By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
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This week’s blog title “And So It Goes” will be a continuing series about some of our favorite places to photograph that have disappeared in recent years.
Our first visit to Dayton Corners Church wasn’t until 2008. By that time, we had been photographing rural architecture for almost 14 years, and had driven a good portion of the roads in Richland County. Somehow, we had always turned just before getting to this location.
The church sat right next to the Dayton Corners Cemetery and although it looked like it was being cared for, it was not restored. There was a hickory nut tree at the edge of the cemetery, and in those days we were still silly enough to think we might pick out some hickory nuts over the winter. So after Joann took her photographs, we spent some time picking up hickory nuts.
Our next visit to the cemetery was in September of 2010 and it was sunrise when we pulled up to the corner of County Road ZZ and Pier Springs Road. The church looked basically the same as it had two years prior on our first visit.
The village of Dayton Corners was laid out in 1857 by Lorenzo Woodman and James Hafus. During the same year, a post office was established, but was given the name of Ripley post office. The post office only lasted about 3 years, and the village not much more than that. Most of the development was happening in nearby Boaz.
From looking at an 1895 map of Dayton Township, it looks like this church began as the Dayton Corner's Methodist Episcopal Church.
As Joann was processing photographs for me, I was searching the internet for any history of the village or the church, and I told Joann that I couldn’t find much of either. But then, when I was almost ready to give up, I stumbled on an article from The Republican Observer (a newspaper published in Richland Center until 1962 when it became the Richland Observer), dated August 8, 1957. The article appeared to be a continuing column entitled “Tales the Tombstones Tell” and was about a visit by three men to the Dayton Corners Cemetery.
The article started by detailing how the church was open so the men went inside. They told of finding several bibles, one open on the pulpit and one on a nearby table. We miss those days when churches were always open. Joann always tries the doors of churches, and I have to admit that sometimes I’m watching and hoping that the door will be locked. (I know I shouldn’t, but I’m responsible for the schedule!)
The men continued outside to the cemetery to walk around and share details of some of the tombstones in the cemetery. I can only imagine how hard it was in 1957 to come up with the information shared about the lives of the people from some of the tombstones. And I’m very thankful for the wealth of information available to us now on the internet.
We were near the church again in 2011, so we made another stop. The church appeared to be the same as in our previous visits.
Somehow, all of our visits to the church were in the fall during September and October. That tells me we need to make Richland County a priority for some spring and winter trips.
The next several years we didn’t spend as much time in Richland County. Our list of sites to visit and revisit is very long, so we didn’t get back to the church site until the fall of 2016. Since we were close to the location, I asked Joann if she wanted to stop and she said she did.
But as we pulled up to the familiar corner, we were saddened to see just a patch of bare ground where the church had stood. Because it had been five years since our last visit, we don’t know what happened with the church. We only know that sometime between 2011 and 2016, it was demolished.
In the back corner of the church and cemetery property, the outhouse remained in a tangle of weeds and brush.
Joann took a few photos of the former church location and the outhouse, and then took another walk around the cemetery, documenting a few more gravestones.
This is the reason that we revisit sites whenever our travels take us near. If you have your own favorite sites, here’s a reminder of what can happen. Visit while you can.
In the last several years, we’ve had this same experience too many times. We’ll share more of these with you in future blogs.
Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!
Until next time, Happy Shunpiking!