July 7, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

Moll Dyer Rock Moved to Tudor Hall

Moll Dyer

The St. Mary’s County Historical Society held an unveiling ceremony of the relocated Moll Dyer Rock on February 26. The legendary rock, which was recently moved from the Leonardtown Old Jail to the Historical Society’s headquarters at historic Tudor Hall, is said to bear the imprint of the hand of Dyer, who was driven from her home in February 1698.

“Moll Dyer was believed to have been a witch,” said Lynn Buonviri, author of “Moll Dyer and Other Witch Tales of Southern Maryland.” “During the long winter of 1697, she was blamed for a plague of influenza that caused many deaths in St. Mary’s County. A mob of villagers set fire to her small hut in woods just south of what is now Leonardtown. She escaped both the fire and the mob and was found several days later laying frozen to a large rock. When her body was removed, on the stone an imprint of her right hand remained. Townspeople saw this as a curse she placed on the area.”

The legend of Moll Dyer and her alleged curse has persisted for centuries. Touching the rock is rumored to cause misfortune from simple dizziness to illness. “Moll Dyer was a real person,” Ms. Buonviri said. “She and her two brothers were indentured servants from Devon, England, who settled first in the West Indies moving later to Maryland. The Dyer family line can be traced to today.”

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

The virtual ceremony, produced by the Historical Society, Winson Media and the town commissioners, aired on the Town of Leonardtown Virtual Programming Platform, Leonardtown A&E Online, the town’s Facebook page.

“The Moll Dyer Rock is one of Leonardtown’s best-known attractions,” said Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris. “At Tudor Hall it will be raised off the ground and sheltered by a Plexiglas cover. An interpretive sign will be placed next to it. However, you’ll still be able to touch it – if you dare.”

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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