May 20, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

Moll Dyer Day Planned in February

The St. Mary’s County Historical Society will hold the first Moll Dyer Day on February 26. The legend of Moll Dyer and the alleged curse she placed on local residents has persisted for centuries.

An elderly, single migrant to St. Mary’s County, Moll Dyer lived alone in a small cabin just south of Leonardtown. Known to be eccentric — practicing voodoo, casting spells, and indulging in strange practices — Moll Dyer was viewed with suspicion and often fear by county residents. Whenever disease, a bad harvest, or unexpected death occurred, rumors about Moll Dyer would spread. Said by many to be a witch, no one dared to offend her much less muster the courage to confront her, fearful of her anger, wrath, and curses.

During the harsh winter of 1697-1698, disease spread throughout St. Mary’s. Once again, Moll Dyer was seen as the cause. With their sorrow and frustration at a boiling point, one cold February night an angry mob descended on her cabin setting it ablaze. Escaping both fire and mob, she fled alone into the woods. Days later she was found dead, frozen hand and knee to a rock.

Removing her body, imprints of her hand and knee remained pressed into the stone. These ghostly impressions are seen as reminders of an eternal curse on those who persecuted her. A curse summoned with Moll Dyer’s dying breath. From that day, it is said that her spirit roams the area where she died — and on the rock — visiting misfortune on all who venture too close.

The rock, which was moved in 1972 to the Old Jail in Leonardtown from where it was found in the woods, has gradually eroded over the years. In order to preserve it for future generations, the St. Mary’s Historical Society felt it best to relocate it.

It was moved from the Old Jail to the Historical Society’s headquarters at historic Tudor Hall in Leonardtown. An unveiling ceremony was held February 26, 2021.

The Historical Society and Tudor Hall are closed for a winter break until February 16.

The St. Mary’s County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving stories about the people, events, and places in St. Mary’s County. The group curates a repository of a unique collection of Maryland memorabilia and museum pieces displayed on the first floor of Tudor Hall and in the Old Jail Museum at 41625 Courthouse Drive in historic Leonardtown. The 18th-century Tudor Hall also serves as headquarters of the society and houses the Historical Society’s Research Center.

To find more posts by the St. Mary’s Historical Society, visit this Leader member page.

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