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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

The Groff Brothers? – Valentine, Hiram & William

Posted By on November 4, 2014

Previously here on this blog there was a discussion of whether Israel M. Groff and three others who could be his sons were all Civil War veterans. One of the things that complicated the research was that two men were identified as Israel M. Groff, one of whom was a doctor. The graves of both were located.  While it still has not been conclusively determined that the three men presented in this current post were the sons of one of them – or that any of the three men who served in the Civil War were brothers, some known information about each is presented here today in the hopes that a reader of this blog can clear up this mystery.

The first document shown below is a portion of a 1850 census return from East Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  It names an Israel M. Groff, a 34-year old millwright as head of household, with three sons, Valentine H. Groff, age 10 (born about 1840), Hiram F. Groff, age 11 (born about 1839), and William D. Groff, age 9 (born about 1841).

GroffHiram-Census1850-001a

The ages of the three sons of this Israel M. Groff appear to be nearly consistent with the known ages of three Civil War veterans which are now discussed below:

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Valentine H. Groff (1838-1903).

GroffValentineH-PensionINdex-001

 

According to the Pension Index Card found on Fold3, Valentine H. Groff applied for a pension on 6 July 1891 based on his service in Company D of the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry.  There was no widow application following his death on 30 April 1903.  The place of death is not noted on the card.

In addition to the Pension Index Card, there are two other on-line records found on Ancestry.com to confirm the death date of this Valentine H. Groff.  The first is a burial register (portion shown below) which notes that he died at Kansas City, Kansas, 30 April [1903] while on furlough.  Confirmation that he served in the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, also appears on that record.

GroffValentineH-USBurialRegisters-001a

Click on document to enlarge.

The second document (shown below in thumbnail, click to enlarge) is from the Soldiers’ Home in Leavenworth, Kansas, where a Valentine H. Groff was residing when he went on furlough.

GroffValentineH-USNHDVS-001aThis home record gives the dates of enrollment and discharge from the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry as 22 September 1862 and 20 January 1863, and the reason for discharge, namely a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability.  Other information in this record is consistent with the above documents, namely the date and place of death.

Turning to the records of the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry, and in particular, the Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania Archives, it must be stated that no card has been found for a Valentine H. Groff in that regiment.  Cross-checking against other available databases of soldiers in the Civil War, two index card have been located on Fold3 for a Valentine H. Groff – one for the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry and the other for the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry, no company given.  The top portion of those index cards is presented below:

 

GroffValentineH-MilitaryIndex-001aGroffValentineH-MilitaryIndex-002a

 

Checking back to the Pennsylvania Archives’ records, an index card was located for Valentine H. Groff and is pictured below:

GroffValentineH-PAVetCardFile-001

According to the above card, Valentine H. Groff, age 26 (born about 1838), enrolled in the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Private, on 2 January 1864, at Pottsville, but was not present at muster out.  The personal information about him includes his height of 5 foot, 2.5 inches, his dark complexion, dark hair, and hazel eyes.  His occupation was machinist and he was born in Chester, Pennsylvania – which is consistent with the 1850 census record from East Coventry Township, Chester County, shown above.  There is not a significant difference between this record and the soldiers’ home record to conclude that these were two different persons.  And, the dates of service do not overlap.

In Kansas censuses of the late 19th century and in the home record, Valentine gave his occupation as carpenter. It appears from the home record that he moved to Kansas to live with his daughter as she is named as the next closest relative on the home record.

Were there two men of this same name, both born in Pennsylvania at about the same time and who served in two different Civil War regiments?  Or, was there only one Valentine H. Groff, who for some reason did not include his service in the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry on his pension application?

Much more information is needed to clarify the record of Valentine H. Groff.

 

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Hiram F. Groff (1839-1915).

GroffHiramF-PAVetCardFile-001

Hiram F. Groff served in the Emergency of 1863 in the regiment known as the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Militia), Company K, as a Private.  According to the Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives,  he was mustered into service on 20 June 1863, and was mustered out at the end of the emergency on 30 July 1863.  Company K was composed mostly of men from the Millersburg, Dauphin County area who had served there prior to the war in the local militia.

Since this militia regiment participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, his name also appears on the plaque for that regiment on the Pennsylvania Memorial (shown below):

GroffHiramF-GettysburgMonument-001

No other Civil War service has been located for Hiram F. Groff.  Since his service consisted of less than three months, the minimum required for a pension, no pension record has been found for him.

There is a Findagrave Memorial for a Hiram F. Groff who is buried at Middletown Cemetery, Dauphin County.  That memorial shows a photograph of a grave stone for Hiram F. Groff who died 22 October 1915 and had a wife named Sarah.  Although there is a G.A.R. star-flag holder pictured at the grave and the text in the memorial entry states what he was a member of the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry Militia, the words “possible Civil War veteran” are included, leading to some doubt that this Hiram F. Groff was the one who served in the Civil War.

On 1 July 1863, Hiram F. Groff registered for the United States Civil War Draft as a resident of Mifflin Township, Dauphin County.  He gave his occupation as saddler and stated that he was married.  This draft registration was conducted at the time he was serving in the emergency militia with his company and regiment at Gettysburg, but no such service was noted on the registration.

