Some Southern Appalachian Ancestors & Old World Roots

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  • ID: I126
  • Name: Micajah Clark DYER (II)
  • Surname: Dyer
  • Given Name: Micajah Clark
  • Suffix: (II)
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 11 Jul 1822 in , Pendleton Dist., SC, USA
  • Death: 26 Jan 1891 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
  • Burial: Old Choestoe Baptist Cem., Union, GA, USA
  • _UID: D398F7365B1EB044AFA2D66AD9E8E4316C3B
  • Note:

    HIS ACTUAL NAME WAS MICAJAH CLARK DYER. The 1850 Census of Union Co., GA, lists (Micajah) Clark Dyer, and wife Morena Elizabeth Ownbey, as M. C. and Elizabeth Dyer. Actually her parents' family Bible says her name was Morning Elizabeth Ownbey. She usually went by Elizabeth. Clark often went by M.C. Their wedding is recorded in her parents' family Bible as M. C. Dyer and Morning Elizabeth Ownbey. Their gravestones say their names are M. C. Dyer and Morena Dyer. The 1860 and 1870 Census lists him as Clark Dyer. (A transcript of the 1860 Census says he gave his place of birth as NC, but this is an error on either the Census taker's part, or the transcriber's, as he was thoroughly documented as being born in SC).

    He may have started going by Clark when his uncle Micajah Clark M. C. Dyer moved back to Union Co., GA, between 1850 and 1860. Nevertheless, Clark went by M. C. on his 1874 Patent certificate. His descendants in Union Co. always referred to him as Clark Dyer.

    HE IS NOT THE SAME MICAJAH CLARK DYER BORN 5 YEARS EARLIER than he, who married Harriett Logan Hall. That was his uncle. They grew up in the same household in Choestoe, Union Co., GA, thus they are often mistaken as the same person.

    Most researchers suggest Clark was born in Pendleton District, SC, the area where his mother was born. However, on the 1880 Census he stated he was born in Choestoe, Union Co., GA. (He could have been mistaken on this point, but it warrants further research.)

    Clark invented a sophisticated mechanical flying machine, and received a US Patent on it in 1874. The technical diagrams and description seem to be those of the first actual blimp, or steerable balloon.

    The most knowledgeable researchers believe Clark built another, more advanced machine before he died. All of the people who remembered him said he worked on it until his death on January 26, 1891, at the age of 68. Since the patent now found was filed on September 1, 1874, he must have had a later and more advanced design in those 17 years. There may be yet another patent floating around somewhere. (It was said by several witnesses that he later invented a spring-loaded, propeller-driven flying machine. Eyewitnesses saw him launch a successful model. Legend says he later personally flew in a full-size one with foot controls and a steering device. He would glide from a mountainside in Choestoe, on a rail-like ramp of his own design. After his death in 1889, the aeroplane machine was sold to two wealthy Atlanta men, the Redwine brothers. Legend suggests they in turn sold it to the Wright Brothers in about 1900.)


    The Wright brothers? aircraft came after Clark Dyer?s flying Machine.

    Micajah Clark Dyer was born in South Carolina on July 23, 1822. His mother was Sallie Dyer (b. about 1804 in South Carolina), eldest daughter of Elisha Dyer, Jr. (b. about 1785. d. 1847) and his wife, Elizabeth Clark Dyer (b. about 1783, d. 1861).

    When Sallie Dyer was about eighteen, she gave birth to Micajah Clark Dyer. In 1822 Micajah Clark Dyer moved with the family to Union County, Georgia with his Grandfather Elijah Dyer, Jr.?s large family and they settled in the Cane Creek section of the Choestoe District. The family was in Union County when the first county census was made in 1834, two years after the county?s founding.

    Clark?s mother, Sallie, married Eli Townsend, and they had a family. However, it is believed that Clark continued to live in the household of his grandfather, Elisha Dyer, Jr., [and the uncle 5 years his senior, also named Micajah Clark Dyer,] and did not grow up with his half-siblings who were Andrew, Elisha, Thomas, Polly Ann, William and Sarah Elizabeth Townsend.

    Clark was introspective by nature. His education in a one room school for a few months of each year was supplemented by his own innate ability to ?figure out? things for himself. He read and studied what books he could find and was of a scientific bent.

