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Pioneer kept meticulous records

Ruby McFarland
Dayton Historical Society

When it comes to statistics, Dayton’s Emma Nevada Parker Barton Loftus, was a stickler for recording them in her diaries. In particular, there were two dates she recorded every year, March 19 and Oct. 23.

Now, you might think these dates are a birthday or anniversary. Not so, but I’ll just tell you about a few more dates she recorded yearly.

Early in her daily diaries, which she began writing in 1917, Emma noted her son, Chester Barton’s, birthday. Recording some world events, she documented when Joe Lewis, the fighter, had his first fight, how many rounds fought and who won. Throughout his career, she recorded his fights. Chester had a black cat called Joe Lewis. Emma sure loved that cat and grieved his passing.

Any world event of importance was mentioned, not only at the original date of its occurrence, but year after year. Also, she noted the death of any Dayton person she was involved with each year. It was always listed as “poor little” So and So, or “poor soul,” man or woman, depending on who she remembered.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s death date was remembered every year with a great deal of kindness. She felt sorry for him and the burden he carried during World War II.

Her husband Jack Loftus’s death created great grief for Emma. She grieved for him each year, writing in the diary: “Poor dear Jack.” She showed compassion when writing the events she felt needed to be remembered.

The two dates in Emma’s diaries I mentioned at the beginning of this piece were when the swallows returned and left the Capistrano Mission in California. For some reason, she felt it important to record those dates.

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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 are welcome.

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