Dyer Family Bible Record
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|Family Bible Records furnish vital information which may not appear in public records, especially if the Bible contains data from the 18th and 19th centuries. One Bible record on a DYER family in “Lincoln County, North Carolina, provided a basis for extensive research as well as a link with a group of DYER family members in Haywood and Buncombe Counties. The central character for the article is ARCHIBALD DYER.The Archibald Dyer story stretched from “Lincoln” County, North Carolina, where he was born on August 8, 1805, through his death in Cumberland County, Kentucky, sometime after 1880. Archibald Dyer was called “BEL” according to family history (1)while his recorded life, i.e., official records available in court houses, libraries, archives in various states, and the Federal records residing in the national Archives in Washington, D. C., present a story of one man’s movements, in areas where travel was in its early days of developing narrow trails into wide trails, can be traced from state to state and county to county using official documentation, including evidence of several marriages. His descendants live today in a number of states, from the East coast to at least the State of Texas.Almost two hundred years back in the history of the United States, Archibald Dyer’s story began with a vital piece of evidence, a Bible record copied by a DYER researcher(2) from a Bible located in Haywood County, North Carolina, sometime in the early 1970’s. The Bible today is safely in the hands of a DYER descendant in Indiana after being rescued from a flea market in 1994. The record was copied as follows (see Appendix A and B):
Archabal Dyer was Born August the 8 A D 1805
On yet another page and in another handwriting, with quite an excellent penmanship with a more neat appearance, the same material as above appeared, but with additions as follows:
On another page was the following:
This record provided data of unbridled proportions and ranked as one of those “gold mines” an amateur genealogist always hopes to find. To be useful, the data first required research, and then explanation, since obviously the data was kept diligently over a very long time and, perhaps, some written from memory. But the data was pure gold!
With this record as background, the first official record located bearing the name of Archibald Dyer was a purchase of fifty acres of land from Joseph C. Pearson, both parties being from Lincoln County, North Carolina. The land was purchased for One Hundred dollars and was on both sides of “Potts Creek” branch of the “Buffalo” on the corner of James Alton’s land, and along John
Pearson’s old line. Potts Creek flows through present day Cleveland County, North Carolina. The indenture was listed in the Lincoln County records (3) and dated January 14, 1829. The witnesses to the transaction were listed as Abraham Hardin and James Hardin. The document was signed with a mark by Archibald Dyer and the writer spelled the name “ARCHIBEL DYRE.”
The Federal census for 1830 for Lincoln County, North Carolina, marked the first appearance of Archibald Dyer, by name, in a census. (4) The records indicated:
page 165 -Archibald Dyer
Using the Bible record previously presented, names can easily be assigned to the individuals listed in the census. The male under five years of age was John Henry, born January 4, 1830 and at the time of the census, would have been only about seven months old. The male listed as age 20-30 years is obviously Archibald while the female was Mary Robertson. The entry, although given ages are in a wide range, was accurate when compared with the Bible record. This age information accuracy continued to be a tell-tale signature of Archibald Dyer and provided an invaluable aid in ascertaining whether the individual record being examined was truly that of the Archibald Dyer of Lincoln County. No official marriage record was found for Archibald Dyer during this time frame.
Another land transaction in 1832 constituted the next official record involving Archibald Dyer. (5) Archibald sold his fifty acres of land for fifty dollars to Samuel Bradley of the York District o South Carolina. The price indicates Archibald lost fifty dollars on the land transaction over the amount he had paid only three years previously. The same witnesses were on the 1832 document as were noted on the 1829 document. The 1832 listing was located in the Lincoln County records.
The entire Dyer family, including all those who were currently living in Lincoln County, apparently moved to Rutherford County, North Carolina, after the land sale. The year in which the Dyers moved to Rutherford County remains open to speculation, because the next chronological official record for Archibald Dyer appeared in Federal Census for 1840, in Rutherford County. Present day Cleveland County, North Carolina, the western boundary of what was then Lincoln County, was not established until 1841, therefore, a move from the Kings Mountain, North Carolina area into Rutherford County was a reality and not just a realignment of county borders.
