With the winter solstice comes hope of spring
December 18, 2007
Come, winter, with thine angry howl
And raging bend the naked tree:
Thy gloom will soothe my cheerless soul,
When nature all is sad like me.
– Robert Burns “Song,” 1786
Well, winter solstice is Saturday, and the joy of it is that the days will begin to get longer and spring can’t be far. It’s not the only thing that brings joy this time of year, and it seems to come earlier every year.
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‘Tis the season to be jolly, and I feel so fortunate to still be around to celebrate. I’m of the opinion we should have Christmas every month if it makes us kinder and more loving of one another.
I can even ignore the people who grate on me the rest of the year. I try not to let people get to me because that’s a lot of wasted time spent on something of which the other person is not even aware.
Dayton in the early days buzzed with activity around this time of year. The dry creek bed of Gold Creek usually had water running from the fall rains and early snows. The placer miners in the Dayton area needed the water to extract the gold from the gravel and dirt in Gold Canyon.
Gold Creek used to run about six months out of the year. It was not always easy to mine for the precious metal. In the winter of 1857-58, the weather was so severe that animals, Indians and miners died because of the cold.
Christmas was not really celebrated until more women began to filter into the area. Women made the difference in the 1850s and ’60s. Fanny Hazlett did her best to bring some culture to the Comstock.
Emma Nevada Loftus carefully recorded the events of the season in her diaries. Christmas in Dayton was a big time for the Barton and Loftus families. There were Christmas pageants at the schools and a community tree at the high school.
Chester Barton, Emma’s son, would deliver Christmas presents to all the children in the Dayton area. Emma and Chester always made sure all the children had a gift. That impressed Del Minor so much that she wanted to continue to make Dayton her home.
Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa to all.
• The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. The Web site is daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
• 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.