Robert Edwin Dietz.

1913. A leaf from the past; Dietz, then and now; origin of the late Robert Edwin Dietz--his business career, and some interesting facts about New York online

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Online LibraryRobert Edwin Dietz1913. A leaf from the past; Dietz, then and now; origin of the late Robert Edwin Dietz--his business career, and some interesting facts about New York → online text (page 1 of 11)
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929.2

D55997d

1339472



GENEALOGY COLLECTION



3 1833 01208 8388



ERRATA



The following important errors in this book were discovered too late
to make corrections.

Title Page-Imperfect oval around name DIETZ.

Page 4— Typographical error in word Church under illustration.

Page 35— Date under First Post-Office should be ISOJ, to 1825, not 18i0 to

Page 44-Under "Grandfather's Home," 4th line, date should be 1822.
not 1SS2.

Page 64— End of 16th line of "Note " should read seventy-seven years
not seventy-five years. '

Page 82— Insert opposite should have been reversed, so that names
appeared on outer margin.

Page 103— Under " The American Projectors of the Atlantic Cable "
name should be Prof. S. F. B. Morse, not Moss.

Page 133— William Henry White, should read was a thirty-third degree
Mason, not a third degree Mason.

Page 146— 7th line, date should be 1897, not 1881.

Page 163— The word Philippines incorrectly spelled.

Page 170-Under "New York's Telegraph System," 5th line, word
should be subsequently, not consequently .

There are some minor errors, in addition to above, to which
attention is not called.

Rowland & Ivks,

225 Fifth Avenue, N. Y.




/&/. s, ^^.



1913



A LEAF FROM THE PAST




THEN AND NOW



ORIGIN OF THE LATE ROBERT EDWIN DIETZ— HIS



BUSINESS CAREER, AND SOME INTERESTING
FACTS ABOUT NEW YORK



(OMPllJI) BY HIS tLDLST SON

FRED. DIETZ

PRESIDENT UK THE

R. E. DIET'/ COMPANY

NEW YORK LoNDoti



Founded IS 40



Copyright, 1914,

By

R. E. Dietz Companv



\^



1339472



INTRODUCTION

Tliis book, issued by the R. E. Dietz Comi)any, gives the
origin of the late ROBERT EDWIX DIETZ, his business
career, and some interesting facts aljout Xew York, dating
back for a, century and more.

Robert Edwin Dietz and l:is father, John Dietz, Jr., were
born in New York City. Ilis grandfather, John Joachim
Dietz, came to this country before the Revolution, and spent
the remainder of his life here.

These data have been compiled from the diaries and notes
of the late Roljert Edwin Dietz, and certain additions have
been made by his eldest son, Fred Dietz, who is also a native
of New York City.



A LEAF FROM THE PAST



ROBERT EDWIN DIETZ— HIS ORIGIN.

The following compiled from the diaries and notes of the
late Robert Edwin Dietz gives his origin, history of his busy
life, and some interesting facts about New York City in its
early days.



I, ROBERT EDWIN DIETZ, have many times been
asked my origin.

My father, John Dietz, Jr., was a native of New York City.

My grandfather, John Joachim Dietz, was born in Barr,
France, a town situated on the German side of the Rhine, at
the foot of the Vosges Mountains, about eighteen miles south-
west of Strasburg. After the Seven Years' War, the Germans
appropriated both sides of the Rhine, including Barr, his native
place. Another account states that he was born at Barr, a
town in Alsace, at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, at the
entrance into the picturesque Ulrich A'alley. He spoke both
German and French fluently.

The earliest trace of the name "Dietz" is found in the little
town of Diez or Dietz, in Prussia ( Ilesse-Nassau). From exist-
ing records, it would appear that the name DIETZ was origi-
nally "DIEZ."

The town of Diez or Dietz is on the River Lahn, a tributary
of the Rhine, and nineteen miles east of Coblenz.*

* There is also a town of Dietz in tlie United States in Sheridan County,
in the State of Wyoming, possessing prosperous coal mines.



g A LEAF FROM THE PAST

Grandfather John Joachim Dietz. — My grandfather was a
leather dresser by trade, and while a young man he and his
two brothers, William and Andrew, left their native place on




The DIEZ or DIETZ CASTLE,
With Buildings at Its Foot ;
Situated on the River Lahn, as it now appears.
This Castle was built during the middle of the eleventh century.

the Rhine and started out to seek their fortunes in the "New
World." They arrived in New York before the Revolution.
On landing in this country, my grandfather followed his trade
of leather dressing. He established a tannery in the locality



A LEAF FROM THE PAST 3

which is now the corner of Spring and Wooster Streets, and
later a glue works in Magazine Street. His brother William
went to the northern part of the State and joined the Conti-




AN OLD HOUSE AT THE FOOT OF DIEZ OR
DIETZ CASTLE— 1913.

nental Army. William proved to be a good soldier and was
made a Captain. His brother Andrew became a sutler in the
Army in New York, and (it is supposed) was accidentally
drowned, as his body was found in New York Bay with
money and papers untouched.



