George Leland Dyer Papers

1783-1930, 1862-1930, 2005
Manuscript Collection #340
Creator(s)
Dyer, George L.
Physical description
5.78 Cubic Feet, 2400 items, consisting of correspondence, diaries, photographs and photograph albums, literary manuscripts, newspapers and newspaper clippings, a book of poetry, and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
George Leland Dyer Papers (#340), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
Repository
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access
No restrictions

Papers (1783–1930, [bulk 1862–1930]) consisting of correspondence, diaries, photographs, photograph albums, literary manuscripts, newspapers and newspaper clipping, a book of poetry, genealogical notes, etc., documenting the life of Commodore George L. Dyer, whose naval career spanned the years 1870 to 1908, and his family. He served in various stations, with particular emphasis on the West Indies, the Asiatic Station, Cuba, Madrid (as naval attache), and Guam (as governor).


Biographical/historical information

George Leland Dyer (26 August 1849–2 April 1914), son of George Washington and Mary Kelley Dyer, was born and reared in Calais, Maine. Appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1866, he was graduated with honors in 1870. He was made an ensign in July 1871. Dyer was promoted through grades to the rank of captain in September 1905, and commodore in 1908, when he retired. He served aboard various sail and steam vessels and performed a variety of administrative duties. In 1875 Dyer married Susan Hart Palmer (22 September 1853–1921), one of five children of Oliver Hazzard and Susan Augusta Hart Palmer of New York. They had three children: George Palmer (b. 7 February 1876), Susan Hart [Daisy] (b. 20 December 1879), and Dorothy (b. 7 May 1886). Commodore and Mrs. Dyer retired to their home, The Anchorage, at Winter Park, Florida, in 1908, where they lived until they died. For further information concerning the family, see genealogical notes in folder #340.25.c.


Scope and arrangement

The George Leland Dyer Papers constitute an unusually rich primary source reflecting varied aspects of the U.S. Navy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition, the papers chronicle in great detail the personal affairs and relationships of members of the Dyer and Palmer families. The bulk of the collection consists of the voluminous correspondence of George Dyer to his wife during his frequent absences from home, although letters of Susan Dyer, George Washington Dyer, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Hazzard Palmer, and other members of the family comprise a significant portion of the papers. Such additional material as diaries, photographs, and literary manuscripts complement the correspondence pertaining to the Navy and to the activities of family members.

Correspondence and other material pertaining to Dyer's naval career provide an interesting, lucid picture of life in the U.S. Navy during a time when it slowly evolved from a state of pre-Civil War backwardness into a "New Navy" force of international significance.

Dyer's letters to his wife and children, often lengthy journals written over periods of many days, reveal his keen intellect, character, and views on naval affairs. They document his constant frustration with life in the Navy and his frequent desire to find another profession. Themes reflected throughout the letters include such problems as low pay, paucity of promotions, routine or petty nature of work, lengthy absences from home, slowness of mail service, backwardness of ships and naval policy, desertions, alcohol abuse and other problems with crew, infestations of vermin, and incompetence of various officers, including some of Dyer's superiors. Dyer also discusses new naval developments, including the use of steam power and electricity. Other topics frequently discussed are mechanical aspects of ships, Dyer's reading interests, storms, navigation, such routine maintenance as cleaning and painting, relationships of officers and men, life in the mess, leisure activities, such frequent social events at ports as dinners and balls, and church services. Dyer also comments on the role of the Navy as a manifestation of America's growth as an imperial power.

The collection contains significant documentation concerning most of Dyer's cruises and administrative assignments. In the descriptions below, references are made to notable topics pertaining to specific duties. The researcher should remember that the above-mentioned subjects are constant themes throughout the papers.

During Dyer's service aboard USS Plymouth from 1870 to 1873, he visited such cities as Villefrache, Lisbon, Southampton, Gravesend, Hamburg, Frankfort, and Soden. Correspondence pertains to a sailor's attack of delirium tremens after shore leave in France (16 March 1872); a race among (2 June 1872) and maneuvers of ships in the European Squadron (31 May, July 1872); a visit to the squadron of the Price and Princess of Wales (August 1872); General William T. Sherman's visit with Queen Victoria and his opinion of her (August 1872); Dyer's leisure activities in Soden, Germany (22, 29 September 1872); and houses near the depot in Frankfort (29 September 1872).

From a base in Montevideo, Uruguay, USS Frolic traveled extensively along the East Coast of South America. Letters of George and Susan, who lived in Montevideo during this period (1875–1877), comment extensively on many aspects of life in the area. Of particular interest are materials reflecting the Frolic's voyage from the United States to South America. George's letter of 21 November 1875 describes the voyage and stops at Bermuda, Barbados, and Maranham, Brazil, as well as a ceremony at Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the birthday of the emperor of Brazil. George Dyer's diary kept during the trip contains descriptions and photographs of Bermuda, Barbados, and Maranham, as well as references to life aboard Frolic. Letters throughout the period pertain to Susan's domestic and social activities in Montevideo.

