When I was a kid in grade school not much was taught about our local history. Oh, the big boys were in the textbooks, the Wright brothers, etc. but the little-known stories that affected the world were nil and void.

Franklin native Curt Dalton is on a one-man mission to make sure that doesn’t happen any longer. Dalton, an archivist for Dayton History at Carillon Park, is the proud author of 30 books. (No, that’s not a typo.)

Now, not all are Dayton-centric. Some are cookbooks and indexes, but local history totals 24.

“I have been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. The interest in writing books about the history of Dayton came from doing research on my wife’s genealogy. Her family, the Wessaloskys, came to Dayton in 1867. As I investigated their past I also found a lot of interesting facts about the Gem City.” Dalton says.

His writing role models are folks you may know.

“I do appreciate the writings of Charlotte Reeve Conover, a Dayton historian who documented the history of Dayton in several books. My favorite is The Story of Dayton, which was published in 1917. But Dale Huffman and Roz Young’s writings (former Dayton Daily News and Journal Herald columnists respectively) about the city inspired me. Their stories always showed how great Dayton and its people are. It is uplifting to tell how great it is in Dayton,” he says.

Now, this brings me to his latest book, On This Date in Dayton’s History: Remembering the Gem City One Day at a Time.

“I have always been interested in the little bits of history that are printed in newspapers or placed online that tell of events that happened on that particular day. I thought writing a book that told a quick story on the history of Dayton day by day would be a great, fast and fun way for people to learn about the Gem City,” Dalton says.

Well, I’m no author, but that sounds like a lot of research and patience of which this columnist has little. I’m working on that.

“I collected a number of the events over the past 25 years, but when it came down to finishing the book I was still about 50 or so dates short. Those 50 days took me an additional year of research and writing,” he says.

Curt and yours truly agree that if these stories aren’t shared and passed down to later generations they’ll go the way of the horse and buggy. Personally, I believe any history teacher, if they don’t know already, would be impressed with what took place here and continues to take place here.

“We need to interest children in the history of their world. With the wonderful stories that Dayton has to offer this could be a good stepping stone for a much larger, lifelong interest in history as a whole. Plus, they would have such bragging rights, saying they came from the city that invented the airplane, cash register, pop top can, electric wheelchair, automobile self-starter system and so much more,” Dalton says.

“I think it would be a great way to start the day of any history or civic class. Short enough to keep the children’s attention, plus usually a photo is included to highlight the story,” he says.

When asked what’s their favorite book most authors respond with, “My latest.” Well, Dalton says it is in the top five, but out of all the titles his all-time favorite is Made Do or Did Without: How Daytonians Coped with the Great Depression.

“It is the story of how Daytonians endured this period of hardship, battling to find jobs and feed their families, working together to survive and how they dealt with trying to escape, if even for a little while, the grinding world-weariness of harsh conditions that seemed to have no ending in sight,” he says.

The plethora of Dalton’s titles can be acquired at Carillon Historical Park and On This Date in Dayton’s History: Remembering the Gem City One Day at a Time is also available there and Amazon for $24.95.

What’s next for Dalton?

“I am putting aside the writing of the history of Dayton, at least for a while. Instead, I am doing research on the history of body-snatching in Ohio. I wrote a smaller book on the subject about 15 years ago and would like to perhaps expand it now that so many more resources are available today. Even if I don’t publish I am having a great time doing the research.”

Curt Dalton, telling Dayton stories one book at a time. And I’m happy he is.


– Buch

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