52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 9:

A Family Disaster

While researching family history I often find tragic stories of ancestors that make me realize how lucky I am to exist. One such story involves a maternal 3rd great grandfather named Anderson T. Dyer. The story goes that he died as the result of a fall from his horse. He lingered for a few days and was able to give his last will orally. The piece of luck, for me, is that his wife was several weeks pregnant with my 2nd great-grandfather at the time of his death.[1]

Anderson T. Dyer, 1814 – 1844

Anderson T. Dyer was born 11 July 1814 in Grainger County, TN to parents James Monroe Dyer (1774-1857) and Elizabeth Garroth (1780-1835) Dyer. Anderson married Rachel Hubbs, the daughter of his neighbor William Hubbs, in 1842. [2] From the information in the 1840 census, I have surmised that Rachel was living with her father [3] and Anderson, with his children, were living with his father James Dyer Sr.[4] This means Anderson had a marriage before Rachel. I have not found the documentation, but I believe his first wife, the mother of his 3 eldest sons, was named Sarah Criffen.[5]

David Louis Osborne, 1848-1942

There’s a Will

Anderson’s will was orally made and witnessed 2 Sep 1844 during his “last sickness in his own dwelling house.” In this will he gives his heirs as his wife and all of his children “now born or may be born, his wife Rachel now being in a pregnant condition.” The will was signed by the witnesses on 9 Sep 1844, presumably Anderson had died.[6]  In addition to Rachel, he named his living children as Leroy, Alfred and Marion. His youngest son, my ancestor, James A. Dyer, was born 25 Apr 1845. That’s about 33 weeks after Anderson’s death.

Anderson may have been a spinner, in addition to being a farmer. His will includes a bequest to his wife Rachel of “Two wheels, one reel, all his spun thread and all the cloth he has on hand.” No mention of a loom, but his estate inventory includes flax, cotton and sheep.

Anderson’s sons Marion and James both served the Union during the American Civil War. James, my 2nd great-grandfather, married after the war to Mary Shaver. Their eldest son John A. Dyer was my great grandfather, he was born 13 Sep 1867. According to the 1890 Veterans Schedule, James Dyer suffered from neuralgia. [7] Although, when he died in 1915 his cause of death was a chronic kidney condition.
David Louis Osborne, 1848-1942


I DNA match with descendants of Anderson Dyer’s siblings, and descendants of his son Marion, leaving no doubt that Anderson was father of the son born after his death. Also, Rachel Hubbs Dyer remarried in 1846 to a man named Damewood and had 6 children. I DNA match with several of the descendants of these Damewood children, too.


  1. Profile for Anderson T. Dyer,

  2. Entry for A T Dyer, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.
  3. Entry for William Hubbs, Year: 1840; Census Place: Grainger, Tennessee; Roll: 525; Page: 133; Family History Library Film: 0024546; Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  4. Entry for James Dyer Sr., ibid
  5. Death certificate for Leroy Dyer. Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1922; Roll: 07; Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Indiana State Board of Health. Death Certificates, 1900–2011. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  6. Entry for Anderson T Dyer, Probate Records, 1831-1972; Author: Tennessee County Court (Grainger County); Probate Place: Grainger, Tennessee; Ancestry.com. Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
  7. Entry for James A Dyer. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Series Number: M123; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Record Group Number: 15; Census Year: 1890; Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M123, 118 rolls); Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Remember Me and I Will Live