A GENEALOGICAL MISCELLANY III,
MADISON COUNTY, TENNESSEE
By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996
MAJOR JOEL DYER'S LAST HOMEPLACE
The claim is made in SOLDIERS OF THE WAR OF 1812 BURIED IN TENNESSEE, by Mary H. McCown and Inez E. Burns, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1959, page 45 that JOEL DYER (1754-1825) is buried in Madison County, Tennessee and a "private marker" is at his grave. The first statement is certainly inaccurate and there is no reason to assume Major Dyer's grave was ever marked with a tombstone, private or otherwise.
Major Joel Dyer was probably buried on his homeplace as most individuals who died during the years of early settlement in the Madison County, Tennessee area were conveniently interred on their own land because there were relatively few village and church cemeteries at that time.
On December 13, 1820, while living in Rutherford County in middle Tennessee, Major Dyer entered in his name and that of his wife, Sally Jones Dyer, 831½ acres of land in Surveyor's District 10, Range 3, Section 10, based on a certificate warrant (#1941) in western Tennessee which had been purchased from the Chickasaw Indians in October 1818 and organized in 1819 by the legislature of Tennessee into a newly-acquired section of the state. (Hardeman Co., Tennessee Entry Book Series I, Volume 1, entry 105) This entry was also recorded in the Haywood County, Tennessee "Grant Book, 1820-1835, "page 15:
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In the next procedure towards gaining legal title to this acreage the Dyers had the 831½ acres surveyed on February 10, 1821 by James Brown who was a deputy surveyor in the Tenth Surveyor's District; which survey was "taken out" by a son-in-law, Henry L. Gray, January 20, 1822: (Hardeman County, Tennessee Survey Book Series I, Volume I, survey #34)
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Finally, Land Grant #17395 was issued to Joel and Sally Jones Dyer, June 11, 1822 and recorded on June 20, 1822 in Tennessee General Land Grant Book T, page 338 (also recorded in Madison County Deed Book 1, page 55 on February 11, 1823):
State Of Tennessee No. 17395
To all to whom these presents shall come greeting. Know ye that by virtue of Certificate No. 1941 dated the 10th day of October 1820 issued by the Board of Commissioners of West Tennessee to Joel Dyer and Sally Jones Dyer his wife for 831½ acres and entered on the 13th day of December 1820 by No. 105.
There is granted by the said State of Tennessee unto the said Joel Dyer and Sally Jones Dyer his wife and their heirs a certain tract or parcel of land containing eight hundred and thirty one and one half acres by survey bearing date the 10th day of February 1821 lying in the 10th /surveyor's/ district in _______ /county heft blank as the land when entered was technically a part of Stewart County but became part of Madison County when it was established late in 1821/ in range three and section ten and bounded as follows, to wit. Beginning at William Pillow's north boundary line of Entry No. 12 232 poles west of his north east corner at a sweet gum and black oak, thence north three three hundred and twenty poles to a black walnut and black gum, thence west four hundred and nineteen and five tenth poles to a dogwood and black oak, thence south two hundred and forty four poles and five tenths of a pole to a black oak and post oak on the line of Entry No. 64, thence east nineteen and four tenth poles to his corner, thence south seventy five and five tenth poles to Pillow's corner, thence east four hundred and one tenth poles to the beginning. With the hereditaments and appurtenances. To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances to the said Joel Dyer and Sally Jones Dyer and their heirs forever. In witness whereof William Carroll Governor of the State of Tennessee hath hereunto set his hand and caused the Great Seal of the State to be affixed at Murfreesborough on the 11th day of June in the year of our lord one thousand eEight hundred and twenty-two and of the independence of the United States the forty sixth.
By the governor, William Carroll
Daniel Graham, Secretary of state.
The Dyers moved onto this tract of land in 1821, establishing a home there. On September 28, 1821 Joel Dyer signed a petition, along with many other men living in west Tennessee, to the effect, "We the citizens of the Western District in the State aforesaid residing on the waters of the Forked Deer River", requesting the legislature to lay out new territory into counties. (Tennessee State Library and Archives:Legislative Petitions 61-1821) Madison County was one of the counties resulting from this request (established November 7, 1821).
