John and I shared the same ancestors, going away back to Bluford Elisha Dyer, Jr. (abt. 1785-1847) and Elizabeth Clark Dyer (abt. 1788-1861), the first Dyer settlers in the Choestoe Valley, Union County. This pioneer family was in the 1834 census, the off-year census ordered because the county was new, founded in 1832.
John Dyer of Kalispell, Montana and I saw each other only two times in this earthly life, both times in the 1990’s when John and members of his family returned to Union County to meet some of his Dyer kin here and find out as much as he could about our common ancestors.
Immediately Cousin John and I developed a rapport, which extended over the remaining years of his life. He was a pleasant, hard-working, family-loving man. He and his beloved wife, Pauline Smith Dyer, had fifty-seven years together prior to his death with cancer. John’s five sons loved their dad and considered their lives blessed, indeed, for having him as their father.
Their names (and spouses) who mourned their father’s passing on February 2 are Ray (and Margo) of Kalispell, Jeff (and Candy) of Fairbanks, Alaska, Ronnie, Lonnie and Mark (and Wanda) of Kalispell. Eight grandchildren were beloved by their grandfather John and had time to learn from him and catch a bit of his optimistic, forward-looking spirit: Tammy, Matthew, Leslie, Tracy (and Amy), David (and Christine), Bryan (and Jamie), Brett (and Amber) and Chelsea. John loved his four great grandchildren: Jessica, Anthony and Nicole Olsen and Hannah Dyer. John’s parents who preceded him in death, were Ray George Dyer and Dorothy Bernadine Sheldon Dyer. Of the six children born to Ray George and Dorothy Bernadine Dyer, only three survived at the time of John’s death: brother Kenneth Dyer (and Lona) of Washington state; and two sisters, Roberta Ann Dyer Arnold and Shirley Ellen Dyer McDaniel of Kalispell. John’s siblings, Claire Frances Dyer Kienas and James Roger Dyer preceded John in death.
Growing philosophical as I considered John Chester Dyer’s death, I thought of the lines by Alan Seeger:
I have a rendezvous with DeathJohn Chester Dyer had that rendezvous, and so will all of us, in due time. But the English poet and minister, John Donne, in his “Holy Sonnets,” declared “Death be not proud, though some have called thee/ Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,/For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, /Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me…/death, thou shalt die.”
At some disputed barricade…
And I to my
pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
And, thinking back over the generations of people to the early pioneers in this county, where John and I made our connections, I thought of the tenth son of Bluford Elisha Dyer and Elizabeth Clark Dyer. His name was Bluford Lumpkin Dyer, born in Habersham County in 1832, who died October 29, 1907 in Kalispell, Montana. He married on February 8, 1854 in Union County, Georgia to Ruth (Ruthie) Turner, daughter of Jarrett Turner and Sarah “Sallie” Collins Turner. A mistake was made in registration of this marriage in the Union County marriage records, and Ruthie was listed as “Tanner,” not Turner. Mark this up to difficulty in reading penmanship when a “u” looked like an “a”. Bluford Lumpkin Dyer’s marriage to Ruthie Turner brought ties of first settlers closer together. Jarrett Turner and his in-laws, Thompson and Celia Self Collins, were also among the first families who settled Union County.
But what about the “Go west, young man” which I mentioned in the title above?
Bluford Lumpkin Dyer served as sheriff of Union County in the 1860’s, a difficult time because of the unrest caused by the Civil War. Following cessation of the war, times were very hard. Bluford Lumpkin and his wife, Ruthie, made the decision to move to the Loudsville area of White County, “across the mountain” from Choestoe before 1870, for the family was in the White County census of 1870. Son John George Dyer (John Chester Dyer’s grandfather) was born in White County on October 12, 1870. Just when Bluford Lumpkin Dyer got the strong impression to “Go west, young man” is not exactly known, but it was within the decade 1870-1880. “Lump” (as he was called) had a first cousin, Francis Marion Dyer (1863-1947) who had gone west. It is believed Francis Marion had an influence on persuading Lump and Ruthie Dyer to move west.
Their westward pilgrimage was by stages. They settled first in Gainesville, Texas for awhile. Their next move was to Ardmore, Oklahoma. Then gold fever struck and Lump moved his family to Colorado and went prospecting. Evidently he did not ever find that evasive lode which would make him rich. The family’s next move was to Montana. Then back to Ardmore, Oklahoma for a short period, where their daughters, Rosetta and Sarah had married and settled. But there was a strong pull back to Montana. Lump and Ruthie and their children still at home returned there, bought a farm at Creston a little east of Kalispell. There Lump’s first cousin, Francis Marion Dyer, wooed and wed his cousin and the daughter of Lump and Ruthie, Mollie Dyer, who had been born in Georgia in 1866. Mollie died young and Francis Marion married, second, Helen Dann.
Lump and Ruthie remained on their farm at Creston, where Ruthie died and was buried. After his beloved Ruthie’s death, Lump moved to Kalispell, Montana, to be cared for in his last days by some of his children who lived there. Bluford Lumpkin Dyer, former sheriff of Union County, Georgia, died October 29, 1907 in Kalispell, Montana.
Much more history exists between the dashes—the period between the birth and death of John Chester Dyer (1932-2008), recently deceased, and Bluford Lumpkin Dyer (1832-1907), John Chester’s Dyer’s great grandfather who went west with a spirit of adventure to find a new way of life for his beloved family. I’m glad John Chester Dyer came back to Georgia on visits to find his roots; I’m glad we hold dear our common ancestry.
c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 6, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved