The story of the Philip Duffy family, from Ireland, and William Joseph Duffy, a son. Included is the origin of the Duffy family and Saint Brigit. Also, and encounter with Calamity Jane. Click on "Charles Gavin Duffy" for other Irish inputs.
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|Zubler Genealogy Page||Charles Gavan Duffy||Barrett-Duffy-Palmer|
|DUFFY FAMILIES||DUFFY (Cont.)|
Last updated February 9, 1999
The story begins with the origin of the Duffy name then to our relationship with Saint Brigit. Our Irish heritage, through Philip Duffy, has been determined using O' Hart's "Pedigrees." and our knowledge that he was a "cousin" to Charles Gavin Duffy.
The Duffy History, presented here, began in 1931 when Alma Duffy Leathers Zang, a school teacher, began recording the history of her father. Alma was the 6th child of 8 children of the William Joseph Duffy and Eugenia Amanda Palmer family. Alma's portion of the story was completed sometime in the 1960's. Later, Eugenia (Jean) Duffy, child number 8 added to the document and Jean's daughter, Carol, added more.
It is my hope that this site will cover much more Duffy history than is here at present. All correspondence is welcome. Anyone who can shed light on any portion of the Duffy heritage is welcome to write me. I do have access to the names of several hundred Duffy children and families, through the Family History Centers and will help however I can. Contacted me at E-mail: Philip Zubler
Two other sisters of Alma and Jean prepared the genealogy of the Barrett and Palmer families, Eugenia Palmer's side of the family. Much of their work is interrelated to this Duffy document and it may further help those of you who are doing Duffy genealogy to review their work also. Go to Barrett-Charles Gavin Duffy-Palmer on the main menu and make your selection.
This Duffy history, written by family members, see above, was intended for the immediate family and it was not planned to be published. Those who study this family may have difficulty in following all the people and their relationship to each other. Eventually, this will be reorganized and rewritten into a story form.
The original form of this name was O'Dubhthaigh, from the Irish clans of the race of the great monarch--Cahir Mor. They were also of the same descent as Mac Morough, King of Leinster, and of O' Toole and O' Byrne, chiefs in the County of Wicklow.
Originally located in Kildare and Garlow, and later in Dublin amd Meath, the Duffy's migrated, in modern times, to the Counties of Louth, Monaghan, Caban, Calway and the neighboring County of Roscommon.
According to the records in O' Hart's Irish Pedigrees, the O' Duffy's are really a branch of the renowned clan of O'Connor Faley, who were lords of Offaly.
Therefore, they can claim to be of the line of Heremon, a son of the great Milesius of Spain.
Heremon was the seventh of his sons, only three of whom left any issue. From Heremon are descended most of the families of note in Ireland.
The antiquity of this line of descent is emphasized when it is remembered that Heremon and Haber, his brother, were jointly the first Milesian monarchs of Ireland. They began to reign in 1699 B.C.
The arms as given by the genealogist (unnamed) who prepared the above are: Vert a lion rampant and in chief a crescent both or Crest: An angel proper. Motto: Virtue et opera (by virtue and deeds.) We have found a somewhat different coat-of-arms.
Hugh O' Duffy, of Ballyduffy, County Monaghan, is buried at Clontibret in that county. He died in January, 1636. He was the son of Gilla-Patrick, son of Cormac, son of Owen More O' Duffy, all of the same place. They descended from the sept (clan) of O' Rourke.
Originally, it was thought that we descended from Owen More O' Duffy however, the following "Philip Duffy Ancestry" appears to be the more logical one.
Philip Duffy, the father of William Joseph Duffy, often said he was the cousin of the famous Irish patriot, later Prime Minister of an Australian province--Sir Charles Gavin Duffy. The word "cousin" sometimes denoted a clan relationship, even though the cousin was actually many times removed.
Using "Pedigrees," by O' Hart, we have worked out the possible ancestry of Philip Duffy, including the name of his father and his relationship to Sir Charles Gavan Duffy.
Under Duffy, County Monaghan (Arms: Vert, a lion rampant, or) he shows that Francis Duffy of Kilcrow, parish of Ematris, married a daughter of the Mac Mahon of Darty. They had a son Patrick Mor, of Attyduffy, who married Mary Dawson, daughter of Capt. John Dawson (English). In their turn they had a son Patrick who married Elizabeth Duffy--she was niece or cousin of The Mac Kenna of Trough. They settled in the town of Monaghan. The Dawson's ousted Patrick Duffy from his property. Patrick and Elizabeth had two sons. One, Francis, had a son John, who was the father of Charles Gavin Duffy. The other, Philip, married Anne Kerr of County Longford. They moved to Cootehill. Philip Duffy died in 1903. Of his sons, the only possible ancestor was Terence, who married Anne, daughter of Mac Cabe of Lissimy. Terence died in 1831, age 80. Of Terence's sons, the only possible ancestor was Francis. We have no facts on Francis. Was this because he moved away to Canada?
