Friday, November 1, 2019

Who was the real Moll Dyer?

Will the Real Moll Dyer Please Stand Up?

This question is often asked in light of the resurgence of interest in Moll’s story. This is illustrated by the recent Weather Channel’s broadcast, several books attempting to narrow the search for her historically, as well as my own historical fiction novel about her. All provide interesting and speculative insights to the life and times of our infamous witch.

For All Saints’ Day, I’d like to share my thoughts about her. I’ve been a resident of St. Mary’s County since 1957. Moll and I share that commonality about our residence. I’ve actively researched her life since I first heard her tale- sometime around 1967. But how does one research a legendary figure? One with no historical proof of her existence? True we have the road named after her, and likewise a small stream. There’s the rock purported to be where she breathed her last. Most researchers miss the colonial letter describing her “countenance” in an unfavorable manner, but we’re mostly left with legends. Oral tradition- once the only historical record, and the basis of the old truism “where there’s smoke, there’s fire. How apt is that for Moll’s tale?

My research has included dozens of interviews with local families- families resident to the area since the time of Moll Dyer. I discovered that each had their own version of Moll’s life, with minimal variations. As there is a dearth of historical records, it is toward these legends we must focus our efforts. (According to the Archives of Maryland, the 1st loss of St. Mary’s County records was in 1768 when records kept at the home of Owen Alien (Allen?) were burned. The Archive notes this only as an FYI as “every surviving court record of the period (colonial) was destroyed in the fire of March 8, 1831”). To add to the confusion and speculative nature of the search, lists five pages of Dyers on passenger lists arriving in the United States during the period, a minimum of six Mary or Margaret Dyers. It goes on to state that “lists were not kept for every ship” and many have been lost. (The endearment “Moll,” by the way, was most commonly used as a nickname for Mary, but was also occasionally seen for any “M” feminine name including, but not limited to, Margaret, Martha, Martina and Melinda, etc.).

What can we derive from the legends associated with Moll Dyer? Although there are some small deviations to the legend, the majority of local families’ oral traditions agree: she was an herbal healer and hermit. Most state her origin was Ireland, although she likely arrived on a passenger ship from England. She arrived on our shores single and unaccompanied and never married. She preferred the company of the Native Americans to her European neighbors. She dressed in a manner of lost affluence (threadbare clothes originally made from the finest materials). She froze to death on the coldest night of 1697 after a citizen’s mob burned her small cabin to the ground. (FYI, with this information, in “Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer,” I also added every variation of the story that was related to me. I didn’t feel it would be faithful to her legend and her life to have done otherwise.)

So then, who is/was Moll Dyer? I won’t fabricate a correlation between any segment of the legend and other past lives lived here. It’s unnecessary to make her story more real. Her tragedy speaks to its own truth and …perhaps that’s enough. My answer to the question is Moll’s truth, even if intangible. Moll Dyer is everyone who’s faced injustice or been mocked for being different; those scorned for their beliefs and tormented for living a life true to themselves. She is anyone condemned at the court of public opinion and castigated for their lack of popularity or political correctness. She’s the embodiment of Sarah Goode of Salem fame, Anne Frank, John the Baptist, Joan of Arc, Anne Boleyn, Rosa Parks and…the list goes on and on! Moll could be the patron saint of them all.

In conclusion, I believe Moll Dyer would be proud of her legacy, and that she’d feel some measure of peace and exoneration from the tales being told of her today. She was once used as a cautionary tale- a warning to little children to behave, but no longer. Now we remember Moll whenever we’re bullied, accused without cause or feeling friendless. Perhaps she gives us a twinge of conscience when we are the ones doing the bullying? It warms my heart to think so- that some good is our final inheritance from the tragedy of Moll Dyer.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Today's blog post is from guest author K.C. Sprayberry about her latest release: Creche Terrenium. KC is an awesome multi-genre writer and if you haven't read her work in the past, now is the time!

A galaxy under attack… youth out of control… extreme measures are called for… until the citizens are faced with impossible choices.

Good day and welcome to the release of Crèche Terrenium. This book was written many years ago, when I was first starting out in my writing career. I submitted it to Millennial Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine as a 5,000 word short story. This was during the days of snail mail submissions and waiting months on end to hear back from the editor in chief. To my surprise, I heard back rather quickly, about six weeks. Figuring they’d laughed and sent me a letter telling me that I should quit writing, I waited a couple of days before reading the bad news. Well, it wasn’t a contract to have the short story published in their magazine. What I did get was a letter telling me that the then editor in chief loved the concept of my short story and wanted me to develop it into a full book before resubmitting.

The full book was written, critiqued, edited, rewritten, etc. over a period of six months of sleepless nights and fingernail chewing days. I finally resubmitted the new story to the editor in chief per her request, only to hear back nearly immediately. The thin envelope pretty much told the story before I opened it.

Turns out while I was breathing life into this novel, the editor in chief had been replaced with someone else. That individual bluntly informed me that they were no longer interested in teen sci-fi books, as “teens didn’t read.” Who was I to argue? I knew the book was good. All I had to do was wait for the right time and place to present it to the world.

The time is now. The place is here. Enjoy!

The Melane Galaxy has a problem, one that threatens their very existence. Led by a reporter, Susannah Tilotsen, the citizens demand a solution to their children terrorizing people. Yet, when Chairman Marcus Sterling institutes the Crèche system, Susannah feels deep shock and dismay.

