Lucretia Bryant, my fifth great-grandmother, has long been a mystery to me as well as other Dyer family researchers. We know a few pieces of information, but don’t know who her parents are, or the reason for her seemingly “random” move across Tennessee with two young sons and probably a daughter or two. 

Let’s start from the beginning.

Lucretia Bryant was likely born about 1795 in Tennessee. In Sumner County, Tennessee, on December 22, 1810, she married Ahasuerus Hezekiah Dyer. (What a mouthful! No surprise he went by “Hazer”.)

Their son William was born in 1812 in Christian County, Kentucky, right over the state line. Hazer had already bought two tracts of land in Christian County.

In March 1818, our boy Hazer decided to take a trip to North Carolina and leave Lucretia at home with William. There are no details about why he left, or if Lucretia thought he had died, etc. During this time, Lucretia made acquaintance with Elijah Whitney, a local, much older man (if records reference our Elijah Whitney).

In November 1818, Hazer returns home. In April 1819, Lucretia gives birth to a baby boy she named John. Ummm… clearly John cannot belong to Hazer, if he was gone during this time. All family trees list John Dyer’s father as Hazer, but I’d say Lucretia wound up pregnant in June/July 1818 when Hazer was in NC. Lucretia even told Hazer the baby wasn’t his.

On October 2, 1821, Hazer sent a letter to a judge to request a divorce and documented the above situation. He said his wife was already living in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

I don’t think a woman living in Southern Kentucky would randomly take her two young sons to Southern Tennessee without family living nearby. Another question, what happened to her relationship with Elijah Whitney? There is a record in Christian County, KY of an Elijah Whitney marrying another lady on July 3, 1819, only a few months after John was born.

Once Lucretia Bryant Dyer makes it to Lincoln County, most family trees list her death as 1820, which is wrong. I’ve found several records to prove she was alive and well until at least 1840.

1830 census – Lucretia was head of household (female age 30 – 39). I would guess William (male age 20 – 29) and John (male age 5 – 9) lived with her. Ages were likely approximate in those days. Puzzling, three females also lived with her: one under five, one 5 – 9, and one 10 – 14.

1840 census – Lucretia was head of household again (female age 40 – 49). John was living with her (male age 20 – 29). Two females were also there (age 10 – 15 and age 15 – 19). WHO WERE THESE GIRLS?! The older one had left, but the two youngest were still there. Very interesting.

July 9, 1836 – Lucretia Dyer gets 100 acres in Lincoln County, TN. She’s also on the 1836 tax list.

Lucretia isn’t on the 1850 census. John Dyer married in 1841 and is with his wife on the 1850 census. William is with his wife. No clue who the three girls are. Are they her daughters? That would make sense. I doubt she only had one son in 1812 and didn’t have any kids until 1819 while Hazer was away. BUT, according to the census in 1830, she had a female under 5 at home… and Hazer said in 1821 that she was already in Lincoln County. Who would be the father? Him? Why did they wait nearly two years to request a divorce?

If you have any info on Lucretia Bryant Dyer, or are also researching her and are just as lost as I am, please contact me at downhomegenealogy@gmail.com.

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