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Meet the ‘Oldest Family Living Continuously in Lyon County’

Ruby McFarland
Dayton Historical Society

There has been so much written about the Walmsley family of Dayton. I don’t know what I could write that might add anything more.

One tidbit is about Raymond Walmsley. He had pneumonia when he was about 2 years old – poor little fellow. I’m quoting from the diary of Emma Nevada Barton Loftus, in which she frequently wrote about the Walmsley family.

The Walmsleys were in Dayton long before Emma arrived. Ray’s great- grandfather arrived here in 1859. One of his grandmothers came from Canada in 1863, and lived in Como, a mining town south of Dayton in the Pine Nut Range. Hawkins was the family name.

Andrew Walmsley, Ray’s grandfather, was in the wood business. Zenas Walmsley, Ray’s father, ran a dairy in Dayton. Ray had to hurry home from school to herd the cows home and help milk and feed them.

Besides selling milk, Lela Walmsley, Ray’s mother, made butter, cottage cheese, buttermilk and a cheese similar to jack. The products were also sold as part of the dairy business.

Zenas became justice of the peace of the Dayton Township when Emma’s husband, Jack Loftus, could no longer continue that post. I believe it was in 1931.

Lela and Emma were friends and visited and supported one another. Zenas worked with Chester Barton in conjunction with law enforcement. Chester was the constable of the Dayton area.

Chester gave everyone a nickname. Ray’s was “Jarbs,” but he has no idea why.

Ray is a cornucopia of Dayton history. He and his wife, May, have been married since June 5, 1947. They were married by another Dayton native son, Clark Guild, in Carson City.

Ray is of the opinion that history can be taken with a grain of salt, noting it’s hard to know where the line is drawn for the truth. I know from my own family that family history can be distorted, so do plenty of research if you have doubts.

Read Ray Walmsley’s family history, “Oldest Family Living Continuously in Lyon County” in the 1988 edition of Lyon County Reflections, available at the Dayton Valley Library, Dayton history section.

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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 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441. The Dayton Historical Society meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.

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