Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


MOSES ROBNETT DeGROFF. There was something essentially American in the life of the late Moses Robnett DeGroff, for many years one of the widely known and influential citizens of southwest Missouri. The United States has given rare opportunities to men with courage, honesty of purpose, integrity and energy, to achieve success. The bulk of men who have stamped the impress of their personalities on the minds and hearts of their fellow, citizens in any manner have been men with the above enumerated characteristics. Mr. DeGroff believed that a man's life work measured his success, and that he who devoted his powers to the accomplishment of an honorable purpose was to be honored, and that if a careful study was to be made of the motives that actuate every man's life, there would always be found some paramount object for which one lives and hopes and strives. All who came within range of our subject's influence were profuse in their commendation of his numerous admirable qualities of head and heart and he was in every respect entitled to the high regard in which he was held in the three counties in which he was especially well known—Greene, McDonald and Newton.

Mr. DeGroff, whose late home was in Springfield, Missouri, was a scion of the best French and Scotch-Irish stock, an old ancestry. His birth occurred in Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky, October 16, 1848. He was a son of Abraham P. and Margaret Elizabeth (Robnett) DeGroff. The father, A. P. DeGroff, was a grandson of John DeGroff who emigrated to America from France in the old Colonial days, being among the persecuted Huguenots who were compelled to flee from their native land during the ecclesiastical war, famous in history. He settled in New York, and from him descended the present numerous family of DeGroffs in the United States. When seventeen years of age, A. P. DeGroff went to Ohio to attend college, after which he went to Paris, Kentucky, where he met and married Margaret E. Robnett, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. She was a daughter of Moses Robnett, and a granddaughter of Capt. James Kennedy, who was an officer in the Revolutionary war.

When Moses R. DeGroff was two years old his parents moved to Monroe county, Missouri, and settled on a farm near Paris, later moving to Neosho, this state, and while there Moses was employed part of the time by the United States government at Fort Sills. When his father was elected sheriff and collector of Newton county he served as a deputy. Later he moved to Pineville McDonald county, and for a period of eight years filled the position of deputy circuit and county clerk for that county, and for four years was county clerk. In 1894 he received the governments appointment of land receiver with headquarters at Springfield, and he was in offices in the government building when it was dedicated and opened for public inspection. He was appointed to this responsible position under President Cleveland's administration and served four years in an eminently creditable and acceptable manner. He also gave the people of Newton and McDonald counties faithful, honest and high grade service in the offices of which he was incumbent in each, and was for a number of years influential in politics in all these counties, in fact, was one of the leaders in the Democratic party in southwest Missouri for a number of years. He was a splendid example of a self-made man, having practically educated himself and become one of the best informed men on general topics, especially relating to public affairs in this section of the country. Fraternally he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he held membership in St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal church, South.

On March 4, 1875, Mr. DeGroff was united in marriage to Jennie LaMance, at Pineville, Missouri. She is a daughter of James P. and Cynthia H. LaMance, one of the well-known pioneer families of McDonald county. These parents were both natives of Tennessee, where they were reared and married, and from there emigrated to Missouri before the Civil war and established the family home in McDonald county. Mr. LaMance enlisted for service in the Confederate army in 1861, and served in the southwestern part of the state, for the most part he was a gallant soldier and rose to the rank of captain for meritorious conduct. He remained in the service about three years. He engaged in the mercantile business at Pineville for many years and enjoyed a good trade with the people of that town and the surrounding country. He went to California in later life, where he resided five years. His family consisted of eight children; one of his sons was a soldier in the Civil war, enlisting in 1861, and serving four years.

Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. DeGroff, five of whom are living, namely: Edgar N. is the eldest; William H. and Robnett are both deceased; Bessie A., Edna L., Addie I. and Jennie F. are all living

The death of Moses R. DeGroff occurred at the pleasant family home on Broad street, Springfield, August 8, 1901. We here quote, in part, from an article which appeared in a newspaper at Pineville, Missouri, at the time of our subject's death:

"There was scarcely a man or child in McDonald county who did not know M. R. DeGroff. Genial, manly and enterprising, he made friends wherever he went. But 'Mose,' as he was familiarly called, belonged especially to us. It was to McDonald county he came as a young man; in Pineville that he married his wife; in Pineville that all his children were born; here that he served as county clerk, and here that he was for years an acknowledged leader in county politics. We all knew him as the best of neighbors, a public-spirited citizen and a most affectionate husband and father. Will H. DeGroff, his second son, formerly a clerk in the Frisco store department, died May 1, 1901. Mr. DeGroff was a sincere Christian and tried to be reconciled to the Lord's will, but he was in feeble health and the blow occasioned by his son's death was more than he could bear. His anxious family did everything possible to restore him, but in vain, and he passed away, leaving the record of a well-spent life behind him."

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