Additional correspondence pertains to houses, people, and street scenes in Montevideo (16 January 1876); instability, corruption, and sloth of the government and people of Uruguay (8 March 1876); aspects of the government and people of Uruguay (8 March 1876); aspects of Maldonado, Uruguay, including its bay, Gorrite Island, a cemetery in disarray, and corruption of local officials (1 April 1876); a peaceful revolution in Uruguay (April 1876); aspects of Buenos Aires and naval officials' meeting with Argentine President Nicholás Avellaneda during a violent anti-government demonstration (7 July, 26 August 1876); the squalid nature of Colonia, Uruguay, and English sheep ranchers there (26 August 1876); a ball in Buenos Aires (16 February 1877); the appearance of Pernambuco, Brazil (17 September 1877); and native women at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, who loaded coal for Frolic (11 October 1877). Dyer's diary contains additional entries (March, September 1877) pertaining to aspects of the cruise.

During his time as instructor of mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy, Dyer served aboard USS Constellation, a sail-powered training vessel. His letters (July 1878–September 1879) discuss shipboard life, leisure activities, and other aspects of cruises along the East Coast. Also of interest are Dyer's descriptions of the shotgun cottages at Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts (8 August 1877).

Dyer served aboard USS Constitution on its last official cruise, during which time it served as a mobile school for training apprentices. His letters (September 1880–August 1881) describe the ship, officers, crew, stringent regulations, problems on board ship, and aspects of the training, which took place along the East Coast. Also of interest are references to lack of maintenance at Fortress Monroe, Virginia (16 October 1880); poor conditions aboard other ships in the squadron (24 October 1880); and the bad performance of Captain Oscar F. Stanton and his replacement (26 April; 1, 2 May 1881; 19 June 1881).

From December 1881 until July 1882, Dyer served aboard USS Despatch in the Gulf of Samana, Dominican Republic, where the crew was involved in survey work. His letters describe the survey work and comment extensively on the squalid condition of the natives, landscape, climate, and animal life in the vicinity of Santa Barbara, San Juan, and Savana la Mar. Of particular interest are Dyer's descriptions of a cock fight at Santa Barbara (1 January 1882), a local judge and area governor (6 February 1882), and a pony ride through the countryside (6 February 1882).

Although little correspondence exists for the period during which Dywer worked at the U.S. Hydrographic Office (1883–1889), a single file (1888–1889) contains letters complimenting Dyer's work as hydrographer and newspaper clippings concerning the Hydrographic Office and Dyer's tenure there.

From the shipyard at Mare Island, California, Dyer served aboard flagships of the Pacific Station under the command of Rear Admiral George Brown. Most of the material for these years reflects varied activities aboard the USS Charleston (January 1890–February 1891) and USS San Francisco (April 1891–August 1892). Dyer's letters constitute a very descriptive record of physical aspects and operations of these ships, as well as social activities of officers at Mare Island, California, and various ports, including San Francisco and Honolulu. The letters contain frequent discussions of Rear Admiral Brown and the Charleston's Captain George Collier Remey. Dyer had responsibility for organizing the band for these flagships; many of his letters pertain to activities and problems of the musicians.

USS Charleston was the first steel ship completed at the shipyard at Mare Island. Dyer's letters of February to May 1890 pertain to social activities and official duty at Mare Island and San Francisco as the Charleston was prepared for service. Of interest during this period are discussions of the shipyard and its surroundings (9, 18 February 1890); a hotel at Monterey, California, and the area around Monterey, including Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz (3–5 March 1890); festivities surrounding the ship's departure from Mare Island and San Francisco (10 April 1890); and a "Loyal Legion banquet" in San Francisco presided over by Gen. Nelson Appleton Miles (4 May 1890).

In May, 1890, the Charleston departed for Honolulu because of anticipated civil unrest in Hawaii. Correspondence from May 1890 until February 1891 chronicles the activities of the ship there, the political rumblings, the appearance of Honolulu and environs, and the lifestyles and estates of wealthy Americans who lived there. Also of interest are Dyer's derogatory descriptions of natives, "half-whites," and revolutionaries. Of particular importance are descriptions of the Charleston's surprisingly slow speed (23 May 1890); the decadence and questionable social activities of Hawaiian King Kalakana (30 May, 3 October, 16 November 1890); banker Charles Reed Bishop and his family (9 June, 3 October 1890); U.S. Minister Resident John Leavitt Stevens, and his family (9 June, 6 July 1890); German capitalist Claus Spreckels (29 June 1890); the bad policies and conservatism of Rear Admiral Francis Munroe Ramsay (6, 16 July 1890); laziness and immorality of missionaries (6 July 1890); the Charleston's enthusiastic reception by the people of Seattle during a brief visit (1 September 1890); Hawaiian Minister to the U.S. Henry Alpheus Pierce Carter and his family (3 October 1890); and a sugar plantation at Waimanalo (26 October 1890; 11 February 1891). Copies of the Wave (July 1890), published aboard the Charleston, further document the ship's activities at Honolulu. A newspaper clipping pertains to the funeral of King Kalakana.

