SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER
BENJAMIN W. DYER.
Benjamin Wilkins Dyer, whose name and labors were largely associated with reform movements in New England, previous to his settlement in Saratoga, was born at Braintree, Vermont, September 6, 1808. He was reared on a farm, and at an early age his mind became deeply imbued with the evils of intemperance and slavery. As these subjects began to be widely discussed, enlisting the interest of a class of earnest reformers, who, although always politically in the minority, believed nevertheless in the justice and humanity of their cause, and had the faith and patience to labor and wait for time to bring forth the fruition of their hopes, he joined his efforts with this class, and became affiliated with such men as William Lloyd Garrison, William Goodell, Wendell Phillips, Gerrit Smith, and others. He also associated with his other ideas of reform the abolition of war, and advocated the settlement of all national and international disputes by diplomacy or arbitration. In this respect he was an earnest advocate of the doctrines of Elihu Burritt; at the same time he was an earnest and practical believer in the Christian religion, in the spirit and teachings of which he saw and recognized the highest sanction for these reforms, and was full of a broad sympathy for humanity, which led him to labor for the welfare of all classes and conditions of men. He traveled and lectured extensively in New England, and at the same time followed the occupation of a farmer. At Randolph, Vermont, whither he removed in 1847, he took an active interest in the subject of education.
He was married, January 5, 1836, to Miss Clarissa M. Spear, of Braintree, Vermont, a lady whose sympathies were in harmony with his own, and whose qualities of mind and character eminently fitted her to be a helpmeet for him during his life, and to discharge the weighty responsibilities which have devolved upon her since his decease. This union was blessed with five children, all of whom survive at this writing.
In 1865, Mr. Dyer removed to Saratoga County, settling in Greenfield, two miles west of Saratoga Springs. Besides his farm interest in this locality, whose improvements bespeak the attention of a diligent, laborious, and thrifty agriculturist, he made it an object to build at Saratoga Springs a neat and commodious boarding-house, where visitors could be accommodated with comfort and economy, which should be quiet and orderly, and free from all drinking and gaming, and where, rather, the order and exercises of a Christian home should prevail, and be governed by a simple and genial sociality.
With this object in view he began the erection of the "Vermont House" in 1868, and finished it in 1876. The experiment has exceeded his most sanguine expectations. The house has been well patronized during the visiting season, especially by those who desire the advantages of a quiet and home-like retreat. Mrs. Dyer has taken charge of this house, as also of the farm, since the decease of her husband.
At the time of their removal to Saratoga County he was in poor health, yet his energies were unabated and incessant. He was ever engaged reading, writing, or at work, till his last illness entirely disabled him. He died on the 25th of October, 1877, aged sixty-nine years.
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