4 A LEAF FROM THE PAST

My grandfather, John Joachim Dietz, was married in New-
York City on Nov. 2, 1T90, to Mrs. Mary Frederica Andes
who, like himself, came from the Rhine country. The cere-
mony was performed by the Rev. John C. Kunsie, in the
German Lutheran Church, at the corner of William and Frank-
fort Streets. This church, a stone structure, was built in
1767. It was named "Christ Church", was also known as




GERMAN LUTHERAN CHRUCH

Site of William and Frankfort Streets.

Erected 1767.

the "Old Swamp Church", and its title was afterwards
changed to the "German Lutheran Church." The congrega-
tion later worshiped at Walker Street, east of Broadway.

My grandmother's maiden name was Mary Frederica Rhine-
lander. The parents of Miss Rhinelander wished her to marry
a rich old Baron who had large vinej^ards near the Rhine.
She was furnished with money for her wedding, but as she
disliked the old fellow she decided to leave home and friends
and used the money to pay her passage to the "New \\'orld"
to choose for herself. She married a Mr. Andes in New York.
He had come to the New World in the same party with Miss
Rhinelander. They lived happily until his death.

Family of John Joachim Dietz. — The following seven chil-
dren were born to m}' grandfather and grandmother :

John Dietz, Jr., my father, who was born in New York,
July 16, 1791; married Miss Sophia Meinell.



A LEAF FROM THE PAST 5

Michael, born Feb. 9, 17'J3; married Miss Hannah Clinch.

Elizabetli Mart^aretta, born Feb. 26, WJo; ne\er married.

Catherine, born Oct. 13, ITOT; married David William Mo-
lenaor.

Mary Elizabeth, born May 20, 1800; married Dr. William
Molenaor.

Andrew, born Feb. 16, 1S02 ; married iliss Sarah Sears.
(Andrew Dietz was the inventor of the Dietz hames.)




THE OLD DIETZ HOMESTEAD,
Burlingliam, Sulli\an Count}-. K. Y., built nearly loo years ago.

George, born May 13, 1803 ; married Miss Louisa Clinch.

All of my grandfather's children were baptized in the Ger-
man Lutheran Church, corner of \\'illiam and Frankfort
Streets.

Some time prior to 1820, my grandfather built a home for
his two older sons, John, Jr. (my father), and Michael, at
Burlingham, Sullivan County, N. Y., where he established
them in the tannery business. Our family resided there until



6 A LEAF FROM THE PAST

about the year 1838, four of my brothers and two of my sisters
being born there.*

Burlingham is situated at the foot of the Shawangunk
Mountains, and while the town has been in existence smce
Revolutionary days, it in all probability is not as large at the
present time as it was in 1820.

Grandfather and Grandmother Dietz died at the Molenaor
Homestead in Harlem, and were interred in St. Luke's Ceme-
tery at Hudson, Leroy and Clarkson Streets. When this
burial-ground was turned into Hudson Park by the city
authorities, their remains were removed to the German
Lutheran Cemetery, near Middle Village, Long Island.

I remember Grandpa Dietz from the time I was a mere
child. Very early in life I learned to read, and at the age of
six Grandpa Dietz asked me if I could read. Father said I
could read a chapter in the Bible for him. I was placed on
a high-chair, and with the Bible before me I read a chapter,
and Grandpa gave me a dollar, an incident which I have never
forgotten.

Grandfather and Grandmother Meinell. — My grandfather
on my mother's side, George Meinell, was of German origin.
He married a Miss Ann Spolding, who was born in Worcester-
shire, England. Grandma Meinell's father was a surgeon in
the British Army. He was a large landowner, was fond of
horses, and had large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep on
his farm. His farm fronted on the King's highway, and one
day a passing coach halted in front of his place, and the
passengers, calling him from the field, told him that a mounted
robber had taken their valuables. Farmer Spolding replied :
"If you will tarry a while, I will catch the rascal." With that
he mounted a horse, followed and overtook the robber and
tumbled both horse and rider into the ditch at the roadside.
He brought the robber back to the coach and the passengers
took him to London. The capture was reported to the King,
who commanded Farmer Spolding to visit him. When he

* At this writing, the old Dietz Homestead, shown on preceding page,
at BurUngham, is still standing, and probably no change has been made in
it, except by age, since the time it was occupied by the Dietz family.



