Archive for June, 2014

Brick Wall: Arnestus Dietz

Posted by on Thursday, 26 June, 2014

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Arnestus Dietz is my paternal great-great-great grandfather via my great-grandmother Helen Louise Dietz. I have quite a bit of information on Arnestus:

  • He was born on March 18th, 1818 in Pennsylvania.
  • He had a brother named Jeremiah.
  • Sometime around 1846, he married Elizabeth Brown Smith of Ceres, McKean, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Smith’s obituary mentions the age she was married. I have a photo of Elizabeth, pictured here: 26572_392637912856_601265_n
  • He appears in the 1850 Federal Census in Sharon, Potter, Pennsylvania. Along with him are listed:
    • Elizabeth (Spouse, age 25)
    • Mary J. (Daughter, age  3)
    • Clinton (Son, age 1)
  • He appears in the 1860 Federal Census in Washington, Jefferson, Pennsylvania. The last name is spelled as “Deets” in this census record. Along with him are listed:
    • Elizabeth (Spouse, age 35)
    • Mary (Daughter, age 13)
    • Clinton (Son, age 11)
    • Allen (Son, age 9)
    • Clara (Daugher, age 6)
    • Lucinda (Daughter, age 4)
    • George (Son, age 10/11 mo.)
  • Sometime in the mid 1860s, the Dietz family moved to La Crosse Wisconsin. Arnestus was in his mid 40s at the time.
  • He appears in the La Crosse Directory for 1866-1867 as living in La Crosse.
  • He died 12 August 1868 in La Crosse. He is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in La Crosse, which gives exact dates of birth and death.

Some information can be gleaned from the book The history of Ceres and its near vicinity, from its early Settlement in 1798 to the present.” Arnestus, along with his brother and wife, are mentioned in the book: 

Later he removed to Friendship [PA], and Jeremiah Deitz, who had a blacksmith shop near, lived in the house for several years. Arnestus Deitz, his brother, who lived with him for a time, married Elizabeth Smith, second daughter of Harry Smith. They lived on the Phelp's place for a time, but removed to Ohio, and later to Wisconsin, where Mr. Deitz died, after a long and lingering illness, leaving his wife and six children.

That is the extent of the information I have on Arnestus. What I do not have is the name of his father, which makes any further research of my Dietz lineage impossible. I would love to further this research, if you have any thoughts on this, I would be very grateful!

Reverend John Samuel Huggins, Inventor

Posted by on Thursday, 5 June, 2014

John Samuel Huggins is my paternal great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in  Darlington, South Carolina in March of 1810. Sometime around 1829 he married Zylphia Ham. They had six sons and seven daughters between 1829 and 1850. He died on April 3, 1879, in Williamsburg, South Carolina, at the age of 69. I know from research that John was an ordained minister of  the Methodist Church. He served as the pastor of the Methodist Church at Muddy Creek, South Carolina until his death.


One thing that caught my eye about John: among his accomplishments was the invention of the first mechanical cotton planter. According to lore, the design was used throughout the South and still influences the design of seed planters today. Some refer to it as a “horse” planter. When researching this fact, I wondered if John had ever filed a patent on the design. The United States Patent Office was officially formed in 1836,  well before John invented the device.

As it turns out, I was correct. A patent was filed by John and a co-patentee, Rowland Chapman! Patent Number 20,432, “Improvement in cotton seed planters” was issued in June of 1858. In it, John and Rowland lay out the design and rationale for the invention. Included are schematics, which I thought were cool enough to display in my post. 


The patent in its entirety is available here. Sometimes you find family history data in the most unexpected places.

  • John Huggins I of Sea Wee Bay by Otis Prince 1965.