Category Archives: Dietz

Finding the Dietz Family and Jones Family Connection; a Genealogy Community Challenge

August Andrew Dietz (b. 10-19-1869 d. 9-26-1963) How is he connected to my family?

August Andrew Dietz (b. 10-19-1869 d. 9-26-1963) How is he connected to my family?

Calling all my followers and fellow genealogists, I have a “missing link” that I need community assistance solving.

Here’s the set-up:
1] My ancestor, William Ellis Jones, II (b. 1838 – d. 1910), the Civil War diarist and printer/publisher of Richmond, Virginia, mentioned several times in his diary (written in 1862), that his cousin worked at the Confederate Post Office in Richmond. This un-named cousin occasionally pulled strings to get packages across the siege lines to William.

2] I know that this cousin was not a paternal relation. All of William’s “Jones” cousins were soldiers in Alabama regiments. The rest (the majority of the Jones family) were still in Wales.

3] William Jones, II, was injured at Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 10, 1864. He retired to the invalid corps, February 1, 1865, and served as clerk in the Post Quartermaster’s Office in Richmond until General’s Lee’s surrender of the Confederacy in April of 1865.

4] By 1866, William was back at work in Richmond at his old job At Clemmitt’s Printing & Publishing Co.; but this time his name was added to the imprint. In addition to becoming a partner at the firm, William married Miss Florence Smith (birthdate unknown), of Richmond, Virginia. She was the oldest daughter of John Wesley Smith (b. 1818 – d. 1854) and Frances Sephronia Osgood (b.1817 – d. 1903), both of Richmond, Virginia, and grand daughter of John Walton Smith (b. 1787 – d. 1861), of London, and his wife Mary Budd (dates unknown), and Sewell Osgood (dates unknown), and his wife Frances Courtney (dates unknown), who was daughter of Thomas Courtney of King William County, Virginia.

5. Florence Smith Jones died not long after her marriage to William Ellis Jones. There were no children produced from this marriage.

6. Florence Smith had several siblings. Her brother was Edgar Alonza Smith, who is mentioned in early 1862 in William Jones, II’s diary, along with “relations” (whether relations of A.E. Smith’s or common relations is unclear, and part of the question I hope to answer by appealing to the general readership with this post.) Her sisters were; Lemira Virginia Smith (b. 1844 – d. 1917) of Richmond, who married Dr. William H. Gibbs (b. 1833 – d. 1910) of New York; and Ella Cordelia Smith (b. 1851 – d. 1918), of Richmond.

7. In 1874, William Ellis Jones, II married his first wife’s youngest  sister, Ella Cordelia Smith. She was 13 years his junior. Shortly after their marriage, the third Smith sister, Lemira Virginia Smith Gibbs, moved (with her husband) into the household of William Jones and wife Ella Cordelia. Dr. Gibbs practiced medicine in Richmond, and Lemira worked in the household alongside her sister, helping her rear her growing family (Dr. Gibbs and Lemira had no children of their own.)

8. William Jones, II, and his 2nd wife Ella Cordelia had three sons; Florence Ellis Jones, Thomas Grayson Hones, and Fairfax Courtney Jones. The eldest son, F. Ellis Jones, followed his father into the family business (the other two became prominent businessmen in other fields.) At the point of F. Ellis reaching about 20 years old, the imprint of the business changed from “Clemmitt and Jones” to “William Ellis Jones and Sons.”

9. These three boys, and at least one grandchild (my grandfather, William Ellis Jones, III, son of F. Ellis Jones) grew up in the household with Lemira Virginia Smith Gibbs – but interestingly they all knew her as “Aunt Dietz”.

I can find no one so far discovered in her family line who was named “Dietz”. I cannot determine where this nickname came from.

10. HOWEVER, and here’s where the missing link comes in:
In the census of 1890, Peter Dietz (b. 1835 – d. 1901), a German immigrant who had settled in Richmond in about 1873, was living in Richmond with his family, including his twenty year old son August  Andrew Dietz (b. 1869 – d. 1963). The occupation of the father is listed as soap maker. The occupation of the son, August Andrew, is listed as Printer.

11. August Andrew Dietz became, perhaps, the most famous printer/publisher in Richmond, founding The Dietz Press in 1901, when he was just 21 years old. He also became semi-famous as a philatelist (stamp collector), who specialized in the study of mail and postal history of the Confederate States of America. He authored many books on the subject and was the founder of several stamp collecting organizations that still thrive today.

His personal papers and collections were donated to the library at Virginia Tech in 2010, and part of that collection is described thusly “The August Dietz Civil War Collection contains materials originally collected by August Dietz, Richmond, VA, philatelist and printer. The collection contains single editions of Civil War-era newspapers, photographs, a woodcut and prints, quartermaster records, playing cards, a handwritten memoir, correspondence, and reproductions of stamps from the Civil War…” (Bold emphasis is mine.)

In a biographical note, related to the collection (which incidentally contains several factual errors, the following is included regarding his early printing career; “In 1883, he took his first printing job and eventually took an apprenticeship at Andrews and Baptist of Richmond, considered ‘the art printers of the South.’ It was here that Dietz learned about printing and Confederate philately, which Frank Baptist had been involved with during the Civil War.” (Bold emphasis is mine.)

THEORIES:
FIRST –  I believe that Dietz “first printing job” was in the office of William Ellis Jones & Sons, probably as an apprentice in his early teen years. I further believe that his interest in Confederate postal history began, not at Andrews and Baptist, but under the guidance of William Ellis Jones, who was a printer before the war, who was a confederate veteran and would have known Frank Baptist, as they were both artillerists in Lee’s army, both printers, and both in the quartermaster’s office in the last years of the war. William worked in the quartermasters office until the fall of Richmond (un-like Baptist who went back to the battlefield), and William would have had access to those quartermasters records, and would have been in a situation to save them from the evacuation fires that consumed much of Richmond’s history.

SECOND: I believe that the Peter Dietz family had relations in Virginia prior to Peter settling in Richmond in 1873ish. It is my working theory that these relations are connected in some way to the John Walton Smith, John Wesley Smith, Ella Cordilia Smith, Lemira Virginia Smith line.

Part of my reasoning is the obvious “Dietz” name in common between Lemira Virginia (aka “Aunt Dietz”). The other is that it was very common, almost mandatory, that early apprenticeships were served under the supervision of blood or marriage relations; before a person was “set loose” to either succeed or humiliate his family out in public. I believe that William supervised August first, then graduated him to his friend and former comrade Frank Baptist in order to finish his professional education.

As of yet, I cannot prove any of my theories. I would like your assistance!

 


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