By April 1891, Dyer was aboard USS San Francisco, which was sent to Chile during the revolution there. Considerable correspondence (April–November 1891) pertains to the Navy's involvement in the area, especially the chase and capture of the Chilean revolutionaries' ship Itata, which had smuggled arms out of the United States, and attempts to intercept its companion vessel, Esmeralda. Dyer comments extensively on actions of the Balmaceda government and Chilean junta; movements of U.S. ships along the South American coast; cities, landscape, and people in Chile and Peru; negotiations with revolutionaries concerning the Itata affair; U.S. naval policy during the conflict; and actions of various officers, including Admirals Brown and McCaun and Charleston's Captain Remey. Of particular importance are letters (July–October 1891) that describe American negotiations with Chilean revolutionaries, the victory of the junta over Balmaceda's forces, and Chilean exiles aboard San Francisco. Also of interest are Dyer's comments concerning a religious procession in Serena (19 July 1891); U.S. Ambassador to Chile Patrick Egan (8 September, 7 October 1891); a funeral for a naval officer at Callas, Peru (22 October 1891); and the illegitimacy of the Chilean revolutionaries' claims.

San Francisco returned to Honolulu after the conclusion of hostilities in Chile. Letters for the period May to August 1892 reflect many of the themes common in earlier letters: political unrest; area estates; and social activities of naval officers and elites in Honolulu. Of particular interest are references to Admiral Brown; a racetrack and horse races (8 June 1892); the status of education for Hawaiian natives and the need for vocational instruction (22 June 1892), and the character of Queen Liliuokalani (18 August 1892).

Vesuvius, an experimental craft designed for high speed and the capacity to fire large shells a mile, was stationed at Jacksonville, Florida, during 1896 to 1897. Under the command of Captain John Elliott Pillsbury, the ship policed the immediate area in an effort to intercept the Dauntless and other filibusters that were involved in smuggling arms to revolutionaries in Cuba. Dyer's letters (January 1896; January–June 1897) discuss mechanical problems and other aspects of the Vesuvius and its crew, repeated missions in search of filibusters, and the crisis in Cuba. Also of interest are his discussions of USS Massachusetts (October 1896); maneuvers during a simulated coastal blockade at Charleston, South Carolina (February 1897); the run-down appearance of South Carolina Military Academy [the Citadel] (14 February 1897); countryside in the vicinity of Mayport, Florida, and the construction of jetties there (12 March, 10 April 1897); and the opulent "cottage" of a wealthy resident of Mayport (11 May 1897).

In 1897 President William McKinley dispatched General Stewart Lyndon Woodford to Spain in an effort to mediate a peaceful settlement between Spain and Cuban revolutionaries, thereby avoiding war between Spain and the United States. Dyer served as naval attaché and, along with a Captain Bliss, the army attaché, provided significant assistance to Woodford during the negotiations. Correspondence of Dyer prior to the collapse of Woodford's efforts (July 1897–April 1898) discusses General Woodford, negotiations with the Spanish government, and the role of Dyer and Bliss in formulating American positions; the climate of opinion in Spain concerning Cuba and the United States; and Dyer's views about jingoism in Congress and the philosophy of the Spanish people. Also of interest are his descriptions of London and a dinner at the residence of U.S. Ambassador John Hay (8 August 1897); travel from London to Paris (15 August 1897); aspects of Paris, including hotel accommodations, the subway, and a cinema (August 1897); jingoistic views of U.S. Ambassador to France, Horace Porter (18 August 1897); train travel in Spain (2, 14 September 1897); the intellect, political views, and accomplishments of former U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Hannis Taylor (September 1897); the social life and customs of Spanish people (6–7 September 1897); and the efforts of New York Sun publisher Henry Mackay Laffan to acquire news from Spain (15, 17 April 1898).

A diary kept by Dyer's daughter, Susan Hart (Daisy) in Paris and Spain during her father's tenure as attaché(January–February 1898) includes descriptions of the American legation; the family of Gen. Woodford and his incompetence; the political climate in Spain; and Daisy's views on the prospect of war and the attitudes of the Spanish people.

As commander of the gunboat USS Stranger during the Spanish-American War, Dyer participated in the naval blockade at Havana. Correspondence (May–September 1898) pertains to the Stranger's trip to Cuba and participation in the blockade. Dyer describes Beaufort, North Carolina. (20 May 1898), troops and ships at Tampa Bay and Lakeland (4 June 1898), and aspects of the ship, including its crew.

