Biographic Brief of Diller B. Groff
Diller Baer Groff was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on 2 April 1841, probably son of Samuel W Groff, laborer, and his wife Caroline. His given name is actually a surname, suggesting that he was related to the Diller family. There was a Diller & Groff store in Lancaster. His middle name was likely an indication of a connection to the Baer families of the area, possibly the maiden name of his mother.
Diller was in Company H, 104th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the Civil War. He was wounded during the Peninsular Campaign in the Battle of Fair Oaks (also known as Seven Pines) in May 1862. He was then a lieutenant. He recovered and rejoined the 104th, reaching the rank of captain of Company H by the end of the war. Groff lived in Virginia after the war and then moved to the District of Columbia in 1870.
A carpenter by trade, he apparently had some financial resources because he soon began acquiring property and building houses. Wherever possible he built entire blocks of residences, with Square 190 a good example. Groff built other rows of houses on 11th, 12th, T, and Swann Streets, on Vermont Avenue, and on Capitol Hill. He also designed a large brick horse barn on Naylor Court NW (between N, O, 9th and 10th) that now houses part of the District of Colombia Archives.
Groff went to prison in 1904 after he and several others were convicted of defrauding the US Post Office in a contract to provide "Groff's patent mail-box fastener." He served two years.. He maintained his innocence until the end of his life.
He and his wife and family lived for many years at 1901 11th Street, NW, at the corner of T Street, in a house that is still there. In the 1890 Washington city directory he is listed at 1107 I Street, NW. He was still at 1107 I at the time of his death on 8 March 1910 of "apoplexy" (probably stroke).
Groff and his immediate family are buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, section C lot 62. Diller B junior and his family are buried elsewhere in Rock Creek Cemetery. The current Diller B lives in another state.
Mainly based on an undated biographic sheet from the (now inactive) 1500 T Street Block Council, with additional information from Groff's death and funeral notices in the Washington Evening Star, 9 March 1910; and historical research of Kelsey & Associates, November 2001.
History of Pennsylvania Volunteers by Samuel P Bates, 1871, reprinted 1993 by Broadfoot, Wilmington, NC
"City's Records Center Compiles a History of Neglect" by Sewell Chan, Washington Post, 4 December 2003; Page DZ10.
"Groffs Depart by Two Routes" by E E Wheelock, Washington Post, 17 September 1906, page 1.
Records of Rock Creek Cemetery.
1850 US Census Manheim township Lancaster county Pennsylvania image 36 (ancestry.com) 256/277
Last update 2 August 2008
Copyright Richard Busch, 1993, 2004-8
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