Dieterich, Francis (1815–1860)

By: Dora Dieterich Bonham

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 6, 2019

Francis Dieterich, early settler and businessman, was born on February 2, 1815, in Cassel, Germany. He immigrated to Texas in 1834 and settled in Refugio, where he petitioned for and received several leagues of land. He also bought a lot there when the town was officially surveyed. In February 1836 he joined a company of militia that became part of a regiment commanded by Lt. Col. William Ward under Col. James W. Fannin, Jr. He participated in the defense of the mission at Refugio, where he was taken prisoner on March 14, 1836; his life was spared. He was again taken prisoner at Goliad but escaped the Goliad Massacre of March 27. After the war he applied for land and received two grants-640 acres of donation land in San Patricio County and 320 acres of bounty land in Comal County.

In 1839 Dieterich moved to Austin and, in that community's first year of real settlement, went into business as a meat dealer. Records of sales from November 29, 1839, to September 14, 1841, show that he sold about 25,900 pounds of beef preceding and during preparation by the government for the Texan Santa Fe expedition. He added to his landholdings by the purchase of three city lots in 1841. When the government of the republic was moved to Washington-on-the-Brazos in 1842, Dieterich moved there also to supply goods. On returning to Austin in 1845, he opened a store at the corner of Congress Avenue and Pecan Street (now Sixth Street) and joined in business with George D. Hancock, who bought the site from Alexander Russell. Later, Dieterich purchased lots on the east side of Congress Avenue, where he increased his trade by sales from his own storehouse. In 1846 he served as alderman of the city.

Dieterich was married three times: in 1834 or 1835 to Bessie Reed, by whom he had twins, one of whom survived; to Martha Ann Brown on March 12, 1845, Bessie having died sometime prior to 1845; and to Sarah Elizabeth Browning on June 17, 1847, Martha Ann having died in 1846. Francis and Sarah Dieterich were the parents of four children. Dieterich died in Austin on May 31, 1860, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Dora Dieterich Bonham Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. William H. Oberste, Texas Irish Empresarios and Their Colonies (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1953; 2d ed. 1973).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dora Dieterich Bonham, “Dieterich, Francis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

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July 6, 2019