The Legend of Moll Dyer
Learn all about one of St. Mary's most famous residents.
Who was Moll Dyer?
In the late 1600s, in what would become Leonardtown, Maryland, the townspeople were disturbed by the presence of a woman named Moll Dyer. She is believed to have been a healer who often aided the community, however, when an epidemic of influenza arose during the winter of 1697, the Town inhabitants looked to lay blame and named her as its cause.
Fearful of the sickness, a mob accused Dyer of witchcraft and set upon her. When they set fire to her small cabin on a bitterly cold night in February 1698, Dyer escaped into the surrounding woods. Days later, a young boy looking for lost livestock found her body with one hand frozen to a large rock and the other outstretched to the sky.
For many years, the famous rock’s location was unknown. But in 1968, writer Philip H. Love read about the legend and went in search of Moll Dyer’s rock. Love located the stone at the edge of a ravine and in the 1970s, it was moved to the Old Jail Museum in the town square of Leonardtown.
The legend says you can still see the imprint of her hands and knees on the rock on which they found her. The legend also says that Moll put a curse on the land and on the rock. It's rumored that anyone who touches the rock may become dizzy or even fall ill.
Moll Dyer Day
During a dedication ceremony in 2021, Leonardtown's Mayor, Dan Burris, proclaimed February 26th Moll Dyer Day. The famed Moll Dyer Rock was moved from the Old Jail Museum--where it sat for almost 50 years marked by a small plaque--to Tudor Hall Manor, the home of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, where the organization oversees the preservation of this important piece of Maryland history. The Society has helped build a platform and protective covering to shelter the rock from the elements. Since its move, the rock has seen a steady flow of visitors who often leave trinkets and small gifts for Moll.
More about Moll
In 2014, the Weather Channel aired an episode about Moll Dyer in their series American Supernatural.
Published on October 31, 2017, Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer was written by southern Maryland native author, David W. Thompson. This novel pulls together the historical record and local oral traditions surrounding her legend.
Moll Dyer's Revenge, written by St. Mary's County native and author Mike Marcus, was published in the anthology From The Yonder: A Collection of Horror from Around the World in February 2020.
Moll Dyer and Other Witch Tales of Southern Maryland by Leonardtown resident, Lynn J. Buonviri was published in 2019. Buonviri uses period records and local lore to discover the truth behind the legend of Moll Dyer and her curse.
Moll Dyer was one of the historical figures that inspired The Blair Witch Project.
There is a locally distilled Moll Dyer Cinnamon Whiskey from Tabaco Barn Distillery and several Moll Dyer songs.
For even more about Moll's legend, check out the special Moll Dyer Day video below.