The Dyer tract was located south of the Middle Fork of the Forked Deer River (pronounced as fork-ed deer) in northwest Madison County; a small tributary of this river cross6d the extreme southeast corner of the Dyer tract. James H. Hanna, civil engineer (retired), Jackson, Tennessee platted the Dyer and neighboring tracts from the land entry and survey records of the Tenth Surveyor's District (below), with numbers showing location of specific entries:
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l. Byrd Smith
2. William Pillow
3. Joel Dyer and Wife
4. Matthew Barrow
5. Robert Nelson
6. Jethro Sumner
7. Anthony Hart
8. James Lindle
9. John McIver
10. John McIver
12. Robert Houston
13. Benjamin McCulloch
14. University of North Carolina
16. Thomas Greer
(Numbers 11 and 15 not relevant to this study)
On June 20, 1823 Major Dyer, with his wife's assent, conveyed to Blackman Coleman* in trust for Mary H. Dyer, wife of Henry L. Gray and her son, James William Gray and any other children she might have, the western half of the 831½ acre tract granted to them, reserving for himself and wife that portion (east) on which the "improvements," residence and outhouses were located. Mary Henrietta Gray was a daughter of Major Dyer and so stated in the deed. (The U.S. 1830 census, Haywood Co., Tenn. indicates that she was born in the 1800-1810 decade, so that she was one of the younger children of Major Dyer's first marriage or one of the oldest children of his second set of children.) This deed, which was registered on December 13, 1823, noted that the Grays lived on the tract conveyed to her. (Madison County Deed Book 1, pages 161-162) Years later, James W. Gray, then living in DeSoto County, Mississippi, sold 225 acres of this Gray tract of 415 acres to Morris L. Bond, December 29, 1847 (IBID. Deed Book l0, page 243) and 290 acres of it to Sugars McLemore, April 24, 1848. (IBTD. Deed Book 12, page 150) Presumably, James William Gray was the sole surviving child of the Grays. They had moved to nearby Haywood County, where they appear in the U.S. Census, 1830. Gray was proprietor of the Brownsville, Tennessee hotel and died near that town, February 24, 1832. (SOUTHERN STATESMAN, Jackson, Tennessee, March 31, 1832) [*Coleman was a son-in-law of Joel Dyer. The latter gave land to his daughter, Charlotte, wife of Blackman Coleman Davidson County, Tennessee in 1817. (Deed Book L, pages 179-180)]
On May 19, 1825, just a few days before his death, Major Dyer conveyed in trust to Daniel Madding of Haywood County, Tennessee, for his wife, Sarah (Sally) J. Dyer, the 416 1/8 acre eastern portion of the 831½ acres that had been granted to them in 1822, being "the tract where I now live, " along with 274 acres on the Middle Fork of the Forked Deer River on which William L. Mitchell of Dyer County held a 54 acre claim and Robert Hay held a 66 acre locative claim; also 910 acres in Haywood County on the South Fork of the Forked Deer River, being a residue of 5000 acres granted by North Carolina to Benjamin Smith and later bought by Joel Dyer; a bond on John McIver for 740 acres; several notes due him; household furnishings and farming implements and the slaves, Jacob, Lydia and Tilla. (Madison County Deed Book 1, page 361; deed registered October 13, 1825) Major Dyer was clearly providing for his wife's welfare, trying to secure for her a real and personal estate that would support her and their younger children.
In the few days after this transaction, May 30, 1825, Joel Dyer was charged by the Madison County Circuit Court to pay $214.74, plus $64.20 damages and 12½ percent interest on this debt from February 14, 1825 to Andrew Hyne and George Miles. (Madison County Circuit Court Minute Book 1, page 197)
Major Joel Dyer died, at home, June 11, 1825, aged 71 years. His obituary that appeared in the JACKSON GAZETTE, June 18, 1825 states that he was a Revolutionary War veteran although no official record of such service has been found. This is not difficult to understand, more especially if Dyer's service was rendered in the back-country of North Carolina or eastern part of what is now Tennessee militia in fighting against Tories or pro-British Indians.
In August 1829 Sally J. Dyer filed her May 4 guardian account with the Madison County Court (Will Book 1, page 187) showing her 1827 expenses as guardian: for boarding Drucilla C., Joel S., Charles C., James M., Cornelia J. and Sarah Ann Dyer, $300; for their clothing, $180; for their schooling, $52. The double tax for the 2700 acres in their names, $54.
Daniel Madding served as administrator of Major Dyer's estate and he filed the inventory of his personalty with the Madison County Court, November 7, 1825 (Will Book 1, page 562), which document seems not to have been recorded in the first minute book or first will book of Madison County.
JACKSON GAZETTE, June 18, 1825:
DIED—At his residence in this county on Saturday morning last, Major JOEL DYER, aged seventy-one years, one of the few surviving soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Major Dyer was an early settler in Middle Tennessee, from whence he removed to this District in 1821. He was a man such respected for his benevolence of character and esteemed by all who knew him, as a good Citizen and an honest man. He has left an affectionate wife, and upwards of 100 descendants and a large number of relatives and friends to regret his death. He was confined with the dropsy for several months and although in great pain he bore his afflictions with fortitude and died without a murmur. Thus we see the soldiers of the Revolution falling around us like the leaves of the majestic oak, before an autumnal blast; but altho they are consigned to their mother dust, their deeds of valour and the glorious result of their patriotic devotion to their country, will live in our recollections, and their names be handed down to the latest generation.
