Wilber vs. Wilbur

I had seen my Grandpa Dayton’s name spelled Wilber and Wilbur, and it always confused me. Recently I set about to settle,once, and for all time, which way was right.  I wish I hadn’t.  Now I’m more confused than ever.  I remember my dad insisting that it was spelled Wilb(ur). However, Wilb(u)r’s son, Wilb(e)r Junior, always spelled his own name with an “e”, suggesting that Senior’s name must have been also spelled with an “e”. That seems logical, but nothing about his spelling is logical.

There is no document of his name at birth since he was born before NYS required birth certificates.

Three different deeds (1898,1908, and 1909) each show his name as Wilb(e)r.  Yet a purchase of property in 1942, spells it with a “u”. Three news articles, during the early 1900’s, report his name as Wilb(ur). They are a Hadley news article from the Daily Saratogian Newspaper, Nov. 1, 1904; the New York State Department of Agriculture record of his farm being for sale in 1914 as Wilb(u)r; and a 1915 Saratogian Newspaper announcement of the relocation of his household, recorded his name as Wilb(u)r.

Near the end of his life, his name was usually spelled Wilb(e)r. Those included the Town of Corinth registry of Deaths, Jesse Dayton’s obituary, and Wilb[e]r’s own obituary.

A surrogate court judicial settlement, in 1939, spelled his name as Wilb(u)r. His daughter, Flossie’s genealogical notes from 1960, spelled his name with the “u”, yet in a short biography that she wrote about him, in 1986, she spelled it with an “e”. A 1986 correspondence from Wilb(er), Jr. spelled his name with a “u”. His employment record, at International Paper Co., spelled his name with a “u”. His guest signing book at his funeral spelled his name with an “e”.

Where does this leave us? Totally confused!  I bet my grandpa was just as confused as I am. Spell it either way you want. You’ve got a 50% chance of getting it right!

Baa, baa, sheep, have you any wool?

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 80 lambs.” ¹
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

Who Ran the Farm

Charles Dayton died Sep 26 1882 at the young age of 50.  His death certificate indicated that he died of “conditions of the liver and kidneys.”  He left behind a wife, Nancy, and 5 children: Delbert 24, James 20, Jennie 16, Wilbur 12 and Carrie 10.  Delbert had moved to Iowa, but the rest of the children remained at home.  Six months later, on March 17 1883, Nancy died of heart disease (heart attack).  The children were orphans.  It is not clear at this point who assumed the head of household duties.  Continue reading “Who Ran the Farm”

Henry Dayton’s Farm

When Henry, 2nd son of David and Chloe Dayton, married Christie Cameron about 1816, he needed farmland for his new family.  He found it on a plateau at the top of Hadley Hill about five miles from his dad’s farm at the foot of the hill.   A massive stone wall can still be seen along the edge of his property in the reforested portion of land that used to be his farm.  Henry died in 1847 at the young age of 55, and the management of the farm passed to Christie. Continue reading “Henry Dayton’s Farm”

Abe Lincoln Corresponds With Dayton Family

When he was a young man in his 30’s, Dr. Wilber Thomas Dayton Jr ran across a letter from Abraham Lincoln in his grandmother’s trunk.  His grandma, Anna Flansburg White Dingman, was the daughter of Rev. William Flansburg, a Wesleyan Methodist clergyman who began his ministry in 1849.  His newly formed denomination had split from the Methodist Episcopal Church  over the issue of slavery.  Flansburg’s new denomination was abolitionist.   Continue reading “Abe Lincoln Corresponds With Dayton Family”

Why Cambridge?

It’s been a mystery to me, for 40 years, why David Dayton Jr passed through Cambridge New York before he finally settled in Hadley in 1796.  David was born in Brookhaven in 1766.  In 1782/3 his dad, David Sr, died since a letter of administration was filed in Surrogate Court in 1783.   He was the last Dayton of our line to live on Long Island.

David Jr first appeared in Cambridge, Albany Co., NY in the 1790 census.  The census indicated that he had a male child under 16, and a free white female in the household.  David had married Chloe Skiff  December 29, 1789 according to Donald Line Jacobus and Arthur Bliss Jacobus in their book, The early Daytons and descendants of Henry, jr.   They offer that date without citation.  Joel, David and Ann’s oldest son, was born 29 Aug, 1790, very shortly before the 1790 census was taken.

Why did a youthful David Jr. remove to Cambridge?  I set about doing a study to determine if the youthful David could have relocated to Cambridge with another family sometime before the 1790 census.  My study method was to determine if an older individual could be found first in Brookhaven, NY and then Cambridge, in the appropriate timeframes.  My study yielded one such man…Benjamin Havens.  Benjamin Havens appeared as a signer of the Association in Brookhaven in 1775/6 and the 1776 Brookhaven census.  A Benjamin Havens also appeared in the Cambridge in 1790.  Thus far, I have been unable to prove that the Brookhaven Havens and the Cambridge Havens are the same man.  We do know that David’s younger brother, Telim, appeared in the 1800 Cambridge census.  Since he was younger than David, he would have lived as a boy under 16 in another’s household in 1790.  We also see another brother settling in Middletown, VT, about 40 miles north of Cambridge.

The trail has grown cold at this point.  I challenge a Dayton researcher to consider this hypothesis in more detail, or to develop a hypothesis of your own.  Finding more about David and his brother’s removal may yield information on the whereabouts of his mother Ann and his sisters.

Shanty Man

The railroad track, on Main Street in Corinth NY, was visible only between sidewalks on the east and west side of the street.  Houses on one side and a church and house on the other side obstructed the view of the train until it was at the sidewalk.  It only passed that portion of track once per day and traveled rather slowly so it wasn’t much of a bother.  A shanty, just large enough to shelter a person from the weather was located along the sidewalk on the church side of the tracks.    An employee of the railroad, run by International Paper Company, sat in the shanty all day waiting for the train.  When the train approached that portion of track, the “shanty man” would stand in the middle of the street with a stop sign, just like a school crossing guard.  The “shanty man”, Wilber Thomas Dayton Sr. who held the job briefly, was my grandpa.  He sat there all day long with nothing to do but wait.  He used to pass the time whittling.

A  knife, fork and hammer which he whittled were in the possession of his son Paul Dayton for years, and the heirloom has now passed to one of Paul’s sons.

shanty-man
Carved by Wilber T Dayton Sr circa 1920