Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Israel M. Groff and Sons – All Civil War Veterans?

Posted By on July 24, 2014

In the Middletown Cemetery, Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, there is a grave marker (above) for an Israel M. Groff, born 27 October 1816 and died 8 January 1893.

In the Hummelstown Cemetery, Hummelstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, there is a gravemarker for a Dr. Israel M. Groff, born about 1837 and died 12 August 1893.

The dates of birth of these two different men may suggest that they were father and son.  The first-mentioned Israel had a son named Israel, who was born (according to the 1870 Census) about 1861.  So, it is unlikely that the two men named Israel M. Groff whose grave markers are pictured above were father and son.  Perhaps they were cousins, or uncle and nephew, but if so that has not been conclusively determined.


In checking the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania Archives, a card for “J. M. Groff was located which indicates service in the 34th Pennsylvania Infantry (5th Pennsylvania Reserve) as an Assistant Surgeon at Headquarters, who was mustered into service on 2 August 1862 and discharged on an unknown date on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability.  This discharge occurred, according to the Pennsylvania Registers of Volunteers on 21 July 1863.  The regiment, which served at Gettysburg, has a tablet on the Pennsylvania Memorial – but the name of Israel M. Groff does not appear on that tablet – indicating, perhaps, that for whatever reason he was not present at the battle.  Probably, but not definitely, the man who served as an Assistant Surgeon is the one who died in 1875 and is buried at Hummelstown as “Dr. Groff.”

Further adding to the confusion of which one served is that no picture of either grave site has been seen where there is a G.A.R. star-flag holder and no Pension Index Card (in Fold3 or Ancestry.com) has been located for the service of an Israel M. Groff in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserves.

In turning to the first Israel M. Groff, the Findagrave Memorial notes that he had a son named William D. Groff (1841-1909), who served in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry.  A link is provided to the memorial for William – which notes he was the son of Israel M. Groff and Mary Groff of Lower Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania as per the 1870 Census.  In checking the genealogy of this Israel M. Groff, it can be determined that in addition to William D. Groff, there were two other sons of Civil War age – Valentine H. Groff (1838-1903) and Hiram F. Groff (1839-1915).  These three men, all of whom did have Civil War service, will be discussed in future posts.  Possibly, they all have roots in the geographical area of this Civil War Research Project.

The persons named Israel M. Groff moved about during their lifetimes and there are other facts which must be sorted out.  One was appointed U.S. Postmaster of Fisherville, Dauphin County in 1864, during the Civil War.  One (or perhaps the same one) was a dry goods merchant in Mount Joy, Lancaster County in 1870.  One (born in Pennsylvania) was a retired merchant in Clyde County, Kansas, in 1880.  And, one was a millwright in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1850.  Sorting these records out is left to others and until such sorting is completed, there is a good possibility that the records currently available have been erroneously co-mingled.

One final thought.  In the Harrisburg Patriot of 23 Mar 1886, the following brief was discovered:


Secured a Patent

A patent for a washing machine has been secured by I. M. Groff of Middletown.

Who was the I. M. Groff who secured the patent for a washing machine in 1886?  Surely not the one who died in 1875.  The only two persons of that name who were alive in 1886 were the Israel M. Groff who was born in 1816 and his son, Israel who was born about 1861.  By researching this patent, it most likely can be determined whether the inventor was the father or the son.


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