his entire life. This came from that survival experience.
Wilber was content with very little in the way of conveniences and possessions. He never owned a car and never had a driver’s license even though he lived until 1957. Although he lived in town, he heated his house with wood and coal. Most houses had long ago converted to oil. He had a very large garden and raised all the produce for his family up to the time of his death at age 87. He worked as a laborer his entire life and preferred this type of work. He was an extremely quiet man. His own family hardly ever heard him speak and he never spoke in public. He seldom smiled. He had the characteristics of chronic clinical depression, although being diagnosed and treated for the illness would have been nearly impossible because of his timid disposition. Wilber attended church regularly, but never took a role in the leadership of the church. He also did not provide the spiritual training at home. He left that for Jessie. But he did provide an exemplary model of humility, integrity and hard work that were his trademark. It is easy to recognize this characteristic in his children.
In contrast, Paul’s mother Jessie Belle was outgoing. She too grew up on a farm on Hadley Hill not far from Wilber. She undoubtedly knew Wilber as she was growing up, although she was 10 years younger. Her father died when she was 26. Her mother was widowed a total of three times and lived her last years with Chester and Elizabeth Dayton. She enjoyed school as a youngster and always wanted to be a schoolteacher. She provided the spiritual training for her children and administered the discipline. She was a great homemaker including cooking, sewing and other domestic skills. Her ginger snaps were my favorite. She made “blueberry grunt” to die for!
Against this backdrop, Paul’s upbringing was very disciplined and strict. He must have been very mature for his age, given the sum of all the conditions I have just described. In fact, he was probably never a baby, but rather emerged from his mother’s womb as a young man. Paul did enjoy toys though. He had a large canister of marbles, bubble gum baseball cards, and Big Little books, including Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy. One Christmas he dreamed of having a train. He got a train which, at that time, seemed extravagant beyond reason. He inherited a newspaper delivery route from his big brother Wilber, as well as Wib’s Columbia bicycle. He also earned spending money by picking and selling strawberries. When the banks failed during the great depression, dad had $80 in the bank. He recovered all of it.
He enjoyed many different sports, but never competed in school. The coach encouraged him to play on the soccer team, but his newspaper route came first. He enjoyed participating in soccer, cross-country running, ice-skating, ice hockey and baseball. At Corinth Central high school, he took a college prep course load including math, sciences and Latin. He also took wood and metal shop. He was first chair in the high school band, where he played the cornet. He graduated from high school with a New York State Regents Diploma in 1941.
He had courted Ruth Carter during most of his high school years, and he and Ruth were married on July 18, 1941. As a newly wed husband, working at the International Paper Company, and expecting their first child, the United States Selective Service draft board served notice that he was to report for induction into the Armed Forces. This was during World War II, and Paul recalls that he was convinced that he was going to be sent to a foreign country to die, As frightening as the prospect of an untimely death was, it was magnified a hundred-fold because of his sense of commitment and responsibility to his young bride and unborn child. At the induction ceremonies, only two men were singled out from the many army inductees to serve in the Navy. He did not understand why he had been selected to serve in the Naval Branch. However, death at sea was as real as death in the trenches and foxholes.
Basic training was intense, but Paul persevered. As a part of basic training, the sailors were given a battery of tests. Paul scored high on the tests and was assigned to an electronics unit that was working on the development and testing of radar equipment. Radar was a new technology that was developed to spot air traffic including inbound enemy aircraft and ships. He was again singled out from a very large number of trainees that were bound for assignments on war ships, submarines and naval aircraft to fight the enemy. Instead, he was sent to an electronics school in Grove City College, PA. Upon completion of his schooling, he was sent to Cocoa Beach, Florida, Naval Air station. There, he was a member of a crew who flew missions, in pontoon aircraft, up and down Banana River, near Cocoa Beach. His job was to perform various tests on the new radar technology, so that it would be mission ready for deployment to the fighting forces. They also dropped practice bombs on targets in the Banana River, which must have been a lot of fun.
