Biography of Famous Preacher Father Dyer Part 2

About the famous American frontier preacher Father Dyer, history and information.

FATHER DYER (1812-1901)

Typically, Dyer would enter a mining camp and blow his tin horn to call the miners to worship. If no one came he would go to wherever the largest number of souls had gathered. That sometimes meant preaching in some unlikely places.

He thought nothing of walking into a bar-room and bellowing: "Would you boys all put up your whiskey and stack your chips for a half hour while we preach a bit of sermon?" According to legend the preacher was never thrown out.

But he was frequently heckled. And Father Dyer--big, rawboned, and tough as old moose hide--was not above stopping a sermon long enough to thrash an apology out of some disorderly miner.

Out on the circuit he slept where darkness overtook him: in a teepee, pueblo, or line-shack, on the ground or in a snowbank. He never carried a gun, but armed with only a penknife and his 2 meaty fists, he was considered a formidable target for wild animals or wild men.

Since Father Dyer rarely made enough money from preaching to survive, he supplemented his meager income by working as a deputy assessor, carpenter, newspaper peddler, gold prospector, and mail carrier. He ferried gold dust over 13,400' Mosquito Pass between Buckskin Joe and Cache Creek for a percentage of what he delivered.

On one such journey he neared the crest of the divide and saw the swirling outlines of a killer blizzard headed straight for him. Loaded down with mail sacks and gold dust, he was nearly blown over a precipice and almost smothered in several feet of snow. Dyer managed to cling to the path on the ridge and shouted into the black howling wind: "O God, into Thy hands I commit my soul, my life, my all; my faith looks up to Thee." With that he let go, his skis breaking trail on an even course. Hunching into icy blasts, he whistled down the steep slopes to the canyon floor. The missionary's feet were badly frozen. He lost all of his toenails and much of the skin on his feet. But he was back on the pass inside of 3 weeks.

With his clothes threadbare, his plug hat patched with antelope skin, and his shoes halfsoled with rawhide, Dyer was the inspiration for many a legend. Some mythmakers have him shouting Scriptures and howling hymns while barreling down snowy grades, his booming voice bouncing off snowy cliffs and peaks all the way down.

Dyer swore that he once came down a steep precipice above Lake Jefferson with such momentum that his skis caught fire from friction with the snow. He supposedly tramped out onto the frozen lake and allowed his skis to melt down into the ice until the smoldering wood was extinguished.

Father Dyer preached his last sermon on July 22, 1890. By then his majestic mountain chain was no longer a wilderness. When he died in Denver at almost 90, the wilds he helped conquer were already a fast-fading memory.

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