The Federal Census for Rutherford County, North Carolina, for 1840 (6) listed the following:
Remembering the fact that Archibald was meticulous about ages, examination of the above record proved quite interesting. Three males under the age of five represents a number of children in a short time. However, the Bible record indicated James Solomon born in December, 1838, Robertson born in October, 1836, and Daniel born in August, 1835. Those are the three males under five years of age, and amazingly accurate in their representation in the census record. The one male, aged five to ten years of age was William H., born in October of 1831. The oldest male child, between age ten and fifteen, was John Henry, born in January of 1830. Again amazingly accurate with ages. Naturally, Archibald’s age was accurately bracketed, as was his wife’s.
Further examination of the Bible record suggested an unusually large time gap between the birth date of Hanah H., the first daughter of Archibald and Mary, and the last son listed as Jeremiah. The time frame, almost seven years, suggested something was amiss. The Bible record did not contain any further explanations. A search of the marriage records for Rutherford County, North Carolina, produced another wealth of information which provided additional corroborating data on analysis previously presented. For example, a marriage was recorded for Archibald Dyer and Barbary E. Emery on January 13, 1846. (7) This data suggested Mary may have died after the birth of Hanah in December, 1843, though no concrete evidence supporting the theory was uncovered. Other explanations, of course, would be just as valid. At least the marriage record provided needed data for further tracing of Archibald’s movements.
The marriage record search produced more information than expected. Another marriage was recorded for Archibald DYRE to “Nancy Ensley” on November 14, 1849 in Rutherford County. (8) According to the Bible record, a son was born on June 1, 1850. Jeremiah was probably the son of Nancy and Archibald.
The Federal Census for 1850, the first to include names of family members and specified ages, included a listing for Archibald Dyer of Rutherford County. (9) Taken on September 27, 1850, in the Cathies Creek section, family number 1827 in the enumeration was listed as follows.
Archibald Dyer – age 45, laborer, born N.C.
Although the census was taken after the alleged date of birth of Jeremiah, i.e., June 1, 1850, there was no note of him in the census record., Later census records do, in fact, support a birth date in 1850. Analysis of the record indicated two children were missing from the census; Robertson at age 14 years, and Martin Silvner at age of 9 years. It also indicated Hanah’s middle name was Harriet. Additionally, one must bear in mind, as always, Archibald was meticulous in maintaining accuracy in the age given to the census takers. Comparison of the Bible Record and the 1850 census record revealed additional useful data and some which remains unexplained. Archibald’s age was accurately compared with the birth dates listed in the Bible Record.
The wife and three daughters listed in the census left no doubt that the marriage record for Nancy Ensley and Archibald Dyer was continuity of this family group and that Nancy Ensley had a previous marriage. A marriage was recorded for “James Endsley” to “Nancy A. Jackson” on December 13, 1832, in Rutherford County.(10) When comparing the age of the first daughter listed as Julia Ensley, age 17, with the marriage date, the age information matched perfectly. At this juncture, Archibald had started another family with wife number three.
After an examination of the Federal Census for 1860 for Rutherford County, the life of Archibald Dyer seemed at an end. This could not have been further from the truth! But, first the record. (11)
Rutherford County, June 29 1860-
Missing from the list were all the children prior to Jeremiah. The whereabouts of Archibald Dyer himself during the year of the Federal Census of 1860 remains a mystery. Although John Henry Dyer and his brother, Daniel, were located in Haywood County, North Carolina, I failed to locate Archibald. Subsequent research provided circumstantial evidence that Archibald may have traveled through Haywood County because he later linked with his son, Daniel, a bond which lasted until Archibald’s death. The lives of Archibald and at least two of his sons, John Henry and Daniel, provided interesting and extensive background history aside from the Bible record.
