Biographic Brief of Diller B. Groff[1]

Diller Baer Groff was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on 2 April 1841, probably son of Samuel W Groff, laborer, and his wife Caroline.[5] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]. 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)[5].

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[5]. The current Diller B lives in another state.

[1]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.

[2]History of Pennsylvania Volunteers by Samuel P Bates, 1871, reprinted 1993 by Broadfoot, Wilmington, NC

[3]"City's Records Center Compiles a History of Neglect" by Sewell Chan, Washington Post, 4 December 2003; Page DZ10.

[4]"Groffs Depart by Two Routes" by E E Wheelock, Washington Post, 17 September 1906, page 1.

[5]Records of Rock Creek Cemetery.

[5]1850 US Census Manheim township Lancaster county Pennsylvania image 36 ( 256/277

Last update 2 August 2008

Copyright Richard Busch, 1993, 2004-8
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