Hans Graf

Hans Graf

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Hans "John" Graf aka Groff
Born in Baretswil,Rafz,Zurich,Switzerland
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married in Germantown PA
Died in Earl Twp., Lancaster County, PA
This page has been accessed 4,121 times.

Categories: Swiss-German and Mennonite Immigrants to Pennsylvania | Groffdale Mennonite Brick Church Cemetery, Leola, Pennsylvania | East Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.



Wikipedia entry on the Groff family

Last name alternately spelled "Graf" or "Groff" or "Graff". Some Descendants chose the spelling "Grove". The German "Graf" translates to "Earl" in English, and Hans Graf gave his name to Earl Township, Pennsylvania.

Hans is the son of Marx Graf.
The Graf family known in this area (Zurich) since the early 14th century were a branch of an ancient rabbinical line.Forced to convert from Judaism or die by the murderous Roman Catholic Church,they did protest and became Anabaptists,in Hans case a Mennonite.
He was named after his grandfather,Hans Jagli Graf.
Hans grew up in Barschwill Switzerland.
He was falsly accused of treason and fled to Alsace France where he bore the title,Baron Von Weldon. He was cleared of the charges at home and invited to return and reclaim his position and wealth but he refused and instead answered the call of William Penn to come to America. His wife refused to come with him to the new country and she remained there. They had one son Jacob 1684-1766, he was not mentioned in Han's will.
Some historians believed he and his wife Barbara Brackbill lived at the Ephreta Cloister(and had forsaken worldly posessions).
Hans arived in Penn's Colony in 1695 just a few years after its inception, he purchased a 175acre farm near Germantown and was a part of the community there.
In 1703 he married Susanna(the maid) and started a family of 9.
In 1715 they sold the land to Garret Rittenhouse, son of William the Mennonite preacher and paper maker.
They had been hearing for years about the good land farther west and the led a group of fellow Swiss Mennonites with them to Saurersburg and bought 1000acres on the Pequea creek.
Later as the story goes, in persuit of run away horses, discovered the area that became the Earl Township. Named to honor him, Earl is the english name for Graf.

One of the first Groffs in America, especially in the Pennsylvania area, was Hans Conrad Groff. He settled in the region later to be Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania (the area famous for the 'Pennsylvania Dutch').

From Baretswil, Switzerland and a prominent family, Han Groff was the son of Max Graf of Switzerland.

However, Hans left his homeland with his brother, Michael or Martin (1675 - 1760) to escape religious persecution. The family were of the Mennonite faith / practice. They first traveled to Alsace, Germany for a short time then arrived in Pennsylvania about 1695, an area open to religious immigrants and welcomed by William Penn.

Hans carried with him the family bible printed in 1585. First he was in Germantown, PA. He sent for his family. His wives over the years were Susan Orendorf Kendig and Anna Bare.

Hans Groff purchased vast amounts of land by the early 1700s. The land originally purchased from the William Penn family by Martin Kendig then was sold to Hans Groff.

His log home alongside a large white oak tree was built on ‘Graf’s Run’ / 'Groff’s Dale' (named for Hans Groff) in Lancaster Co. which was very much a wilderness. It was a few miles west of New Holland, PA and eventually became known as Groffdale.

Working as a farmer, Hans then became a trader of goods. Hans (also referred to as 'John') traded many items with the local Indians(even learning their language), such as vegetables, milk and blankets in exchange for furs. Over the years he became quite wealthy.

Land for the Groffdale Mennonite Church was given by Hans Groff in 1717.

His sons who carried on the family lineage were: John (born in Switzerland), Peter, David, Daniel, Marcus and Samuel. Some sons and grandsons over the years changed the spelling to ‘Grove’.


From Find A Grave:[1]

Hans was said to have been married twice, first was to Ursula Neukomm about 1683, and believed to have had one child through the marriage. Then later re-married to Susanna Orndorf about 1700 and had what was believed to have been ten children along with her.

West Earl Township Lancaster, Pennsylvania - He was the first settler in 1717, named in his honor 1729 "Earl being the English of Graf."

A stone was finally placed at his grave site, but his grave was unknown for quite some time. But after much searching it later was discovered in the graveyard of the Groff Meeting House. It was marked with only a simple slab of sandstone with the initials "H G".

Spouse: Susanna Orndorf Graf (1680 - 1746)*


Hans Grof (____ - 1788)*
David Groff (____ - 1784)*
Marcus Groff (1712 - 1791)*
John Groff (1722 - 1797)*


Groffdale Mennonite Brick Church Cemetery
Lancaster County
Pennsylvania, USA

Inscription: "HANS GRAF, The first Settler, Came from Switzerland A.D. 1696. Settlement was made at the head of Groff's Run. He purchased 1419 Acres of land from John Richard, S Thomas Penn, for 141L. 18 S. [equal to $686.80] along Groff's Run. He Built a log Cabin on the old Groff farm A.D. 1717. His purchase included the land on which the Groffdale Meeting House is built. Died A.D. 1746."

