George Dietrich (1816-1900) was born in Bevidere, New Jersey, to Pennsylvania parents of German descent. The seventh of nine children, he apprenticed to a tinsmith. In 1838, at age 22, he travelled west and eventually settled in Illinois. He selected Bloomington based a gazetteer and arrived in 1839. Here he purchased some tinner’s tools left by the failed business of the Freylies Brothers. Brother John Dietrich arrived in 1844 or 45, and joined in the hardware business. Eventually, Dietrich sold his interest in the business to his brother and nephew and moved to Normal. In 1875 he left Normal and lived successively in Texas, New York, Missouri, and Washington and engaged in land speculation in Missouri. He is buried in Bloomington’s Evergreen Cemetery.
Dietrich wed Harriett Munsell in 1842 and the couple had four children. His wife died in 1857, and he married her sister, Elizabeth Munsell, in 1861.
A musician, he led Bloomington’s first band. He held strong abolitionist views at a time when that was considered a somewhat radical position. Because of his views, his home was mobbed and another time he was egged when accompanying abolitionist speaker Owen Lovejoy.
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