The DYE Family History is an interesting one. How can a simple three-letter surname get so screwed up over the years? Dye, Dyer, Dyess, Die, Day, Dey, Dieje, Deye, Dea, Deyed, Deied, Diede, Deyett, Deitt, Dyeit, Tie, Dy, Dei, Dyson, Tyson, etc. Even today, I hear people introduce me as DYER! The only definitive statement that can be made is that we originated in Europe, probably the English Isles in the border area of Scotland and England.

The Surname DYE is credited with several origins. Most agree it is of Celtic-Scot origin. Some sources state it was first found in Yorkshire, home of a Dye Manor. The name DYE does appear in Tax Records for 1379 (Robertus and Wilhelmus Dye estates). Others say it was first seen in Scotland as a slang name for English sympathizers. Another legend has it as a derivative from Dionysius the Areopagite. It is a fact that "Dye" derived from the Old Saxon word deah (also seen as deag and deagh). Deah translates to "secret", "hidden", "dark, and "obscure". A common opinion is that it simply came about due to a profession, a person who colors textile. There is a village called Dyehouse in northern England where some of the Dyes lived in the 14th and 15th Centuries. There is also an argument that its origin is linked to a term "die", which meant evildoer or traitor. A traitor in the old Scottish/English conflicts was said to have "changed his die", or gone over to the other side's colors. Old English used "dye" to refer to something terrible or sinister and most early wills refer to "dye" or "dying" as opposed to die. Some who were spies for the English or Scottish sides were called "dye doers". There is a link between "dye" and blackmailers who preyed upon English or Scottish sympathizers, or both. The person being blackmailed to keep their true allegiances secret were said to have paid their coercers in bags dyed a certain color, depending on their allegiance. "Die" originally appeared in the Scot language as early as 1362. It has had a myriad of definitions in the Scot language over the years. Die/Dye has meant (or still does) "to change", ‘to fall to pieces", "worse of" (circumstances), "to foil the plans of", "inquest" or "to pay the witnesses". A Dye man, in 1548, was any Northland man bairn (born) on the wattirssyde (water's side) of the Dye River in now Northumberland. Indeed, the Dye River was called the "Die" river from as early as 1462 and was first seen as the "Dye" River around 1788-1808. There are several Scot references to crossing the Briddge or Bridge at the River Die and, later, the River Dye.

From Europe, they migrated to Maine, New Amsterdam, Connecticut, Virginia, the Carolinas, the Islands and Newfoundland.

I have identified what I call five "tribes". These are the root emigres into the Americas. They are:
The Barbados Tribe.
The Connecticut Tribe.
The Duyts Tribe
The Jamestown Tribe.
The Carolina Tribe.

The Barbados Tribe, which may actually have two (or more) separate "originators", came from England. Some came to the Islands as indentured servants or criminals. Several were invited guests of The Crown. Some decided to leave the British Isles when Scotland and England merged to become the United Kingdom around 1707. These "invited" Dyes came from various locations in England, mostly Norfolk and Suffolk, with their roots going back to the Scottish Borders area of Northumberland, Ireland and Wales (depending on the ruling party at the time). Records show they came to the Islands as surveyors and engineers, having gained much of their experience in the various military factions of the time. Some were invited to assist Oglethorpe in the founding of Brunswick, GA (Fort ????) and the expansion of the English Settlements in The Spanish Colony. One, Jacob Dye, surveyed a route northward into the Carolinas – a road that eventually became U.S. 1. Those Dyes who left prior to or around 1707 probably did so as protest to the unification or may have had to leave the Isles for self-preservation. These would have come from the Scottish Border areas, Wales and even Ireland. The descendants of these groups remained in the southern states or migrated northwest into western Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma Territory, New Mexico Territory and California. They were primarily farmers, surveyors, soldiers, engineers, educators and religious men.

The Connecticut tribe settled in and around Staunton, CT and were mariners. Some migrated into upstate and western New York and eventually into Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Many of the descendants continued in the mariner trade while several became farmers, merchants, educators and religious leaders.