In the fall of 1898 Dyer was assigned command of USS Yankton, which was engaged in patrol duty and survey work on the coast of Cuba. Yankton anchored at such points as Santiago and Guantanamo prior to June 1899, then was based at Nipe Bay (June 1899–April 1901). Dyer's letters discuss the survey work and aspects of the ship, including machinery, routine duties, and activities of the crew; his observations concerning the squalid conditions in which Cubans lived and measures that should be taken to improve standards of living; and efforts of U.S. officials to govern and clean up the island. Many of the letters deal with American foreign policy in general and reflect Dyer's patronizing attitude concerning the natives of Cuba and the Philippine Islands.

Considerable correspondence (June 1899–April 1901) discusses the countryside in the vicinity of Nipe Bay and the towns of Banes and Gibara. Of particular interest are Dyer's descriptions of the United Fruit Company's work at Banes, its efforts to put in operation a new sugar mill, and difficulties the company had with area laborers and landowners as it expanded its operations.

The letters also pertain to the appearance of Morro Castle (29 January 1899); the competence of General Leonard Wood and Wood's views concerning the role of the United States in Cuba (11, 12 March, 20 April, 16 May, 9 June 1899); Gen. Joseph Wheeler's undeserved fame for his actions at the battle of San Juan Hill (11 March 1899); the squalid condition of El Canez (12 March 1899); a Catholic worship service in Santiago on Palm Sunday (26 March 1899); a bungalow in Daiquiri (18 April 1899); a controversy surrounding Winfield Scott Schley (15, 18 June 1899); Beaufort, S.C., and the naval station there (10 November 1899); foreign businessmen in Jamaica (25, 28 December 1899); the work and beliefs of "Progressive Friends Society" missionaries at Gibara (28 January 1901); Dyer's criticism of Rear Admiral George Collier Remey (25 March 1901); and his objection to naval officers' desire to commission portraits of Admirals George Dewey and William Thomas Sampson for the U.S. Naval Academy (22 April 1901).

Most of Dyer's letters (January-September 1903) pertain to his sea voyage from San Francisco to Hong Kong aboard the steamer Coptic and life aboard USS Rainbow in Japan and the Philippine Islands. Dyer describes passengers, crew, facilities, and Chinese servants on the Coptic (January 1903); new and old houses and other aspects of Honolulu(10, 11 January 1903); Osaka, Nagasaki, and Yokohama, Japan (25, 28 January; June 1903); a Chinese New Year celebration in Shanghai (31 January 1903); and hotel accommodations, clothing prices, and other aspects of Hong Kong (2, 4 February 1903). Also of interest are Dyer's references to the Philippine Islands: Cavite and the living conditions of Filipinos there (26 March; 1, 9 April 1903); people and housing in the countryside between Cavite and Malabon (24 April 1903); and Manila, the U.S. military base there, and Filipinos in the area (5, 12 May 1903).

A variety of materials documents the tenure of Dyer as governor of Guam from 1904 to 1905. Of particular interest are typed copies of letters written by Susan Hart Palmer Dyer to a relative in the United States (June 1904–November 1905). Mrs. Dyer discusses the governor's palace and grounds; the habits, customs, and living conditions of the native Chamorros; social and cultural activities of the Dyers and visitors to the island; improvements in education for the natives; and Mrs. Dyer's work towards the establishment of a hospital for women and children. A lengthy letter (April 1905) records Mrs. Dyer's activities during a trip to the southern Philippine Islands.

Two photograph albums (1904–1905?) contain photographs of mixed sizes taken at Guam and the Philippine Islands. Among the photographs of Guam are views of Agana; the governor's plaza, palace, and grounds; Susana Hospital; a cable station; schoolchildren at Inarajan and Merizo; Sumay natives and their church and sawmill; a Good Friday procession at Agat; the Dyer family and acquaintances engaged in various activities; and numerous natives, structures, animals, ships, vehicles, and expanses of countryside and coastline.

Photographs of such places in the Philippines as Capamba, Zamboanga, Manila, and Iloilo probably were taken during Mrs. Dyer's trip there in April 1905 (PA-340/2). Included also is a photograph of the USS Albany.

A file of legal papers and correspondence (1907) pertains to the endowment and operation of Susana Hospital.

The George Leland Dyer Papers contain considerable material reflecting the family relationships, social life, travels, education, interests, clothing, and domestic affairs of the Dyer and Palmer families. In short, the papers give considerable insight into the nature of lifestyles and customs of social elites during the late Victorian period.

The letters exchanged by George and Susan Dyer reveal the nature of their relationship. The couple met in Europe in 1870. The letters of the period 1871 to 1875 reveal the nature of their courtship. After their marriage on 31 March 1875, the Dyers corresponded frequently. Brief letters and lengthy "journals" (1875–1903), written during the frequent periods when the Dyers were separated by George's naval duties, thoroughly document their devotion to each other, varied aspects of their relationship, and the pain caused by George's absences. The diary Dyer kept aboard the Frolic (1875–1877) provides further insight into the nature of their married life.

