Cattaraugus County GenWeb
John Wickham
Founder of South Dayton

John Wickham, founder of South Dayton

The story of Mr. Wickham's involvement in South Dayton is an interesting one. His first vocation was in the lumber business. He operated two saw mills near Silver Creek. His business travels took him to the area what is now called South Dayton. He was much taken with the valley, and saw a natural advantage for a profitable business. There is a legend that this desire was stimulated by a vision which came to him while sleeping one night. He related this vision to a resident by the name of John D. Briggs, who claimed to be a prophet. Mr. Briggs said that the valley would at no distant day be transformed into a good sized village. That stores and workshops would be seen here and there, that the place would become a veritable beehive of industry. Mr. Wickham said that this pronouncement had an influence on him and he came to South Dayton in 1855 and purchased 400 acres of land, including all where the village now stands.

He commenced the task of developing South Dayton by building a sawmill, general store and many houses. He was also instrumental in bringing the railroad to south Dayton. In all of his business transactions, he was lenient, giving extended credit, selling his land cheap and on long time payments. Because of his generous attitude, not all of his business transactions were profitable. After living in south Dayton for forty years he moved to Salamanca in 1897. He was born at Harpersville, Del. Co. New York on March 10 1825. He married Cynthia Shults on September 8 1857. They had four children; William S., Minnie, John (died in infancy) and James. In 1870, they adopted Jane NIcholls who died in 1874.

Source: History of Dayton, New York by Chas J. Shults ( copyright 1901)

Contributed by Thanks to Lonnie Bowers for providing this information.