Biography of Hon. David Patterson Dyer

Hon. David Patterson Dyer, for many years an influential leader of the republican party in Missouri, filling various public offices of importance, has at the same time continued an active representative of the bench and bar of the state and it was not until May, 1919, that he retired from the office of United States district judge for the eastern district of Missouri, being at the time in the eighty-first year of his age. He was born February 12, 1838, in Henry county, Virginia, a son of David Dalton and Nancy (Salmon) Dyer. The father was born in Henry county, Virginia, in 1791 and the mother’s birth occurred in 1794. As far back as the ancestry can be traced, his forefathers lived in the Old Dominion, locating there in early colonial days. David Dalton Dyer was a soldier of the War of 1812 and for twelve years thereafter was a member of the house and senate of the Virginia legislature, leaving the impress of his individuality and ability upon the laws enacted during that period.

David Patterson Dyer was educated in the common schools of Lincoln county, Missouri, having been brought to this state during his early childhood. He also spent a year as a student in St. Charles College. Later he took up the study of law and in due course of time was admitted to the bar. Since then he has been closely associated with the history of the state as a lawyer and lawmaker. It is a recognized fact that representatives of the bar figure more prominently in public life than any other class of citizens. The reasons of this are obvious and need no special explanation here, for the qualities which prepare one for the successful practice of law also constitute an efficient force in solving intricate problems affecting the community, the commonwealth and the country. Mr. Dyer has always displayed a keen power of analysis and it has been his habit to delve to the very root of any matter which has claimed his attention. It was but a brief period therefore ere he had gained a most creditable position as an attorney and through the intervening period his name has been inscribed high on the roll of the eminent lawyers of the state. In 1860 he was called to the office of state’s attorney and in 1862 was elected a member of the Missouri legislature, while in 1866 he became secretary of the state senate, following two terms’ service as a member of the house of representatives. In 1868 he was chosen to represent his district in congress and took a keen interest in the deliberations of the national legislative body. In 1875 he became United States attorney for Missouri and was again called to that office in 1902 and once more in 1906. In April of the succeeding year he was appointed United States district judge for the eastern district of Missouri by President Roosevelt and continued upon the bench until May, 1919, when he retired. His course as a judge was fn harmony with his record as a man and lawyer, distinguished by the utmost fidelity to duty and by a masterful grasp of every problem presented for solution.

On the 15th of November, 1860, in Louisiana, Pike county, Missouri, Judge Dyer was married to Miss Lizzie Chambers Hunt, a daughter of Judge Ezra Hunt, who was judge of the circuit court for many years and was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1845. To Judge and Mrs. Dyer were born the following named: Ezra Hunt, who married Leila Larendon; Emma Grace, who became the wife of Edgar W. Hunting; David P., Jr., who wedded Maude Ensign; Elizabeth Logan; Horace L., who married Betsy Wilcox; and Louise, the wife of A. F. Fay, Jr.

The religious faith of the family is that of the Episcopal church, Judge Dyer and his wife being communicants of the Church of the Holy Communion. In politics he has always been a stalwart republican since age conferred upon him the right of franchise and in 1880 he was the unsuccessful candidate for governor. However, he has filled many important political positions through election and appointment and over the record of his public career there falls no shadow of wrong nor suspicion of evil. He belongs to Tuscan Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal Legion. At all times he has measured up to a one hundred per cent Americanism and he is today one of the most honored of the venerable citizens of St. Louis, but while he has passed the eighty-third milestone on life’s journey, in spirit and interests he seems yet a man in his prime, keeping at all times in touch with the trend of modern thought and progress. During the period of the Civil war he recruited and commanded the Forty-ninth Missouri Volunteer Infantry and he remained in the army until mustered out in August, 1865.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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