Dayton Township is a small, quiet community in the central Thumb Area of Michigan, located along the southeastern border of Tuscola County.
Dayton Township lies just east of Freemont and was organized January 6, 1867. It was comprised of territory taken from Vassar Township and is described as follows: Town 11 north or range 10 and 11 east.
Mr. William Meade lived one and one half miles east of Mayville and took up his farm from the government. He was born in England in 1824. He married Martha Chapman in 1844. He migrated to New York in 1851, and moved to Ohio where he lived for two years. He then moved to Dayton in early 1855. He cut his own road through the forest for 12 miles. He was here to welcome Rev. C.B. Mills and others who came. William and Martha brought with them two sons: William was born in England June 22, 1848, and James, born in Ohio September 9, 1852.
Two of the early settlers in the township were George W. Spencer and Joseph Crawford (known as little Joe) who came in the spring of 1856 and found the Meade family waiting to greet them.
The names of the freeholders in the township were: William Meade, G.W. Spencer, Joseph Crawford, J.P. Weaver, Daniel Lynch, M. Shay, J. Lynch, George Green, Joseph Green, James Hiester, L. Hurd, George Bellamy, Benjamin Docker, and William Hamiltion. The first township meeting was held at the home of G.W. Spencer in section 33. James Weaver, G.W. Spencer, and William Meade were inspectors of the first election. Fifteen votes were cast and the following men were elected:
Supervisor - Lorenzo Meade
Clerk - Jonas Weaver
Constables - Dennis Harmon and George Bellamy
Directors of the poor - Dennis Harmon and Joseph Crawford
$250.00 was voted for roads.
The first sermon preached in the township was by Rev. Mills in May 1856, in the home of William Meade.
The first school was taught in a log cabin in the west corner of the township, and it later became the Cottage School.
The year of 1857 was known as the "year of the famine". The entire township was almost wiped out by that infamous famine. The fields swarmed with chipmonks, mice, and other vermin, which destroyed the crops, devoured the corn, and dug up and carried away the potatoes. So great was the destitution among the settlers that starvation would have resulted had it not been relief sent in by the more favored localities.
Two years after the first settlers, there were practically no roads, only the north and south center road cut thru the township. Most of the supplies were brought in from Lapeer, it being almost impossible to reach Vassar with a team and the cost of bringing in food was three times the first cost. N. D. Phelps came to the township in February 1857, lived in section 16 and packed all his supplies from Vassar. His usual load was about fifty pounds. One day he hiked to Vassar in the morning, ate dinner, and in the afternoon carried home fifty pounds of flour on his back, a trip of 35 miles through the woods. Mr. Phelps was born in 1820, in New York, the son of Elijah and Clarissa (Bosworth) Phelps. He married Rebecca Ostrander on April 4, 1846 in New York and they had eleven children. They built a stone house on Phelps Lake Rd., which is still a landmark. He died July 12, 1900.
The township was named in honor of the candidate for the vice-presidency on the Free Soil or Republican Party ticket in 1856. The following year the township was organized and the selection of a name commemorated the fact that in the previous presidential election, which elected Buchanan, every vote in the township was cast for Fremont and Dayton.
In 1859, $1ooo.00 was ordered for road purposes in Dayton Township. Daniel Lynch and his wife, Mary O'Connor brought their family of four sons and two daughters to America in 1846 from their Irish farm on the shore of Tralee Bay. One more son was born in this country. The Lynch family inched eastward, working as the came. For a time they stopped at Astabula, Ohio, where some of the relatives remained. In 1854 the father and older sons came to Michigan and took up land in Sections 33 and 34 of Dayton Township. The family followed the next spring.
The family of Daniel and Mary Lynch were: Michael (18J21907), who married Margot Day; Jeremiah who married Johannah; Thomas who married Marie Day; Daniel (1846-1866) who was killed in a logging accident during his first winter of "going to camp"; John (1853-1904); Bridget who married Daniel Tubbs; and Johannah who married Thomas Tubbs.
Steward Goodell came to Michigan from New York in 1855 and purchased his farm in Dayton Township for fifty cents an acre. He married Amelia Clinesmith in 1860 and they raised 13 children. By 1860, the Township's population had grown to 129, including 28 families and dwellings and 18 farms. Numerous saw mills and gristmills began appearing throughout the Township into the early 1900's. Telephone service arrived in the Township around 1910 and was followed by electricity around 1938.