Rhea County Courthouse, 2006
Location of Dayton, Tennessee
|Named for||Dayton, Ohio|
|• Total||6.4 sq mi (16.5 km2)|
|• Land||6.1 sq mi (15.9 km2)|
|• Water||0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)|
|Elevation||696 ft (212 m)|
|• Density||1,100/sq mi (440/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1306293|
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.
The community was originally settled circa 1820 as Smith's Crossroads. In 1877, the town was renamed Dayton, after Dayton, Ohio. 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 participants included William Jennings Bryan in the role of prosecutor and Clarence Darrow as the principal defense counsel. The trial was over the issue of whether evolution should be taught in public schools. John T. Scopes, the defendant in the trial, was a local science teacher who was recruited by George Rappleyea to begin to teach evolution in his science class, despite it being against Tennessee law at that time. Rappleyea believed that this conflict would create an enormous amount of publicity for the town, and he was absolutely right. The town bustled with activity as people began to flock from near and far to hear the verdict on this controversial issue.
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 1960s. 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Scopes was supposed to have violated—though it was never invoked again—remained on the books until 1967, when it was repealed by the Tennessee Legislature.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.
Dayton is located at 35°30′N 85°1′W (35.493, -85.013). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.4 square miles (17 km2), of which, 6.1 square miles (16 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (3.62%) is water.
Dayton has a Humid Subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. It is hot and humid in the summer, warm and mild in spring and fall, and cool in winter with a little snow.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,180 people, 2,323 households, and 1,558 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,007.9 people per square mile (389.3/km2). There were 2,492 housing units at an average density of 406.4 per square mile (157.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.70% White, 5.26% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.75% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.12% of the population.
There were 2,323 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no male present, and 32.9% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 23.5% under the age of 18, 16.0% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,542, and the median income for a family was $33,149. Males had a median income of $30,521 versus $22,144 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,946. About 13.4% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.
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 1990s the area has experienced increased residential development particularly along Chickamauga Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River. More recently, Dayton has hosted several major fishing tournaments at Chickamauga Lake including the 2014 Bassmaster BASSfest, American Bass Anglers Weekend Series, Heartland Anglers Classic, the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour and various senior, collegiate and high school events.
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-5 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
- William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 — July 26, 1925) – politician and orator known for his views on evolution
- Joseph Aloysius Durick (October 13, 1914 – June 26, 1994) – U.S. Roman Catholic bishop and civil rights advocate
- 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
- Russ Hodges (June 18, 1910 – April 19, 1971) – baseball broadcaster for New York and San Francisco Giants; best known for calling Bobby Thomson's famed 1951 Shot Heard 'Round the World
- Red Holt (July 25, 1894 – February 2, 1961) – former Major League Baseball first 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
- Tennessee Blue Book, 2005–2006, pp. 618-625.
- Larry Miller, Tennessee Place Names (Indiana University Press, 2001), p. 59.
- "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 101.
- "Digital History". www.digitalhistory.uh.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
- "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
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