Hon. John F. Dayton


There is scarcely a phase of legitimate activity in Allamakee county in which Hon. John F. Dayton is not successful and prominent and to the advancement of which he has not by his ability, industry and enterprise made substantial contributions. He is one of the county’s political leaders, an able and successful member of the bar, a force in the development of the fruit growing industry and each year of his activity since he came to Waukon in 1873 has witnessed his growing prominence in all of these fields of endeavor.

Mr. Dayton was born in Saratoga county, New York, January 10, 1849, and is a son of Dr. Simon N. and Lydia (Houghton) Dayton, natives of New York. Dr. Dayton spent his youth and early manhood in that state and afterward moved to Illinois, locating in Rockford, where he engaged in the general practice of medicine until 1890, when he returned to New York and located in Corinth, where he spent the last years of his life, dying there in the fall of 1899. His wife survived him only a few months, passing away in February, 1900.

John F. Dayton grew to manhood in Rockford, Illinois, and acquired his education in the public schools, graduating from the Rockford high school with the class of 1867. He was afterward a student of Beloit College for three years and when he left that institution read law in Rockford. In 1873 he came to Iowa and settled in Waukon, where he was admitted to the bar. In the same year he formed a partnership with his uncle, Hon. Henry Dayton, and their association has continued since that time, the firm being today one of the strongest in the county, connected through its patronage with much important litigation. Mr. Dayton served as county attorney for two years and in public life proved as able, far-sighted and progressive as he is in the private practice of his profession.

Aside from his work in the general practice of law Mr. Dayton is also well known in Allamakee county as an extensive fruit grower. In 1878 he planted almost forty acres of land in grapes, strawberries and raspberries and later added a nursery, where he specializes in raising apple trees and others bearing the hardy fruits. He issues an annual catalogue and does a large mail order business, shipping his products by express and freight. He owns a neat and well improved property of sixty acres, just outside and corporate limits of Waukon, and is numbered among the successful farmers and business men of the locality.

On the 14th of October, 1875, Mr. Dayton was united in marriage, in Rockford, Illinois, to Miss Laura Hewitt, born and reared in that city, a daughter of John Hewitt, a pioneer of Winnebago county, who settled in that section in 1833.

Eminently public-spirited and progressive in citizenship, Mr. Dayton has since taking up his residence in Iowa been continuously identified with public life in the state and is an active and able politician. He was the first mayor of Waukon, giving to the city a constructive, efficient and businesslike administration, and he was afterward elected to the state legislature, serving in the twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth general assemblies. During his term of office he was connected with much constructive legislation, his vote and influence being always on the side of right, reform and progress. He was a member of a number of important committees, including the committee on railroads and commerce, and so efficient, far-sighted and businesslike was his work that he was named as the democratic candidate for speaker of the house in the twenty-fourth general assembly. His public career has been varied in service and faultless in honor and the work he has accomplished in the interest of the community is destined to find a place in its history. Fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias and has served through all the chairs of that organization, being now past chancellor. He is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and is one of the most popular men in Waukon, known to his personal friends as “Frank.” In all respects his life has been exemplary and useful-the life of an upright, honorable and straightforward man and a progressive and public-spirited citizen.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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