A LEAF FROM THE PAST 7

appeared before the Kiiiu;- and recited his story of the cap-
ture of the robber, the King was so highly pleased that as a
reward he gave him the exclusive right to run coaches over
tlie downs forever, and the right remained in the Spolding
family until extinguished by purchase by a railroad.

Grandfather Meinell was born in Germany in IVoS, and my
grandmother, Ann Spolding Meinell, was Ixirn in England,
Aug. o, 17ol. They were married in England in KID, and
thirteen children were born to them, all (with one exception)
in England, as follows :

Family of George and Ann Meinell. — George Meinell, born
Oct. 21, IK;!, at Lewisham, in Kent. Deceased Dec. 1(3, 17T-4.

William Meinell, born Nov. 10, 1775, at Lewisham, in Kent.
Deceased Nov. 10, 1861.

George Meinell, 2nd, born Apr. 24, 1777, at Lewisham, in
Kent. Deceased Oct. 16, 1798.

Alexander Meinell. born Mar. 6, 1779, at Lewisham, in Kent.
Deceased June 24, 1781.

Thomas Meinell, born June — , 1781, at Coventry Cross,
South wark. Deceased June K, 1781.

Mary Ann Aleinell, born Nov. 2, 1782, at Mitcham, Surrey.
Married John Meyers, in Harlem. Deceased Feb. 22, 1872.

Elizabeth Meinell, born July 29, 1784, at IMitcham, Surrey.
Deceased Aug. 23, 1784.

James Aleinell, born July 2o, 17 85, at Mitcham, Surrey.
Alarried Madelane AIcDanel on Mar. 1, 1807. Deceased July
3, 1865.

Thomas Meinell, 2nd, born :\Iar. 12, 1787, at Mitcham, Sur-
rey. Married Ann Blauvelt May 14, 1808. Deceased at Ja-
maica, W. L

Sarah Aleinell, born Feb. 16, 1789, at Mitcham, Surrey.
Married Samuel Dunbar Sept. 12, 1807. Deceased ]\Iar. 14,
1879.

Charlotte :\Ieinell, born Sept. 31, 1791, at Mitcham, Surrey.
Deceased Sept. — , 1798.

Sophia Meinell, my mother, born July 10, 179;], at Mitcliam,
Surrey. ^Married John Dietz, Jr., July 10, 1813, at Harlem,
New York. Deceased Dec. 10, 1856.



8 A LEAF FROM THE PAST

Ann Meinell, born , 1797, in New York. Deceased

Oct. 15, 1798.

Samuel Dunbar (who married Sarah Meinell) was an archi-
tect and builder. He erected many buildings for the first
John Jacob Astor, and built the first row of French style of
dwellings in New York, for a wealthy Frenchman named
Depau, on the south side of Bleecker Street, between Thomp-
son and Sullivan Streets, known as "Depau" row. A. T.
Stewart lived for many years in Depau row before he moved
to Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street. Dr. Valentine
Mott, a pioneer in surgery of world-wide fame, who, for fifteen
years was a consulting surgeon of Bellevue Hospital, also
lived in Depau row when it was a centre of wealth and
fashion.

Samuel Dunbar also built the house of \\^ashington Irving
at Sleepy Hollow, just north of Tarrytown. It was here that
Irving laid the scene of his immortal story, "The Legend of
Sleepy Hollow," a short distance north of the spot where
Major John Andre, the British spy, was captured while on
his way to New York with plans of West Point in his pos-
session.

Where Grandpa Meinell Resided in London. — In 1780
Grandpa and Grandma Meinell resided in London, on the
same street with Lord George Gordon, during the Lord George
Gordon Riots, that occurred on June 8th and 9th of that year.
At Grandpa's request, soldiers and cannon were placed there
to defend his house against the rioters. Every person who
ventured into the street was compelled to say, "No Popery!"
and "Success to the Government!" Grandma Meinell had
Catholic neighbors who were afraid to venture into the street.
She went to market for them, bought cockades, and pinned
them on their hats as a sign of loyalty. Before the riots
ceased, thirty-seven fires were burning in London. Gordon
was arrested and tried for treason. He was believed to be
insane, and was finally placed in prison, where he died of
brain fever.

During the year 1780, Grandfather Meinell made and ex-
hibited in London the first over-shot water wheel. One quart



A LEAF FROM THE PAST 9

of water would cause it to revolve continuously during- twent}'-
four hours. All wheels in use in England at that time were
what were called "Ijreast" or "under-shot" wheels.

