Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Rhea County Courthouse, 2006
Dayton is a city and county seat in Rhea County, Tennessee, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,191. The Dayton Urban Cluster, which includes developed areas adjacent to the city and extends south to Graysville, had 10,174 people in 2010.
Dayton was the site of the Scopes Trial in 1925 dealing with the creation–evolution controversy.
Downtown Dayton, 1925
The community was originally settled circa 1820 as Smith's Crossroads. In 1877, the town was renamed Dayton. The town was incorporated in 1903. Early industry included manufacture of pig iron.
In 1925, the famous Scopes Trial was held in Dayton and, for a period of time, filled the town with hucksters of every description and journalists from around the world. The trial participants included William Jennings Bryan in the role of prosecutor and Clarence Darrow as John T. Scopes' principal defense counsel.
Although this trial is often represented as being pivotal in the movement to allow evolution to be taught in American schools, it actually marked the beginning of a major decline in the teaching of evolution which did not start to recover until the early 1960's. Likewise, the Butler Act, which Scopes was supposed to have violated—though it was never invoked again—remained on the books until 1967, when it was repealed by the Tennessee Legislature.
Immediately after the trial, Bryan continued to edit and deliver speeches, traveling hundreds of miles that week. On July 26, 1925, he drove from Chattanooga to Dayton to attend a church service, ate a meal, and died (the result of diabetes and fatigue) in his sleep that afternoon—just five days after the Scopes trial ended.
Author Rachel Held Evans resides in Dayton and writes about the town in the spiritual memoir Evolving in Monkey Town.
Today the city is a small manufacturing center whose products include furniture, clothing, automobile parts, and air conditioners and heating units. La-Z-Boy is the largest manufacturing employer. The Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar and Sequoyah nuclear power plants are both within 20 miles (32 km) of the city. Since the late 1990's the area has experienced increased residential development particularly along Chickamauga Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River, partly due to an influx of retirees.
Dayton is also home to Bryan College, a four-year Christian liberal arts school named in honor of William Jennings Bryan, who died in Dayton five days after the Scopes Trial ended. Dayton City School, a K-8 public school, is free for all residents of Dayton. Rhea Central Elementary School is the largest K-8 public school in the state. Oxford Graduate School, an institution of Christian postgraduate education, is located in Dayton's Crystal Springs community.
Howard Armstrong (March 4, 1909 – July 30, 2003) – African American string band and country blues musician
Joseph Aloysius Durick (October 13, 1914 – June 26, 1994) – U.S. Roman Catholic bishop and civil rights advocate.
Rachel Held Evans – Author of Evolving in Monkey Town
Jake Gaither (April 11, 1903 – February 18, 1994) – Hall of Fame head football coach at Florida A&M University (FAMU) for 25 years. Won six black national championships and amassed one of the highest winning percentages in collegiate history.
Red Holt (July 25, 1894 - February 2, 1961) – former Major League Baseball 1st Baseman with the Philadelphia Athletics
Dave Roller – former NFL defensive lineman
John Scopes (August 3, 1900 – October 21, 1970) – teacher charged with violating Tennessee's Butler Act and tried in a case popularly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial
Taryn Balwinski Wilson – Junior Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2007
Jose Lino Padilla;- July 11, 1889 - Feb 9, 1960 Stage Actor and Composer
Tennessee Strawberry Festival