Also of importance are repeated references to the Dyers' methods of "raising" their three children (George Palmer, born 7 February 1876; Susan Hart [Daisy], born 20 December 1879; and Dorothy, born 7 May 1886). The letters frequently discuss the children's health, education and training for careers, and leisure activities. Mrs. Dyer's pivotal role in her children's development is clearly revealed.

Additional material sheds light on the Dyers' children and their relationship to their parents. Two diaries kept by Daisy Dyer (10 July 1897–2 June 1898) primarily reflect her activities with her mother and sister during their trip to Europe to join George Dyer while he served as naval attaché in Madrid. The diaries discuss Daisy's art training at the Art Students League in New York City and her instructor, James Carroll Beckwith (24 August 1897); the voyage to Europe aboard the steamer Southwark (3–17 November 1897); sites in Antwerp (17–20 November 1897); the American Art Club, Academie Julian, art museums, and other aspects of Paris (November 1897–January 1898); and San Sebastian and Madrid (January–February 1898).

A diary of Dorothy Dyer (1906–1913) contains very brief entries pertaining to her travels and other activities.

Additional correspondence reflects the nature of the relationship between the Dyers and their children. Letters of George Dyer discuss a trip with his son to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and to George Jr.'s fraternity at Cornell University (September 1893), as well as his activities with his son and other members of the Cornell University crew team (June–July 1894). Correspondence of Daisy Dyer to her parents (1913–1914) chronicles her activities in New Haven, Connecticut. She describes a church-related "settlement" house designed to provide musical and other cultural opportunities for underprivileged youth; a speech by suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst (16 November 1913); and other church-related and cultural affairs in New Haven. Letters of Dorothy Dyer to her parents after her marriage to naval officer Burton A. Strait (1913–1915) briefly discuss their travels and social activities in Shanghai, Hankow, and other parts of China.

The travels, domestic life, social activities, and civic work of Susan Hart Palmer Dyer are reflected in her letters to her husband and other members of the family (1875–1905), written at such places as Montevideo, Newport, Nantucket, Annapolis, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Washington. Of particular interest are the letters she wrote while living in Washington (January–May 1890). They describe her social engagements with prominent residents; church-related activities; and participation in the Cobweb Club, apparently a women's literary organization. Discussed are an appearance by Susan B. Anthony (3 March 1890); Mrs. Dyer's meeting with Secretary of War Redfield Proctor and President Benjamin Harrison as a representative of the auxiliary of the Army and Navy (14 March 1890); a lecture presented by Clara Barton (14 March 1890); and a "row" in the U.S. House of Representatives between William Dallas Bynum and Thomas McKee Bayne (18 May 1890). Additional correspondence describes social life in Nantucket (July 1890) and a visit to the studio of artist George Whiting Flagg (12 July); social activities and events in San Francisco (April–May 1891), including the launching of USS City of Pueblo (29 April 1891); and a performance of the play Divine Sara at the opera house (29 April 1891). A letter of Susan (Daisy) Dyer (1921?) summarizes the qualities and activities of her mother throughout her life.

The correspondence of Dyer and his wife sheds light also on their business and financial affairs- notably the difficulty of living comfortably on Dyer's income. Of particular interest are regular references to Dyer's absentee management of their orange grove and home, The Anchorage, at Winter Park, Florida, which were purchased in August 1882. Several photographs contain views of structures at The Anchorage.

Significant correspondence and other material pertain to activities and relationships of other members of the Dyer and Palmer families.

Letters (1863–1872) of George Washington Dyer discuss family matters and offer his son fatherly advice about education, careers, and deportment. During and shortly after the Civil War, George W. Dyer served as a paymaster in the Washington, D.C., area. His letters (1863–1867) discuss the war in Virginia and describe his work as a paymaster in the field and in the office of the paymaster general. He also discusses Camp Stoneman near Alexandria (4 November 1863); wounded members of the 6th Regiment of Maine troops in Washington (11 November 1863); the battle of Rappahannock Bridge and Kelly's Ford, especially the service of the 5th and 6th regiments of Maine troops (17 November 1863); Christmas Day in the camp of the 16th Regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry near Bealeton Station (1 January 1864); wounded men in hospitals in Washington, Annapolis, and Fredericksburg (19, 30 May 1864); roads, bridges, and the countryside outside Washington (24 October 1864); Dyer's analysis of the capture of Fort Fisher, N.C. (6 February 1865); and a review of troops along Pennsylvania Avenue (25 May 1865).

Additional correspondence of George W. Dyer pertains to aspects of Washington: the law profession and his work as a patent attorney (15 July 1865; 22 December 1869; 24 February 1872); a flood in the city (12, 15 October 1866); a new sawmill in the "old brickyard" (9 November 1866); land speculation in the northwest part of the city (23 July 1867); a lecture on the philosophy of the science of inductive reasoning by Joseph Henry (31 March 1868); and excitement concerning the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson (12 May 1868).

Letters of the Palmer family provide insight into the lifestyles and relationships of wealthy New Yorkers: Oliver H. Palmer, secretary-treasurer of Western Union Telegraph Co. and a member of the law department of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York; his wife, Susan; and children, Susan, Anne, Alice, and Oliver.