Sally J. Dyer moved to Haywood County, near Brownsville, Tennessee where she appears in the U.S. Census of 1830, page 427. On December 15, 1830, she and Daniel Madden sold for $1660 the eastern 1/2 of the Dyer tract of some 415 acres, where her husband had died, to Samuel Tomlin. (For some reason the 831½ acres in the grant was stated to have been 832 3/4 acres in this later deed record. Madison County Deed Book 3, page 389)
Sally J. Dyer died near Brownsville, December 14, 1831. (SOUTHERN STATESMAN, Jackson, Tennessee, December 17, 1831) Her burial place is unknown.
l. Samuel Tomlin sold to Osborne H. Boykin, for $1675, 175 acres along the eastern boundary line of the Dyer tract, April 5, 1832. Deed registered November 30, 1835. (In a Chancery Court decree, July 18, 1837 this transaction was confirmed and registered September 23, 1837.) (Madison County Deed Book 3, page 411.
2. Samuel Tomlin sold to John Tomlin 240 acres of the Dyer tract for $1200, October 23, 1832. (Madison County Deed Book 3, page 214;registered March 4, 1833)
3. John Tomlin sold for $800 to Henry J. Person (Pearson) a portion of the Dyer tract, supposedly 240 acres but "now in consideration of a survey of said land is found to be only two hundred and twenty four acres one rod and eighteen poles, "part of entry 105 entered in the names of Joel and Sally J. Dyer. A contract had been entered into by these men for this transaction, January 17, 1834 and the sale was confirmed January 5, 1836 (and also registered January 5, 1836. Deed Book 4, page 392)
4. On September 16, 1836, Osborne H. Boykin contracted with William Howard to sell to him for $1250 some 125 acres, part of the land Boykin bought from Samuel Tomlin, being part of the Dyer tract; bounded partially by the land of Henry J. Persons (Pearson) and so confirmed September 20, 1837 (and registered September 25, 1837. Deed Book 5, page 407)
5. William Howard sold this same 125 (or 124) acres to Henry J. Persons (Pearson), for $1000, September 20, 1837 (and the deed was registered September 24, 1837. Deed Book 5, page 409)
6. Osborne H. Boykin sold to Henry J. Persons (Pearson) for $250 50 of the 175 acres he had owned of the Dyer tract, as described in this deed dated September 20, 1837 (and registered September 25, 1837. Deed Book 5, page 408)
So it was that Henry J. Pearson (November 4, 1802-April 1, 1872), a native of Brunswick County, Virginia (so stated on his tombstone) had but recently settled in this section of Madison County that was in Civil District 9. The 1838 Scholastic Population listing (Jackson-Madison County School System records) reveals that Henry Persons and Osborne Boykin were residents in Civil District 9 with several youth, aged 6 to 21 years, living in their households.
The plat, drawn by James H. Hanna, showing how the Dyer tract of 415 or so acres was divided up:
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The U.S. Census, 1850, October 4, Civil District 9, Madison County, page 292, renders a real estate valuation for Henry J. Pearson of $2500. The Pearson residence and outbuildings were located a short distance north of the creek that flowed through the southeast section of the Dyer tract. Pearson executed his will December 23, 1871 devising several tracts of land to his children, John E., Sarah Ann Yarbrough, Thomas J., Nancy E., James H. and $1500, a buggy, furniture and the possession "she fetched here" to his second wife, Martha. This will was the first will probated in Crockett County, on May 6, 1872. (Crockett County Will Book A, page 1-3;county court minute book A, page 28)
On November 23, 1871 this Dyer-Pearson tract of land was taken into a new county comprised of portions of Madison, Haywood, Gibson and Dyer counties the county government of which was organized March 12, 1872. The Dyer-Pearson tract then fell in Civil District 1 of the new county.
