Constable kept peace in mining district
October 3, 2005
Como has always been a source of interest to me. The mining town has died and revived several times over the past 150 years. Emma Nevada Loftus wrote a few things of interest about Como in her diaries.
One of the expressions I hadn’t heard for years is “white slavery.” Chester Barton, Emma’s son, was a Dayton constable who was sent to Como to arrest a man on a white-slavery charge. Emma never said what the outcome was.
Chester hauled lumber, gravel and coal to Como on a regular basis in 1928 to the Pony Meadows Mining Co. He wore many hats and had to make a lot of trips up to Como to quell fights and other disputes that put people in danger. The road wasn’t more than a couple of ruts, but he made the trip several times a day, even when it was snowing.
In December 1935, 40 men walked off the job at the mines. It was unclear why. The Como Mining Co. leased the Old Gruber Hotel in Dayton for offices. They remodeled the building and cleaned it up all around.
One gathers from Emma’s diary that Como had a rowdy bunch of citizens living there. Without any other entertainment than a jug, there could be some hard feelings created with a bunch of rough miners.
I once had an older man in the museum who was born up at Pony Meadows Mines. I let him get away before I got more information from him- he lived in Arkansas and could have shed more light on life at Como.
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The written word is a strong source in the history of any area. Dayton’s history has been recorded by several women who kept journals that confirm pertinent points regarding the timeline of our history. I keep a journal, but it’s not as comprehensive as those of the wonderful women who came before me.
The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It’s also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and Saturday10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1- 4 p.m. Check outdaytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
n Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.