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DYER (Fall River family). Through three generations the Dyer family of Fall River, descendants of Jonathan Dyer, have been actively and prominently identified with the city’s commercial and social life; especially prominent has been for some forty years there in the great industrial life the present David Hartwell Dyer, who has been officially connected with a number of the large mills and is of the firm of D. H. Dyer & Son, civil and mechanical engineers, of which the junior member, George F. Dyer, is a thoroughly educated and expert electrical engineer.
The Dyer family is of record in England as early as 1436, and there are several coats of arms in the English branches of the family. Several immigrants of the name came early to the American Colonies and it has been considerably associated with Colonial and later American history. Deacon Thomas Dyer came from England in 1632 and settled soon afterward in Weymouth; was one of the leading citizens of his time; was several times deputy to the General Court, deacon of the Weymouth Church, and held various town offices. William Dyer and his wife Mary, from London, England, came to Boston in 1635. They were disfranchised for supporting Quakerism and driven to Rhode Island in 1638. Mrs. Dyer was a firm adherent to the principles maintained by the Society of Friends, and it is recorded of her at Boston that “the insane desire for martyrdom led the poor woman back here in 1660 to the scaffold.” Mr. Dyer was secretary of Portsmouth and Newport, 1640-47; attorney-general, 1650-53; commissioner, 1661-62; deputy, 1664-66, etc. Among other early Dyers in New England was the family of William Dyer of Barnstable and Truro, who married Mary Taylor of Barnstable, and five of their eight children were sons.
Jonathan Dyer Family
The especial Dyer family here reviewed came to Fall River from Maine. Jonathan, born Nov. 30, 1774, and Lydia (Bacon) Dyer, the former son of Nathaniel Dyer, the latter daughter of Dr. Bacon, of Bacon’s Corner, Sidney, lived in the town of Sidney, Maine, where their son David Dyer was born. Their children were ten in number, born as follows:
- Mary, Nov. 8, 1798
- Barillia, Jan. 11, 1800
- Jonathan, Dec. 13, 1801 (died Dec. 26, 1851)
- David, July 16, 1803
- Lydia, May 11, 1805 (died June 26, 1859)
- William, Jan. 11, 1807
- Moses, Sept. 4, 1808 (died June 18, 1894)
- Annie N., May 25, 1813 (died March 14, 1895)
- Rosetta, April 15, 1817
- Eliza B., July 2, 1821
David Dyer Family
In 1844 David Dyer came from Lee, Maine, to Fall River, Mass. He was for years a merchant of his adopted city, a grocer, his place of business being located on Pleasant street, just east of Second street, and later for a period at No. 3 Fourth street. Mr. Dyer met his death by accident, while crossing Pleasant street at the junction of Fourth, in the evening of Nov. 30, 1873, when he was knocked down by a passing horse and wagon; presumably in falling he struck on the back of the head, as that part of the skull was crushed in, and the injury resulted in his death, without his having recovered consciousness, at his home on the following morning about three o’clock. Mr. Dyer was an esteemed and respected citizen of his community. He married Sylvia Jackson, and their children were:
- Vesta Ann, born in August, 1828, in Sidney, Maine, married Charles Clough, a farmer of West Gardiner, Maine, and died March 27, 1867
- David Hartwell, born Sept. 16, 1833, is mentioned below
- Lucinda, Mrs. Francis, was born Sept. 3, 1835
- Everett Bemis, born Dec. 31, 1841, in Lee, Maine, died in October, 1907
- Edwin Jackson, born in August, 1844, lives at No. 11 Wheatland avenue, Dorchester District, Boston, Massachusetts
David Hartwell Dyer Family
David Hartwell Dyer, son of David, was born Sept. 16, 1833, in Lee, Maine, and in 1844 came to Fall River with his parents. There his long busy life has been passed and there he is still occupied, now nominally senior member of the firm of D. H. Dyer & Son, mechanical and electrical engineers. He was a member of the first class graduated from the high school, which he attended 1849-52, but meantime he began work in the old Troy mill, in October, 1844, as picker boy, working up through every position in the mills. He went from the picker room into the spinning department and was mule spinner on the first self-operating spinners or mules ever built l in this country. In 1851 he was bookkeeper in the American Linen Company, remaining with that concern until 1861, when he offered his services to the government, on April 15th, being the first man in Fall River to volunteer, and was mustered in on the 21st. He raised Company A, 7th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, the first three-years regiment that went from Massachusetts. He raised a number of companies recruited at Fall River – Companies C and D of the 3d Regiment – a provisional company to put down the “Draft Riots,” the 5th Unattached Company (in May, 1864) and the second organization known as the 21st Unattached Company. After his muster out, Nov. 18, 1864, he raised two companies of the 58th Regiment, but did not go out himself. He is a member of Richard Borden Post, No. 46, G. A. E.