The Duyts tribe came from Holstein, which was either a Danish Princedom, a German-State or both during the time the Duyts resided there. Many of these ancestors were military men who fought as mercenaries in various European Armies. There is some thought that they originated in England and left at the request of The Crown and migrated into Brittany or Normandy before arriving in northern Europe. They settled in the New World in New Amsterdam where the Duyts were regarded as one of the pioneer families of what is now known as Bronx. Their descendants migrated to Virginia, western (and West) Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and California

The Jamestown Tribe came from Suffolk, England as farmers and merchants and settled in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The immigrant ancestor was Martin Dye, 1665-?. Descendants migrated to The Carolinas, Georgia, western (and West) Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and California.

The Carolina Tribe settled in the Chester and Fairfield Sectors of South Carolina. Some think these are descendants of the Island Tribe, but no direct link has yet been discovered.

Another group, who's lineage has yet been verified, migrated into Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

A "Colonel Dye" was featured in the Cecily Tyson movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). He was portrayed favorably.

Interestingly, all of these tribes migrated along paths that eventually led to many inter-marriages among the Dye tribes and in-laws. A list of these inter- and intra-marriages can be found on this Web Site. To date, there are over 130 "cross-overs" or intra-marriages known in the Dye Family Tree(s).

There are persons who can trace their family trees of two distinct families back to common origins involving a Dye Tribe. Then, because of the intra-marriages, especially in such places as Mason County, KY, the trail is clouded or confused.

Migrations from New York, the Carolinas, Virginia Tidewater and Georgia all eventually led to Dye settlements in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Texas. Many Dyes left their name on various geographical sites around the states (also available on this Web Site). From villages to cemeteries to schools and libraries, the name Dye can be seen on many edifices as a legacy. In the early 1990's, our family was visiting New Mexico and was surprised to see "Dye" inscribed in graffitti on the Aztec ruins. A small section of Interstate 270 is named after an Ohio Highway Trooper named Jody Dye, who was killed in an auto accident.

Confusion reigns! The tradition of given names among the various Dye Tribes does not help in connecting dots. Maysville/Mason County, KY is a prime example. In an 11-year period, there were 32 "John Dyes", 21 "William Dyes" and 19 "James Dyes", all living in Mason County, KY. Even exhausting research into official records and newspapers could not clear up many questions. Reviewing their spouses, dates-of-birth, land records, or middle names were not much help as there were many duplicates and even obvious errors. Many spouses had the same first and middle names as well as the same or similar (or misspelled) surnames or no surnames at all. There were 7 John Dyes married to a Mary; another 5 married to a Sarah and 3 married to Hannahs. James William Dye seems to be a common name throughout the history. George, Thomas, William, John, James, …..almost absolutely no imagination. There are two Kenneth's married to two Charity's four year apart. At least the Charity's had distinct traceable lineage. Even the female names travel downward and laterally from generation to generation. In one documented case, one male Dye married a woman and had children. He left the family and ventured west into parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and maybe as far as the Mississippi. He was not heard from for two years, so it was presumed he was dead. His brother then married his "widow" and they had a couple of children. He returned and reassumed his role as the original husband and father of what would have been his nephews and nieces (or would they?) as was the custom in those days. Can't find out what happened to his brother as he disappears in the records (for now).

The Dyes have fought in every war that the American Colonies and United States have been involved in. The Revolutionary War, The Indian Wars, The Carolina War, Mexican War, Civil War (on both sides) and the World Wars, Korean Conflict and Vietnam. Most were enlisted men, but some became officers and leaders. Some became heroes. Even today, a radar defense site in Greenland is called Dye Station. If they did not act as soldiers, sailors or airmen, they served as surveyors, engineers, accountants, suppliers and everything else to help support the cause. There was a Dye at the Alamo, Little Big Horn, Pearl Harbor and Omaha Beach. Dyes have been judges, police chiefs, magistrates and justices of the peace. They have also been spies, traitors, thieves and murderers. Many became educators and some even have schools named after them. All in all,. most Dyes have been successful contributors to our Nation's history. Take pride in being a DYE.

Fred H Dye, Jr.