Father John Lewis Dyer

Father John Lewis Dyer: (Information from his biography Snow-Shoe Itinerant, 1889; the "Notes" are from other sources; also see  Mark Feister's Blasted, Beloved Breckenridge)



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Husband: John Lewis DYER died at age: 89
Born: 16 Mar 1812 in OH
Died: 16 Jun 1901 in Denver, CO
Buried: in: Castle Rock Cem., Douglas Co., CO
Methodist preacher
Father: Samuel DYER
Mother: Cassandra FOSTER
Autobiography: "Snow-Shoe Itinerant", 1890
Biography: Mark Fiester, "Look for Me in Heaven", 1980
Stained glass window of him in CO State capitol.
Wife: Harriet FOSTER died at age: 35
Married: 1833 his age: 20 her age: 21
Died: 18 Sep 1847 in: Potosi, Grant Co., WI
Father: Zebulon FOSTER
M Child 1 Joshua DYER
Born: 8 Oct 1834
M Child 2 Elias Foster DYER died at age: 38
Born: 8 Oct 1836
Died: 3 Jul 1875 in Granite, Chaffee Co., Colorado
Buried: in Castle Rock Cem., Douglas Co., CO
Murdered in his courtroom at Granite. Buried first in Granite but moved later to Castle Rock.
F Child 3 Elizabeth Iambie DYER
M Child 4 Samuel M. DYER
Born: 12 May 1843
Buried in Napa, California
Some dirt from his California grave was placed in Castle Rock cemetery near his father's grave.
F Child 5 Harriet DYER died at age 1
Born 1 Aug 1846
Died: 18 Sep 1847 in Potosi, Grant Co., WI

Wife: Sarah WHITING
Married 14 Dec 1847 his age: 35
Died 1851
Killed in a flood.

Wife: Lucinda P. (Lord) RANKIN died at age: 61
Married: 7 Nov 1870 in Denver, CO his age 58, her age 43
Born: 30 Mar 1827 in Lebonon, ME
Died: 9 Apr 1888 in Denver, CO
Buried: in Castle Rock Cem., Douglas Co., CO
Her first husband, Joseph Rankin, died in 1862, age 45.



His great-grandfather came from England, owned land in Pendleton County, Virginia. Two sons (Roger and John) and one daughter. Killed by Indians.

His grand-father John married Jane Morrel.

1786: The third of John and Jane's nine children was Samuel, born in Pendleton County, Virginia.

1788: John and his family moved to Kentucky (near Lexington).

1798: They moved to Station Prairie, a stronghold against Indians below Chillicothe, Ohio. (note: At some point the Foster's were located in Ross County, Ohio which probably included Station Prairie. It seems likely that the families became acquainted here.)

1800: John moved north 25 miles or so to the junction of the Darby rivers in Franklin County and built a grist-mill, known as Dyer's Mills as late as 1889.

1812: John Dyer died. His funeral sermon was preached by Lewis Foster, with whom he had been acquainted. John was not a Church member, but Jane was a Methodist.

1844: John Lewis Dyer took his family to Potosi, Wisconsin, where his wife and youngest daughter died in 1847. He was prospecting and working lead mines and continued Church work. He married a widow but promptly divorced her when he found that she had married twice before but had not divorced the second husband who was still alive.

Lots of preaching here and there in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

1861: He was broke financially and his eyes started giving him a lot of trouble. He was finally almost unable to read and decided to stop preaching and go see Pikes Peak! On May 9 he left Lenora, Minnesota on a "splendid riding animal" bound for Omaha. He reached Omaha with no difficulty and there he joined a train of 18 wagons headed for Pikes Peak (which referred to the entire Colorado mining area). One of the wagon owners agreed to give him board and carry his pack (a carpet-sack and a gun), but John would have to walk the entire 600 miles.

On the trip he preached whenever and wherever possible and was upset with the white men for teaching the Indians to swear! He reached Denver in late June and met Elias, his second son, who was working in a Denver store.

