CAPTAIN JOSEPH N. DIEHL. A career teeming with interest, both as to accomplishments and experiences, is that of Captain Diehl, the well known stockman, real estate dealer and man of affairs at Fort Worth. Born in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Neeley) Diehl, he traces his descent to ancestors who, of German nationality and members of that faith of simplicity known as the German Baptists (since the Dunkards), left their home in Heidelberg in 1729 and, as part of a colony of thirty-six families who were likewise leaving the old country on account of religious persecution, came to Philadelphia and founded the historic Germantown. Such was the paternal ancestry, while the mother, a native of Evans county, Pennsylvania, was of Scotch ancestry and an adherent of the beautiful Quaker faith. She was married in 1830, and died at Canal Dover, Ohio.
Joseph Diehl, the father, who was born at Frederick, Maryland, and, as mentioned, married in 1830, came to Tuscarawas county, Ohio, in 1831, in which county he started the first butcher shop and blacksmith shop at the village of New Philadelphia. Later he located at Canal Dover, in the same county, where his meat and stock-buying interests were expanded to embrace a territory of one hundred surrounding miles, and he was the first drover in that part of the state. He built the first brick house at Canal Dover, and became a wealthy and prominent citizen, being throughout life a man of most scrupulous honor and sterling worth. His death occurred at his home in Canal Dover.
Joseph N. Diehl was in the midst of his educational preparation when he was called to serve his country at its greatest crises. Enlisting at Massillon, March 22, 1862, in Company K, Sixty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for the three years’ service, he joined the Army of the Potomac in Virginia, and his first prominent battle was at Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862; was then in the battles of Port Republic, Culpeper, second Bull Run, Antietam, and then, after a brief confinement at home on account of illness, joined the One Hundred and Sixty-first Ohio under General Hunter in his famous raids in Shenandoah valley, and was with General Sheridan at Harper’s Ferry when the latter succeeded Hunter. He received his honorable discharge from service on November 23, 1864.
On his return home he resumed his interrupted studies, in Oberlin College, and soon entered upon an active business career. Going to the busy oil regions of Pennsylvania he conducted a feed store, grocery and general mercantile establishment at Smith’s Ferry. In 1866 he came west, and after several months in business in Council Bluffs became a railroad conductor on the new railroads then being built across the plains, and was one of the contractors in the construction of the Union Pacific through Nebraska and Wyoming as far as Promontory, Utah. From contracting, in the spring of 1869, he went into the cattle business in Neosho county, Kansas, at that time owning the land on which the city of Chanute now stands. he then resumed contracting and assisted in the building of the Santa Fe as far as the Colorado line, and the M. K. & T. through the Indian Nation as far south as Denison, Texas. His acquaintance with Texas ripened into a deep regard which in 1872 decided him to make the state his permanent home. Fort Worth was then a very small village, consisting mainly of a few stores around the court house square, but his visit to the place convinced him of at least some of the great possibilities of its future development, and accordingly he picked it out for his home town. He engaged in business for a time in Dallas, but later returning to Fort Worth, where he became one of the first extensive buyers of hogs and cattle. From this he branched out and acquired an ice business, gradually extending the business to include fish, oysters, meat and general produce and was among the originators of the greatness of Fort Worth as a center to supply the country with food products. He shipped the first carload of ice to Fort Worth, and soon organized the Arctic Ice Company with thirty-six branch depots in various parts of the state. After continuing his connection with these enterprises very successfully until 1881, he disposed of most of his interests and has since been engaged in a general way in trading in live stock, real estate, building, also representing interests of non-residents. He has concerned himself very beneficially with all movements for the welfare and promotion of material good of his city, and, a man of the most sterling integrity and progressive ideals in business and civic affairs, he has made an honorable record in all departments of a very busy life. He has one son, Joseph, who is a prosperous business man at Portland, Oregon.
Captain Diehl is a member of the Christian church, and has been affiliated with the Masonic order since 1866. He is past commander of Parmly Post No. 4, G. A. R., at Fort Worth. One of the influential and popular Republicans of Texas, he was chosen a delegate to the national Republican convention which met at Philadelphia in June, 1900.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 449-550.