The Pearson homeplace was inherited by J. O. Pearson and others who sold 263 acres of the Pearson tract, including much of the old Dyer tract, to W. P. Williams, November 1, 1911. (Crockett County Deed Book U, page 566; registered July 15, 1912) Williams deeded to the J. H. Pearson heirs a 50'x 33' plot "to be used as burring ground" by them, November 21, 1917. (IBID. Deed Book Y, page 417; filed July 1, 1918) This was the old Pearson graveyard wherein Henry J. Pearson and various others of his family are buried. Emma Pearson had deeded to the Pearson heirs the family graveyard without specific bounds, November 9, 1906. (IBID. Deed Book R, page 243)
The old Dyer-Pearson place is located about 9.6 miles northwest of the present city limits of Jackson, Tennessee via the Bells Highway, Adair and Edwards roads. The Pearson cemetery is located on the west side of the Joe A. Edwards Road about a mile north of its juncture with Adair Road. This present road cuts through the old Pearson backyard, dividing the old house site on the east from the cemetery on the west side. In October 1996, Mrs. Joe A. Edwards showed the present writer the location of another old burial ground, now totally obliterated, part of a pasture, about .2 mile southwest of the Pearson cemetery, located on a bluff overlooking a drain of the Pearson Creek. Mrs. Edwards stated that this was supposedly the slave graveyard on the old Pearson farm.
It is a possibility that the remains of Major Joel Dyer are buried in the Pearson cemetery which may have "grown" from his burial site to a fully-fledged family graveyard. There are no other known graveyards in this locality, on the old Dyer tract, where the major may have been buried. If he is not buried within the fenced-in Pearson cemetery it is likely that his remains are not far away.
Major Joel Dyer was born in 1753-1754, location unknown; he was a son of John and Elizabeth Dyer; an early resident of Tennessee, settling in Hawkins County from which he was elected to serve in the second session of the state Senate, 1797-1799. "In 1796, appointed 2nd major of Hawkins County militia; sometime justice of the peace, Hawkins County; may have been in the War of 1812. About 1800 he removed to Rutherford County, involved in many land transactions; with the opening of the Western District he removed to Madison County in 1821." (BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, edited by Robert M. McBride, Nashville, 1975, volume 1, page 222)
Major Dyer married when quite young to Sophia, whose maiden name may have been Weston and had a large family of children, including Frances, wife of Thomas Mitchell; Robert Henry; Charlotte, wife of Blackman Coleman; Sophia Weston and William H. Dyer. Major Dyer, evidently a widower, married Sally Jones Christmas, in Davidson County, Tennessee, July 16, 1802. Their children were (probably, first, Mary Henrietta, wife of Henry L. Gray); Maria T.; Drucilla C., Joel S., Charles C., James M., Cornelia J., who married James H. Turner, Lowndes County. Miss.; Sarah Ann, who married Anthony Scruggs, also of Mississippi. (IBID., pages 222-223)
On June 15, 1823 Major Joel Dyer deeded for the "natural love and affection" for his children, Maria, Drucilla, Joel, Charles, James, Cornelia and Sarah Ann 3300 acres on the South Fork of the Forked Deer River, most of it being part of the Benjamin Smith land grants dated January 1795, acquired by John McIver and by him sold to Joel Dyer. (Madison County Deed Book A, page 234;registered Jan. 19, 1826) Dyer had purchased 5000 acres from John McIver, for a princely sum of $25,000, August 14, 1822. (Haywood County Deed Book K, page 13; registered May 11, 1841)
In the first set of his children, Major Joel Dyer had one of his oldest children, ROBERT HENRY DYER, born about 1774 in North Carolina; went to Tennessee with his parents when a youngster; lived in a time in Grainger County, Tennessee. "Moved to Rutherford County, 1807;engaged in farming; moved again in 1819-20 to Madison County to become prominent in organization of that county; moved again to Dyer County, named in his honor in 1823. . . .; commissioned lieutenant in Rutherford County Regiment, 5th Brigade, Tennessee militia, July 28, 1807;commissioned captain in same regiment August 29, 1810; . . . . in War of 1812; took part in Natchez Expedition, Creek War and defense of New Orleans; was colonel 1st Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry or Mounted Gunmen; was in the Florida War in 1817-18." Served in the state Senate, representing Rutherford and Bedford counties, 1815-1817. (BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, edited by Robert M. McBride, Nashville, 1975, volume 1, page 223)
Colonel Dyer was among the first magistrates of Madison County, meeting with the county court that organized the county at the office of Adam R. Alexander, December 17, 1821. (Madison County Court Minute Book 1, page 1) He appears in the county minutes in various ways. On March 18, 1822 he registered with the court his "stock mark," a cropped left ear on his livestock. (IBID., page 13) On June 17, 1822 the county court granted him "leave to keep an ordinary at his house in this county" (IBID., page 31), a business similar to a tavern where travelers would be able to take their meals and sleep over-night. On June 19, 1822 he was appointed as one of the several men to serve as a jury of view to lay out a road "beginning at the place where the Carroll Road from the county seat in Carroll County to the county seat in Madison County intersect the line between the two counties thence the nearest and best way to the house of Robert H. Dyer to Caruther's Ferry on the South Fork of the Forked Deer River" and report their actions at the next term of court. (IBID., page 43) The road was laid out and his place was noted as being near the route it ran in September 1822.