His first trip into the mountains was to Buckskin Joe (west of Alma up Buckskin Gulch) via Kenosha Hill and South Park. During that summer, fall, and into 1862 he preached and occasionally prospected, visiting Montgomery (north of Alma), Fair Play, California Gulch (Leadville), Twin Lakes, Gunnison, and other places in the vicinity. In March, 1862, he returned to Denver where he was assigned the Blue River Mission in Summit County. He walked again over Kenosha Hill but then went over the Snowy Range to the Breckenridge district. Along with preaching, he made himself a pair of shoe-shoes to facilitate getting around the country in the snow (these were actually skis, usually nine to eleven feet long -- to avoid falling into hidden mine shafts -- and were accompanied by a single long pole for pushing, knocking wet snow off of the skis, and help in steering).

1863: He was assigned to the South Park district which included Montgomery, Buckskin Joe, Mosquito, Fair Play, Tarryall, and a few other places. Again, besides preaching, he did a little prospecting here and there. Also, because his funds were running extremely low, he looked for some work which he could do but would allow him to continue preaching (which he usually did several times each week). What he finally found was a contract to carry mail from Buckskin Joe to the Leadville region, a trip which required crossing Mosquito Pass -- 13,861 feet elevation and a difficult trip even in summer. In addition he became an expressman on his return leg, carrying gold dust which was taken to Denver and exchanged for greenbacks.

1864 to early 1865: Travel in southern Colorado and New Mexico (preaching).

1865: His youngest son returned from the war missing one foot; his eldest was killed in a steamboat explosion off Cape Hatteras when he was being returned from a Southern prison camp. His parents moved to Missouri. He visited New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia.

1866-68: Around South Park for the most part.

1869-70: New Mexico.

1870-72: Appointed to the Divide Circuit (between Denver and Colorado Springs). Married Mrs. Lucinda Rankin of Cherry Creek in Douglas County in November, 1870 and took up a homestead. In November, 1871, his father died in Bailey and was temporarily buried there.

1873-74: Appointed to northern Colorado in the vicinity of Greeley. In the summer his sister visited him and they took a three-week trip into the mountains through South Park, over Horseshoe Pass to Iowa Gulch where his son Elias was working a mine, over to Mosquito and Alma, and finally back to Evans near Greeley.

1874-75: Appointed to Monument (included Table Rock). Probate Judge E.F. Dyer -- his son, Elias -- was shot and killed in Granite by a mob involved in the Lake County troubles. Dyer disinterred his father's body and buried it and Elias's in Castle Rock in Douglas County.

1876-77: In Fair Play and Alma. He visited several mines on Mt. Lincoln (Dolly Varden, Moose, and Australia).

1877-79: Became a supernumerary of the Church; did some preaching, and made his own living...

1879-80: Appointed to the Breckenridge Circuit. The Meeker Massacre occurred in 1879 and generated unfounded Indian scares in several places including Alma and a report to the Governor that Breckenridge had been burned down. In the summer of 1880 he purchased a lot on French Street in Breckenridge, built a small log cabin on one half and a church on the other. The church, now known as the Father Dyer United Methodist Church, has been expanded, remodeled, and moved to the corner of Briar Rose and Wellington.

1880-82: Breckenridge again. Being well acquainted with the mountains and with mining methods, he worked as a mining claim locator and became involved with the Warrior's Mark mine near the top of Boreas Pass.

1883-85: Moved to his ranch in Douglas County and tried to make a living on it -- found it difficult to do at his age (over seventy).

1885-87: Back in Breckenridge.

1891-92: Visited Breckenridge.

1899: Visited Breckenridge.

1900: A stained glass portrait of him put in the dome of the State Capitol building.

1901: Died. He is buried in the Castle Rock Cemetery along with many of his family

Father John Lewis Dyer (1812-1901) Samuel Dyer (1786--1871)       Samuel M. Dyer's wife, Rusha (1841--1877)

Father Dyer United Methodist Church
Wellington & Briar Rose Road

One of Breckenridge's most historically significant buildings, the church was started in 1879 by "Father" John Lewis Dyer, an itinerant Methodist preacher who came to Colorado at age 40 and began skiing across the Continental Divide regularly to deliver mail, gold and the Gospel to miners. He was 67 years old when he began building his church. Breckenridge's first church was moved from its former location on French Street to the Wellington location in 1977 and has been expanded since that time.  The original chapel remains testament to the indomitable spirit of Father Dyer.  He is also immortalized in the Colorado Capitol Rotunda in Denver with a stained glass portrait.




1940 1975