October 2: Aaron Ogden Dayton (1858)

When Aaron O. Dayton came to Washington in the early 1830s, he originally worked for the State Department, serving for a time as Chief Clerk, which was akin to an Assistant Secretary of State in the early days. In 1838, Dayton became Fourth Auditor of the Treasury Department and served in that role for twenty years until his death in 1858. The Fourth Auditor was responsible for settling all accounts of or relating to the Navy Department, including those for payment of naval pensions; keeping accounts of receipts and disbursements of public moneys; and filing settled accounts after final approval by the Second Comptroller. A New Jersey native, Dayton attended Princeton, graduating with high honors. He initially studied law and practiced in that field for several years.

The first record of Dayton at Epiphany is the baptism of his third child, Elizabeth, in 1847. In the same year, Dayton made the gift of the first stained glass windows to the new church. These were two windows above the altar area, which are no longer in existence. Dayton’s last child and namesake was baptized at Epiphany in 1851. After his death, one of Dayton’s daughters was married at the church and two of his grandchildren were baptized. Dayton’s brother-in-law was the Rev. William Berrian, rector of Trinity Church, New York. Following Dayton’s death, Berrian wrote a touching tribute in which he said, “the distinguishing ornament of his mind, and crowing excellence of his character, consisted in his deep religious principle, his unpretending piety, his fervent devotional feelings, his reverence for all that was holy, and his love of all that was good.” Upon his death, Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb said, “in that death, I lost one of my dearest friends; society, one of its best citizens; government, one of its valued officers.”

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