Dayton S. Peck was born on June 26, 1842, in Sweden, Monroe County, New York, the son of William R. (1807-1876) and Lucy (Bathrick, 1808-1848).
William and Massachusetts native Lucy were married about 1830, and eventually settled in Monroe County, New York. In 1846, when Dayton was 4 years old, his family left New York City and
took the canal boat from Brockport and rode as far as Buffalo. There was a short railroad ride in between Buffalo and where we left the canal, and the train ran so slow that we could get off and pick blackberries while the train was going. We took the lake boat to Detroit and took another boat around the lakes, through the straits of Mackinac and down the west coast, stopping at Cheboygan, Racine, Milwaukee and finally Chicago. My brother Freling nearly fell overboard but one of the sailors caught him. Claude tells me that my brother Manser had told him that when the boat stopped at Cheboygan my father went on shore and hurriedly called on a relative of his there by the name of Winship. We took another boat from Chicago to Grand Haven, there we took a river boat, the Algomah, to Grand Rapids, where we arrived in September, 1848. My father went to work for Butterworth in the foundry and later for W. T. Powers. My sister was married in 1849 in a house we lived in on Ionia Avenue, to Oceanus Van Burch. My father purchased a farm in Paris Township and I went to school there. Afterwards I lived with my sister and her husband on their farm.
By 1850 Dayton’s family was living in Paris, Kent County, Michigan, where his father, who had apparently remarried a Canadian woman named Julia (b. in Canada in 1824) was working as a carpenter and Dayton and his siblings, including his younger brother Freling who would also join the Third Michigan, were attending school.
On July 2, 1860, Dayton joined the Grand Rapids Light Artillery, one of the local militia companies under the command of Captain Baker Borden, who would eventually command Company B in the Third Michigan. That same year Dayton was a laborer working for and/or living in Walker, Kent County with the family of Samuel White, who would also enlist Company B.
Dayton stood 5’8” with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 18 years old and living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (His younger brother Freling would join Company B in late 1861.) The Regiment left for Washington, DC, on June 13, 1861, and it was shortly after setting up camp at the Chain Bridge that Dayton got to shake hands with President Lincoln. On July 4, the President, Peck claimed many years afterwards, “drove down there [Chain Bridge] along with his colored driver, and took his hat off to us boys there who were manning that battery [at the Bridge] and shook hands with all of us. I remember the words he said to me when he shook my hand, ‘I sleep sounder nights than I would if you were not here.’” He added in 1925 that he believed he was “last one left who shook hands with President Lincoln the fourth of July, 1861 at that place.”
Dayton was wounded slightly in the right arm on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and by the end of the year was on duty at Brigade headquarters. He was employed as a Brigade butcher in January of 1863, was working at Brigade headquarters in April, in the Brigade commissary department (probably as butcher) from May through July and a Brigade butcher from November through May of 1864. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
After he was discharged Dayton returned to Grand Rapids where he reentered the service in Battery G, First Michigan Light Artillery on November 29, 1864, for 1 year, crediting Assyria, Barry County, and was mustered the same day. He joined the battery on February 17, 1865, probably at Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, Alabama, where it was on garrison and outpost duty until April 10. The battery participated in the capture of Mobile on April 12 and garrisoned the defenses of Mobile until July 19 when it was sent home to Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan, arriving there on August 2.
Dayton was mustered out with the battery on August 6, 1865, at Jackson.
Following the war Dayton returned to the Grand Rapids area and from 1867 to 1868 he was working as a butcher for Hill & Tuxbury, and boarding at the Bronson House in Grand Rapids. He married his first wife Delilah Ellen Hoyt on March 18, 1868, and from 1868 to 1869 was working for John Ryle and living on the northwest corner of Turner and Pearl Streets, on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids.
He was still living in Grand Rapids in 1874, and was still working as a butcher when he married his second wife New York native Jennifer Dunphy (1845-1906) on January 21, 1875 (it is not known what became of his first wife), and they had at least two children: a son O. D. (b. 1878) and Fred (b. 1880).
In 1875 one newspaper described Peck as the “proprietor of the meat market on Lyon Street in the Leppig building, one of the best in the city.” The paper added that this was “Peck’s old stand, and his old friends will find him out there.” By 1880 Dayton was working as a butcher and living with his wife and two sons on Lyon Street in Grand Rapids’ 4th Ward.
Dayton lived in Grand Rapids through at least 1888, was residing in Walker, Kent County in 1890, back in Grand Rapids in 1892 and living in the 8th Ward in 1894. By 1895 he had moved to Sand Lake, Kent County where he worked a farm for some years. In 1900 he was living with his wife Jennie and two sons in Nelson, Kent County. but by 1903 he had returned to Grand Rapids. He was back in Sand Lake and possibly in Tustin, Osceola County in 1906.
He was a widower when he married his third wife, New York native Isabelle McBride (1851-1918) and in 1910 they were both living in Byron, Kent County; Dayton probably lived in Byron from 1910 to 1913. In 1915 Dayton was living at 222 Ridge Road in Grand Rapids.
Dayton was again a widower when he married his 4th wife, Ida (b. 1875) and by 1920 they were living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dayton was still living in St. Petersburg, in 1922.
He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and Grand Army of the Republic Custer post no. 5 in Grand Rapids. In 1890 he applied for and received a pension (no. 595084).
In 1925 Dayton was living at 173 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg where he died on April 2, 1926. He was presumably buried in St. Petersburg. He was buried in Royal Palm South cemetery, St. Petersburg: block 147-3.