Colonel Dyer was one of the commissioners appointed 5y the county court to have a bridge built over the South Fork of the Forked Deer River at Shannon's Landing in June 1823. (IBID., page 155) He served actively on the county court in the summer of 1823 and also in December 1823. (IBID., pages 192, 246) Dyer County, Tennessee was created October 16, 1823 and was named for him. When the town of Dyersburg was laid off, "The commissioners selected the present site of Dyersburg, then known as McIver's Bluff and John McIver and Joel Dyer each donated sixty acres of land upon which to locate the county seat and lay off a town. In July 1825 the town was laid off into town lots which were sold at public sale on the 12th of that month." (Weston A. Goodspeed's HISTORY OF TENNESSEE, Dyer County, Nashville, 1887, page 844) As of April 26, 1824 when Colonel Dyer sold a tract of land in Madison County, he gave his place of residence as Dyer County but on June 30, 1824 when he sold another tract, his place of residence was given as Madison County (Madison County Deed Book 1, pages 208, 290). Hence, he may have lived very briefly, early in 1824, in Dyer County and returned to Madison County that spring. Almost certainly he continued residence in the same place he had lived for years as the Carroll Road was in the area where he lived until he died in 1826. In A HISTORY OF DYER COUNTY, by Albert L. Hulme and James A. Hulme, 1982, page 60, it is stated that Colonel Dyer was the first postmaster at what became Dyersburg, April 9, 1822. If so, he had a deputy work in that post for him.
Colonel Dyer had several tracts of land to sell and advertised in the JACKSON GAZETTE, April 30, 1825 that those persons interested in same would "be shown the lands by applying to me, eight miles north of Jackson, Madison County."
Colonel Dyer ran against William Arnold of Henderson County for the major-general post, third division of state militia in the spring and summer of 1825 but lost to his opponent. (See mentions regarding this election, in the JACKSON GAZETTE, April 16, July 9, 16, 30, 1825.) In one issue of this newspaper, May 7, 1825, Colonel Dyer stated that his military record was widely known in Tennessee "where I have been raised and have always lived and have ever since the battle with the Cherokee Indians at Nickajack, in the year 1794, a volunteer soldier and have raised men and marched with them in all the campaigns that have ever gone from the state. . . . "
At the same time an article about Colonel Dyer appeared in the KNOXVILLE ENQUIRER, volume 1, #4, June 23, 1825 (which in numerous publications has been misquoted as having been published in 1826 or 1828):
Col. Dyer was born in the State of North Carolina; and at the age of eight years, his father settled on Holston river in east Tennessee. At this time, or shortly after, it is well known that the frontier settlements were continually disturbed by the inroads of the Indians. Dispersed as were the pioneers of that day, these savage depredations could not fail to destroy domestic security, and embitter every moment of ____ting time. The dreadful realities that occurred from time to time in the settlements, which were the most powerful, taught the still more feeble. The precarious tenure of their comforts. The supports of government were unknown in this wilderness. Every one was compelled to trust to his own arm for protection. The aid of the general government was never furnished. Although young, no one braved danger with more ardour than Dyer. At length the state found it indispensably necessary to subdue the ferocious Cherokee Indians. For this purpose troops were raised. destined for Nickajack. Young Dyer was among the first to volunteer as a soldier. His intrepidity soon attracted attention and he was appointed an Orderly Sergeant. . The troops reached Tennessee river about 11 o'clock at night. On the opposite bank was the village. To reconnoiter the situation and make the attack before light was the grand object. The skill and energy of Dyer pointed him out as one well suited to perform a duty of the first importance. The command of the spy company was given to hie. A craft of raw cow-hxde. constructed for this purpose, served on this emergency to transport the arms of this Spartan band. With dispatch he learns the situation of the Indians and returns. His company is posted about a hundred yards from the river, to cover the crossing of the main army. His activity on this occasion proved to be of great utility. The Indians were surprised in their camp immediately after day break and completely routed. This victory was the more distinguished. as it led to permanent peace with the Cherokees and has never yet been violated. In 1803, we see the same love of military renown impelling Dyer to join the ranks of his country and defend her honor from perfidy and indignity which were about to be practiced by Spain, in the cession of the Louisiana country. The U. States ordered into the fight a sufficiency of troops from the different western states to carry into effect the Spanish treaty.