Link to Find A Grave Memorial# 11282437


wagoner, miller


Date: 1661
SDATE 1 JUL 1661
Place: Baretswil, Zurich, Switzerland
Place: Zurich, Switzerland


Type: Marriage
Date: 1687
Place: Alsace, France


Date: 1695


Date: 7 MAY 1746
Place: Groffdale, Pennsylvania


  • Ancestry.com
  • Mombert, Jacob Isidor, "An authentic history of Lancaster County, in the state of Pennsylvania," Lancaster, Pa.: J.E. Barr, 1869. Note: Natural history of the county: p. 500-614.
  • Harris, Alexander, "A biographical history of Lancaster County : being a history of early settlers and eminent men of the county, as also much other unpublished historical..."
  • Ellis, Franklin, "History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men," Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1883.
  • Weaver, Martin Good, "A history of New Holland, Pennsylvania : covering its growth and activities during two hundred years of existence, 1728-1928,", 1928.
  • Jane Evans Best, "Martin Kendig's Swiss Relatives," Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Vol. XV, No. 1 2-18, January, 1992
  • Clyde L. Groff, Walter B. Groff, and Jane Evans Best, "The Groff Book, Volume I: A Good Life In A New Land," Groff History Associates
  • Richard Warren Davis, www.mennosearch.com, 2006
  • From Database of Brent L. Rodes at rootsweb.com 06/10
  • www.findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial# 11282437, Maintained by Guiding Light, Originally Created E.Renkin Jul 02, 2005
  • My Archives Author: Colin Grove Data Changed: Date: 31 DEC 2011 Time: 04:40:03
  • Crouch Family Tree Note: #N0000 Data Changed: Date: 31 DEC 2011 Time: 05:08:47 Data: Date: 31 DEC 2011


  1. Find A Grave Memorial #11282437


  • WikiTree profile Groff-322 created through the import of Reichard Martin Family Tree.ged on Apr 2, 2012 by Ryan Myers. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Ryan and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-320 created through the import of Reichard Martin Family Tree.ged on Apr 2, 2012 by Ryan Myers. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Ryan and others.
  • Ancestry.com, Provo, UT
  • WikiTree profile Groff-324 created through the import of Reichard Martin Family Tree.ged on Apr 2, 2012 by Ryan Myers. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Ryan and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-333 created through the import of JOSEPH~1.GED on Jul 14, 2012 by Joseph Stalnaker. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Joseph and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-213 created through the import of Welder Family Tree.ged on Sep 10, 2011 by Deborah Anne Welder. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Deborah Anne and others.
  • WikiTree profile Graf-229 created through the import of colin_grove.ged on Jan 1, 2012 by Colin Grove. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Colin and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-182 created through the import of Hans-Groff.ged on Aug 18, 2011 by Cody Coggins. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Cody and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-162 created through the import of john_w_martin-rootsweb.ged on Aug 5, 2011 by Cody Coggins. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Cody and others.
  • WikiTree profile Groff-194 created through the import of Susanna Kendig.ged on Aug 18, 2011 by Cody Coggins. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Cody and others.
  • This person was created through the import of carl&elaine_(grove)_rhodes-10-2-2010.ged on 09 March 2011. The following data was included in the gedcom. You may wish to edit it for readability.


This biography was auto-generated by a GEDCOM import.[2] It's a rough draft and needs to be edited.


User ID: 8D5D456E-23F5-4709-A5C4-22E9B3F5B505
Record ID Number: MH:IF7844
Date: 1675
Place: Baretswil, Switzerland


User ID: C8ED2928-81E4-4FDF-81CE-BC9E601F9A7C
Record ID Number: MH:IF7845
Date: 1746
Place: New Holland, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

Record ID Number

Record ID Number: MH:I911

User ID

User ID: FF01E7B3-AC8C-4104-8B33-41BB1CB28137


UPD 02 JUL 2012 17:11:28 GMT-5


  1. Find A Grave Memorial #11282437
  2. Groff-469 was created by Edward Rowlance through the import of emma jane ancestors.GED on Nov 26, 2014. This comment and citation can be deleted after the biography has been edited and primary sources are included.

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On April 27, 2015 at 02:24GMT Kent Bream wrote:

Groff-469 and Graf-26 appear to represent the same person because: Same person. There are two pending mergers and all should go into the Graf-26 id.

On August 22, 2011 at 15:48GMT Cody Coggins wrote:

Wikipedia says: Hans Groff (1661–1746) founder of Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was the uncle of the father of Jacob Groff. He is believed to be the oldest known member of the Groff family in North America and the holder of the title Baron von Welden of Grafenwald Castle near Bäretswil, Switzerland.


On August 20, 2011 at 21:17GMT Cody Coggins wrote:

G  >  Graf  >  Hans Graf