Letters of Mr. Palmer to Susan (1868–1883) reflect his close relationship with her and discuss family travels and expenditures, his work in New York, politics, and the expense of supporting his family.

Mrs. Palmer and her children made several lengthy European trips (1870–1883), where the children received instruction in languages and other disciplines. They visited or lived in such cities as Florence, Lucerne, Geneva, Stuttgart, Weisbaden, Berlin, Soden, Amsterdam, as well as various localities in France and Britain. Mrs. Palmer's letters to Susan discuss the nature of their travels, her views on religion, and advice about caring for Susan's children. Letters of Annie Palmer to Susan supplement Mrs. Palmer's accounts of life in various localities in Europe. Of particular interest are descriptions of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius (11 February 1871); church services and churches in London, Chester, and Litchfield, England (16 May 1874); a Mardi Gras celebration in Rome (26 February 1875); food, dancing, and costumes at a ball in Stuttgart (20 February 1876); and the resort of Etretat in Normandy, France (19 August 1878).

Also reflecting the nature of Mrs. Palmer's relationship with Susan are letters (May 1890), discussing Mrs. Palmer's old age and the burden of caring for her.

Scattered letters of Anne Palmer after her marriage to Nelson Fell (February 1891–1895) briefly describe her family's farming interests and activities in Narcoossee, Florida.

Additional correspondence (1907–1909) pertains to the courtship of Burton A. Strait and Dorothy Dyer during Strait's service aboard the USS Kearsarge. Occasional references among these letters pertain to the ship and life aboard it.

Dyer and Palmer correspondence illuminates a variety of additional subjects. Many letters discuss politics. Of interest are references to support of the Republican ticket in the presidential election of 1876, fear of a Tilden victory, and the aftermath of the election (21 July, 1 October, 7, 20 November 1876); Republican Party politics during the Hayes administration (15 April 1877); and Ulysses S. Grant's incompetence and greed for power (14 October 1880).

A few items pertain to celebrations. Correspondents describe the Centennial in Philadelphia (25 June, 3 July 1876) and Fourth of July holidays in Calais, Maine, during George Dyer's childhood and in the Navy (7 July 1872; 30 June 1891). Included in a folder of miscellany is a program for a Fourth of July celebration at Honolulu (1890).

Many letters contain references to women. Of particular interest are an amusing example of women frightened by a mouse (February 1863); O.H. Palmer's view of the role of wives of career men (18 March 1877); and the effect of bicycles on women (4 March 1899).

Additional topics discussed in the correspondence include damage done by a disastrous fire in Calais, Maine (13 September 1870); the Fish House Club in Germantown, Pennsylvania (3 January 1881); a proposal to build a hotel in Winter Park, Florida (3 June 1883); and confusion caused by the dialect of a Negro boatman in Norfolk, Virginia (10 May 1897).

Literary manuscripts and publications supplement other material. Two albums of Daisy Dyer contain examples of her unpublished and published poetry (1906–1915). A file of poetry includes verse by George Dyer, Susan Hart Palmer Dyer, and Daisy Dyer, as well as an example of verse in Negro dialect. Also of interest are school essays by George Dyer, Dorothy Dyer Strait's "automatic" writings concerning the family (1919), Susan Hart Palmer Dyer's song, "Sweethearts and Wives" (1900); a speech concerning turn-of-the-century Russia (1918); undated short stories; and a volume containing two plays written by Daisy Dyer.

Additional files include correspondence and genealogical charts concerning the history of the Palmer and Dyer families (1910–1911); scattered papers of Burton A. Strait (undated) and Dorothy Dyer's second husband, Marion A. Eason (1917–1930); copies of The South "C" Daily Breeze (5 June–30 August 1920), published aboard USS South Carolina during the Naval Academy's midshipmen's cruise, during which Eason served as an instructor; miscellaneous Naval Academy publications (1895–1924) pertaining to courses, entrance requirements, and student activities; post cards of such locations as Rio de Janeiro, Calais, and Aunay and La Baule, France; family-related newspaper clippings; and photographs of family members, unidentified persons, and unidentified scenes in China, France, and elsewhere.

The collection includes George L. Dyer's copy of The Seasons: A Poem, by James Thomson (London, 1783).


Administrative information
Custodial History

July 1, 1977, ca. 100 items; Papers (1863–1924), including correspondence, photographs, a diary, and poetry.

August 30, 1977, ca. 2,300 items; Papers (1864–1908), consisting of correspondence, diaries, photographs, and miscellaneous. Bulk of material consists of letters from Commodore Dyer to his family. Donor: Mrs. Janice E. Sellers, Kinston, N.C.