No sooner had Congress, in 1812, authorized the raising of 50,000 volunteer troops (of which Tennessee furnished 2,500) Than Dyer, impelled by the same amor patria, collected a company and reported himself to Jackson, the Major General of the Tennessee Militia. There he receives a captain's commission from the President of the United States. The Tennessee troops were shortly after ordered to Natchez. Nashville was the place of rendezvous. Here Capt. Dyer was elected Lieut. Colonel. On this expedition he acquired the esteem and confidence of his soldiers, and was highly respected by the superior officers. The time arrives when his talents as a military man were to be more fully developed; his patriotism was about to shine forth in all its splendor and glory. The United States were contending with one of the moat powerful nations on the globe, which at this time held the sceptre of all Europe. Nor was the merciless Indian inactive in this contest, instigated by agents from Great Britain, the scalping knife and tomahawk were raised against our defenseless frontier. Already had some families on Duck river been murdered and scalped. This intelligence roused the indignation of the brave Tennesseans. The volunteers were now called forth under the command of Jackson. Dyer met the summons with delight. No time was lost in collecting his troops; marching them to the scene of danger. The well known skill and courage of Dyer gave him the command of 200 men, who were detached to destroy a little village about 25 miles distant from the main army. His gallantry and dispatch on this occasion drew from the commanding general the highest commendation.
At the battle of Talleshatcy, General /John/ Coffee, reposing the highest confidence in Col. Dyer, placed his regiment in the most important station. In this engagement. Col. Dyer signalised himself by his cool and determined bravery. The more furiously the battle raged, the more ardent his bosom burned with the desire of applause.
This ambition and energy did not escape the notice of the Commander is Chief; out was rewarded by an important command in the battle of Talladega. He was ordered to take the command of two hundred chosen men, which were placed in the rear as a corps de reserve. Owing to some misunderstanding, the volunteer regiment gave way; Gen. Jackson ordered Dyer to dismount and charge. The enemy at that moment were pressing hard on our troops, which were in the act of retreating before them. Never was there a command more promptly obeyed. Dyer, like a mighty Hercules, ordered a charge, which spread dismay and death throughout the enemies ranks and immediately checked their progress. This inspired his just-now retreating comrades with fresh energy. They returned to the combat. Gen. Jackson in his report of this action, observed, "Too much praise cannot be bestowed on Col. Carroll, &c. nor upon the reserve commanded by Lieut. Col. Dyer, for the gallantry with which they met and repulsed the enemy." Dyer was in every battle fought in the Creek nation and distinguished himself as a brave and judicious commander. He commanded a regiment at Pensacola, at St. Marks, and at New Orleans on the night of the 23d December, 1814. Ever the same successful officer, his self command did not leave him when his horse was shot under him at Orleans and himself wounded. The facts relative to the above-mentioned transactions. which constantly hurried Dyer to the most brilliant and uninterrupted success in a career, which at every step evinced an unshaken determination to
move forward for the benefit of his country. are familiar to those who fought and bled with him. His ardour and skill, adorned with as much deliberate bravery as any ~ian possesses, highly qualify him for a soldier and if the American nation should again be called on to defend her rights, fresh laurels might be added to his brow, who has so nobly bled for her.
Major Ezekial Brownlee Mason, one of the first in the vanguard of settlers of Madison County, one interested in the historical development of the county, wrote in January 1872 (WHIG-TRIBUNE, Jackson, Tennessee, February 3, 1872) that "Col. Robert H. Dyer, who commanded a regiment for Rutherford County /during the War of 1812/ was buried on his farm, ten miles north of Jackson."
Shortly before Colonel Dyer's own demise, a younger brother was buried in the graveyard at his homeplace; announced in the JACKSON GAZETTE, February 11, 1826, "The remains of Major William H. Dyer was /sic/ interred at the residence of Col. R. H. Dyer, in this county, on the 27th day of last month. There sleeps a soldier and a generous soul. "
Colonel Dyer himself died, at home, May 11, 1826 and was buried on his farm. His obituary appeared in the JACKSON GAZETTE, May 13, 1826:
Departed this life on Thursday, the 11th instant, at his residence in this county, after a short illness. Colonel ROBERT H. DYER, a distinguished hero in the service of his country, under Gen. Jackson, during the late war. Few men commanded more the respect and esteem of an extensive acquaintance in private life and none ever deserved better of his country as a soldier. He served in all the memorable campaigns under Gen. Jackson, down to the termination of hostilities at the celebrated battle of New Orleans. He was brave, intrepid and ever foremost in battle, paved the way to victory. The memory of such a man deserves more than a passing notice. We shall be pleased hereafter to obtain and present to our readers, a biographical sketch of our much lamented and departed friend. A numerous family deplore his loss. His remains were intered at his late residence, on yesterday, with military honors.
