Dayton Township History

 Dayton was settled a few years before the town was organized, the territory then being attached to other jurisdictions. During the summer or autumn of 1852 John Messingill and his two sons, Thomas and Benjamin, settled in sections 23, 14, and section 15. In 1855 they all sold out and moved away.
 John and George Mathews were brothers, and were natives of Illinois. They were here as early as the Messingills and settled on the northwest quarter of section 25, where they erected a double log cabin and made a small clearing, remaining about one year. John was the first sheriff of Richland County. And after servings his term he moved to Arkansas. George died here. The Messingills and Mathews were probably the only persons residing in Dayton the year 1852.  From 1852 until 1856 the settlement of the town progressed rapidly. The following named pioneers coming during that period: John H. Rizer, A. J. Parish, John H. Noble, Edmund Davis, Reason Barnes and his son James T., William Akan, William Robinson, Henry Robinson, Levi Hart, L. M. Keepers, Archibald Benjamin, John Purcell, Lorenzo Woodman, Comfort C. Walker, Lyman Wood, Peter Famm, Benjamin B. Norris, Jacob Dix, Jacob Berger, Martin Shumaker, Charles Hurless, Valentine Groh, John and Henry Wolf, Christian Tappy, C. C. Nevil, George Marsh, Alfred Durnford, Andrew J. Campbell, Levi Leslie, Martin Smith, G. W. Oglevie, Henry McNelly, Jacob Reed and Joel Berry.
Dayton is an exclusively agricultural town. There were no villages of importance, and no manufacturing industries, aside from a few shops and the mill at Boaz. The latter is a little village in the western portion of the town, containing a store or two, a church, the Boaz mills, mechanical shops and a few residences. The village of Boaz was platted in the winter of 1857-58 by Reason and James T. Barnes, and the first store on the village site was started in 1857 by Reason Barnes and M. Ripley. Church associations and schools were formed as soon as the settlement of the town of Dayton began. In an early days preachers of different denominations paid frequent visits to Boaz, among the number being Rev. Todd, a Presbyterian from Sextonville. Elder Knapp, a Methodist preacher from Buena Vista.
In 1857 Lorenzo Woodman and James Hafus, laid out some lots and blocks on the southwestern part of section 14, and the northwestern part of section 23, to which they gave the name of Dayton Corners. During the same year a post office was established here under the name of Ripley Post office, with Lorenzo Woodman as postmaster. The first school at Dayton Corners was taught in 1857 by Eliza Bevier, in a house owned by C. C. Walker. The Dayton Corner's Methodist Episcopal Church started with the organization of a class in 1856 at the house of Lorenzo Woodman, by Rev. John Walker, who was then located at Sextonville.
In 1857 Dayton was organized. The first election was held on the 7th of April of that year, at the house of Henry McNelly. The town officers elected at this time were as follows: Supervisors, G W Oglevie, chairman Lorenzo Woodman and L. L. Leslie; town clerk and Edmund Davis; assessor. The Boaz mills is the most important establishment in the town and was open for business in 1857 and in 1858 they added a grist-mill. The first town house was erected in 1883 on the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 21, which cost $400.

The above information was copied from “History of Crawford and Richland Counties Wisconsin” Union Publishing Company Springfield, IL 1884    Chapter 22 Pages 1012-1022  
History of Dayton Town Hall and Berger School
The first official school for the Town of Dayton was discussed at a meeting held at the shop of C.C. Walker in June of 1857.  It was agreed to receive a site to be donated by Martin Shoemaker.  A tax of $125.00 was voted to build the school. If it could be built for less, the balance was to be paid towards the purchase of a stove for the school. A building committee was chosen to let the building go to the lowest bidder. Thirty dollars was also raised to pay a teacher. It seems that the committee didn’t prove satisfactory, so on August 9th another meeting was held to put the school into the hands of the district board. In August they resolved to receive a site from Lorenzo Woodman and give back to Martin Shoemaker the site he had donated. The board received bids for the building of the school house. It was let to Lorenzo Woodman for the sum of $127.00. Woodman was to complete the school house on or before November 15, 1857.   The building was to be hewn logs.
The size of the school was to be 20ft long with one round of oak logs next to the ground, have a 10ft ceiling, six windows, one door, desk seats and a roof. It was to be chinked and daubed. The school was located on the farm that was then owned by George Smart. A School District # 6 was formed and included section14, 15, and 23. Then the north half of section 22 and the west half of section 24 were added.   Later on section 16 and the north one half of section 21 was attached to this district. In 1858 the boundaries were changed again. It was decided that the school teacher should be a female and she would teach for a term of 4 months which would start in May and continue without interruption until the 4 month term had expired. It turned out that school was taught for 3 months and the teacher was paid $35.00 for the term. At that time the school had no library books and no blackboards.
In 1878 a committee was appointed to report at the next annual meeting a plan for a new school at a different location. The new building was to be located in section 15 near the spring, on land then owned by T.J. Hollow. The cost of the site was $2.00. The building was to be 22’ X 32’ with 10ft ceiling and a pitched roof. It was to have a stone foundation, be painted white, have 24 desks, and 8 windows. It was to be built for an estimated cost of $450.00. The building was completed in 1880 or 1881. Several years ago the Conkle School and Hickory Ridge School were closed and the children were transported to Berger School. Later the Huth School closed and those students also attended Berger School.
The same building is in use today as the Dayton Town Hall. The Berger School building was located along main highway #11 (now Hwy 14) and that farm land was owned by Joe Smart. The Berger School was moved from the Smart farmland in 1961 to its present site at the intersection of Highway 14 and County Highway ZZ. The Joe and Mae Smart family farm was gifted to the University of Wisconsin Richland by the Smart Family in 2005. It now is known as the University of Wisconsin Richland Smart Farm, with more than 190 acres of land, serves as a learning resource for field trips and research projects, as well as providing learning.
 The original Town Hall for the Town of Dayton still stands today and is on property owned by Virginia Bruckner. It is located at the intersection of Tuckaway Valley Rd and CTH HWY ZZ.  It was used until 1961 when the Berger School was moved and became the present town hall for Dayton Township.
Resources used to compile this information: 1. Information from the history room at the Brewer Library in Richland Center, WI

 “History of the Berger School” by Anna Wilson  File MSS 1984  2. University of Wisconsin-Richland website   3. Town resident, Kurt Monson

Compiled by Richard Wastlick, Town Chairman, January 2017

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