Among the pioneers of Ontario and representative men of that beautiful colony, mention should be made of Leroy S. Dyar, who was born in Franklin County, Maine, in 1833. His father was Colonel Joseph Dyar, a well-known agriculturist of that county. His mother was Mary S. Gay. Both of his parents were natives of that State. Mr. Dyar was reared and schooled in his native place, closing his studies in the high school and academy. He was reared as a farmer. In 1858 he decided to try his fortune on the Pacific coast, and came by steamer to San Francisco. After a short stay in that city he proceeded to Yuba river and engaged in mining until the next year. He then located in Salem, Oregon, and was employed in farming and teaching until 1863, when he established himself in mercantile pursuits in Salem, under the firm name of N. O. Parrish & Co. In 1864 he was appointed Postmaster at Salem, and held that office until 1868. He was engaged in various enterprises in Salem until 1871, when he accepted a position in the Indian Department as superintendent of schools of mechanical and agricultural instruction, and was stationed on the Yakima Indian Reservation until the fall of that year, when he went to the Grand Ronde Reservation as commissary in charge. In the spring of 1872 he was appointed Indian agent of the Klamath Reservation, located at Klamath Lake.
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It was this reservation that the notorious Modoc Chief, Captain Jack, and his band had left two years before and were then at war with the United States troops among the famous lava beds. Mr. Dyar filled the position admirably, and so conducted the affairs of the reservation as to prevent any further dissatisfaction among the Indians and also to prevent their aiding Captain Jack or his associates. His ability was soon recognized by the department, and he was appointed a member of the peace commission which was to treat with the rebellious Modocs for a return to their reservation.
This commission was composed of General Canby, Dr. Thomas, Colonel Meacham and himself. The history of the massacre of General Canby and Dr. Thomas, and the miraculous escape of Mr. Dyar and Colonel Meacham-the latter severely wounded is an oft-told chapter in the history of our Indian wars. Mr. Dyar never had any confidence in the plan of meeting the Indian chiefs, for he had no confidence in them, and he protested strongly against the members of the commission uselessly exposing their lives to the murderous savages. He warned them that they were going the road to sure death, and that he should of course accompany them and share their fate. Nothing could change them in their belief of the honesty of Captain Jack. They met the chiefs, who had secreted arms at the place of meeting, or had them concealed upon their persons. The conference was but a short time in session before Mr. Dyar saw what he believed conclusive evidence that a massacre was intended. He managed upon some slight pretext to get outside of the circle composed of the members and the chiefs, and did not again take the place reserved for him. This saved his life, for upon the first outbreak he was enabled to run toward the encampment of troops. He was fired upon and pursued, but before he could be overtaken relief from the camp met him.
Mr. Dyar remained in charge of his reservation until 1877, and then engaged in stock raising until 1882, when ill health compelled him to seek a southern climate. In that year he came to San Bernardino County, and being pleased with the location and future prospects of the Ontario colony, in December, 1882, purchased a twenty-acre tract on the corner of San Antonio avenue and Fourth street. The next spring he came to reside upon his purchase, and at once commenced its improvement. The first orchard set out in the colony was by Mr. Dyar early in the spring of 1883. Since his arrival in Ontario he has been identified with many of its improvements and has been engaged in dealing in real estate and improving places. His present residence is a neat cottage with well ordered grounds upon a villa lot on the west side of Euclid avenue, between Third and Fourth streets. In its varied horticultural and floral productions this is one of the finest places in Ontario. He is a thorough and practical horticulturist, and makes a success of whatever he touches in this line. Among his real-estate interests in Ontario are ten acres between Seventh and Eighth streets, in lemons, now in bearing, seven acres on San Antonio avenue and Twenty-second Street, in Washington navel oranges, and some twenty acres of unimproved land.
He is a firm advocate of Ontario and its wonderful resources, and has done much toward advancing the interests of the community in which he resides. A strong supporter of churches and schools, he is a member of the Methodist Church and a trustee in the same. He is also president of the board of regents of the Chaffey College. He has for many years been a member of the Odd Fellows organization, and is a charter member and Past Grand of Olive Lodge, No. 18, of Salem, Oregon.
Mr Dyar has been twice married. His first marriage, in 1854, was to Mary J., daughter of Luther and Mary (Bartlett) Tubbs. She died in 1857, leaving one child, Charles Herbert, who married Miss Annie M. Ryan. Mr. Dyar’s second marriage was in 1863, when he was united with Miss Mary T. Gleason, daughter of Ryal and Rebecca (Tyler) Gleason, of Maine. They have one child, Helen L.