Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Short Life of John S. Duffy

John S. Duffy was born in Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, in July of 1843, the son of Peter F. and Bridget Duffy, who were from Ireland. He had a brother named Andrew who was born in 1841. Since Andrew was born in Ireland, and John was born in Pensylvania, it appears that the family left Ireland for the United States sometime between 1841 and 1843.

The Duffy family was enumerated on the 1850-1860 census for Luzerne County, which is located in NE Pennsylvania. Then sometime between the 1860 census and 1862, they moved to Minnesota, where John's father gave permission for his marriage to Alice Louise Madden since John was not 21. They were married on 17 March 1862 at Lakeville, Dakota, Minnesota. He listed his place of residence as Rosemount and hers was Burnsville. They were married by James Peet, a Minister of the Gospel.

There is a map of the area where they lived in the May posting, "From Ireland to Minnesota" which is about John's wife's family. Lakeville Township was organized in 1858 and named for its proximity to Prairie Lake (now Lake Marion), one of the largest lakes in Dakota County. These small communities were within ten miles of each other, and were relatively new at the time.

John was a soldier in Company G, Second Regiment of the Minnesota Calvary during the Civil War. His pension papers state that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, gray eyes and black hair. He enlisted on 2 November 1863 and was discharged on 29 December 1865. He held the rank of sergeant. Since there is no picture of John, it's nice to have this brief description of him.

John and Alice had three children- Mittie Alice was born 19 February 1864 at Fort Snelling, Hennepin, Minnesota. Horace J. was born in 1868. And the youngest, Gertrude Susan was born on 12 November 1870 at Hastings, Dakota, Minnesota.

John was killed while working on a train run between Hastings and St. Paul, Minnesota on 22 March 1872. An obituary was published on 30 January 1873 in the Farmington Press. It said, "HORRIBLE ACCIDENT.--The Gazette says that J. S. Duffy, of Hastings, who has been for some time employed as a brakeman on the Lake Superior R. R., fell from the train near St. Paul on Thursday and was cut to pieces in the most horrible manner, the remains being strewed along the track for nearly half a mile. He was a steady, industrious man, about thirty years of age, and leaves a wife and three children in needy circumstances." Did they have to be so graphic? What a tragedy for Alice and their children. To find out more, visit the 14 May posting, "From Ireland to Minnesota."

Visit the Lake Superior Railroad Museum here--

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