Micajah Clark Dyer

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Micajah Clark Dyer

Birthplace: Pendleton, Anderson County, South Carolina, United States
Death: January 26, 1891 (68)
Choestoe, Union County, GA, United States
Place of Burial: Union County, GA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Meyers and Sarah Elizabeth Dyer
Husband of Morena Elizabeth Dyer
Father of Jasper Washington Dyer; John M. Dyer; Henderson Andrew Dyer; Marcus Lafayette Dyer; Cyntha Clarenda Smith and 5 others

Occupation: Farmer, Inventor, Aviation Pioneer
Claim to Fame: Aviation Pioneer
Find A Grave No.: 11291091
Managed by: Robert Jerome Jeffers
Last Updated:

About Micajah Clark Dyer

When one speaks of "Yankee Ingenuity" Micajah could be privy to a sizable slice of that pie. The reason being the extremes surrounding the birth and execution of an extraordinary feat. The type of ingenuity he showed was thinking outside of a box and yet he didnt have much of a box to think outside of. He existed in an almost intellectual vacuum. Typically those who achieve some form of great engineering feat have at least some type of schooling or interaction with other like minded individuals. He appears to have had none of any significance. His most significant teacher, was a library. A prime example of the power of the written word.

I couldn’t help but think upon seeing images of his patent, if he hadn't been exposed to images of the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. Such a book would have been scarce a luxury in those days. Being the plans for Micajah’s invention were doodled on the flyleaves of the family Bible its unlikely many books at all were to be found.

The accounts that follow are based on eyewitness testimonies.

"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 mechanisms connected with the driving power."

The patent mentioned steam as a possible power source, and the news articles described how the wings would move up and down like that of a bird. A balloon also would be used to lift the machine higher, and it would be steered by a rudder.

The news articles continued, "Mr. Dyer has been studying ... air navigation for 30 years and has tried various experiments during that time, all of which failed until he adopted the present plan ... 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.


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]

"The Wright brothers' aircraft came after Clark Dyer's flying Machine"

On December 17, 2003, America stood poised to see a reproduction of the Wright Brothers' flying machine lift off from Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It was in commemoration of one hundred years of flight, 1903- 2003. The replica, however, with all the attention to details, did not fly as well as the Wright Brothers' plane, and the 100-year celebration hit an unexpected snag.

One Micajah Clark Dyer, an inventor who lived and worked in the Choestoe District of Union County, made a flying machine that pre-dated that of the Wright brothers by 15 years or more. The reason we do not hear more about this amazing feat of a mountain genius is that he did not secure a patent for his machine, and he died before he could perfect it and get the publicity necessary for making his invention a part of flight history.

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 out of wedlock. It has been a matter of family knowledge that the baby's father was one John Meyers, but he did not ever marry Sallie Dyer nor claim his son. The baby, Micajah Clark Dyer, was named after Sallie's grandfather, Micajah Clark, her mother Elizabeth's father. Elisha, Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Dyer reared Sallie's son as their own. They did, however, confuse the record a bit, because they had already named their eighth child, a son, born in 1817, Micajah Clark Dyer. Some have surmised that the inventor Micajah Clark Dyer's father, John Meyers, much have been very mechanical-minded, for early on the young man showed strong propensities toWard inventiveness.

The 1822 Micajah Clark Dyer moved 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 CENSUSwas made in 1834, two years after the county's founding.

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

Micajah Clark Dyer was introspective by nature. His education in the 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 John P. Smith.; 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 and Morena Ownbey Dyer still reside in Union County.

Morena Dyer had the convenience of running water in their 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 of 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 Dyer 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, but they certainly happened before Clark Dyer's untimely death on January 26, 1891 when he was 68 years of age. Prior to his death, he had invented a "perpetual motion" machine. Mr. Virgil Waldroup, a justice of the peace and merchant in the area, had helped Clark apply to Washington for a patent on his inventions, but these were not forthcoming before Dyer's death. 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 the late 1880's or maybe 1890. Who knows? Pine Top around 1890 might have been the Kitty Hawk of 1903 had times and circumstances been more conducive.

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Micajah Clark Dyer's Timeline

July 13, 1822
Pendleton, Anderson County, South Carolina, United States
March 19, 1843
Union County, GA, United States
Union County, GA, United States
January 16, 1848
Choestoe, Union County, GA, United States
Union County, GA, United States
Union County, GA, United States
Blairsville, Union County, GA, United States
April 19, 1856
Union County, GA, United States
Union County, GA, United States