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Mr. Dyer early became identified with the great milling interests of this section. A constructing engineer, he built the new Linen Mill No. 2, in 1865-66. At the same time he built the Tecumseh No. 1, and the new Durfee, and in 1867 he built the Merchants Mill. The Mechanics’ Mill was the first to be built on shares, at 100 per share. This was put up with the idea of profit sharing, a subject Mr. Dyer had studied as it was presented in England. He found that in low priced shares, while the operatives could participate in the profits, they did not share the losses. This was the first popular subscription stock and attracted over four hundred shareholders. From this organization, which was made under a special charter, grew the law which required all capital stock to be issued at 100 per share. The Mechanics’ Mill was organized July 1, 1867, and constructed by Mr. Dyer in the winter of 1867-68, and he was chosen clerk and treasurer of the corporation, serving two years. The first steps looking to the organization of the Weetamoe Mills, in 1870, under a special charter, were taken by Mr. Dyer, in the act of opening the books for the subscription of stock, and at the meeting held for organization, in December of that year, he was chosen a director and first treasurer of the company. He held the position of treasurer until 1875, during which time.he constructed the Osborn, the Sagamore No. 1 and the Flint No. 1, being still engaged as engineer. On the organization of the Osborn Mills, in the fall of 1871, he became one of the first board of directors of the corporation, and he has been a director of the Sagamore continuously from the organization to the present time. In 1881 he was elected treasurer and general manager of the Quequechan Mills, continuing in such position until 1885. He has constructed many mills in Fall River and in the South, building the Wilmington Mills, Wilmington, N. C, where he lived two years. Mr. Dyer was appointed State boiler inspector July 12, 1896, and held this office until he was transferred from that office to inspector of building in June, 1908, when he was seventy-five years of age. He is a man of the foremost rank in his line, an authority of unquestioned standing.
DAVID H. DYER was born in Lee, Maine, Sept. 16, 1833. Moved to Fall River in 1844, at time he commenced work as an operative in a cotton mill. At the age of sixteen he joined the Fall River Artillery Company, Capt. John Sanford; was promoted sergeant; served four years in said company. At the outbreak of the war Mr. Dyer was bookkeeper for the American Linen Co., which position he left to enter the army. On receipt of the news of the firing on Fort Sumter, he immediately resorted to the drug store of Wm. H. Nye (who subsequently became his second lieutenant), met a few young men, who all signed an agreement to offer their services to Gov. Andrew. This squad became the neuclus of Co. A, Seventh Regiment, Mass. Volunteers, from which the company was gradually recruited to the required number, and went into Camp “Old Colony,” at Taunton, June 6th, under commend of Mr. Dyer as captain-elect, vice Chester W. Greene, who had been elected captain and promoted to Lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. Co. A was instructed in infantry tactics by Mr. Dyer, who was commissioned captain by Gov. Andrew June 15, 1861. The company under his instruction became very proficient in drill. Captain Dyer went to Washington with his command, and resigned in November, 1861, but did not lose his interest in the country’s struggle. He aided in the organization of the Third Regiment, and raised the Fifth and Twenty-first Unattached Companies for three months and one year respectively, the Twenty-first Unattached Company serving until the close of the war. In 1865 he commenced the business of civil and mechanical engineer, making the construction of cotton mills a specialty; has followed that profession since. In 1868 he organized and constructed the Mechanics’ Mills, of which he was treasurer until 1871, when he organized the Weetamoe Mills, and was its treasurer; in 1872 he constructed the Sagamore Mills, and was its treasurer and business manager; in 1876 constructed the Wilmington, N. C., Cotton Mills, and was its business manager two years; built the Mobile, Ala., Cotton Mills; then spent two years in the south, cotton buying, after which for five years was treasurer and manager of the Quequechan Mills in Fall River. Since then he has constructed new mills in Fall River, Galveston, Texas, and in Mexico, and is still engaged in that business, residing in Fall River. Most of the time since the war he has been an active member of the G. A. R., and for the past five years has been quartermaster of Richard H. Borden Post 46. He is amoral, efficient gentleman, and a sympathetic comrade, and is highly respected in any community.1
On Nov. 28, 1858, Mr. Dyer married Mary Elizabeth French, daughter of Job B. French, and they have three children:
- Susan Chace, born in August, 1862, married Edward A. Bowen, assistant treasurer of the Border City Mill, and has children, Earle Hartwell and Edward Allan.
- William Allan, born March 9, 1865, is vice president and business manager of the Smith Premier Typewriter Company, Syracuse, N. Y. He married Clara Spink, daughter of Benjamin Spink, of Providence, R. I. They have one son, William Allan, Jr.
- George French, born Aug. 5, 1867, is his father’s associate in business.
George French Dyer Family
George French Dyer, son of David Hartwell and Mary E. (French) Dyer, was born Aug. 5, 1867, in Fall River, Mass. He attended the public and high schools of his native city and furthered his studies at Brown University. He was prepared for the duties of his calling, that of electrical engineer, by taking a course of study at the Thomson Houston Company Electrical Works at Lynn, Mass. Upon the completion of this he was sent by this company to Cuba to undertake the work of placing several hitherto non-paying gas and electrical companies on a paying basis. This work he performed successfully, improving the plants and consolidating the companies. He then returned to Fall River, and, associated with his father, began business as a consulting mill and electrical engineer. He has since developed an extensive business in this line and has been employed in the reconstruction of many of the large cotton mills in Fall River and vicinity. He has also prosecuted important work on cotton mills in Mexico. In the line of electrical construction Mr. Dyer has installed large plants, notably the plant at the Bridgewater State farm at Titicut, Massachusetts.
Mr. Dyer is a man well known both in and out of his profession, and has the confidence, respect and esteem of his fellow citizens. He is an authority on matters pertaining to mill engineering.
Hutchinson, Nelson V. History of the Seventh Massachusetts volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion of the southern states against constitutional authority. 1861-1865. With description of battles, army movements, hospital life, and incidents of the camp, by officers and privates; and a comprehensive introduction of the moral and political forces which precipitated the war of secession upon the people of the United States, p. 305. Taunton, Mass., Pub. by authority of the regimental association. 1890. ↩