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DAYTON, TX

DAYTON, TEXAS. Dayton, on U.S. Highway 90 three miles west of Liberty in southwestern Liberty County, was first called West Liberty and was considered part of the original town of Liberty, founded in 1831. The Trinity River divided the two parts of the town: Liberty was on its east bank, and West Liberty was on a hill three miles west of the river. A new road and a ferry directly connected the two. Both parts of the town were located on the four-league Mexican land grant appropriated for the capital of the old municipality of Santísima Trinidad de la Libertad, which later became known as Liberty. The postmaster of West Liberty from March 25, 1839, through September 15, 1841, was A. Thouvenin, probably the same man as Arnold Thouvenin, who obtained a quarter-league Mexican land grant in Polk County in April 1835. The West Liberty post office was apparently discontinued after a few years. Land was designated for a school in 1847. The schoolhouse was accepted on December 31, 1853, by the board of trustees of the Corporation of the Town of Liberty. Also in 1853, A. N. B. Thompson was authorized to survey and plat the town of West Liberty. During the Civil War thirty-three ladies of West Liberty wrote to Governor Francis R. Lubbock in January 1863, petitioning him to relieve Mr. Sol Andrews of his military duties so that he might continue his vocation of manufacturer of looms and spinning wheels, as cloth for clothing was desperately needed.

Sometime after 1854 West Liberty also became known as Day's Town, for I. C. Day, a wealthy landowner who resided just to the south of the town on the Munson league. The flag stop for the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, completed in 1860, was known variously as West Liberty, Days Station, and Dayton Station. The name Dayton was applied to the local post office in 1877, though the official name of the town remained West Liberty until the mid-1880s. In 1885 Dayton reported a population of sixty, and in 1890 a post office, a school, and two churches served its 239 residents. Lumbering and cattle raising were the chief industries until James E. Berry helped establish a drainage system to make rice a major crop. Texas governor Marion Price Daniel, Sr., was born in Dayton on October 10, 1910; his brother Bill Daniel, governor of the United States Territory of Guam from 1961 through 1963, was born in Dayton on November 20, 1915. By 1910 the town had a bank, two cotton gins, a weekly newspaper, and 2,500 inhabitants. Dayton was recorded as an incorporated municipality on May 3, 1911. The mayor was W. M. Babcock, and aldermen were W. T. Jamison, J. H. Marshall, J. A. Coleman, and J. D. Spear. Town records indicate that the community was reincorporated in 1925. Oil development during the 1920s brought new industries. By 1940 Dayton reported 1,207 residents and seventy businesses and was listed as a railroad center. The population increased steadily from 3,367 in 1965 to 6,201 in 1988. In 1989 the largest school population in the county made the Dayton Independent School District the major employer in the city. At that time Dayton operated under a mayor-council form of city government. In 1990 Dayton had a population of 5,151, and in 2000 the population was 5,709.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James M. Day, comp., Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas (2 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1966–67). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). Virginia H. Taylor, The Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas (Austin: Lone Star, 1955).

Jean L. Epperson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Jean L. Epperson, "DAYTON, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgd02), accessed August 31, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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