Colonel Dyer's son, Joel Henry Dyer, executor of his will, sold the homeplace, including the family residence and the grave of Robert H. Dyer, 275 acres, for $1375 to John Lynch, January 3, 1827. (Madison County Deed Book 1, page 572; registered September 6, 1827) Through several land transfers dealing with this land this burial ground was named and reserved.
When John Lynch, Jr. sold his family's farm in north Madison County in March 1847, he reserved "one eighth of an acre including the grave of Robert H. Dyre /Dyer/ and family and the family graveyard of John Lynch, senr. decd. which is one acre including the graves inclosed by a brick wall." (Madison County Deed Book 11, page 298) Located about 5 miles north of the intersection of Interstate 40 and the old Medina Road at a point about .4 mile from the connection of this road with the old Medina Road is the Lynch graveyard with the graves of John Lynch (1769-1842) and members of his family.
Robert J. Nowell purchased the land the Lynch and Dyer graveyards are located on, in 1944, but he had lived at the location since 1938 and he was told by some of the older people in the community, including the late Mrs. Mary Osborne, that a graveyard was once located in a field now about .1 mile northwest of Nowela's residence and about .1 mile southeast of the Lynch graveyard; when he moved on the property this graveyard had been abandoned and was part of a cultivated field. Nowell, from his long residence at this location, familiar with the surrounding countryside knew of no other burial locations nearby. It seems very likely that the obliterated graveyard in the field near the Nowell residence is that of Robert H. Dyer and members of his family. In any event, Colonel Robert Henry Dyer died on this tract May 11, 1826 and is buried somewhere on it also.
As previously noted the Dyer family was early active in the laying out of the town of Dyersburg. Its promoters announced in the JACKSON GAZETTE, June 4, 1825 that Dyersburg was located on "a high bluff, on the north bank of the North Fork of the Forked Deer River, commanding a fine prospect of the river and the surrounding countryside." Lots were to be sold on July 12th in the new town."And the day is not far distant when a canal will be cut from the Forked Deer to the Mississippi, 30 miles above its confluence with that majestic stream thereby shortening the distance one half & rendering the navigation much better by avoiding the worst part of the river."
Colonel Dyer petitioned the General Assembly of Tennessee to loan him $3000 "for the purpose of cutting a canal from the Forked Deer River /the main initial course of the river, as alluded-to in the June 4, 1825 newspaper article/ into the Mississippi, out of any of the academy funds in the hands of said treasurer /of West Tennessee/ belonging to any of the counties west of Tennessee river." On December 3, 1825 the legislature passed an act providing for this loan, "provided said Dyer give into the said treasurer, bond and approved security for the repayment of said money 50 loaned and a further bond with security, that he will appropriate said money for the purpose herein named or that he will perform the work by him undertaken as aforesaid." The interest on this loan was to have been paid semi-annually to the treasurer of West Tennessee; that the canal would have operated "under the direction and control of the legislature of this state." (ACTS OF TENNESSEE, 1825, Knoxville, 1286, Chapter 283, pages 301-302)
The JACKSON GAZETTE announced this loan and its purpose for its readers in its December 17, 1825 issue, "The legislature has lent Col. R. H. Dyer $3000 to connect by a canal at Dyer's warehouse, which will /shorten/ the navigation of the Forked Deer about 25 or 30 miles. At the point of connexion, by actual admeasurement made by Mr. Henry Rutherford a few days back, the bank of the Mississippi is ascertained to be 18 feet 10 inches above low water in the Forked Deer and 28 feet feet and 8 inches above low water in the Mississippi, making a fall of 9 feet 10 inches from the Forked Deer to the Mississippi — distance 110 poles."
The warehouse mentioned in the newspaper was located on the bank of the Mississippi River close to where the Forked Deer ran into it. [In Dec. 1822 a jury of view was appointed hy Madison County court to lay out a road from Nash's Bluff on North Fork of the Forked Deer River to Dyer's warehouse on the Mississippi. (Madison Co. Court Minute Book 1, paqe 113)]
On November 23, 1826 the legislature passed an act in which Joel Henry Dyer, executor of Robert H. Dyer's estate, was allowed to repay the $3000 over the years 1828, 1829 and 1830. (ACTS OF TENNESSEE, 1826, Knoxville, 1827, Chapter 41, pages 41-42) The legislature continued this leniency by legislative act, November 15, 1827, allowing Dyer to pay the loan in five installments, the first due December 5, 1828, the others to be paid in annual payments, offering security as well to repay the loan to the Bank of Tennessee, the financial agency of the state operative in this arrangement.
