Biography - Matthew Dayton

THE LATE MATTHEW DAYTON was born in Schoharie county, New York, July 6th, 1798. He was one of a large family of Thomas and Elizabeth Dayton, who were also natives of central New York. They were of English parentage, and their ancestors were among the earliest pioneers of New York.

The subject of this sketch received the rudiments of an English education in the schools of his native county. His early boyhood was spent on his father's farm, and when about twenty years of age he emigrated to the west, accompanied by Captain Robley and others, the trip being made in wagons. They settled in Greene county, and in the fall of 1819 Mr. Dayton located in township 9, range 13, on a part of the Illinois river bottom. Like most of the old settlers in that part of the county, he would take his farm produce to New Orleans, by means of a flat-boat, and there dispose of it; and for several years flatboating claimed the greater part of his attention. He would generally build his boat on the Illinois river, load it, and take his cargo to New Orleans, and, after making sale of it, would return by steamboat, or some other way. At that time flatboating was quite profitable, though often perilous, and attended with many hardships; but the hardy pioneers were accustomed to this, and did not mind the perils.

About the year 1825, Mr. Dayton was married to Miss Margaret Taylor, a sister of William Taylor, one of the early settlers of this county. She was a native of Ohio, and settled in Greene county with her brother, in the fall of 1819. Mr. and Mrs. Dayton had a family of eight children, five sons and three daughters, all of whom grew up and married, but at the time of writing this, two daughters are deceased. The eldest son, Lewis, is a resident of township 9, range 13; Harvey and Matthew are residing in Bates county, Missouri, engaged in farming; Smith and Thomas H. are also engaged in agricultural pursuits, both living on their farms, near the old homestead; Elizabeth, the only daughter living, is the wife of Samuel R. Thomas, jr., who is residing near Virden, Montgomery county. The two daughters now deceased, were: Amanda, who was the wife of Absalom Clark, and Jane, who was the wife of Colonel Nulton, of Greenfield. All of the children living are comfortably situated.

Mr. Dayton commenced life without financial capital, and yet succeeded in raising an intelligent family of children, and in making a good farm, consisting of about five hundred acres of excellent land, lying along the Illinois river bluff. Very early in life, Mr. D. became a member of the whig party, of which he remained a steadfast supporter until its disorganization, when he united with the democratic party. On the breaking out of the late civil war, two of his sons – Smith and Thomas H. – enlisted in company G of the 61st regiment Illinois volunteers, which was subsequently commanded by their brother-in-law, Colonel Nulton. They were mustered in at Carrollton, on the 9th of October, 1861. The two brothers served an aggregate of about seven years in assisting to retore the supremacy of the old flag, participating in the battle of Shiloh, the siege of Vicksburg, and numerous skirmishes. At the expiration of their terms of service, they were both honorably discharged, and returned to their homes.

On the 17th of March, 1862, Mrs. Dayton died. Mr. Dayton survived his wife's death until October 4th, 1872. His death occurred at the residence of his son-in-law, Samuel R. Thomas, in Montgomery county. Mr. Dayton was a man who, during his long life, by his many social and manly qualities, merited and gained the respect and esteem of his neighbors and friends, and was greatly respected by all for his honesty and integrity of purpose.

Extracted 07 Sep 2018 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, page 50.

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