Colonial Daughters Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
Farmington, Maine

Elizabeth Dyar History

Who is this woman and what is her importance to the Revolutionary War?

She was born in 1751 and on May 2, 1771, she married Joseph Dyar, a sea captain who sailed out of Boston, having come to America from England as a young boy. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he continued to pursue his trade by smuggling supplies to the American Army on Long Island. 

On December 16, 1773, Joseph Dyar was the leader of the "Indians" who boarded the ships in Boston Harbor and put the Boston Tea Party in the history books. His wife, Elizabeth, 22 years old at the time, was one of the three women who prepared and applied the stains to the faces and bodies of the white men to transform them into Mohawk Indians. Tradition has it that the family were makers of dye, and that the name 'Dyar' was originated from that. Tradition also has it that Elizabeth melted down her pewter spoons, forming them into bullets in a mold brought by her father from France.

Dyar Memorial sign postMrs. Dyar was very fond of tea ("the cup that cheers but not inebriates") and as Joseph left for the Old South Church previous to emptying the tea overboard, she asked him to bring back a handful of tea for her. He brought the tea and as she went to take it from him, he threw it into the fire vowing that neither she nor any other person would partake of it! At the time of the British occupation, the Dyars lived in the North End of Boston. Friends, fearing for the lives of Mrs. Dyar and her children, put them in a butcher's cart covered with rags and matting and smuggled them through the British lines to a place of safety in Malden, MA.

Joseph Dyar was captured nine times by the British, the last time being stripped and flogged. Deprived of food for three days, in his weakened condition he died in 1783 from the effects of his capture. He was buried in Malden, MA.

Joseph and Elizabeth Dyar had seven children: Joseph 1st, who died in infancy; Joseph 2nd; James; Elizabeth; John Nichols; Ebenezer, and Sally.  Their son John Nichols Dyar, born in Malden, MA, became the first settler in the town of Freeman, ME, when he bought the 600 acre tract of land in 1802 from Samuel Freeman Esquire, of Portland, ME. John followed a trail from Hallowell to a clearing on a rise of his land where he built a small 14' x 14' cabin with a dirt floor. The following summer he brought his wife and mother to Freeman and farmed his tract of land.

When a larger house was needed due to the increasing family, Dyar felled trees and with a horse dragged them to a sawmill on Sandy River near Avon. He built a small frame house; later he encased the smaller house with a much larger house, removing the inside walls of the smaller home. Several years elapsed before the house was completed and it is said that Dyar knew from which tree each board came. By 1808 he had a colonial mansion sized home, called "Prospect Farm," which commanded a fine view of the surrounding countryside. The main house had four large, square, very high-posted rooms and a large hall below. On the second story there were also four large, square rooms and a reception hall. Elizabeth Dyar's suite comprised two of these rooms. Following John Nichols Dyar's death, his son John lived there on the farm, as in turn did his son Louis H., until he sold it in 1866 to Benjamin Dodge. At Louis's request, Elizabeth's suite of rooms was kept exactly as she left it. The land has changed hands many times since, and now the house is no longer in existence.

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Website created by Melanie Farmer  & Tamalie Paradis
Updated 9 OCT 2017
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