When Grandfather Meinell Came to New York.— In 1795
Grandfather Meinell visited Germany to secure monies de-
vised to him by a relative, and while away his partner de-
frauded him. He came to Xew York the following year,
1T96, and resided in William Street.

In 179S, when the yellow fever was epidemic in New York
City, Grandfather ^ileinell's son George, 2nd, and his young-
est daughter, Ann, died with it, and were interred by the
city authorities in the public burying ground, where is now
Washington Square, at the southerly end of Fifth Avenue,
south of Waverly Place. Grandma was also taken with the
fever, but recovered. She was not made aware of the death
of her son George and daughter Ann until slie had partly
regained her health.

Grandfather Meinell's Home in Harlem. — About the year
1813 Grandfather Aleinell took up his home in Harlem Lane,
now part of St. Nicholas Avenue, at llSth Street. When
Grandma jMeinell came here from London, she brought with
her twelve elegantly carved mahogany chairs. They were
moved from place to place, and after she gave up house-
keeping it was thought the chairs were too old-fashioned to
please modern tastes, and they were placed in the barn at
Harlem and left there until the space was needed for hay.
They were then piled one on top of the other under some
tall lilac bushes which grew under the overhanging rocks
on Harlem Lane, until they were weather-beaten and fell
apart. They were then cut up for fire wood. Only one was
saved, to be used as a chair for the sick. It was finally seen
by an old furniture dealer, who oft'ered seventy-five dollars
for it.

Grandpa ]\Ieinell was very fond of flowers and passed many
of his later years attending his garden at his home in Harlem.
He planted numbers of trees by the roadside to make shade
for those who might live after him. He was often told by
his neighbors, "You won't live to enjoy the shade of those



10



A LEAF FROM THE PAST



trees," and he would reply, "I do not plant for myself, but
for others." He was pleased to have his neighbors visit his
garden and admire his plants and flowers. He passed away
at his home on Harlem Lane, on March 18, 1825.

John Meyers' Farm. — My grandmother's eldest daughter.
Aunt Mary Ann Meinell, was married to John Meyers in




Juhn ML\eib' Idim House, Harlem, which stood on what is now
the northeast coiner of Eighth A\ enue and One Hundred and Thirty-
third Street, from 1835 to 1897. The farm was purchased by him in 1825
and contained thirty-five acres.

Harlem, and grandmother loaned him the money with which
he bought a farm in Harlem, during the year 1825. It con-
tained about thirty-five acres and extended diagonally from



A LEAF FROM THE PAST



133d Street and Eighth Avenue to tlie Ilarlcm River. It
adjoined the "Archibald Watts" Farm. Here he erected a
house in 1835. The first decorations in this house were done
by a German painter. The centrepiece of the living-room
was a beautiful butterfly painted from a live one caught in
the garden. The colors were blue and gold. The deep border
on the walls was ornamented with roses in wreaths of lace




MARY AXX MEIXELL MEYERS.

in deep hanging festoons. The painting remained bright for
forty years.

I was alwavs fond of walking, and when young, often took
long tramps in the country on pleasant Sundays. Before I
was married I frequently started out on a Sunday morning
from where I boarded in Maiden Lane and walked to my
uncle's farmhouse, in Harlem, arriving in time to take break-



12 A LEAF FROM THE PAST

fast with them, and returning home via the Third Avenue
Horse-Car Line.

Aunt Mary Ann Meinell Meyers, daughter of George and
Ann Meinell, died in her Harlem home, Feb. 22, 1872. The
farm then became the property of my eldest brother, John
George Dietz, who cut it up into city lots and sold it at auction.
In 1885, I (R. E. Dietz) purchased at foreclosure sale eight full
lots on the Avenue, where the house stood, and ten lots in the




WILLIAM MEINELL.
rear of these, five facing on 133d Street and five facing on
134:th Street; and resold them, in 1895, for 205,000 dollars.

Aunt Mary's brother, William Meinell, when visiting his
old home in England, after an absence of about sixty years,
wrote a long and interesting letter to her at Harlem, under
date of June 13, 1855. It is a remarkable specimen from the
fact that at the time of writing he was eighty years of age, and



A LEAF FROM THE PAST 13

it was written witli a turkey quill pen, on plain, unlined,
double-sheet letter paper, ■; x H inches, with Ki lines to a paye,
containing 2,816 words. Original letter is here reproduced :

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A LEAF FROM THE PAST



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Online LibraryRobert Edwin Dietz1913. A leaf from the past; Dietz, then and now; origin of the late Robert Edwin Dietz--his business career, and some interesting facts about New York → online text (page 1 of 11)