Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Roland Savage Dayton Preacher,Gunsmith & Farmer


Roland Savage Dayton born April 21, 1814 in Hampshire County VA, present day Mineral County WV.  In the 1850 census he is listed as a blacksmith. His brother Oliver is also listed as a blacksmith and lived next door to Frederick Sheetz,  gunsmith and mill owner of Sheetz’ Mill. Roland was just two doors down from his brother Oliver. Sometime just after the Civil War, Sheetz’ Mill name was changed to Headsville.

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Due to the close proximity to Frederick Sheetz would be a good guess that Roland may  have apprenticed to Sheetz.

On the few surviving rifles  that Roland made, we find most are signed on the barrel flat between the rear sight and breech R S D or R S Dayton, in script. All surviving rifles are percussion. His work is neat and of very good quality. His capbox lids have a nice finial, similar to ones found on patchboxes. Naturally they are stocked in Maple, as most  rifles of this area are.



In the 1860 census Roland is found in Allegany County  Maryland near McCool. The following story related to me from a descendant of Dayton, is a testament to his  faith in God.

“During the Civil War the Methodist Church at Sheetz’ Mill, present day Headsville, was occupied by soldiers. For a time after the war there wasn’t any preachers assigned to the church. Rev. Roland Savage Dayton walked from 21st Bridge near McCool Maryland to hold services”

That is a distance of over 10 miles.

Rev. Roland Savage Dayton died August 3, 1900.  It was said that he preached over 6000 sermons, no mention to how many rifles he may have built.
A few years back I visited his grave, at the end of 21 First Bridge, on a bluff on the Maryland side of the North Branch of the Potomac, Dayton Cemetery.
See: Frederick Sheetz