William Dyer was born in Hambridge, Somersetshire, England, where he
received his education, afterwards going to Glastonbury where he was
apprenticed for five years to the dry goods business. He was
afterwards employed at Wallingford, then in Hastings for five years;
going again to Wallingford where he lived about ten years, prior to
his coming to America.
Mr. Dyer's English associations were
of a very interesting kind, but having already given something about
Somerset, we confide ourselves to the place where he found his two
Wallingford the birth place of the Sevells, is in
Berkshire, pronounced locally "Barkshire," and is styled the "Royal
county" of England because it contains Windsor Castle, the residence
of the English King, the royal seat of Frogmore, Cumberland Lodge,
and Cranbourn Lodge. It was the scene of many of the most important
struggles during early English history.
particular place in the county has figured more in that history than
Wallingford. This town seems to have stood in the forefront, having
a past history and glory which none can deny. The beginning of the
town is practically unknown, but ancient coins have been found in
the neighborhood which dates it back to 150 or 200, B. C.
known history we find that the town belonged in turns to the
Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, finally becoming simply a town in
England In the ninth century it was the scene of some of the
struggles between Alfred (afterwards the Great) and the Danes, the
town was burned by the Danes in the tenth century.
of its ancient Castle stand as witness and evidence of a past glory;
it was the home of Wigod the Saxon, who was cupbearer to Edward the
Confessor. Being favorable to the Normans, he afterwards accepted a
Norman Baron as a son-in-law; Doyley the Baron marrying his only
child. The castle being completed by him in 1071 is therefore
recognized as a Norman Castle.
The civil war in England was
concluded in 1153 by the signing of a treaty outside the walls of
this castle. Its last royal occupant was Edward the Black Prince who
was the first man to bear the title of "Duke of Cornwall" a title
now held by the Prince of Wales. The castle afterwards became a
fortress, and in the year 1646 withstood a seige lasting sixty days.
Its demolition was ordered in the year 1652.
The town also
bears the marks of Roman thought and influence, the neighborhood was
said to have been visited by Julius Caesar, and not far distant is
the historic Runnymede where King John signed the Magna Charta which
gave the English people their liberty, and freed them forever from
feudal control, because they had so deliberately "Run-a-muck."
These, then, are a few of the historical associations of a
family who came into these plains to help build a new town (to them)
a new world, and the public press of this town has borne testimony
to the worthy character and sterling manhood of William Dyer who
passed away suddenly in September 1901, and was buried in the Exeter
He came to America in 1871, bringing with him his
wife and child (Bert Dyer, Implement Dealer) and came direct to
Exeter. He bought some railroad land in Saline County, but in the
fall of 1872 he homesteaded on Section 24 in Liberty Township,
Fillmore County, where he farmed for several years, and tau.sht
school in the district and other places. Railroad land at the time
he settled here was worth from $6 to $7 an acre, the same land is
now worth at least $130 an acre.
They lived in a dugout
until the year 1880 when he built a frame house, but in that year
his wife died leaving him five children, in the early days Indians
were sometimes seen passing along on their hunting expeditions, the
men riding their shaggy mustang ponies, (ponies with long hair)
these were fitted up with two long poles reaching behind, on which
they carried their camping outfit; and what they were unable to load
on the ponies, was carried by the squaws who, in meek subjection
walked behind their mounted lords. One day Mrs. Dyer had just
finished washing the baby, and had placed it in its crib when on
turning round she beheld some Indians standing in the room, they
having come into the house very quietly. They wanted permission to
hunt beaver along the creek, and also asked for bacon and rice,
there were all given "discretion being the better part of valor." It
was her first experience with "the children of the plains."
On another occasion she was busy making bread, when, on looking
round she found three Indians in the room, who as usual had walked
noiselessly into the house. They wanted bread which she showed them
was not yet baked, but promised that they would receive some by
night. When Mr. Dyer returned home from his school and learned of
the visit of the Indians, he took them three loaves of bread,
carrying them to their camp two miles east along the Turkey creek.
These are the experiences of the past; these friends are gone, so
are the Indians, let us ponder wisely the gift of life and do good
while we can, for as the Omahas taught: Man's Life is Transitory.
"Mo yho sho gete tho
Mo yho sho gete tho he tho
Ho thi ge de
sho gete tho
Mo yho sho gete tho
Mo yho sho gete tho he tho
Sho gete tho he."
The land, the scene one beholds shall long endure; when I am gone.
Therefore said the Omaha Indian: "I shall vanish and be no more but
the land over which I row roam shall remain and change not."
During the great blizzard, the windows and door of the dug-out
were completely snowed under, Mr. Dyer and his family lay in bed
till twelve o'clock noon wondering when it would be daylight, not
knowing it was so late, until they noticed a streak of light shining
into the stove; the chimney being a straight one.
He gave up
farming in 1887 having already commenced work for the Home Insurance
Company of New York, and was located in Exeter, though his insurance
interests extended over a very large area. He was recognized as a
faithful and industrious worker, doing a large business including
Auctioneering, and was at the time of his death serving in the J. N.
Cox Store. He was an active worker in the Congregational Church,
having been accustomed to have religious influences around his life
in the old country; he sought such influences here, and was always
endeavoring to comply with the requirements of a true christian
gentleman. It was said at the time of his death that Fillmore County
had lost one of her best citizens. His widow (The second Mrs. Dyer)
and several of his children still live in the town or district.
Pioneers of Fillmore and Adjoining
Source: Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining
Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter,
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