June 20, 2006, (unprocessed addition 1), 24 items, 0.25 cubic feet; Papers (2005) relating to Commander George Leland Dyer, U.S. Navy, 1849–1914, and Cartographer Hendree Paine Simpson, U.S. Navy, 1872–1950; their cruises aboard the Patrol Yacht USS Yankton, 1899–1906; their U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office and Coast and Geodetic Survey personnel records; Dyer family census records, Washington, D.C., 1870, and Washington, MI, 1880; Dyer family genealogical research files from ancestry.com; and a typescript manuscript entitled Uncovering a Philatelic Cover Connection—Commander George Leland Dyer, 1849–1914; Cartographer Hendree Paine Simpson, 1872-1950, . . . , by Oren Kaplan [2005]. Photocopies and Printed materials. See preliminary inventory attached. Note: Donor requests researchers to send him any additional Dyer family information. Donor: Oren Kaplan.

December 13, 2012, (unprocessed addition 2), 1 item, 0.10 cubic feet; Addition is the official document signed by Pres. William McKinley appointing Dyer as a lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Navy on November 23, 1898. Donor: Purchased from Brad Shafran, Shafran Collectibles, Inc., East Meadow, New York.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Janice E. Sellers

Purchased from Brad Shafran, Shafran Collectibles, Inc.

Processing information

Processed by M. York, October 1983

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


Key terms
Personal Names
Dyer family
Dyer, George L., 1849-1914
Corporate Names
Constitution (Frigate)
Despatch (Steamer)
Frolic (Patrol yacht)
Plymouth (Sloop of war)
Rainbow (Ship)
Stranger (Yacht)
United States Naval Academy
United States. Navy--History--19th century
United States. Navy--History--20th century
United States. Navy--Military life
United States. Navy--Officers--Correspondence
United States. Navy. Asiatic Fleet
United States. Navy. Pacific Fleet
Vesuvius (Cruiser)
Yankton (Schooner)
Places
Guam--Politics and government--20th century
Guam--Social life and customs

