John Dietz, an early Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: John Dietz is known as an early gunsmith in Berlin, Somerset County, Pennsylvania from an 1800 Brothersvalley Township tax record, and from the written recollection of someone with first-hand knowledge.

1792: The following item from Volume 12 of "The Pennsylvania-German" (1911) indicates that Brothersvalley Justice of the Peace Adam Miller, who lived in Berlin, officiated at the marriage of John Dietz and Eva Sertan in 1792. I do not know if this is a reference to the right John Dietz. I do know that the John Dietz who shows up in the 1800 Brothersvalley Township census is a young man, in the 16 to 25 age bracket (see below).

1797-1800: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon & Somerset Counties" reports that Doctor E. C. Saylor's translation of the "Records of the German Reformed Church of Berlin" contains a baptism record for John and Susannah Dietz's daughter Catherine, who was born on March 11, 1800, and was baptized on April 14, 1800. Saylor's translation also documents the April 29, 1797 birth of their son Adam and the April 14, 1798 birth of their son Jacob. The book cautions that there were several John Dietz individuals living in the county in the general 1780 to 1820 timeframe.

1800: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", John Dietz is identified as a gunsmith on an 1800 tax roll of Somerset County. The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon & Somerset Counties" indicates the the 1800 tax roll was that of Brothersvalley Township.

1800: A John Dietz is enumerated in the 1800 Brothersvalley Township federal census in the 25 to 46 age bracket. Also living in his household were a female in the age 16 to 25 age bracket, and 2 males under age 10. This is harmonious with the 1797-1800 Reformed church records described above. This suggests that the 1800 gunsmith is the John Dietz who is listed in 1797-1800 Reformed church records.

1802: An article titled "Reminiscences by Henry J. Young, twenty-four years ago..." in the August 10, 1894 issue of the "Somerset Standard" newspaper contains the following statement regarding Berlin, Pennsylvania, "John Kennedy was a constable in 1802. _____ Dietz, a gunsmith, lived on the lot where is now the hotel built by Chas. Stoner. John Lamar bought the property from Michael Sanders, Sr. for $200 and in 1804 built a two-story log-house there, and in 1805 opened a tavern in it." Henry J. Young moved to the area in 1800, when he was about ten years old.

1810: I didn't find John Dietz in transcripts of the 1810 census of Brothersvalley Township or Berlin.

Looking for the location of the gun shop
I have not yet determined where John Dietz lived. This part of the web page just documents the things I have evaluated so far.

One way to identify where the gunsmith John Dietz lived would be to identify the location of the hotel that was built by Charles Stoner and was still standing in 1870. There are two individuals named Charles Stoner who are buried in Berlin. They are both buried in the IOOF Cemetery, and one is the father of the other. According to his tombstone, Charles Stoner, Sr. was born in 1813 and died in 1888. The tombstone of Charles Stoner, Jr. indicates he was born in 1849 and died in 1894. The following excerpt from the Brothersvalley section of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" indicates that Charles Stoner established a foundry in Berlin circa 1842. The foundry is labeled on the 1860 Walker map, but not on the 1876 Beers map

The 1860 map identifies Charles Stoner as the owner of house next to the foundry (401 Main Street), and the 1876 map identifies John O. Stoner (Charles Stoner's son) as the owner. Page 20 of the 1977 book "The Berlin Area 1777-1977" indicates that Jacob Lowery built that house in 1823. The house illustrations on the aforementioned maps suggest the house was enlarged to its present (2021) size between 1860 and 1876. After the enlargement the house is large, but I don't know if it is the structure Henry J. Young described in 1870 as "the hotel built by Chas. Stoner."

An article in the January 12, 1912 issue of the "Berlin Record" about the recollections of 100-year-old Levi Shoemaker includes the statement, "Jacob Lowery built the first brick house where Dr. Shaw now lives and had a blacksmith shop on the rear of the lot." This helps to confirm that Charles Stoner did not build the original portion of the house at 401 Main Street. The following excerpt from the 1884 county history also references John O. Stoner owning the brick house that Jacob Lowry built:

In the 1800 census of Berlin the Jacob Lowry household has one female in the 45 and up age group, two males in the 26 to 45 age group, two males and one female in the 10 to 16 age group, and one male in the up to ten age group.

In the 1810 census of the town of Berlin, the Jacob Lowry household has one male in the 45 and up age group, one female in the 26 to 45 age group, and two males in the 16 to 26 age group.

In the 1820 census of Berlin, the Jacob Lowry, Jr. household has two males and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, one male in the 16 to 26 age group, and one male and three females in the up to 10 age group. Two household members are engaged in manufacturing.

I did not find a Jacob Lowry anywhere in an 1830 transcript of the Somerset County census. Jacob Lowry Jr. & Sr. are, however, listed in the 1832 Brothersvalley tax list. Jacob Lowry, Sr. is listed with a horse and Jacob Lowry, Jr. is listed as a blacksmith with three lots, two horses, and three cows.

Another way to identify where the gunsmith John Dietz lived would be to identify the location of the lot that John Lamar bought from Michael Sanders, Sr. and built a two-story log house on in 1804 that was used as a tavern commencing in 1805. I could not find Dietz, Sanders, or Lamar on the 1802 map titled, "A Plan of the Town of Berlin".

I did not find John Lamar or John Dietz/Deetz in the transcript of the 1790 census of Bedford County, but I did find Michael Sanders.

I did not find a John Lamar or a Michael Sanders in a transcript the 1800 census of the town of Berlin, or anywhere in a transcript of the 1800 census of Somerset County.

I did not find a Lamar household anywhere in a transcript the 1810 census of Somerset County, But I did find a Michael Sanders household in Milford Township.

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