John George Dieter was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany on April 20, 1841, a son of Johannes Philipp and Katherine (Ramye) Dieter. His boyhood years were passed in his native land, where he received his education and learned the trade of a cooper. Desiring to avail himself of the broader opportunities offered in America, he immigrated to the United States in 1858 and for a period of six months was employed at his trade in the city of New York. He next became a resident of Zanesville, Ohio, where he was employed as a barber until 1861, when he returned to New York and, on May 1 of that year, enlisted as a private in Company D, Fourth New York cavalry. With his regiment, which was attached to the Army of the Cumberland, he participated in a number of the important battles of the war, among which were the battle of Wilson's Creek, New Madrid, Island No. 10, Corinth, Perryville, Chickamauga and Stone River, being seriously wounded in the last named engagement. He was mustered out at Columbia, Tennessee, May 1, 1864, and subsequently returned to Germany, where he remained until 1866, his father passing away during this period. In that year he returned to the United States and located in Junction City, Kansas, journeying from Kansas City on the first train that was run over the Union Pacific railway's new line up the Kaw valley. He established one of the first barber shops in Junction City and conducted it until 1873. In 1876, George Dieter in partnership with George Lemley, who was also of German heritage, opened the Centenniel barbershop on Front street in Dodge City, Kansas. Dieter's tonsorial parlor was located in the space between Beatty & Kelley's saloon and restaurant and the Alhambra saloon. Dieter's ads regularly appeared in the Dodge City Times newspaper:
CENTENNIAL BARBER SHOP
The gay and festive youth, whose upper lip is covered with down; the staid and prim old bachelor, and all and every one who desire to appear in the cleanest and neatest attire on Christmas, will call on the genial and popular George Dieter, the eminent tonsorial artist of the Arkansas valley. George gives a clean shave, trims hair in the latest fashion and with exquisite tastes, according to the rules of the tonsorial art.
On October 6, 1877, the Times reported this good bit of news:
George Dieter’s bath room is in working order, and you can get a good bath for fifty cents.
The Times also reported this interesting tidbit involving the interaction of Dieter with his fellow "dutchmen" Morris and Jacob Collar, Larry Deger, Fred Martin, and John Müller:
The Hay Press
A car-load of miscellaneous planks, bolts, rods, nuts, etc, arrived last Wednesday addressed to Morris Collar. The “truck” was unloaded on Main Street, and Messrs. Morphey, Ackerman, Miller, Martin, Hungerford, Walsh, Deger, Bassett, Phillips, Harris, Marshall, Dieter, Thomas, Smith, Jones and the minister were called to the scene, accompanied by sundry other citizens, to give the subject their consideration. To the mind of the average American this display of component parts was incomprehensible. Jake Collar arrayed himself with a monkey wrench, Morris with a screw driver, and commenced screwing and unscrewing everything they could lay their hands upon, while Ackerman looked on in blank amazement. For several hours the work of tearing down and building up continued, under the immediate supervision of Messrs. Morphy and Martin. About six o’clock a triumphant yell rent the air, as the discovery was made that the object of curiosity was a cheese factory. But after once more tearing it down and building it up in an entirely different style, the most incredulous were led to an understanding that it was an instrument for the reconstruction of dogs, a la sausage mill. This Mr. Collar strenuously objected to and it was again torn down, and Mr. Morphey, the minister, and a few other enterprising citizens made one more desperate effort. They succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations, and when the institution was finished enough machinery was left to build a snuff mill. Just as darkness set in Luke McGlue arrived on the ground and pronounced it a hay press.
George Dieter conducted his tonsorial business in Dodge City until 1879, when he decided to return to eastern Kansas. George Dieter and family appeared on the Federal census taken in Oakland township, Clay county, Kansas on June 10, 1880 with his occupation listed as Grocer. Dieter's initial venture in the field of merchandising was taken in 1880, when he established a general store at Oak Hill, Clay county, Kansas and carried a stock of goods totaling $20,000 in value. This venture proved of sound and continuous growth, his trade area gradually increased, until he was compelled to build, in 1912, a large, modern brick store building in order to properly to care for the wants of his customers. This building was totally destroyed by fire on July 21, 1913. He then erected an even better and larger structure than that destroyed. Dieter was a consistent buyer of choice farm lands. He was the owner of tract of 680 acres in additon to his homestead consisting of 160 acres. Dieter was a lover of fine stock and his operations in this line of activity were upon a large scale. He stocked his farm with the best animals that money could buy, and as a breeder received recognition as one of the foremost in his section of the State. He was one of the active promoters of the organization of the Oak Hill State Bank, chartered in 1907, was elected its vice-president and served in this capacity until 1910. He was appointed postmaster of Oak Hill, Kansas in 1880, serving until 1893, and was appointed a second time in 1897. During the intervening years, 1893 to 1897, he served as assistant postmaster. He was a charter member of Iuka Post, No. 304, Grand Army of the Republic, and filled the various chairs in that body. George Dieter was granted a Civil War pension based on his wartime injuries in 1886. He died in 1922 at his home in Oak Hill, Clay county, Kansas, survived by his widow Johanna (Johnson) Dieter.
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