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Correspondence, 1867-1868
Box 1 Folder b Correspondence, 1866
Box 1 Folder c Correspondence, August , November 1865
Box 1 Folder d Correspondence, January , July 1865
Box 1 Folder e Correspondence, 1862-1864
Box 2 Folder a Correspondence, 1869-1871
Box 2 Folder b Correspondence, January , July 1872
Box 2 Folder c Correspondence, August , December 1872
Box 2 Folder d Correspondence, 1873-1874
Box 2 Folder e Correspondence, 1875
Box 3 Folder a Correspondence, January , May 1876
Box 3 Folder b Correspondence, June , December 1876
Box 3 Folder c Correspondence, January , February 1877
Box 3 Folder d Correspondence, March , May 1877
Box 3 Folder e Correspondence, June , October 1877
Box 3 Folder f Correspondence, July , August 1878
Box 4 Folder a Correspondence, September 1878 , December 1879
Box 4 Folder b Correspondence, January , June 1880
Box 4 Folder c Correspondence, September , November 1880
Box 4 Folder d Correspondence, January , May 1881
Box 4 Folder e Correspondence, June 1881
Box 4 Folder f Correspondence, August , December 1881
Box 5 Folder a Correspondence, January , February 1882
Box 5 Folder b Correspondence, March 1882
Box 5 Folder c Correspondence, April , December 1882
Box 5 Folder d Correspondence, January , August 1883
Box 5 Folder e Correspondence, 1884-1889
Box 6 Folder a Correspondence, January 1890
Box 6 Folder b Correspondence, February 1890
Box 6 Folder c Correspondence, March 1890
Box 6 Folder d Correspondence, April 1 - 15, 1890
Box 7 Folder a Correspondence
Box 7 Folder b Correspondence
Box 7 Folder c Correspondence, June 1890
Box 7 Folder d Correspondence, July 4 - 10, 1890
Box 7 Folder e Correspondence, July 11 - 27, 1890
Box 7 Folder f Correspondence, August 1890
Box 8 Folder a Correspondence, September 1890
Box 8 Folder b Correspondence, October , November 1890
Box 8 Folder c Correspondence, January , February 1891
Box 8 Folder d Correspondence, April 1891
Box 8 Folder e Correspondence, May 1891
Box 9 Folder a Correspondence, June 1891
Box 9 Folder b Correspondence, July , August 1891
Box 9 Folder c Correspondence, September , December 1891
Box 9 Folder d Correspondence, March , May 1892
Box 10 Folder a Correspondence, January , February 1892
Box 10 Folder b Correspondence, June 1892
Box 10 Folder c Correspondence, July 1 - 28, 1892
Box 10 Folder d Correspondence, July 30 , November 1892
Box 10 Folder e Correspondence, December 1892
Box 11 Folder a Correspondence, January , August 1893
Box 11 Folder b Correspondence, September , October 1893
Box 11 Folder c Correspondence, 1894
Box 11 Folder d Correspondence, March , September 1895
Box 11 Folder e Correspondence, November , December 1895
Box 11 Folder f Correspondence, January , October 1896
Box 12 Folder a Correspondence, January , February 1897
Box 12 Folder b Correspondence, March 1897
Box 12 Folder c Correspondence, April 1897
Box 12 Folder d Correspondence, May 1897
Box 13 Folder a Correspondence, June 1897
Box 13 Folder b Correspondence, July , August 1897
Box 13 Folder c Correspondence, September 1897
Box 13 Folder d Correspondence, October , December 1897
Box 13 Folder e Correspondence, February , April 1898
Box 14 Folder a Correspondence, May , July 1898
Box 14 Folder b Correspondence, August , September 1898
Box 14 Folder c Correspondence, January , February 1899
Box 14 Folder d Correspondence, March 1899
Box 14 Folder e Correspondence, April , May 1899
Box 15 Folder a Correspondence, June 1899
Box 15 Folder b Correspondence, November , December 1899
Box 15 Folder c Correspondence, January , July 1900
Box 15 Folder d Correspondence, November , December 1900
Box 15 Folder e Correspondence, January 1901
Box 16 Folder a Correspondence, February 1901
Box 16 Folder b Correspondence, March 1901
Box 16 Folder c Correspondence, April 1901 - 1902
Box 16 Folder e Correspondence, March , April 1903
Box 17 Folder a Correspondence, May , September 1903
Box 17 Folder b Correspondence Susan Hart Palmer Dyer (Typescript), June 1904 , November 1905
Box 17 Folder c Correspondence Susan Hart Palmer Dyer (Carbon Copies), June 1904 , November 1905
Box 17 Folder d Correspondence, 1904-1905
Box 17 Folder e Correspondence, 1907
Box 17 Folder f Correspondence, January , February 1908
Box 18 Folder a Correspondence, March 1908
Box 18 Folder b Correspondence, April 1908
Box 18 Folder c Correspondence, May 1908
Box 18 Folder d Correspondence, June , December 1908
Box 18 Folder e Correspondence, 1909-1912
Box 18 Folder f Correspondence, 1913
Box 19 Folder a Correspondence, January , May 1914
Box 19 Folder b Correspondence, June , December 1914
Box 19 Folder c Correspondence Death of George Leland Dyer, April , July 1914
Box 19 Folder d Correspondence, 1915-1916
Box 19 Folder e Correspondence, 1917
Box 19 Folder f Correspondence, 1918-1921
Box 19 Folder g Correspondence, undated
Box 19 Folder h Correspondence Fragments
Box 20 Folder a Photographs: Identified Persons
Box 20 Folder c Photographs: Unidentified Persons
Box 20 Folder d Photographs: Unidentified Persons
Box 20 Folder e Photographs: Unidentified Persons
Box 20 Folder f Photographs: Unidentified Persons
Box 20 Folder g Photographs: Unidentified Scenes
Box 20 Folder h Photographs: Unidentified Scenes, Miscellaneous
Box 20 Folder i Photographs: Unidentified Scenes, Miscellaneous
Box 20 Folder j Photographs: Unidentified Scenes, Miscellaneous
Box 22 Folder a Diary of Susan Hart Dyer, January , December 1898
Box 22 Folder b Diary of Dorothy Dyer, 1906-1913
Box 23 Folder a Poetry Album of Susan Hart Dyer, 1906-1915
Box 23 Folder b Poetry Album of Susan Hart Dyer, 1906-1915
Box 24 Folder a Poetry
Box 24 Folder b Miscellaneous Writings
Box 24 Folder c Plays by Susan Hart Dyer
Box 24 Folder d Guam Guest Register and Scrapbook, 1904-1905
Box 24 Folder e The Seasons: A Poem (1783)
Box 25 Folder a Susana Hospital Guam, 1907
Box 25 Folder b U. S. Hydrographic Office File, 1889
Box 25 Folder c Palmer - Dyer Family Genealogy
Box 25 Folder d Papers of Burton A. Strait, undated
Box 25 Folder e Papers of Marion A. Eason, 1917-1930
Box 25 Folder f South "C" Daily Breeze, June , August 1920
Box 25 Folder g Naval Academy Publications, 1895-1924
Box 25 Folder h Post Cards
Box 25 Folder i Miscellaneous
Box 26 Folder a Dyer Family Genealogical Research
Box 26 Folder b Dyer Family, Washinton, D. C., Census Records (Photocopies), 1870-1880
Box 26 Folder c Personnel records of George Leland Dyer and Hendree Paine Simpson from the National Archives
Box 26 Folder d Patrol Yacht USS YANKTON crew records from U. S. Military and Naval Federal Census, 1900; ships' deck logs information, 1900
Box 26 Folder e Patrol Yacht USS YANKTON historical and photographic material from online resources. Photocopies, 1849 - 1984, 1872 - 1950, 1899
Box 26 Folder f Uncovering a Philatelic Cover Connection from Gibara, Cuba to Tuskegee, Alabama through Washington, D. C. and the U. S. Navy Hydrographic Office, 1899