According to the Federal Census records for Cleveland County, North Carolina, for 1870, Nancy DYRE [sic] had moved back to the area where the DYER family had lived prior to the move to Rutherford County. (15)
A marriage record was recorded in Blount County, Tennessee for Archibald Dyer and Sarah Fortner for February 10, 1869. The search for evidence to ascertain whether this was the same Archibald Dyer uncovered far more than expected. The Federal Census for 1870 for Blount County, Tennessee (16) listed the following:
Civil District 1, Brick Mills, family #70:
One should recall that oral family history indicated Archibald was called “Bel.” Among other items observed in the Blount County entry was the ending on the name, i.e., “Bel.” The name could have been rendered in such a manner due to the way the first name was pronounced. Another item in the census was the age of “Archabel” Dyer – 65 – extremely accurate based on previous continuity of Archibald. Another item not readily apparent but just as important, the name of the youngest son, Samuel. Records indicate Samuel Dyer, the first Dyer in he Lincoln County area approximately 1782, may have been Archibald’s grandfather based on extensive research. However, whether the first two children in the census record belong to Archibald has not been determined.
Trying to account for as many of the children listed in the Bible record as possible to ascertain validity, a marriage was recorded for John Dyer to Rebecca Sorrels on February 12, 1853, in Haywood County, N.C., while the marriage bond was listed as March 8, 1852.(17) Meanwhile, Archibald’s son – Daniel – had migrated to Blount County at least as early as 1856. A marriage in Blount County dated May 22, 1856, was recorded for Daniel R. Dyer [sic] and Margaret Cope.(18) Daniel had apparently moved to Haywood County in time for the 1860 Federal Census.(19) His Civil War records indicated he subsequently moved back to Blount County by 1863. This would have been an appropriate time for Archibald to be in Blount County, especially after a comparison of the dates of the children born to Sarah Fortner.
Another of Archibald’s sons – Martin, also went to Blount County, Tennessee, since a marriage was recorded for “DYER, Martin S. To Harriet A. Howard – August 5, 1862.”(20) Yet another son accounted for in the list!
With the Civil War raging, Daniel enlisted on March 12, 1864, in the 3rd Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry Volunteers (Union Forces) and was assigned to Company “L” under the command of Lieutenant Daniel Lebow.(21) It is doubtful whether Daniel knew his brother, John Henry Dyer of Haywood County, North Carolina, had joined the 62nd Regiment, N.C. Troops, Confederate States of America!(22) The term of “brother against brother” for the Civil War rang true with my ancestors!
The next movement by Archibald occurred after the Civil War as suggested by a document located by a DYER Family researcher(23) in the Cumberland County, Kentucky, Deed Book W, item 128. A strange place for such a record:
Daniel Dyer, pvt of Lieut. Daniel Lebow’s L Co., 3rd Regt of Tennessee Cavalry Vol. Enrolled 12 Mar 1864 to serv 3 yrs or duration is hereby discharged 3 August 1865 at Pulaski Tennessee by special order #12. Born Lincoln County, North Carolina, is 27 years old, 5″ 5 ” tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair, farmer.
Francis Jackson, Capt. Comm Off.
If there was any doubt where Daniel and his siblings had been born, i.e., “Lincoln” County, the document brought the information to the Twentieth Century from the lips of one who was there, as well as furnishing additional proof of the origins of the individuals in the Bible Record!
Using this discharge record to enhance the search for additional data, the Cumberland County Federal Census for 1860 appeared a logical place for further examination. That census (24) revealed Daniel Dyer (DIRE) was indeed there, as was Archibald:
The record confirmed another major move for Archibald, into the State of Kentucky, from Tennessee. Exactly when the move occurred remains undetermined. Undoubtedly, the move was made to be near Daniel. The same census record shows they lived in the same community.
Since the 1890 Federal Census does not exist, finding out when Archibald died, and where he was buried, has not been accomplished. Family members in the area have no recollection of where, or when, Archibald Dyer died nor knowledge of his burial location. No doubt his death occurred in Cumberland County, Kentucky, sometime after 1880 since he was age 75 in 1880. Daniel continued to live in Cumberland County and died there July 24, 1906 according to his pension records in the National Archives.
