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R Dyer

Rufus Dyer

1769 Bridgewater, MA - 1850 Union/Appleton, ME

Housewright in 1797, 1816 deeds and Joiner in the 1850 US census.

Believed to be a stronger candidate than Rufus Dyer, chairmaker and turner in Providence,  RI reported in GAWP5, pg 114.

 Rufus Dyer

Questions on the identity of R Dyer resurfaced following the finding of a 1797 deed between Rufus Dyer, housewright and David Woodcock, housewright, both from Union, Maine.


The GAWP5 reference for Rufus Dyer seemed strong based on the existence of an account book by Dyer, a chairmaker and turner in Providence, RI. With the finding of Rufus Dyer a housewright in Union, ME from the same general timeframe, a question arises as to which (if ether) is a strong candidate. Typically, this cannot be resolved, but in this instance there's a case to consider. Only a handful of R Dyer planes have been found, but those in Tom Elliott's collection are important to consider; a hollow molder, a panel raiser and a smoother. (Two others are known to the editor, a molder and a jointer.) All of the planes seem to be ca 1780-1820 based on the chamfers and construction details which is consistent with the working dates of both candidates. But the panel raiser fits the toolkit of a housewright / joiner while it doesn't fit with that of a chairmaker / turner. 


Rufus Dyer working in Union/Appleton, ME from 1797 -1850 started out in Bridgewater, MA where he was born in 1769  to John and Bathsheba Dyer. In Union, ME recollections/histories Rufus, a carpenter, moved to Union  from Bridgewater ca 1795 which implies that he learned his craft in Bridgewater. This area of MA fits with the wedge, chamfer and chamfer stop styling on the two molding planes as does Providence, RI.

In his 30's, Rufus was active in Union's town offices being a fish warden, dog reeve and tithingman between the years 1800 to 1803 ... the years in which he and Abigail (Booth) started their family. Their children were all born in Union; John (1800), Betsey (1802), Abigail (1804) and Acilia (1806). Rufus was also active in the Methodist Church as noted in 1807, and involved with the meeting-house in 1795 per the planning committee as well as having it built on his land in 1822. As a side note, his son John was also a joiner as noted in the 1850 US census.

Deeds, family histories and census records were searched for other R Dyer candidates. In the years 1750-1820, the largest family clusters with R Dyers, were mostly located in Lincoln, Cumberland, Washington Counties in ME with one or two families in Cranston/Providence, RI. Individuals included Rufus, Reuben, Richard and Robert, but no woodworkers were found except for the Rufus in Union, ME and the Rufus in Providence, RI.

Sources utilized;

Descendants of William and Mary Dyer of RI, Genealogy of Edward Small in New England, vol. 3, ME deed records for counties Lincoln, Washington and Cumberland, MA deed records for the counties Plymouth, Barnstable, Bristol, Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Worcester, Hampden and Hampshire.


The two molders have flat chamfers and the one shown above has a relieved wedge and reverse chamfer ends that have a tipped step, followed by a turn over and connected flute similar to H Wetherel and middle period Jo Fuller.

The two toted planes with bench type escapements (jointer and panel raiser) have matching construction details; heavy round chamfers, offset totes, round top wedges and abutment cheek chamfers. The smoother also has heavy round chamfers and a round topped wedge.

See the R Dyer jointer shown in the 18th C Jointer Gallery section for additional information.

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