Luke Dyer

By Susan BOYD

Who was this man named Luke DYER? Buried on a ridge in Clay County, Indiana, Luke died before 1860. He is mentioned in Blanchard’s History of Clay County, 1884. From this account we learn that in 1820, Luke settled in Cass Township not far from Poland Village. Originally, a part of Owen County, it did not become Clay County until the late 1820’s.

Accompanying Luke as he settled into his new home were his two sons, Caleb DYER and Luke DYER, Jr., both of whom were grown men at the time. Caleb and Luke, Jr. each became prominently identified in the development of the county. The area they came to homestead had many ridges and hollers. Did they come to farm or just live off the land? Many questions surround this family. Why wasn’t his wife, Sally DYER, or the other children mentioned in this account?

On page 308 of Blanchard’s History of Clay County, we discover that Luke, along with a man named Samuel STIGLER, owned and operated a small distillery. It states that the distillery was conducted upon a primitive plan. Their production was principally consumed by the local community. Whisky, in those ‘good old times,’ was the common beverage of the young and old, both male and female. Theirs was the genuine article. Made without the use of poisonous compounds, it was exchanged for corn at the going rate of one gallon for one bushel.

Then we find that the DYER Cemetery, where Luke and his wife, Sally, were buried was ‘laid-out’ on their land. As a side note, a man named GREEN was buried in this small ‘graveyard.’ Caleb’s wife was Elizabeth GREEN. Was this her father? Another lead for another day.

Oh, yes, the first polling place in the Township was at Luke DYER’s home. The election, for the purpose of electing a Justice of the Peace, took place in 1843. Even though many of these men and women could not read or write, they were beginning to form a government.

While searching on the Internet, I was able to find other tantalizing bits of information. It seems that Luke DYER fought in the Revolutionary War in the State of Delaware. His father was ‘probably’ a Shederick DYER, and he had three or four brothers. To my knowledge this has not been proven.

But, you ask, how did I get the information to prove that indeed my Luke DYER fought in the Revolutionary War? I wrote a letter to the Delaware State Archives and found a lady who was willing to help me in my search. She copied and sent me pages from the Delaware Archives, Military Vol. I. It states that a Luke DYER received a coat, hat, and shoes from Major J. PATTEN, ‘D’ Regiment. Furthermore, from the Delaware Archives, Revolutionary War, Volume III, states that a Luke DYER enlisted on May 13, 1780, and served under a Lt. Danl (Daniel) P. COX, ‘D’ Regiment. In Revolutionary Patriots of Delaware 1775-1783, Luke is listed as a Private, Delaware Regiment. This is listed on the same page that lists a total of seven DYERs. Also, listed here we found a Robert DYER, born in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland, who joins the same regiment. Brothers????

Each tiny piece of information adds a little to the total. Look at genealogy as a quilt. Once you start piecing a quilt, it is not long before the scraps become a whole and begin telling a story.

Based on information I received from a fellow researcher, who was kind enough to share his records with me, I learned that Luke migrated with his family to North Carolina where he owned property.

As a part of my research on Luke DYER, I sought out whatever information I could find on his son, Caleb DYER. I was able to obtain deed records from the courthouse in Clay County, IN. One of these deeds shows Luke selling Caleb land for the sum of one hundred dollars ($100), which was undervalued and points to Caleb ‘being Luke’s son.’ From the Internet I learned that Caleb, his son, Leonard DYER along with other families migrated to Boone County, Iowa. I also found a death notice, another clue (or scrap for my genealogy quilt). The death notice states that Caleb’s wife was Elizabeth GREEN and tells where Caleb and Elizabeth were buried. The 1880 Census states that Caleb was born in NC, and his parents were born in Delaware. More clues come to light as my quilt comes together.

The death certificate of Ziphory DYER, who married Rauley CAGLE, states that her father was Caleb DYER. Now my story begins to fall in place as my genealogy quilt comes together. Ziphory DYER was my Great Great Grandmother.

At this point, I gathered all my information together and sent it, along with my check to the national DAR office. Then a few weeks later I received a letter back stating that my information could not be verified. The letter stated, “neither the Delaware records nor our Guilfford Co., NC records shed light on the specifics that will be necessary for us to complete our work on your supplemental.” I was devastated. I had worked on this for years, so I gave up and quit. That was August 2003.

But, here comes Patsy CARRUTH. Together, we went to the DAR training in Baton Rouge, LA., and last year Patsy was head of the committee that sponsored the same training in Jackson. We became acquainted with a lady named, Brenda NEWELL. Brenda was a part of the team from Washington, DC. With Patsy’s encouragement, I again began my research. Working again on the Internet, with the assistance of a genealogist in Delaware, I learned that Luke had paid taxes in the amount of One (1) Pound, in Misspillion, Delaware. By 1788, he was listed as delinquent. This time, with Patsy’s help, I copied and put my information together and low in behold, Luke DYER is now listed in the DAR Patriot Index.

The story of Luke DYER is similar to the story of many of our ancestors who moved west. These pioneers and patriots are the backbone of our country. We should take pride in our heritage.

Clay County Indiana