I just came in contact with Peter Dietz, a distant German Dietz cousin. We are both descended from our common ancestor David Dietz, who in the 17th Century was a miller in Vielbach, Parish of Nordhofen, Westerwald, Germany. Descendants of DavidÂ´s son Johann Wilhelm Dietz settled in Berne, Albany County, and nearby Schoharie County, NY. Descendants of David's son Anthonius (Thies / Thonges) settled in Hunterdon County, NJ.
Peter provided me considerable information on the origins of David Dietz, both the community and his family. He also provided the following commentary on the origin of the Dietz surname:
"Maybe some of our relatives also wish to know what the name "Dietz" means and where it comes from. Here some hints:
It is commonly accepted that "Dietz" is a diminutive of "Dietrich" (hence: little Dietrich). Dietrich (pronounced "Deet-rikh") is a popular contemporary first name (and also a frequent surname) in the German speaking countries, including its derivatives like Dieter, but it goes back to ancient times. As almost all Germanic names, it is made up of two components. The first (diet) stems from thiot or diot or deud - an Old German word meaning "people". The second part originates in Old German rÃ®ch (related to English "rich" and German "reich") - a word meaning "powerful". So, Dietrich is the "ruler of people". It is closely related to the Gothic name "Theodoric". As everybody knows, an Ostrogoth man with this name (called "the Great") finally terminated (but in some way also tried to continue) the Roman Empire in the 6th century when he became king of Italy.
Dietz is by no means a rare surname in Germany (although not by far as frequent as some others like Meier, MÃ¼ller, Schmidt, Schulz, etc.). Dietz families reside in many places of Germany as well as abroad. But it seems that there is a cluster of Dietz (both of living and ancestors) within a range of say 30 miles around the Westerwald. Once, a journalist taught me sarcastically that all the Dietz stem from illegitimate children of a territorial ruler somewhere in that region. Indeed, a genealogy of the famous poet Goethe published in the Internet says that one of his predecessors 1481 married a woman whose surname was said to be Dietz but who was in fact an illegitimate daughter of the Landgraf von Hessen (Viscount of Hesse). But all this is very speculative stuff.
The truth is, however, that there exists a town of currently about 10,000 inhabitants named Diez (without "t") about 20 miles south of Vielbach. Long time ago it was the capital of the Principality of Nassau-Diez, a branch of the Princes of Nassau. The most famous descendant was Wilhelm von Oranien-Nassau (the Dutch called him later on "Willem van Oranje") who became in 1559 governor of the Dutch provinces of the Spanish kingdom under Philipp II. Later, he fought against his master, and in 1581 the Netherlands became an independent state. Willem is the ancestor of the Dutch royal family which still resides in The Hague. (But beware of knocking at their door and asking for a free lunch saying that you are their cousin. It will be difficult to prove because very probably it is not true)."