James was a man caught in the turbulent years that brought about the American Revolution. He was a part of the rebellion and passed on his determination to be free to his children. Did he pass on strong Christian faith as well? Again it is hard to know but he was a man who was a mover, brave and unafraid, fighting a war and settling a wilderness. And he was a man with a long family history of following the Christian faith.
James Dyer son of John Dyer and his wife Mary Hickey, was born 23 April 1756 in Scituate, Rhode Island
John married Mary Marcy born 19 January 1760 in Southbridge, MA, the daughter of Moses Marcy and an unknown mother. Mary died 13 October 1844 in Jefferson, Scholaire, NY
John and Dyer had the following known children by his first wife:
1. Sarah Dyer born 29 November 1777 in Sturbridge, MA. She married Joshua Vinton. She died 23 September 1861 in Woodstock, Windham, CT.
2. Winthrop Dyer born 27 April 1779 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. He married Polly Vinton born 13 July 1778, also in Dudley. Winthrop died 18 May 1857 in Jefferson, Schohaire, New York.
3. James Dyer born 15 April 1781 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. He married 1. an unknown woman and 2. Susan (surname unknown). James died after 1860 in Rockford, Winnebago, IL
4. Nancy Dyer born 17 October 1783 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. She married Zadock Barnett
5. Justin Dyer born 31 July 1785 in Dudley, Worcester, MA
6. Emily Parmelia Dyer born 13 July 1787 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. She married Edward Chamberlaine.
7. Polly Dyer born 13 June 1789 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. She married Gilbert Vermiluga.
8. Amanda Dyer born in Dudley, Worcester, MA. She married David Brockway. She died in Jefferson, Schohaire, NY.
9. Bradbury Dyer born 26 December 1792 in Dudley, Worcester, MA. He married Polly Shepard who was born 20 March 1789 in New York. Bradbury died 27 April 1860 in East Berne, Albany, NY.
10. Lucinda Dyer born 1794. She married William Rosscrans.
11. Rebecca Dyer born 1796. She married Christopher Keenholts who was born 23 July 1794. She died 18 March 1870 in Albany Co., New York
12. Mercy (Patty) Dyer born 13 February 1799 probably in Massachusetts. She married Christopher Zeh. She died 27 May 1866 in Albany Co., New York.
13. Moses Dyer born 1800, probably died young.
14. Martha Dyer born about 1801/2 in New York. She married Mathias Zeh born 22 April 1805 in Knox, Albany, NY. She died 1888 in Knox, Albany, NY.
15. Dexter Dyer born about 1804 in East Berne, Albany, NY. He married Mary Pier.
James Dyer’s grave monument reads: "In Memory of James Dyer, who departed this life March 8, 1835, aged 78 years 10 months and 8 days. A Soldier of the Revolution." It doesn’t tell much about his life but a with a little arithmetic, a genealogist can figure out that James was born 3 March 1835 or there about. James’ Revolutionary War pension papers list his birthplace as Scituate, Rhode Island. His father’s estate papers names James as the “eldest son.”
James was listed as one of the children of John and Mary “Dyar” in the Worcester County, Massachusetts Warnings book of 1765. In the Sturbridge, MA Vital Records James’ marriage is listed: "Marriages...James Dyer and Mary Marcy, int. Dec 9, 1776" Mary was the daughter of Moses Marcy. James and Mary must have married when John came home on leave from the army as he had joined the Continental Army in April of that year and served until the New Year. I haven’t seen the pension papers of his brothers who also served in the Continental Army but James’ proved to hold a lot of interesting history.
Here is a sampling of James’ service during the War of Independence: “That he entered the service of the United States under the follow named officers and served as herein state...That he enlisted in April in the year 1775 in the Town of Sturbridge in the State of Massachusetts for eight months in the State Line under Capt Martin Col Learnards Regiment and stationed at Roxbury was there at the time of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the burning of Charlestown and remained there until the expiration of the said eight months was then honourable dismissed...and returned home to Sturbridge. Sometime in the month of April 1776 enlisted again in the State Line for four months under Capt John Wilcot of Brookfield Col Newel's Regiment marched form Sturbridge to New Haven...went on board a Sloop and sailed to New York; was stationed a little above the City on the bank of the Hudson River was there when the British fleet came in and as they passed us we exchanged a few shot with them. On the morning following we were ordered to retreat and marched to Harlem heights early the next morning the British attacked our rear guard. [We] heard the firing at the taking [of] Fort Washington continued our retreat to White Plains was in the battle we me messmate who was by my side was shot down. We retreted to what was then called Planks Bridge when my enlistment expired ad I was discharged... returned home and in March 1780 orders were received by the ... Town to raise a number of men for a three years service. I then enlisted under Capt Asa Coburn recruiting officer and marched from Sturbridge to Springfield. Was there mustered by Major Bannister then marched to West Point and selected out to fill up the old companies myself and a brother Moses Dyer was requested by Capt Gabriel Michael Heudang to join his Company as he then had a brother of ours in his Company...Capt Heudang's(?) Company belonged to the 5th Regiment in Genl Pattersons Brigade.