    On July 23, 1842, when he was twenty, he married Morena Elizabeth Ownbey (1819 ?1892). To them were born nine children: Jasper Washington Dyer (1843 -1913, who married Emaline E. Lance); (Rev.) John M. Dyer (1847-?, who married Elizabeth Ann Sullivan); Andrew Henderson Dyer (1848?1903, who married Adeline Sullivan); Marcus Lafayette Dyer (1850?1921), who married Clarissa Wimpey); Cynthia C. Dyer (1852-1916, who married (1) Rebecca Jarrard and (2) Margaret M. Twiggs); Robert F. Dyer (1856-?, who married Elizabeth Fortenberry); Morena Elizabeth Dyer (1859-1903, who married James A. Wimpey); and Johnson B. Dyer (1861-1885, who married Mary Hunter). Many descendants of Micajah Clark Dyer and wife Morena Ownbey still reside in Union County.

    Morena Dyer had the convenience of running water in their [mid-18th Century] home at Choestoe, as Clark devised his own water system consisting of hollowed out logs from a bold spring on the mountainside to their house. When he was not busy with cultivating the land on this farm and tilling the crops necessary to the economy of this large family, Clark Dyer labored in his workshop.

    There he experimented with a flying machine made of lightweight cured river canes and covered with cloth. Drawings on the flyleaves of the family Bible, now in the possession of one of Clark?s great, great grandsons, show how he thought out the engineering technicalities of motion and counter-motion by a series of rotational whirli-gigs. He built a ramp on the side of the mountain and succeeded in getting his flying machine airborne for a short time.

    Evidently, to hide his contraption from curious eyes, and to keep his invention a secret from those who would think him strange and wasting time from necessary farm work, Clark kept his machine out of sight, stored behind lock and key in his barn. Those who did not ridicule the inventor were allowed to see the fabulous machine. Among them were the following who bore testimony to seeing the plane; namely, his grandson, Johnny Wimpey, son of Morena and James A. Wimpey; a cousin Herschel A. Dyer, son of Bluford Elisha and Sarah Evaline Souther Dyer; and James Washington Lance, son of the Rev. John H. and Caroline Turner Lance.

    Just when the fabulous trial flights (more than one) occurred on the mountainside in Choestoe is uncertain [about 1872-1874.] Prior to his death, he had invented a ?perpetual motion? machine. It is also a part of family legend that his son, Mancil Pruitt Dyer, turned down an offer of $30,000 for the purchase of his father?s pending patents on inventions, especially the perpetual motion machine. Maybe Mancil reasoned that if he held out for more, he could receive it. Still another family story holds that Clark?s widow, Morena Ownbey Dyer, sold the flying machine and its design to the Redwine Brothers, manufacturers of Atlanta, who, in turn, sold the ideas to the Wright Brothers of North Carolina.

    The facts of the fabulous flying machine of Choestoe are lost in mountain mists and family legends. But it is a known fact that one inventor named Micajah Clark Dyer watched the birds fly and asked, ?Why not man??, and proceeded to act on his dream to invent a machine that would defy gravity.

    It actually got off the ground in [1874.] Who knows? Pine Top...might have been the Kitty Hawk of 1903 had times and circumstances been more conducive.

    From the article, Through Mountain Mists
    Featured in Union Sentinel, dated January 1, 2004, Volume 10, Number 1
    Written by Ethlene Dyer Jones

    [Developed from Dyer Family History from England to America, 1600's to 1980, by Watson B. Dyer, Cedartown, GA, 1980]

    [Edited by Dr. J. B. Turner]


    Macon [GA] Telegraph and Messenger
    June 27, 1875
    Page 2

    A FLYING SHIP ? A Mr. Micajah Dyer, of Union county, has patented a flying ship, which is thus described by the Gainesville Eagle:

