Everyone had an opinion on Chester | NevadaAppeal.com

Everyone had an opinion on Chester

by Ruby McFarland
for the Nevada Appeal

In weeks past, readers have met Emma Nevada Loftus through excerpts from her diaries. This week, let me introduce you to her son, Chester Barton.

Now, I can tell you there has been plenty written and said about this remarkable man. The more I question people, the more I find there are as many opinions as there are people.

First off, Emma adored her son, and I’m sure he thought she was No. 1, too. He saw his mother every day, except when he was off on a fishing or hunting trip or out chasing a bad guy as a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy. He always made sure she had what she needed.

My opinion of Chester is that he was a man for all seasons. I don’t think “can’t” was in his vocabulary. I don’t think he ever met a stranger, either. Besides, he overhauled cars, built a house, pierced ears of gals in the area, tracked criminals, fished, hunted, raised children – although he didn’t have any of his own who survived – found homes for people who needed them, and caught rattlesnakes.

It’s said, Robert Laxalt’s book “A Man in a Wheatfield” was written about Chester’s life.

He was married twice. His first wife, Sybil Wise, had a sister named Hazel, who was married to Robert Hankhammer. When Hazel abandoned her three children, Chester and Sybil took them in. Later, in 1929, the couple divorced, but Chester kept the children.

Chester’s second wife’s name was Helen. They were a good match, since she, too, loved to fish and hunt. They did everything together. The Hankhammer children continued to love Chester and Helen, and later graduated from Dayton High School.

Chester was always helping someone in Dayton. One such instance was that of a young boy of 14 who was homeless when he reached Dayton. Chester picked up the lad and took him home to feed him. He bought him clothes and found a rancher who took the boy in so he could go to school. That’s the kind of man he was.

I’m still reading Emma Nevada Loftus’ diaries. I’m sure more will be revealed before I’m finished.

(More details about Chester Barton’s life, along with photographs, may be gleaned from reading Lyon County Reflections, “The Last of the Old Time Deputies,” 1991.)

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 Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

— Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.