While there, his wife and new daughter, Mary, were able to join him. They lived in a small one-room cottage in Cocoa Beach. During the height of World War II, when fighting men were deployed and killed all over the globe, Paul, Ruth and Mary were living together, safely within the borders of the United States. Paul was at the leading edge of technological developments. After Cocoa Beach, he was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas. His wife lived at home, but visited him. At the end of the war, Paul was Honorably Discharged and returned to civilian life in Corinth, NY. He had not only survived the war; he had never left American soil. Because of his electronics training, experience and recommendation, Philco Company offered Paul a lucrative job in the Philippines when he was discharged. He refused the offer, and I don’t suppose he even thought twice about it. He felt the Adirondack Mountains calling him to return home, and he followed the call.
Upon his return, his brother Chester (AKA Chip) offered Paul employment in the logging and pulpwood business. Their first job was logging Stone Mt. Later they set-up a sawmill on Hadley Hill on land that was a part of the old Dayton homestead. Chip had purchased the land from “Uncle Jim,” Wilber’s brother. It was a very small-scale mill powered with a Buick engine. While there, Paul had an accident in which he almost lost his leg. While chopping the branches from a downed tree, his ax hit an overhead branch on the downswing. The glancing blow struck Paul in the calf and sliced the calf down to the bone. It left a huge scar on his leg.
In September 1947, Paul and Chip founded Dayton Brothers Lumber Company, purchased land and built a permanent sawmill on Wall St. in Corinth. Many Dayton men can truthfully affirm that they worked on Wall St. in New York during their illustrious careers. It looks impressive on a resume. Their partnership lasted the remainder of their working lives, and Paul remained in the business for 50 years. The greater part of Dayton Brothers lumber went to the International Paper Co. in Corinth, where it was used for many applications including boxcar bumpers, pallets, railroad ties, dam splashboards and various construction jobs. Dayton Brothers also produced lumber for many local home building contractors and Arthur White and Sons Lumber Company in Corinth. Over the years, they produced lumber for many industrial operations in the area – primarily for pallets. They were known for their quality lumber, and they offered it at the lowest cost in the area. Unlike many entrepreneurs, Chip and Paul took care of most of the overhead themselves. Chip kept the books. Paul did the taxes. They both were very skilled mechanics, and they took care of all the repairs and upkeep of the mill and vehicles themselves. Paul handled most of the customer sales. For mill operations, Chip was the sawyer. He mastered the job and produced quality lumber with minimal waste. Paul was the edger. He was on the tail end of the saw and piled the wood after it came off the saw. He also edged and trimmed the raw material.
The sawmill business was very physically demanding. Of the two brothers, Paul had the larger frame and more muscle mass, so he did the bulk of the physical work. He would muscle a log around the rollway with the skill that few loggers possessed. His strength was extraordinary. He never rested either. He usually started work at seven and ended at four. Except for an hour every noon for a lunch break, he was constantly in motion doing some physical job.
Danger and injuries went with the job. He was not careless, but accidents happened. In the summer of 1959, a lumber pile of heavy timbers fell on him, causing a compound fracture of the leg. He was laid up for several months. I recall another time when he came home at an unusual hour when he should have been working. He walked into the kitchen, and it became quickly apparent why he was there. A sliver of wood about the dimensions of a six-inch dagger had penetrated his body just below the armpit. Instead of going to the doctor, Ruth helped him extract it, and then he returned to work. His finger was severely injured when he stuck it into the revolving blades of the large planer in the planing mill. One day he was working underneath his car when the jack gave way. The Lord spared his life, but his knee was injured. One day at the sawmill, the brakes failed on the forklift as he was backing it down a hill. A tractor was at the bottom of the hill with forks raised. The mammoth forklift struck the tractor, and its raised forks pierced the forklift on both sides of him at chest high level. Six inches left or right, and he would have been killed instantly. Sawmill work was physically strenuous and dangerous. It was an honest, yet difficult way to make a living, and Paul enjoyed it.
Dayton Bros. provided employment opportunity for many relatives and a few friends over the 50 years of operation. In no particular order, and to the best of my recollection, the list of employees is as follows: Harold Chapman, Alex Winslow, Art Winslow, Roger Dayton, Steve Dayton, John Dayton, Jim Dayton, Danny Lamos, Andy Fuller, Bill Fuller, Ray Orton, Duane Orton, Priscilla Dayton, Ruth Mary Dayton, Carolyn Ruth Dayton.
