The Town of Dayton was
formed from Perrysburg on February 7, 1835. It is located in the
western border of Cattaraugus County, and is the second town
from the north. East of it lies the town of Persia and south,
the town of Leon. Its surface is a rolling and hilly upland, the
highest elevations being 300 feet above the R.R at Dayton
Station. Conewango Creek is the major stream. Lumbering was an
important industry to the town, with pine, hemlock, maple and
beech being the major trees found. As the land was forested and
improved, the dairy industry grew to in importance.
Dayton on the N.Y.
& E. R. R., in the northeast corner of the town contained 13
dwellings in 1860. West Dayton, in the northwest corner
contained a church, 2 sawmills, and 14 dwellings.
Sociality is a hamlet
in the southeast part of the town. The first settlement was made
by Silas Nash, and Simeon Bunce, from Otsego county,
It is generally believed
that the Rev Elnathan Finch, a Baptist missionary, held the
first religious meeting in town in 1816, at the house of Caleb
Webb, at West Dayton. It does not appear that any society was
organized in consequence, immediately or in the years following.
It seems that the settlements were too sparse to maintain a
church organization, and no effort was made in this direction by
the Baptists. But in the fall of 1818 a class of four Methodists
was formed, and met for worship at the house of Caleb Webb. The
members were Webb and his wife; Daniel and Clarinda Brand. The
meetings were led by a Mr. Whipple, living at Kents Mills; and
occasional preaching was supplied by Revs. Dennis Goddard and
Samuel R. Brockway. Soon the class was augmented by members from
the Webb, Darbee and Prosser families, and shortly after a log
meeting house was built on the lad of Daniel Prosser, in
Southwestern Perrysburg, which was used until 1845.
From this class was formed
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Dayton, or what is now
known as the Cottage Methodist Episcopal Church. The
incorporation was effected Oct 31, 1835, as a meeting over which
Daniel Prosser and John H. Blish presided. The trustees elected
were Giles Johnson, William Howlet, and John B. Reed. The
membership of the church at this time was about sixty, under the
pastoral direction of the Revs. W. S. Warallo and T.H. Cummings.
They were preachers in charge of a circuit, which embraced
appointments in Dayton, Perrysburg, and other towns.
A church edifice was erected the following year, 1846, at West
Dayton, which was replaced by the present structure in 1872. It is very
attractive place of worship with a capacity to seat 300 persons, and
cost to build $2500. A parsonage and two acres of ground were secured
for the Dayton circuit about twenty years ago at West Dayton. This
property is valued at $1500, and is occupied by the preacher in charge
of the circuit, which embraces other appointments in the town of Dayton.
Others who have served Dayton circuit have been the Revs. WW Warner,
Peter Burroughts, T.G. McCrary, WHH Snowden, W. H. Hover, J. H. Whalon,
T. P. Warner and L. A. Chapin. The names of the ministry previously
connected with the church can be found in the history of the Methodist
Church of Perrysburg.
Early settlers included: Joshua Webb, in 1815, from Madison County, on Lot 56; Lehman H. Pitcher, on Lot 58, in 1816; Ralph Johnson, on Lot 301, from Connecticut; Heman and Anson Merrill, from Onondaga County, in 1815 on Lots 30 and 31; and Timothy Shaw, from Herkimer County in 1818.
The first child, Aras, was born to Silas Nash in 1811; and the
first marriage was that of Benjamin Parsell and Mary Redfield, in March,
1818. The first death was that of DeWitt Nash, a son of Silas Nash, in
Feb. 1812. In 1827 the first inn was opened by Caleb Webb, in West
Dayton; and the first store by William H Leland, in 1833 in Wesley. A
sawmill was built by Silas Nash in 1817, in West Dayton.
The Public Schools
In 1835 the Commissioners of Common
Schools, James Cadwell, Russell Brown, and W. B. Smith,
reported four whole and five fractional districts in town, in
which an Aggregate off forty-three months of school had been
taught, in terms of from three to seven months in each
district. The number of children taught was three hundred and
sixty-five, and the money apportioned to the town by the
county was $121.15.
There are at present nine school
districts, owning buildings and lots valued at $3600. Teachers
wages were $2246.35; the apportionment from the county was
$1170.68, and the amount raised by taxation $1222.39. The
number of children of school age was reported as four hundred
eighty five and the average daily attendance a little more
than two hundred and seven.
In most districts good schoolhouses have
been provided and the reputation of the schools will bear
comparison with those of other towns.
District No 2 is the owner of a fine grove
near Dayton village, which is locally known as "Educational
Grove." It contains about five acres of well-drained ground,
covered by a magnificent growth of maple trees. It is a
favorite place for picnics and public out door gatherings. It
was and is the purpose of the purchasers to have the school
buildings erected on these grounds the present year, 1879.
Pioneer Settlers of Dayton
Land Owners in 1819
Timothy M. Shaw
James H. Shaw
Anson C. Merrill
Frederick A. Redfield
Belah H. Redfield
Samuel K. Strickland
Leman H. Pitcher
James P. Pitcher
Ezra T. Winship
Don S. Downer
The property we know as South Dayton
was stagnant for many years. It was sold no less than eight
times before two men decided to develop the land into a village.
The following lists the history of those land transactions.
1816 - The first settlers were Lehman H. and James P.
Pitcher, who soon moved on and sold their interest to M.C.
Nickerson. no date avalible - Sold to the Farmer's Loan and
1838 - sold to William Tweedy
1841 - sold to Christopher Smith
1845 - sold to Daniel C. Smith (Christophers's brother)
1849 - sold to Homer and Joseph Wheelock.
1864 - sold to Fredrick C. Phillips
1865 - sold to John and Cynthia Wickham.
1875 - Mr. Wickam sold part of his share (32 acres) at $150
per acre to Robert F. Ewing. The village was then plotted and
laid out into lots, with Mr. Ewing owning one third and Mr.
Wickham two-thirds. This was the beginning of South Dayton
proper. Actually the name South Dayton wasn't officially used
until the late 1890's. In 1855 the place was named Pine
Valley by Baron Hubbard.
The first grocery store was run in 1864 by David
Barret. After 1875 another store was erected by N. L. Rowe. Mr. Wickham
built a grist mill, hotel and about thirty other buildings. Mr. Ewing
also erected a store and a number of buildings. The first mail route was
run by the residents, who would take turns carrying the mail from
Perrysburg. They would often meet in the school house to hear the war
news read. The post office was established in about 1860 with Ehan O.
Beach appointed as postmaster and Mrs. John Wickham, deputy.
Listing of Early Businessmen
Ranlett & Chase, N. L. Rowe, Ben L. Babb, Ewing
& Whipple, Wilson & Fuller, Wilson & Hale, J. M.
Frantz, R. L. Shepard, E. F. Beach, P. McCune, W. C. Cardot, G.
P. Williams, James Peters, Theodore Buckentine, Babcock &
McIntyre, and Wilson & Wade.
Source: History of Dayton, New York by Chas J.
Shults ( copyright 1901)
Thanks to: Lonnie Bowers and Artie Nichols for providing
Transcribed by our volunteers.
The book The History of Cattaraugus County
published in 1879 by L.H. Everts contains a chapter on Dayton with
biographies, history and photos of some of its prominent men and
pioneers. That chapter has been transcribed by Linda Albright and
The History of Dayton
by by Charles Schults, published in 1901. This document
transcribed by Mary Lee and Laura Greene contains biographies of many
residents of Dayton, including those residing there previous to 1901. It
also contains an interesting views on some notable Americans from
the perspective of a contemporary.