John Dietz, 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).

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 1800 Reformed church records described below.

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.

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

Circa 1870: 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.

Finding the location of the gunshop: To find the location of the residence of John Dietz, I need help finding the location of the hotel in Berlin that was built by Charles Stoner. I suspect it is the big house at 401 Main Street, but I have no proof. That lot is illustrated with a small building on the 1860 Walker map, is next to Stoner's foundry, and is identified as being owned by Charles Stoner. On the 1776 Beers map, the foundry is gone and a house shaped like the one that is still at 401 Main Street is labeled as being owned by J.O. Stoner. Several lots in town are labeled as being owned by Mrs. Charles Stoner on the 1876 map. That, and the absence of the foundry, make me suspect that Charles Stoner was deceased when the map was made.

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