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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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William H. De Groff

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 441 - 443

William H. De Groff has spent forty-six years of his life in Sheboygan County, and as a foremost citizen and one of the veterans of the late war, we are glad to give his complete history. He is now a prominent farmer of Lima Township, his home being on section 8. He was born in Wyoming County, N. Y., June 22, 1843, and is a son of James and Polly (Briggs) De Groff. They had a family of two sons and three daughters, all but one of whom are now living. Nancy is the wife of Charles Patchen, a farmer of North Dakota; Maggie is the widow of Charles McNeil, of Little Rock, Ark.; Reuben is engaged in the real-estate and money-loaning business in Carthage, Mo., and is married; and Etta, deceased, was the wife of Mark Melindy, a farmer of Lima Township. She was born September 21, 1853, and died October 7, 1889.

James De Groff was born in New York, September 29, 1815, and was called from this life on the 28th of May, 1881. He had a sister, who was the wife of John Briggs. On the 27th of April, 1846, she started from her home, near Plymouth, to go perhaps half a mile distant to a neighbor's, and was waylaid and killed by an Indian, who was angry with her because she would not give him whisky. The whole community turned out to search for the unfortunate lady, and her remains were found near Elkhart Lake, and were taken home by our subject fully three months after her disappearance. The father of our subject, who was early inured to agricultural pursuits, became a resident of Wisconsin in 1846. He made his first purchase of land in Plymouth Township, a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of unimproved timber-land. His first home was a log cabin in the forest, in which Indians, deer and bears were often seen. Sheboygan was but a hamlet of a dozen houses, an old warehouse and the old pier. Our subject's mother was born in New York, and was of English descent. She was a daughter of Reuben Briggs, and was born July 13, 1821. She died February 25, 1855. The father, whose ancestry can be traced to the good old Knickerbocker stock of the Mohawk Valley, espoused the principles of the Republican party at its organization, and prior to its time was an old-line Whig. He and his wife were members of the Methodist Church.

The early years of William H. De Groff were passed in Sheboygan County, on the pioneer farm of his father. He has had to make his own way almost entirely since the age of thirteen years, and his first wages were only $5 per month. On arriving at manhood he married Miss Adelaide Dye, who also came from one of the sterling pioneer families. She was born September 1, 1839, in a little plank shanty in Lima Township, and has witnessed the entire development of the county. In her girlhood the Indians were very numerous, and there was not a railroad in the county. Her entire life, with the exception of eight years in Fond du Lac County, has been passed in Lima Township. She received a good education, and attended school at Fox Lake. After completing her studies, she taught school successfully for nine terms. She has proved of invaluable assistance to her husband, to whom she gave her hand in marriage May 4, 1868. Six children have been born of their union, and the following survive: Rose, at home with her parents, and who is well versed in instrumental music; May, a member of the Class of '94 of the Sheboygan Falls High School; and William Earl and James Gordon, who complete the family.

The father of Mrs. De Groff, Asel Gordon Dye, deceased, was one of the earliest settlers of Sheboygan County. His birth occurred in Fulton County, N. Y., September 10, 1803. His father, Andrew Dye, was a farmer, but his son learned the trade of a carpenter, and became very successful in that business. In February, 1829, he married Miss Mary Margaret Farmin, and in May, 1836, they started Westward. On this journey they stopped for some time in the hamlet of Chicago, where Mr. Dye engaged a man by the name of Farnsworth to proceed with him to Sheboygan and erect a warehouse. In August they continued their journey. For some time he worked at his trade in Sheboygan, and then took his wife and two children in an ox-cart to Lima Township, where he settled on a farm four miles west of Sheboygan Falls, and there resided until his death, which occurred November 11, 1876. The mother passed away March 7, 1889. They were the parents of seven children, who grew to mature years. The eldest, Adeline, is now Mrs. Jones, of Sheboygan Falls; Alonzo lives in Beaver Dam, Wis.; Mrs. Adelaide De Groff is the next in order of birth; Andrew resides in Lyndon, this county; Mrs. Martha Lindsey resides in Minneapolis; Albertus is a resident of Oshkosh, Wis.; Mrs. Ella Jones makes her home in Sheboygan Falls; and Asenath died soon after the arrival of the family in Sheboygan, at the age of one year.

"Deacon" Dye, as he was familiarly known, was one of the most highly-esteemed pioneers of this county. He united with the Baptist Church in his native town in 1832, and was ever a faithful and consistent member. A Baptist Church was organized at his home in 1838, this being one of the first in the State. One who knew him well thus spoke of him after his decease: "He was steadily attached to the Baptist interest, and its various work found in him a willing helper. A man of strong will, he always, nevertheless, deferred to the decisions of the church, and was ready to take his share of the burden. His departure was peaceful, as he trusted not to his own worthiness, but to the mercy of his Savior, to whose cause he had long been attached." His wife, who died in 1889, was ever a faithful woman in all the relations of life, and with her husband and four others was a charter member of the Baptist Church of Sheboygan Falls.

Under Capt. F. Rouse, Mr. De Groff enlisted October 20, 1864, as a member of Company G, Wisconsin Heavy Artillery. He was ordered from Fond du Lac to Camp Randall, at Madison, thence to Ft. Lyon, Alexandria, Va., and did garrison duty afterward at Ft. Ellsworth until discharged from the service. He was present at the Grand Review at Washington, D. C., and was just going into Ford's Opera House when President Lincoln was assassinated. On his return to Wisconsin he was honorably discharged, in June, 1865, at Milwaukee. The first Presidential ballot of our subject was cast for Abraham Lincoln, and he has ever supported the Republican party. In municipal affairs he has not taken an active part, but has always upheld the public schools. Fraternally, he is a member of Richardson Post No. 12, G. A. R. His wife is a member of the Baptist Church of Sheboygan Falls, and both are active in promoting all benevolences. They are kind and hospitable people, and are classed among the best citizens of Lima Township. Their comfortable and well-furnished home is located on their farm of one hundred and twenty acres, four miles west of Sheboygan Falls. The place is well improved and drained, there being about four thousand tiles laid on the farm.


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