The children will be taken from their parents and raised by a computer designed to educate and monitor them. No adults will have interaction with the youth of the galaxy. The overall goal is to create good citizens of the youths rather than out of control hooligans.

Is this solution good intentions by the leadership? What if a parent protests the loss of their child? What choice do they have?


Youth out of control… Citizens demand a solution.

The Edict…

A law enacted to deal with recalcitrant children lays the blame on their parents. Only a computer can properly change The Melane Galaxy’s youth and turn them into good citizens. Chairman Sterling must force people to realize that parents aren’t right for raising children.

The Reporter…

Susannah Tilotsen discovers she’s being used by a government attempting to parent children. She soon realizes no one is safe from this new law. The loss of her beloved husband and her daughter being forcibly taken to Crèche Terrenium drives her to organize a group determined to stop this madness

The Boy…

Ripped from his loving home, Joey Dinaldo is taken to Crèche Terrenium after government troops find him living with his parents. He works hard to be a good citizen and obey the rules but soon discovers he can’t support a system designed to turn children into uncaring robots.

The Computer…

Master, the computer system that will raise these children, controls every second of their lives. Yet, there is no one to maintain the machine. The computer never thinks it needs to be repaired, even as the control it exerts slowly erodes. It is perfect, and fights to keep from being destroyed.

Rebels refuse to stop fighting until they have closed down the Crèche system and returned the children to their parents. Or find them a guardian. All of them are willing to do whatever it takes to end this madness… but at what cost?

Amazon print book:


Black words on the creamy parchment in her hand numbed Susannah Tilotsen. Shivers racked her spine; fear deadened her fingertips. Her grip loosened and the document fluttered to her feet. The forty-something man in front of her caressed his silver-shot sable hair before spreading his hands. She watched the public façade take over as the benevolent leader of a fractious, crumbling galaxy smiled.  She knew better. His duplicitous expression sent chills up her spine.

She looked at the settlement she was reporting on to a galaxy awaiting a solution for a growing problem. The gray on gray buildings depressed her. The same hue was repeated in the walkways and latticed worked fences enclosing the twelve living areas. The children who soon call this place home would have no relief from the depressing shades of grey.

About K.C. Sprayberry

Living a dream she’s had since she first discovered the magic of books. K.C. Sprayberry traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains of Northwest Georgia. She’s been married to her soulmate for nearly a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities.

A multi-genre author, K.C. Sprayberry is always on the hunt for new stories. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down her ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.

Find out more about my books at these social media sites:








Manic Readers:




Sunday, June 2, 2019

Moll Dyer:History or Mythology?

David's Campfire June 2/2019

What is known of the historical Moll Dyer?

     After 300 years, Moll’s name is still often heard in Southern Maryland, especially around campfires late at night, or as a warning to misbehaving little people. The movie “Blair Witch” is said to be based on Moll’s life, and if so, there were many inaccuracies. The Weather Channel recently aired a segment on her life, of course highlighting the impact of weather during colonial times. (Drought and extreme winter temperatures being intrinsic to her story).
     The historical evidence of her life is mostly undocumented. Courthouse records from the late 1600’s were destroyed in a fire. However, there is evidence of two Mary Dyers arriving in Maryland around this period. There is a letter written by a colonist referencing “Moll Dyer having a countenance so ugly it hurts to behold her.” Further circumstantial evidence includes a road named after her, and likewise a small run that traverses what is said to be the original Dyer homestead.
     Most stories associated with Moll indicate that she came alone to the colony from Ireland via England, but some oral tradition holds that she was accompanied by an absentee uncle or older male family member. Many reports describe her clothing as old and threadbare, but originally made of very high quality materials, such as nobility of the time might have worn. Was her attire indicative of hand-me-downs from a benevolent noble family in her past or a sign of long past and forgotten glories?
     The legend of Moll Dyer is considerable. She was renowned for her curative prowess, and hated for her lack of any social graces. A virtual hermit, she traded herbal remedies with local Native Americans, and it is said she enjoyed their companionship over that of her own people. These traits, combined with a two year drought (causing devastating crop loss), an outbreak of disease, and a superstitious citizenry spelled Moll’s doom.
      In the dark of the coldest winter night in 1697, the colonists rose up against her, proclaiming her a witch. They formed a mob (encouraged by the governor!) and set Moll’s cabin ablaze. Somehow she escaped her funeral pyre, and fled blindly through the woods.
Several days later, a young lad, searching for his missing cow, stumbled upon Moll’s lifeless body. She was bent over a large rock at the river’s edge, frozen solid. When Moll was pulled away, the rock bore indentations where her palms rested and her knees touched. It is said the strength of her curse on the local citizenry engraved the marks.
The 300 pound rock now sits in the courtyard of the St. Mary's County courthouse with a simple plaque proclaiming it “Moll Dyer’s Rock.” Visitors to Maryland's southernmost county, overcome with curiosity, report both curses and cures after touching the infamous rock. 
     Over the years, many reputable eyewitnesses have reported seeing the ghostly white figures of a woman and her wolfish dog spiriting through the mists along the small creek that bears Moll’s name. Wide eyed drivers in numerous automobile accidents have stated the same. It is interesting to read those police reports!

Above is the famous Moll Dyer's Rock. Believers and non-believers alike have tested the curse by placing their hands on the rock where Moll met her tragic end. Both cures and ailments have been attributed to this brave action. Have you had a go yet? Would you?