February 11, 2020

Creek Where Clark Operated a Gristmill

Interesting history!  This is the creek on the old Micajah Clark Dyer homeplace where he built a gristmill and operated it from about 1850 to 1890, grinding his and his neighbor's grains. 

September 2, 2019

Getting High in 1874

Cover of  Touch & Go

     Members of the Society for Aviation History recently learned about a story that surprised them in their July-August 2019 newsletter from the other side of the continent. Here's some of what it said about Getting High in 1874.
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        Micajah Clark Dyer had watched the birds flying over his Union County, Georgia home and opined, “There’s no reason why a man can’t do that, too.” So, he set to work making it happen during the years 1844 until his death in 1891.
        Born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on July 13, 1822, his family settled in Union County, Georgia, when Dyer was still a boy. He came from a family of farmers, and was himself a farmer. But he was an unusual man for his time. Living in isolation, having little money and only a seventh grade education, he invented many gadgets and techniques.
        But his most significant invention, and the joy of his life, was a flying machine for which he received Patent No. 154,654 on Sept. 1, 1874, titled Apparatus for Navigating the Air. It was placed in Class 244 for Aeronautics and Astronautics, and in Subclass 28 for Airships with Beating Wings Sustained. People all over the world were trying to design a controllable flying machine at that time. That it should be accomplished in this remote area at the hand of a poor farmer is remarkable.
        Some months after his death, Dyer’s widow sold the flying machine, the patent and papers to two brothers named Redwine from Atlanta and Gainesville, Ga. Afterwards, contact was lost with those men and only an oral legend remained for more than a hundred years.
        How could a report about such an achievement as this be absent from the annals of our country’s history? Well, during Dyer’s lifetime, there were no newspapers or cameras in this isolated area for reporting and recording his story. Several eye witnesses left their account of watching him fly over the neighborhood farms, and that was the extent of the record.
        Then, in late 2004, two great-great-great-grandsons found Dyer’s 1874 patent among some old patents the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office was uploading to their website. The drawings and descriptions in Dyer’s patent revealed his extraordinary understanding of the basics of flight.
        His design is a very early example representing the transition from balloons and gliders to powered, heavier-than-air craft. He married the buoyant power of a balloon with navigational controls for flight, such as a rudder for steering, paddle wheels for acceleration and deceleration, jointed moving wings to increase or decrease altitude, and a wedge-shaped hull and inclined prow to reduce wind resistance. He built his machine from the only materials available to him—lightweight wood and fabric—and constructed rails on Rattlesnake Mountain for getting it airborne.
        In 2006, after the patent was found, Jack Allen, a retired Delta Airlines machinist, built a to-scale model of the machine with outstanding results. He donated the model to the Union County Historical Society in Blairsville, Georgia, where it is displayed for public viewing in the Old Courthouse on the Square.
       Today, Dyer is well-known to folks living in the North Georgia Mountains through local newspapers, television, radio, and magazine stories. However, across the rest of our country he is largely unknown.
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You can learn much more about Micajah Clark Dyer by reading the older posts below.