The sawmill business provided a comfortable, middle-working class existence. Paul bought new cars every 2-3 years from the late 40’s through 1966. He was partial to Fords during his earlier years and later became interested in any model that was a bargain. He had been living in a very small apartment on the 2nd floor of his parent’s house from the time he returned from the War until 1955. In 1955, we moved into a newly constructed 3-bedroom, single bath ranch home at 7 West Mechanic St. in Corinth. He selected and modified the plans and contracted the job to Beecher Carpenter, a local contractor and carpenter. Beyond the new home and the cars, Paul did not have many other material interests. He simply did not have time for them. In his youthful family days, he frequently attended the stock car races at Menands, Fonda and later Malta. He played on the Corinth Church Men’s softball team. He enjoyed deer hunting. During his first fifty years, he always managed to find some time to fit hunting into his schedule. He and Chip frequently had venison to eat. Paul’s style of hunting was to go to where the deer were, instead of the usual method of waiting for the deer to come to the hunter’s blind. In the process, he hiked several miles during a day’s hunt. Sometimes, a deer was slain miles from the car, and it would be a Herculean feat to carry or drag the deer out of the woods. Although he always carried a compass, he seldom needed to use it. He had an instinct for location and direction when he was in the woods. On many occasions when it was not hunting season, he enjoyed going for rides in the car to spot deer in the wild. He would often drive the family to Sabattus (north of Long Lake, NY) to spot and count the deer between the main road and the dead-end about 10 to 15 miles into the Adirondack wilderness. Once each year, in August, the annual logging show was held in Tupper Lake, NY. It was a real family treat to attend the show on Saturday. We viewed the exhibits that included heavy machinery, chain saws and other logging equipment. If we were lucky, we would run across a booth with a free give-away. There was always a parade that included bagpipe bands and the heavy machinery. As an added treat, we would stop at Lake Eaton Campground for a picnic and a swim.
Paul was a family man, but his business prevented him from taking the typical family vacation that most working people enjoy. We children never felt deprived of attention or deprived of family outings. The few special overnight occasions that occurred were memorable. At least once per year, dad took the family to a baseball game in New York city. Although we usually went to Shea Stadium, the most memorable events took place at Yankee Stadium and the old Polo Grounds. In 1964, dad and I boarded a bus in Saratoga and attended a twi-night double header at Shea Stadium where the NY Mets played the Philadelphia Phillies. We arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan and took the train to Shea Stadium. We were early, and the World’s Fair was underway adjacent to the Stadium. We spent a couple hours at the fair and then attended both games. After the second game, we took the train back to Penn Station, and from there returned by bus to Saratoga. The entire trip must have taken at least 16 hours, but I don’t remember being tired. The trip with dad was exhilarating.
In about 1961, we made a family trip to NYC. It was over Labor Day weekend. The centerpiece was a double header at Yankee Stadium with the Los Angeles Angels. We sat in the right field bleachers, very near Roger Maris. My dad, Paul, was very amused by a spectator giving Maris verbal abuse. During the same trip we stayed in a Motel in the Bronx. Paul navigated the NYC subway system for most of our travel. We went to Coney Island, Times Square, 42nd St., Grand Central Station, rode the Stanton Island ferry, and visited the Bronx zoo. At the zoo, a man with Parkinson’s disease gave us a guided tour. My father paid him $20 at the end of the tour. Paul was a generous man. Around 1960, we went on a three-day vacation including the weekend to Maine and New England. We stayed at a cottage called “Dayton’s by the Sea” at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. We also visited Plymouth, MA. In 1958, we went to Wilber Dayton, Jr.’s home in Wilmore, KY for Christmas. 1953 found us in Marion, IN. Wilber Dayton, Jr. was the President of Marion College, and we visited him. I believe we may have been attending the graduation ceremonies of one of Paul’s nieces or nephews, but I am not sure. I spent a good portion of the trip resting in the ledge across the top of the back seat. We visited Houghton College on several occasions for graduations and other special events. Paul attended the West Chazy, NY church campgrounds as frequently, and for as long as he could be away from business at Dayton Brothers Lumber Co. If he was a church delegate, he spent the last week of June there. Otherwise, he was there for both weekends and often on the 4th of July. He also attended many church sponsored events including national Sunday School conferences and General Conference of the Wesleyan Church.
