Lyman C. Dayton was born on August 25, 1810 in Southington, Connecticut. He married at age 20 to Maria Bates of Providence, Rhode Island. By the time he had reached 39 years, he developed a wholesale dry goods business in Providence, expanding to New York City and New Orleans. He sold his business in 1849. In the late summer of that year he traveled aboard the steamboat “Franklin, No. 2” from Saint Louis to Minnesota, and discovered numerous opportunities in real estate in the Saint Paul area. Soon after arrival he was able to acquire several thousand acres of land east of Saint Paul, including what would come to be known as Dayton’s Bluff, just in time for the years of mass immigration to Minnesota. With his tremendous financial resources, he was well known as a real estate dealer and banker by 1856.
He attempted to issue his own currency in 1856-57 by authorizing Danforth, Wright & Co. to engrave and print notes of The Dayton Bank bearing his own portrait and attractive vignettes. He met little success in this endeavor. Few, if any, of the notes saw actual circulation. Bank note reporters from 1859 list notes of the bank as worthless.
Dayton died on October 20, 1865 at his home in Saint Paul after a long illness. There is no known relationship between Lyman Dayton and the well-known Dayton family of retailing from the area.