In 1870, Hiram F. Groff was living in Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a station stop on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.  There he was working in coach manufacturing (an occupation which included saddlers) and had in his household, Sarah Groff, his wife, and two young children, Anna Groff, age 7, and Elmer Groff, age 4.

In 1890, Hiram F. Groff was living in Middletown, Dauphin County, and reported that he had served in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War.

At this writing, no other census has been confirmed for him and a Pennsylvania Death Certificate has not been located, although death certificates are available on Ancestry.com for the year that he supposedly died (1915) – and certainly one should be available for the Hiram F. Groff who is buried at Middletwown.

So, the question still remains as to whether the Hiram F. Groff who served in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry is the same one who was part of the family from Chester County – and whether his brothers were Valentine H. Groff and William D. Groff.  There can be no doubt though that the Hiram F. Groff who was part of Company K of the militia belongs in the Lykens Valley area Civil War veterans’ list because “Millersburg” is clearly stated on the card from the Pennsylvania Archives.

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William D. Groff (1841-1909).

GroffWilliamD-PAVetCardFile-001

William D. Groff served in the Emergency of 1863 in the regiment known as the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Militia), Company K, as a Private.  According to the Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives,  he was mustered into service on 20 June 1863, and was mustered out at the end of the emergency on 30 July 1863.  Company K was composed mostly of men from the Millersburg, Dauphin County area who had served there prior to the war in the local militia.

Since this militia regiment participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, his name also appears on the plaque for that regiment on the Pennsylvania Memorial (shown below):

GroffWilliamD-GettysburgMonument-001

Turning to the pension records, the following Pension Index Card was located at Fold3:

GroffWilliamD-PensionIndex-001

The above card also gives some additional information about this William D. Groff:  (1) he also served in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A; (2)_ he first applied for a pension on 21 July 1890; (3) he died in 1909; (4) he left a widow who also applied for benefits and received the pension benefits until her death.

From the other version of the Pension Index Card available from Ancestry.com (not pictured), this additional information was found: (1) both William D. Groff and his widow applied for pension benefits from Kansas, not from Pennsylvania; (2) the widow’s name was Catherine S. Groff; (3) the date of her pension application was 6 April 1909.

From other records, such as Bates and the Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, it is learned that William D. Groff was mustered into service in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Corporal, at Camp Curtin, on 7 September 1864, and mustered out with his company on 30 May 1865.

What is clear from the above records is that the William D. Groff who served in the Pennsylvania regiments during the Civil War moved to Kansas at some point prior to his application for a pension in 1890 and his widow was living there when he died in 1909. This William D. Groff also had some connection to Millersburg, in that he enrolled there in 1863 in the militia regiment that served at Gettysburg.

Two additional sources have been located to confirm his residence in Kansas:  (1) a record of the Comfort G.A.R. Post at Clyde, Kansas; and (2) a Findagrave Memorial for his burial at Mount Hope Cemetery, Clyde, Clyde County, Kansas. By clicking on Findagrave Memorial, additional information can be seen about his family and burial.  The G.A.R. record is pictured below.

GroffWilliamD-KS-GAR-PostReport-001

Click on document to enlarge.

The G.A.R. document, from 1895, reports William D. Groff‘s service in Company A of the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry and the grave marker shown on the Findagrave Memorial also also notes service in the same regiment.

But one item has been located that casts doubt on an immediate conclusion that this William D. Groff was the same person who was found in the Chester County census of 1850.  On 2 December 1886, the Harrisburg Patriot reported on a court case in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the former treasurer and collector of school funds, A. L. Smith, was alleged to have embezzled more than $3500 in school funds.  Near the end of the article, the following information was given:

William D. Groff, the new borough treasurer, has taken the oath of office and assumed the duties of paying out the borough funds.  It is expected that the court will also appoint him collector of school taxes for the unexpired term, as both offices are usually held by the same person.

In the 1880 Census for Middetown, Dauphin County, William D. Groff appears with his family and his occupation is given as repairer of watches and clocks.  A likely conclusion is that there are two persons of the same name, one of whom served in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry and moved to Kansas before applying for a pension in 1890, and the other of whom lived in Chester County and was appointed treasurer of West Chester in 1888.

There can be no doubt though that the William D. Groff who was part of Company K of the militia belongs in the Lykens Valley area Civil War veterans’ list because “Millersburg” is clearly stated on the card from the Pennsylvania Archives.

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Were the three men – Valentine H. Groff, Hiram F. Groff, and William D. Groff – brothers?  Some evidence points to the possibility that they were while other evidence casts some doubt on that possibility.  Much more research needs to be done to determine if there is a family connection between/among these veterans.

Comments are always appreciated and can be added to this post or sent via e-mail.


Comments

One Response to “The Groff Brothers? – Valentine, Hiram & William”

  1. Suzanne (Groff) Asselin says:

    Could you please help me find the parents of Franklin Groff who was a Private in the K-101 Infantry in Philadelphia, PA? He enrolled in 9/2/61 and re-enlisted in 3/2/1/64 at Plymouth NC. Franklin was captured on 4/2/64 and imprisoned at Andersonville. He was released on 12/12/64. He is my Great-great-grandfather and I would love to find out more about his family. Thank-you for whatever help you can give.

    Sincerely,

    Suzanne (Groff) Asselin

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