Most frequently, we did something as a family on Saturday. Often it was simply going shopping, and I remember that it was always a special time. We all packed into the car (seven people in a two-door coupe) and headed for Glens Falls shopping, or on more infrequent occasions, we would go the Montgomery Wards in Menands, NY. In those days, there was not the proliferation of fast food restaurants. When we went to Glens Falls, it was a real treat to eat hot dogs from the New Way Lunch on South Street. Mom would pick up an order to go and we would eat them in the car because they sold beer, and it was the “skid row” of Glens Falls. On trips to Menands, there was a White Castle Hamburger restaurant across the street from Montgomery Wards, and we always looked forward to eating those little nuggets of beef. About three or four times while I was growing up, the family would venture into downtown Albany to the State Museum. At least once each summer, the family went to a local amusement park. We would ride the tilt-a-whirl, the whip, the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel. Paul tested his strength at the midway booth that was a tower with a bell at the top. The swing of a wooden mallet propelled a metal ring towards the bell. Often, he could clang the bell. His brother Chop rang the bell consistently. All these events were very happy times.
One summer, Dad decided that we children needed to do something recreational on Saturday. He got us out of bed at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning and at 7:00 AM we were at the Lake Luzerne beach. Of course, we were the only people at the beach, and we swam or waded for an hour. Dad was a good swimmer, but none of us children knew how to swim. At about 8 AM we returned home, where mom made us a large breakfast. This routine only lasted about 4 or 5 weeks before our protests ended the project. When I played High School football, dad and mom made it a point to attend all the games, even though they didn’t know what was going on. They wanted to show their support and were proud of their son.
More than any other single thing, what set Paul Dayton apart from other men and made him very special was his unwavering integrity and generosity. Paul was raised in a spiritually fundamentalist, holiness practicing, conservative Protestant household. The denomination, Wesleyan Methodist (later Wesleyan), broke away from the Methodist church over the issue of slavery in 1843. Later on (after Prohibition) the “Wesleyans” shifted from a progressive church at the cutting edge of social change such as abolition of slavery and women’s rights, to become the “spiritual right-wing” of the Methodist Church. Paul’s family attended all church services. In addition, bible reading, scripture memorization and prayer were routinely practiced in the home. In this environment, Paul became “born-again” as a young child. From the moment of his conversion, he was determined to live a holy lifestyle. Jesus Christ’s principles for living became the centerpiece of his life.
It was natural that as Paul and Ruth raised a family, church activities and spiritual training at home was the couple’s number one priority. If there was a church service, Paul and his family could be counted on to be there. In addition to local church activities, they also attended local camp meetings and district church activities.
Paul administered discipline in the home. He was considerate and tolerant of childish misbehavior like spilling drink or bouncing a basketball through the house, but he had no tolerance for sin, as defined by the Ten Commandments. If we were caught lying or stealing, we were immediately disciplined. We would be taken to a private place like a closed bedroom. Then we would receive a spanking that was memorable, yet not abusive. He would always say that “this is going to hurt me more than it does you,” and I knew he was sincere. After the spanking, he would ask the culprit to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for the sin. Every day, we conducted a “family altar.” We would all gather in the living room, usually after dinner. We would be read either scripture or a Bible story. Then we would get on our knees and each take a turn in prayer, in sequence from oldest to youngest. We ended the session by reciting the Lord’s prayer.
Although he took his lumber business very seriously, Dad never worked on Sunday. Sunday was the Sabbath—a day of rest. He did not buy or sell, watch television or attend activities other than church on Sundays.
Paul was very active in his church. He held positions of Trustee, Church Board of Administration, Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Church Bus driver, Young People’s Society sponsor, Choir member, special music duets with his wife, orchestra organizer and leader. In addition, he plowed the snow from the parking lot and performed many maintenance tasks. He performed much of the skilled labor during the construction of the church’s Educational Building and the new sanctuary. For many years, he taught the junior boys Sunday School class. He gave every boy a new Bible. His instruction and example left a lasting impression on the youth of the village of Corinth even after they “grew up” and “outgrew the need to attend church.”
In addition to his stewardship of time and service, Paul was a very generous donor. The Dayton Brothers donations to the local church went a great way toward support of the local building program and the underwriting of the local church operations. Paul Dayton lived a simple life, yet his actions, conduct and teaching have served as a model of moral, Christian living. He has influenced hundreds of lives in a positive manner that few men ever can.
