According to legend, Moll Dyer was believed to have been a witch. During the long winter of 1697/98, 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. 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 in St Mary's County down to today.
The rock, which was moved in 1972 to the Old Jail from where it was found by newspaperman Phillip Lovein the woods near Moll Dyer Road, has gradually eroded over the years. In order to preserve it for future generations, the Historical Society, along with the Commissioners Town of Leonardtown and St. Mary’s County Commissioners, felt it best to relocate it.
You can learn more about Moll Dyer's legend from Lynn Buonviri's book "The Legend of Molly Dyer and Other Witch Tales of Southern Maryland" on sale at the Historical Society Bookstore.