In the beginning, Dayton lacked one thing – women |

In the beginning, Dayton lacked one thing – women

Ruby McFarland
For the Appeal

The early migration of people to the West didn’t include too many marriageable young women. Most of the people were men coming to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of California. Certainly the women who did come were the wives and young children of the miners. When the miners drifted back to Nevada to search for wealth in the new mining area of Dayton, there were few women around to “marry up” with the miners.

One of the first dances in the Dayton area was held at Spafford Hall trading post. There were nine women and 150 men. The youngest of the “women” was 10 years old. Sarah Winnemucca was one of the women in attendance. This dance was in 1853.

In July of 1854, the Placerville Mountain Democrat newspaper reported that things were certainly looking up in the Dayton area. The crops in the valley were looking well and had a promise of a good yield. The paper also reported that several places for a hungry traveler to eat and get lodging had sprung up along the way westward.

The paper also reported that a number of pretty young ladies are said to be on their way West. It said, “We advise our bachelor friends to look alive. There’s no telling when such another opportunity, for putting on the shackles of matrimony, may present itself as will be afforded by the arrival of marketable young ladies with the incoming immigration.”

The Dayton Valley had an influx of new people when news of the gold and silver reached the miners in California and new immigrants from the east. There were a lot of opportunities in the Comstock and Dayton area. Hotels and restaurants sprang up in Dayton and somewhat of a political base was formed. The first courthouse in Lyon County was in Dayton. The farmers along the river were busy supplying the Comstock with meat and vegetables. Dayton played an important part of the development of all the Comstock area. I’ve said before, that this is where it all started for Nevada. It’s great to be part of the history.

We need your support and input in the Historical Society of Dayton Valley. We will meet this month at noon Nov. 14 in the Dayton Utilities Meeting Room. Come and see what we are up to. Visitors are always welcome.

The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check the Web site: Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.