As told by his son, Jim Dayton, September 1998.
About the Family: His wife Ruth
Ruth was born July 9, 1923, in Northumberland, NY. She moved to Corinth when she was about 3. Daughter of Archie and Blanche Carter, she had four siblings, Ernest, Harold, Marion and Arthur. She enjoyed basketball and earned a varsity letter in it. Just a month before she was to graduate from high school, Ruth quit school because she didn’t have confidence that she would pass her exams and didn’t want to face the humiliation of failure. Based on Christian Education courses she taught, and Church financial responsibilities and leadership later in life, there’s no question that she was a bright woman. She was a humble servant from the time she developed personality until the time she passed away. She always did for others and did very little for herself. She was the most selfless woman I ever knew. She always felt most comfortable being domestic, whether it was cooking, or cleaning up after messy kids. She left all discipline to Paul. She was a very emotional person, laughing hysterically at something funny until she cried. That is a common affliction in many sensitive people. Her life centered around church and family. She was a Children’s Sunday School teacher her entire adult life. She was Sunday School Treasurer and Women’s Missions Treasurer. She was church pianist, assistant organist and sang duets with husband Paul. Ruth received recognition from the Wesleyan denomination for successfully completing all courses in their Christian Education curriculum.
Mary was born June 23, 1943, in Corinth. In high school, she played the reed woodwinds, but was most accomplished on the bassoon. She graduated from Houghton Academy in 1961. Mary worked for quite a while in administrative positions at Adirondack Hospital in Corinth. She was also layout editor at The Penny Saver newspaper in Corinth. She was on the board of the local library for years. In the mid-1980’s Mary began terrible suffering from the pain of fibromyalgia. Added to that was a back injury suffered in an automobile accident. These two injuries left her mainly homebound and in constant agony. She is an avid reader, some might say a fanatical reader, and enjoys music, especially playing her piano until she could no longer sit up for extended periods of time. When she can venture from the house, she enjoys dining at local restaurants, and would make a very good restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper. Her husband Bill and she love to host guests in their home. Bill’s early career found him in ever advancing, managerial and sales and administrative posts with local and regional companies. From the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s he held several different elective positions, including mayor of Corinth. After that he held the position of Village Treasurer until his retirement. Since the beginning of Mary’s two painful illnesses, Bill has been a constant caregiver to Mary. He is the role model for good and selfless caregiving. He performs all domestic tasks. He encourages her and is a patient and loving companion. My wife has Parkinson’s and I want to be just like Bill, but no one else can be as good as he. We siblings appreciate him more than he will ever know.
Second in birth order is Jim, born July 9, 1948, in Corinth. Does his birthday look familiar? It’s the same as Ruth’s. That’s right, he was his mom’s birthday present. She probably wishes she had re-gifted him several different times. He enjoys sports and participated in some of them during high school. His favorite was football. After graduating from Corinth Central School in 1966, he attended Houghton College for two years, was graduated from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), A.B. in mathematics, 1970. Judy Potter and he were married August 17, 1968, in Corinth. He and Judy have two daughters, Kari and Jennifer, six grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He was employed by GTE until retirement in 1999, where he held various engineering, administrative and financial positions of increasing responsibility. He enjoys family, especially grandchildren and gr-grandchild. His soulmate and he celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. Judy was the daughter of Bob and Becky Potter. Judy’s career was in operations and finance for Bank of America and its two predecessor merger acquisitions. She was an assistant vice president. In her year of retirement, she earned the prestigious Employee Excellence Award—only 50 employees out of 200,000 did so. She graduated from South High in South Glens Falls and attended Houghton College. She enjoys family activities and reading.
The third child of Paul and Ruth was Priscilla born July 19, 1953 in Corinth. Priscilla is musically gifted. She played the flute and the guitar. She earned her B.A. in Social Science from Houghton College. In her early career, she was a social worker. She married Keith Tyler July 14, 1979, in her home church in Corinth. Keith was a professional musician and later a Music Pastor, so Priscilla and her family (daughter Mary and Son Sam) moved several times, including Moncton, New Brunswick and Fort Wayne, IN before settling in Milton, PA. Priscilla home schooled her children Mary and Sam. Keith died in 2007, and Priscilla, Mary and Sam still reside in Milton. Her church family has become a large part of her family, and Priscilla is manager of her church’s bookstore. She is also the glue which holds our Paul Dayton family together.
