July 27, 2008

“Legend of Clark Dyer’s Remarkable Flying Machine” displayed at reunion

Standing: Dr. Joseph B. Turner, Charles H. Souther, and Rev. Keith Jones.
Seated: Dr. Eva Nell Wike, Ethelene D. Jones, Dr. Thomas N. Lumsden, and Sylvia D. Turnage

The 2008 annual Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion, held July 19, 2008 at the Choestoe Baptist Church in Blairsville, Georgia, featured a display of books written by family members. Pictured above are family authors who were present at the reunion.

One of the books on display was The Legend of Clark Dyer’s Remarkable Flying Machine, written by Sylvia Dyer Turnage and published in 1994. This book tells the story of Clark’s invention as it was known up to that time. The book included everything the family knew about the invention and what they had heard about its outcome. By the time she finished the book, she said, “I had reconciled myself to the sad reality that my family and I would never have any documentary proof that my great-great-grandfather built and flew an airplane here in the North Georgia mountains almost 30 years before the Wright brothers flew theirs.”

Then, in late 2004, a great-great-great-grandson, Joey Dyer, was searching the internet when he managed to locate Clark’s patent in the U.S. Patent & Copyright Office. What a discovery!

The family was elated to finally see the patent, No. 154,654, which was issued to Clark on September 1, 1874, by the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The sophisticated drawings and detailed specifications of the flying machine that Clark had included in his patent application were most remarkable. The aeronautical principles he had addressed were way ahead of anything that others trying to invent a flying machine had yet envisioned. He included many innovative features: a power source, a rudder for steering, paddle wheels for acceleration and deceleration, jointed moving wings to increase or decrease altitude, and a wedge-shaped hull with inclined prow to reduce wind resistance.

In the year following discovery of his patent, two 1875 newspaper articles were discovered that reported Clark’s invention: the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, dated July 16, 1875, and The Eagle (Gainesville, Georgia), dated July 31, 1875. A comment in The Eagle article reveals the length of time Clark had been working on his invention and the depth of his conviction in his ability to get his craft airborne. The article says:

Mr. Dyer has been studying the subject of air navigation for thirty years…he himself has the most unshaken faith in [the machine’s] success, and is ready, as soon as the machine can be constructed, to board the ship and commit himself to the wind.

Very belatedly, recognition was given to Clark’s invention by erection of three highway signs in 2006 declaring State Highway 180 from the junction of U.S. Highway 19/129 to Brasstown Bald Mountain Spur the “Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway.” Now everyone who drives along this popular road gets the opportunity to recognize a pioneer aviator who had to wait 132 years for “his day” to come.

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July 6, 2008

Dyer-Souther Reunion - July 19
at Choestoe Baptist Church

The 2008 annual Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion will be held Saturday, July 19, 2008 at the Choestoe Baptist Church, Family Life Center, 4455 Choestoe Church Rd., Blairsville, Georgia. Registration begins at 11:00 a.m.

The Reunion honors the memory of early settlers to the Choestoe District of Union County--John Souther and Mary "Polly" Combs Souther and Elisha Dyer, Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Dyer--their descendents and related families. The Reunion draws about 200 people each year and is a highlight in sharing genealogical information and getting acquainted. A Memorial Service honors relatives who have passed away since the last Reunion.

You are invited to attend and participate. Bring a covered dish to share at the noon meal.

(Information furnished by Ethelene Dyer Jones, Historian of the Dyer-Souther Association)

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February 17, 2008

Historical Society Museum Presented Timeline Book

Pictured above: Historical Society President Sam Ensley accepts book from great, great grand-daughter Sylvia Dyer Turnage, as Board Member Betty Jane Shuler looks on.

The Union County Historical Society has had on display for some time in the Old Courthouse Museum a copy of the 1874 patent granted to Union County’s pioneer aviator, Micajah Clark Dyer. There is also an artist’s sketch and a model of his plane, along with several pictures for visitors to see. But, if you have not heard the story of this man’s remarkable design, construction and flight of an airplane, which occurred more than a quarter of a century before the Wright brothers, you might not realize the significance of what he did without some further explanation.

Sylvia Dyer Turnage, great, great granddaughter of Clark Dyer, has filled that void. She donated a book for placement in the museum that contains the story of the invention, along with dozens of pictures and illustrations of the man, the place and the times that will inform those who do not know about this historic event.

It is an important piece of Union County history that was nearly lost before Clark Dyer’s 1874 patent was finally found about two years ago in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office by his great-great-great-grandson, Joey Dyer. Up to that time, there was only family legend about the invention because the patent and the airplane were sold after his death to someone in Gainesville or Atlanta; and descendents were later unable to trace the sale. After discovering the patent in the Trademark Office, the family renewed their search for information, which resulted in their locating two 1875 newspaper articles that reported the invention.

If you don’t know about this part of Union County’s history, come by the museum and learn the facts.

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