ELISHA DYER JR. was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Brown University and went on to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Giessen in Germany, becoming a chemist. While a member of the Rhode Island Militia, he served as aide-de-camp to his father, who was governor. He went on to serve in the Rhode Island Light Artillery during the Civil War and was appointed Major and recruiting officer by then-Governor William Sprague in 1862. The following year Governor James Smith appointed him Colonel on his staff, and in 1869 he was elected Lieutenant Colonel in command of the reorganized Marine Artillery Company. He was Adjutant General of the state with the rank of Brigadier-General from 1882 to 1895, during which time he revised and completed the state's Civil War records and reorganized the state militia. He was elected to the state Senate in 1877, began five years of service on the State Board of Health in 1878, was a state Representative in 1880 and 1881, was an alderman from the First Ward of Providence in 1890 and 1891, and was a member of the Providence School Committee from 1888 until 1897, when he became governor. During his gubernatorial administration, a new state flag was adopted, Rhode Island’s eastern boundary was established, and the Spanish-American War took place. Dyer went on to serve once again in the state Senate in 1904 and was elected Mayor of Providence in 1905. He died the following year.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.