The fourth child was born Jan. 12, 1955. He graduated from Corinth Central high school in 1974. Although John never pursued a career in mechanical engineering, he was a mechanical genius. Among other technical feats, he would dismantle watches and reassemble them for fun. He also made wooden clocks without patterns or instructions. He also enjoyed making wooden projects, and his creativity knew no limits. However, each project had to be made from Dayton Brothers lumber. He was a gadget guy who couldn’t resist anything truly unusual. He had a passion for the New York Mets baseball team. He collected their memorabilia, and his man cave was loaded with Mets treasures. He was a fast-pitch softball pitcher for the tri-county area church softball league. John had the following children: Diana, John, Jr., and Sarah, and stepchildren Karla, Sarah Leigh, and Peter. John and his wife Lori had a passion for Children’s Christian ministries. Lori taught children at local churches in a multitude of capacities for many years. She is also the Director of Children’s Ministries at the Holiness Association Camp Meeting at West Chazy NY each July. John worked year-round, behind the scenes, to make wooden crafts for the children to assemble and paint. Lori worked in janitorial services at Corinth Central school for several years. John died on October 20, 2018, in Saratoga Springs Hospital.
The youngest child is Steve, born December 29, 1956. He earned his B.A. in History from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University). His post graduate work was at Penn State, with a certification in Institutional Research Analysis. Steve is currently the Institutional Research Analyst at Taylor University. He resides in Gas City, IN, with wife Nancy. Steve collected US Presidential Campaign memorabilia for 30 years. His collection has been exhibited at local libraries and was presented to college and high school groups. He enjoyed riding Triumph motorcycles until deciding lack of strength and flexibility should prevent it. He married Nancy Klinger August 17, 1991, and the couple has three children. Catie graduated from Taylor 5/18/19, and twins Sam and Grace are freshmen there. Dr. Nancy Dayton earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Miami University, in Ohio. She is presently Professor- of English Literature and Chair of the English Department at Taylor University. Steve is the author of Our Long Island Ancestors, The First Six Generations of Daytons in America 1639-1807.
Last week’s quiz: Do you all know who your great-grampa Dayton is/was?
Ralph Dayton1 was the first Dayton to set foot on American soil (in 1639…he emigrated from Ashford, Kent County, England). His descendants down to Wilber Dayton Sr. were: Samuel Dayton2, Abraham Dayton3, Henry Dayton4, David Dayton, Sr.5, David Dayton, Jr.6, Henry Dayton7, Charles Dayton8, Wilber Dayton, Sr.9 . How far down the line are you from Wilber, Sr.? Congratulations if you know! Otherwise, I’d be honored to help you learn! After all, it’s not every day that someone can trace their roots to the New Haven colony in 1639. (it would probably make a good middle school or high school history project).
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!
Jessie [White] Dayton, my grandma and wife of Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr., was a very attractive young woman. In 1902, she was a 22 year old, single, and working in a nearby hotel (see news article at above). A dam was being built in the area (Spier Falls Dam between Corinth and South Glens Falls, built from 1900 to 1903 and 15-20 miles from Hadley Hill) At the time, it was the largest hydroelectric dam in the world1. Men from outside the area were hired to work on the construction of the dam. Many probably stayed at the quarry hotel referenced in the news item at the left. Jessie would more than likely have been a chamber maid, although she could have also been a waitress. Either way, she had plenty of interactions with men who had not been with a female for many days or weeks. Can you imagine how many times she was propositioned? She must have been under a great deal of pressure with many tension-filled emotional moments. We’ll never know for sure, but I’ve got to believe she remained chaste. She was a very religious woman. Thank you, Grandma, for knowing right from wrong, and for taking that summer off. She married Grandpa two summers later (21 Aug 1904). Family folklore has it that grandpa had proposed to her about 6 years before they were married. She declined the offer, but later realized how much more of a true man my grandpa was. He was a man of good intentions and good, honest character. I imagine she learned that from observing the men at the quarry hotel..