Our Regiment was soon ordered ... [to] lines near Kings Bridge... no general battle was on the lines at Mill Pond until peace was proclaimed. Was upon the lines at the time Genl Washing and the French troops marched for Yorktown and captured Cornwallis. In June 1783 Col Joseph Vose took command of our Regiment and we were ordered to march to Philadelphia. Elijah Vose brother to the Colonel was Lieutenant Colonel and took the charge of our march to Philadelphia...[We took charge of] a prisoner by the name of Noggle(?) ...[and] took him before a court-martial heard his trial and sentence. He with tow others of the ringleaders ... were sentenced to be shot...[later a Lieutenant] read a reprieve from Genl Washington the prisoners were then set at liberty. We soon after marched back to West Point...were present when the British evacuated the City and saw them sail out of the harbor. While in New York this deponant was ordrely one week for Genl Washington to carry letters & wait upon him...Our Regiment ws marched back to West Point and in December were discharged. This deponant rec'd an honorable discharge from Genl Knox as a Corporal. After returning home rec'd payment for my three years service in securities form Lieutenant Park Holl paymaster of the 8th Regiment...[as ordered to reinforce the picket guard we attcked the British and drove them back with the point of our bayonet for which we recived the thanks of Genl Washington and each man had a gill of rum dealt out to him. We soon after retreted across Kings bridge. [We] heard the firing at the taking [of] Fort Washington continued our retreat to White Plains ws in the battle we me messmate who was by my side was shot down. We retreted to what was then called Planks Bidge when my enlistment expired and I was discharged... returned home and in March 1780 orders were received by the ... Town to raise a number of men for a three years service. I then enlisted under Capt Asa Coburn recruiting officer and marched from Sturbridge to Springfield. Was there mustered by Major Bannister then marched to West Point and selected out to fill up the old companies myself and a brother Moses Dyer was requested by Capt Gabriel Michael Heudang to join his Company as he then had a brother of ours in his Company...Capt Heudang's(?) Company belonged to the 5th Regiment in Genl Pattersons Brigade.”
Did you catch that: “this deponant was ordrely one week for Genl Washington to carry letters & wait upon him...” James was General George Washington’s “goffer” for a week! Talk about walking with the great and famous!”
James was found in Dudley, Worcester Co., MA during the first US census: 1790, Dudley, Worcester Co., MA; James DYER, Males +16 (2); Males -16 (3); Females (5) While his wife Mary and children weren’t named, it can be guessed that James Jr., Winthrop and Justin were the males less then 16 and wife Mary and daughters Sarah, Nancy, Emily & Polly were the “females” listed. The second male +16 is unknown. Somewhere between the birth of Sarah in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in 1777 and Winthrop’s birth in 1779, the family had relocated to Dudley.
The family was still in Worcester County in 1800 when James Dyer (1 male 25-44) was listed with two males less then ten (Bradbury and Moses), one male 10-15 (Justin) and two males 16-25) (James and an unknown male). Also listed were 1 female 26-44 (wife Mary), five F-10 (Amanda, Rebecca, Martha. Lucinda and an unknown daughters or possible granddaughter), two F 10-15 (Emily and Polly) one F 16-25 (Nancy). James’ eldest son, Winthrop was married by 1798 so he would have been counted elsewhere. By the time of the next census, James Dyer and his family were in Albany Co., New York. They wee living in Berne, Albany Co., New York during the 1820 census and he and Mary and possibly a granddaughter were listed in the 1830 in Knox, Albany Co., New York.
Of James’ fifteen known children, thirteen children, as well as his wife, survived him. He lists twelve children and five children of Polly Vermilia, deceased. He lived nearly 79 years.
It’s hard to trace James’ faith road but he played a part in creating the United States of America and walked with giants. He faced the bitter cold of the American War for Independence and he faced an unknown wilderness in what is now the western part of New York State. I like to think that he was as steadfast in his faith as his forefathers and mothers were. He certainly seems to be a remarkable man, worth of being the descendant of the brave but somewhat reckless Mary Barrett Dyer, the Quaker Dyer. It’s not hard imaging this man as having a strong faith and depending on God to get him out of hard situations. He was blessed with a long life, as were his wife and children. His granddaughter, Sarah Dyer Chubb was known to have produced a bushel full of steadfast Christians, so it’s hard to think that James didn’t have at a heart for Jesus. My guess is that he was a Baptist like his father and grandfather and his great-something grandmother, Anne Hutchinson. But that’s for God to know and me to speculate.
1. Leslie McLain Dyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1996
2. Tombstone photograph by Leslie Dyer
3. Rev. War Pension Papers
4. "Old Helleburgh" by Arthur B. Gregg
5. 1800 US Census
6. 1810 US Census
7. 1820 US Census
8. 1830 US Census
9. Surrogate File 1835-A, 7 Oct 1836, James Dyer's Estate by Leslie McLain Dyer, JLewisD@aol.com, RE: Cpt. James Dyer, Sr., 3 July 1996 per information from Elizabeth Shaver regarding the Surrogate Court records for James Dyer
11. Worcester Co., MA Warnings, 1737-1788
13. Sturbridge, MA vital Records
14. Dudley, MA Vital Records15. "Massachusetts Soldiers an Sailors in the War of the Revolution" page 123