On January 7, 1827, Joel Henry Dyer mortgaged to the Bank of Tennessee at Jackson, on repayment of the $3000 loan, payable in three year installments, with his securities Duncan McIver and Joseph Scurlock, 166½ acres "near Trenton whereon the family now lives, " and two other tracts, 320 and 640 acres; several slaves. As trustees these two men were authorized to sell any of this property necessary to "pay up the installments and interest." (Madison County Deed Book 1, pages 544-545)
To make it easier for the heirs of Colonel Dyer to repay the $3000 now increased with interest due, the legislature allowed them to conduct a state lottery from the division of the late Colonel Dyer's landed property. "This legislative act, December 31, 1829, provided that this land be held by the trustees appointed for the purpose, for conducting the lottery; the land was to be divided into tracts and people would buy tickets that would be placed in a container and a few would be drawn out of it, those so drawn bearing the names of the winners of the tracts of land. If the lottery was not completed within two years the money was to be returned to any ticket-holders there were and the property would revert to Colonel Dyer's executor. (PRIVATE ACTS OF TENNESSEE, 1829, Nashville, 1829, Chapter 143, pages 111-114)
Plans were frittered for holding such a lottery, replaced by a provision, by legislative act of November 11, 1833, for a lottery to raise $6000 for the Dyer heirs, with Joel H. Dyer providing security with a deed of trust for his father's estate except for what was used to pay other debts. The lottery drawing was due to be held three years from January 1, 1834. This was allowed because of the $3000 debt due the State of Tennessee "and that the executor for the payment of the same, gave a deed in trust on the whole of the estate of the said Robert Henry Dyer, excepting what was consumed in the payment of individual debts, amounting to about a sufficiency to pay this debt, and that the collection of this debt would deprive the widow and several daughters of the means of support and take from them almost all the comforts of life. " Apparently the lottery was not held and the Dyer estate had to pay the indebtedness from the sale of real estate. Whatever construction had been begun on the canal envisioned by Colonel Robert H. Dyer had ceased. With funds for internal improvements passed by the legislature over the years there were probably some monies appropriated for the clearing of obstacles in the navigation of the North Fork of the Forked Deer River.
Colonel Robert H. Dyer executed a power-of-attorney, which had the effect of a last will and testament, in which he named his son, Joel Henry Dyer, as his executor to transact business in his name and to sell as much of his land necessary to clear his debts; "keeping all my personal property such as negroes and the like for the use and benefit of my family, my wife, Susan Dyer to share alike." He prefaced this POA-will with the statement, that he was "now sick and knowing not how this disease may terminate" made this legal provision for his son to act in his name. May 10, 1826. (Madison County Will Book 1, page 99; probated August 7, 1826) A sale was held December 5, 1826 of the colonel's personalty, including what his widow purchased therefrom, "for the raising and support of the children of the said Robert H. Dyer," including a copy of the AMERICAN STATE PAPERS, a desk, ten chairs, a sideboard, a dressing table, several cattle, swine, a yoke of oxen to pull a wagon, farm implements and a spinning loom. (IBID., page 99) An inventory of his personalty showed that the colonel had owned slaves Jacob, Matt, and Jane. Also listed were five bedsteads, a bureau, two dining tables, two mirrors, a dozen plates, flatware, a dozen wine glasses, a brass candlestick, 34 acres of corn which was projected to yield five barrels of corn per acre, an acre of potatoes, one acre planted in cotton and seven acres planted in oats. (TBID., page 100)
The children of Colonel Robert H. Dyer and his wife, Susan (who was a daughter of Joab and Mary Mitchell): Joel Henry Dyer, who was attorney-general of the 16th Judicial District, 1831-1836; Polly Henderson, Sarah Eliza (perhaps it was she who married James L. Totten, June 20, 1833. Gibson County Marriage Book A, page 29); Sophia Western; Anne Catherine; Susan Mitchell and Jackson Leone Dyer. (BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, edited by Robert M. McBride, Nashville, 1975, volume 1, page 223)
From the SOUTHERN STATESMAN, Jackson, Tennessee, August 20, 1831, with mentions of several of Colonel Dyer's immediate family:
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Dyer County, Tennessee was created by the legislature of Tennessee, October 16, 1823. (ACTS OF TENNESSEE, 1823, Murfreesboro, 1823, pages 113-115)
CORRESPONDENCE OF ANDREW JACKSON, edited by John S. Bassett, Washington, D.C., 1926, volume 1, page 248:
Robert H. Dyer given as Lt.-Colonel in General Andrew Jackson's forces in December 1812.
IBID., Washington, D.C., 1927, volume 2, page 128:
General Andrew Jackson mentioned in correspondence that Robert H. Dyer had been wounded in fighting the British at Pensacola, Florida in November 1814.
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