    The body of the machine in shape resembles that of the fowl -- an eagle, for instance ? and is intended to be propelled by different kinds of devices, to wit wings and paddle wheels, both to be simultaneously operated through the instrumentality of mechanism connected with the driving power. In operating the machinery, the wings receive an upward and downward motion, in the manner of the wings of a bird, their outer ends yielding as they are raised, but opening out and then remaining rigid while being depressed. The wings, if desired, may be set at an angle so as to propel forward as well as to raise the machine in the air. The paddle wheels are intended to be used for propelling the machine in the same way that a vessel is propelled on water. An instrument answering to a rudder is attached for guiding the machine. A balloon is to be used for elevating the ?flying ship,? after which it is to be guided and controlled at the pleasure if its occupants. Mr. Dyer has been studying the subject of air navigation for thirty years, and has tried various experiments during that time, all of which failed until he adopted his present plan. He obtained his idea from the eagle, and taking that king of birds for his model has constructed his machine so as to imitate his pattern as nearly as possible. Whatever may be the fate of Mr. Dyer?s patent, he, himself, has the most unshaken faith in its success, and is ready, as soon as a machine can be constructed, to board the ship and commit himself, not to the waves, but to the wind.

    Dr. Green may just as well get a room ready for brother Dyer. If he doesn?t break his neck during his first soar, he will certainly light at Milledgeville.

    [NOTE: Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald Greene was superintendent of the state lunatic asylum at Milledgeville for a period of thirty-six years.]

    [ Special thanks to Sylvia Dyer Turnage for providing the foregoing article.]


    Auburn Daily Bulletin, New York, July 16, 1875

    Daily Inter Ocean, Illinois, July 16, 1875

    Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Ohio, July 2, 1875

    Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia, July 8, 1875

    Springfield Republican, Massachusetts, July 14, 1875

    Cleveland Leader, Ohio, July 17, 1875

    St. Albans Messenger, Vermont, July 23, 1875

    Rockford Weekly Gazette, Illinois, July 29, 1875

    Of course, in addition to those, we already had found five:

    Macon Telegraph & Messenger, Georgia, June 27, 1875

    St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Missouri, July 16, 1875

    Gainesville Eagle, Georgia, July 31, 1875

    Official Gazette of U.S. Patent Office, Vol. 6, Washington, DC, 1875

    Athens Banner-Watchman, Georgia, April 28, 1885

    It is so interesting to see this much coverage of Clark's invention. It is very likely that there were even more stories that we've not yet discovered. It was an important event, and one for which he deserves a place in history.

    More info, images, etc:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Change Date: 10 Sep 2017 at 15:59:06

    Father: John MEYERS b: ABT 1800 in of, Pickens, SC, USA
    Mother: Sarah Elizabeth "Sallie" DYER b: 23 Sep 1803 in , , SC, USA

    Marriage 1 Morena Elizabeth OWNBEY b: 24 Dec 1819 in , Rutherford, NC, USA
    • Married: 23 Jul 1843 in , Union, GA, USA
    1. Has Children Jasper Washington DYER b: 19 Mar 1843 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    2. Has Children John M. DYER b: 12 Dec 1847 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    3. Has Children Henderson Andrew DYER b: 16 Jan 1848 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    4. Has No Children Markus LaFayette "Fate" DYER b: 6 Jun 1850 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    5. Has Children Cynthia Clarenda DYER b: 15 Jun 1852 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    6. Has Children Emanuel "Mancil" Pruitt DYER b: 16 May 1854 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    7. Has Children Robert F. DYER b: 19 Apr 1856 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    8. Has Children Morena Elizabeth DYER b: 14 Sep 1859 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA
    9. Has Children Johnson B. (John) DYER b: 7 Jul 1861 in Choestoe, Union, GA, USA

    1. Title: Dyer Family History from England to America, 1600's to 1980
      Author: Watson B. Dyer, Cedartown, GA, 1980
    2. Title: Dyer-Souther Heritage Association, Blairsville, GA.
    3. Title: US Census: 1850, GA, Union Co.
    4. Title: US Census: 1860, GA, Union Co.
    5. Title: Marriage records of Union Co., GA
    6. Title: Grave at Old Choestoe Cem., Union Co., GA.
    7. Title: US Patent Office, Patent No. 154,654, awarded Sept. 1, 1874
    8. Title: Personal data shared by relatives
    9. Title: "Through Mountain Mists," Union Sentinel, January 1, 2004, Volume 10, Number 1, Ethlene Dyer Jones.
    10. Title: Macon [GA] Telegraph and Messenger, 27 June 1875, p 2

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