Biography of Benjamin W. Dyer
Madison County, NY Biographies





Dyer, Benjamin W., who died in Oneida, February 17, 1888, in the ninety first year of his age, was for many years a well known and esteemed resident and citizen in this vicinity. He was born in Petersburg, N. Y., in the year 1797, and when he was yet an infant his parents removed to the State of Vermont. He obtained the educational advantages afforded by the country schools of those days, and assisted in the conduct of his father's farm. In 1818, when twenty one years old, he rode a hone, which was about his only possession, into Central New York, and secured employment on the construction of the Erie Canal, under Cobb & Sage, well known contractors at Chittenango. It is related, that having constructed a section large enough to make it practicable to use a work boat or scow, they could find no one who possessed sufficient experience to operate the boat. It was suggested, however, that young Dyer could succeed if anybody, and he undertook the task, thus earning the title of "Captain" Dyer, by which he was known throughout the rest of his life. He was one of the first men to operate a boat on the canal, and of his experience with the work scow of Cobb & Sage, it said that he started with a team from Chittenango, but for three days did not get far enough away to prevent his returning to Chittenango to spend the night. For six years he was captain of a boat on the canal owned by Cobb & Sage. At that time the canal was usedby many travellers, and he gained a wide acquaintance. He spent his winters at Albany, and in his wanderings throughout the capital grew to know by sight and even personally many of the great men of the time, including Aaron Burr, of whom he often related anecdotes. Subsequently he was employed for a period by his brother in law, Harvey J. Cobb, as overseer on the Seneca Turnpike, and finally settled permanently in Wampsville, where he resided twenty five years. During the first four years of this period he conducted a hotel, but this he closed, giving most of his attention to agricultural pursuits. Mr. Dyer was a man of excellent judgment, and obtained a comfortable competency. He was a man of more than ordinary mind and ability; a great reader in his early life; his education was largely obtained from observation and practical experience; he was deeply interested in affording to his children the best educational advantages. He removed to Oneida in 1870, and lived quietly there until his death, making many friends, for he was a man of very genial nature. He was a lifelong Democrat but never sought or held public office. Mr. Dyer married in 1833, Mahala, a daughter of Pardon Barnard, an honored resident of the town of Lenox who lived and died at Quality Hill; was one of the earlier sheriffs of the county, and served two terms in the State Legislature. Six children were born of this union: Benjamin Nichols, for several years a druggist in Oneida, where he died; Hannah, who married Dwight Chapin of Oneida; Annette, who married Albert Purdy, a native of the town of Eaton, and now an artist of considerable reputation at Ithaca; Mary, who married Darius D. Jackson, a native of Oneida county who became a business man in New York city, where he died; Julia Dyer, first wife Darius D. Jackson, and Frank Dyer, both of whom died in 1870. Benjamin W. Dyer was a lineal descendant of William Dyer who emigrated from England in 1660 and settled in Providence, R. I. He married Mary Dyer, adopted daughter of his parents, who is strongly put forth by students of genealogy and historians as a daughter of Lady Arabella Stuart. If this supposition be correct the descendants of William and Mary Dyer are also descended from the noble family of Stuart. The Dyers were Quakers, and the Mary Dyer above mentioned was put to death on Boston Common for her firm and unyielding adherence to her religious beliefs.

FROM:
Our County and it's people
A Descriptive and Biographical Record of
Madison County, New York
Edited by: John E. Smith
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1890


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