Although he was an authentic Arizona pioneer, the gentleman with the extraordinary first name--Czar--was born in 1846 in the state of Michigan and grew to manhood there.
Dyer enlisted in the U. S. Navy at the age of 18 and served from August 20, 1864, to July 28, 1865 as a 'powder monkey' aboard the U.S.S. Mattabassett. Upon discharge, he received a small pension as a result of an injury to his eyes.
After his year of service in the Union Navy, Dyer's travels took him to California. The federal census of 1880 shows C. J. Dyer residing in Oakland, Alameda County, California, in the household of Frank and Nellie Jones. He gave his age as 31 and his occupation as 'artist'.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Prescott in the Arizona Territory. Within a few years, he had moved further south to the young settlement of Phoenix, arriving on the scene as the city was in a period of rapid growth and development.
A personable fellow, "C. J.", as he was popularly known, made the acquaintance of many key individuals in town, thus immediately involving himself in local commerce and government affairs. An artist, specifically a cartographer by profession, Dyer was soon appointed mapmaker for the growing city. Visitors to the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park are encouraged to take note of the large map titled "A Birdseye View of Phoenix" which adorns one wall in Smurthwaite House. (image above) The original was executed in 1885 and signed by its creator, C. J. Dyer.
Dyer served two terms as a city councilman from the second ward during the mid-1880s, and was interim mayor for three and a half months in 1889 (January through April). Notwithstanding his prominence in Phoenix politics of the time and his participation in business and industry, no photograph, sketch or likeness of him has been found. Historians and genealogists alike hope that some collateral relative of this man or a descendant of one of his many friends will come forward with a photograph or artist's sketch of him.
In addition to his artistic endeavors, he enjoyed collecting prehistoric artifacts from the local Hohokam sites. According to one source, his collection was "perhaps better than any in the United States outside of the Smithsonian Institution".
Dyer was residing at 27 East Van Buren when he died on March 28, 1903, at the age of 52. He is buried in Rosedale Cemetery. The grave marker itself is a standard military marble stone quarried in Massachusetts. It is sculpted in relief--but incorrectly, with an 'A' for Dyer's middle initial. The stone should have been inscribed with a 'J' for James.
© 2014 by Rosé Sullivan. Condensed from the original 28 April 2018.