The chapter finally closed on Archibald Dyer of Lincoln County, North Carolina, after quite an eventful life. Four marriages, possibly as many as eighteen children (counting all those by Sarah Fortner), residence in three states, and a life spanning more than three quarters of a century. But the official records on Archibald Dyer did not stop with his death. Found I the National Archives, Washington, D.C., nestled among the thousands of applications for a share in the settlement of the CHEROKEE INDIAN NATION suit against the U. S. Government in 1906, was the application of Archibald’s first son, John.(26)
John listed “Archie” as his father and “William” as his grandfather, thus furnishing documented proof of further family connections. The Bible record has connected DYER ancestors with descendants in several states and furnished avenues for exciting research. The Cherokee connection? That is another story!
A final comment; The third page of data entered into the Bible later proved accurate as well. Therefore enough documentation exists to conclude the Bible Record is valid and, as stated, a gold mine! An odd and glaring omission in data entered into the Archibald Dyer Family Bible was that of the marriage of John Henry Dyer to Rebecca Sorrels in Haywood County, NC. Odd because his marriage to Catherine Chambers in 1873 was duly entered into the Bible. The lack of data between the late 1850’s and through the 1860’s might be a clue as to which family member had possession of the Bible. Based on the travels of the various Archibald DYER family members, the Bible was probably taken to Haywood County sometime in the 1860’s where it remained for another one hundred thirty years!
Although specific families seem to have been in Western North Carolina since time began, common sense dictates otherwise. But the gathering of information to prove first arrival times, some of which is oral in nature but valuable to establish connections correctly, takes time and accurate analysis. This article is the second in a series presenting data to establish a baseline for future analysis on the surname DYER. One specific DYER family entered North Carolina in the mid-1700’sand, while quite a number of descendants remain within the state, many others journeyed further west. One particular DYER family emanated from the are of early North Carolina called “Lincoln County.”(1)
The progenitor for this article is JEREMIAH DYER, c-1774-1805 who married Adrah Collins, resided in “Lincoln County,” and subsequently died there at a very early age. Based on analysis of land records, the specific area of “Lincoln County” from which this DYER group emanated currently lies within Cleveland County, along the western city limits of present day Kings Mountain.
Census records indicate precious little information on Jeremiah Dyer. Based on other research he probably was the son of Samuel Dyer who was listed on the 1790 Federal Census for Lincoln County, North Carolina.(2) Jeremiah was probably a number in Samuel Dyers 1790 census listing but was actually listed by name on the 1800 Federal Census(3) in Lincoln County as follows:
Jeremiah Dyer – 1 – 1 – //2 – – 1 -
The 1820 Federal Census for Haywood County listed Adrah Dyer as being 45+ years of age with three females in the household between the ages of 16 and 26 years.(7) Missing from the original group was the son, Martin Collins, and one daughter, accounted for with the marriage of Mary Elizabeth and Joshua Anderson. Subsequent marriages in the 1820’s occurred in Haywood County as follows:(8)
Martha Patsy Dyer married Clemmons A. Gaddy, 01 October 1823
A marriage record for Martin Collins was not found, but Collins was listed in the 1830 Haywood Census(9)
Some of the five families continued to reside in the same area while others migrated yet again. The matriarch of the family, Adrah Collins Dyer, was not listed in the 1830 census by name, but, conveniently, the census listed one female, age 50-60 years of age living with the Nathaniel Dever family. The age noted would have matched Adrah Collins Dyer’s general age.
These Dyer family members, although not listed as DYER due to marriage, were the first generation to enter Haywood County. A descendant of the same group of “Lincoln County” Dyers arrived in Haywood County from Rutherford County about 1852. John Henry Dyer, son of Archibald Dyer, married Rebecca Sorrels in Haywood County on 12 February 1853.(10)
John Henry Dyer continued to live in the Waynesville area until his death in 1909. A microcosm of all other inhabitants of Haywood County, John Henry Dyer’s life is the subject of the next article.(11)
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