Francis Duffy of Kilcrow m: ________ Mac Mahon of Darty | | Patrick Mor of Attyduffy m: Mary Dawson | | Patrick Duffy m: Elizabeth Duffy (niece or cousin) | ____________|___________ | | Francis Duffy Philip Duffy m: ___________ m: Anne Kerr of County Longford | | | | John Duffy Terrance Duffy m: Ann Gavan m: Anne Mac Cabe of Lissimy | | | | Charles Gavan Duffy Francis Duffy m: Emily Mc Laughlin m: ________________ m: Susan Huges | | Philip Duffy m: Sarah Ellen Healy
If you go to Ireland and happen to mention that your family name is Duffy, you are likely to hear: "St. Bridget was a Duffy".
From "Literary History of Ireland" by Dr. Douglas Hyde. (This is the standard work of ancient Irish Literature and traditional lore).
After St. Patrick, St. Brigit is probably the must noted figure in the history of Christianity in Ireland. Both belonged to the fifth Century A.D. Brigit must have attained her extraordinary influence through outstanding qualities, for she appears to have been the daughter of a slave-woman employed in the mansion of a chief called Dubhthach (or Duffach), who was himself tenth in descent from Felimidh, the lawgiver monarch of 'Ireland in the second century A.D. (The name today is Duffy).
The king's wife, jealous of her husband's liking for his slave, threatened him with these words, "Unless thou sellest yon bondmaid in distant lands I will exact my dowry from thee and I will leave thee", and so he had her driven from the place and sold to a druid (priest), in whose house her daughter, Dubhthach's offspring, soon afterwards saw the light. Brigit was thus born into slavery, though not quite a slave--for Dubhthach, in selling the mother into slavery, expressly reserved for himself her offspring, whatever it might be. She must have been, at least, early inured to hardship, as St Patrick had been. The druid, however, did not prevent her from being baptised.
She grew up to be a girl of exceeding beauty, and many suitors sought her in marriage. She returned to her father's house, but refused all offers of matrimony. She aroused the jealousy of the father's wife, as her mother had done before her, and Dubhthath, indignant at her unbounded generosity with his goods, decided upon selling her to the King of North Leinster. The story is told of her Irish life in the Leabhar Breac: "Thereafter," says Life, Dubhthach and his consort were minded to sell the holy Brigit into bondage, for Dubhthach liked not his cattle and his wealth to be dealt out to the poor, and that is what Brigit used to do. So Dubhthach fared in his chariot and Brigit along with him.
Said Dubhthach to Brigit, "Not for honor or reverence to thee art thou carried in a chariot, but to take thee, to sell thee to grind the quern for Dunlag Mac Enda, King of Leinster."
When they came to the King's fortress, Dubhthach went in to the King and Brigit remained in her chariot at the fortress door. Dubhthach had left his sword in the chariot near Brigit. A leper came to Brigit to ask alms. She gave him Dubhthach's sword.
Said Dubhthach to the King, "Wilt thou buy a bondmaid, namely my daughter?" says he.
Said Dunlag, "Why sellest thou thine own daughter?" Said Dubhthach, "She stayeth not from selling my wealth and from giving it to the poor."
Said the King, "Let the maiden come into the fortress."
Dubhthach went to Brigit, and was enraged against her because she had given his sword to the poor man.
When Brigit came into the King's presence the King said to her, "Since it is thy father's wealth that thou takest, much more wilt thou take my wealth and my cattle and give them to the poor."
Said Brigit, "The Son of the Virgin knoweth if I had thy might, with all Leinster, and with all thy wealth, I would give them to the Lord of the Elements."
Said the King to Dubhthach, "Thou art not fit on either hand to bargin about this maiden, for her merit is higher before God than before men," and the King gave Dubhthach an ivory-hilted sword, et sic liberata est sancta Virgo Brigita a aptivitate." (Latin translation: "and so the blessed Virgin Brigit was freed from captivity.")
Brigit at length succeeded in assuming the veil of a nun at the hands of a bishop called Mucaille, along with seven virgin companions. With these she eventually retired into her father's territory and founded a church at Kildare beside an ancient oak tree, which existed until the tenth century.
ST. BRIDGIT, OR BRIDGET, V. AND BY CONTRACTION, BRIDE, ABBESS, AND PATRONESS OF IRELAND
She was born at Fochard, in Ulster, soon after Ireland had been blessed with the light of faith. She received the religious veil in her youth. from the hands of St. Mel, nephew and disciple of St. Patrick. She built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak; living, as her name implies, the bright shining light of that country by her virtues. Being joined soon after by several of her own sex, they formed themselves into a religious community, which branched out into several other nunneries throughout Ireland; all which acknowledged her for their mother and foundress, as in effect she was of all in that kingdom. But a full account of her virtues has not been transmitted down to us, together with the veneration of her name. Her five modern lives mention little else but wonderful miracles. She flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, and is named in the Martyrology of Bede, and in all others since that age. Several churches in England and Scotland are dedicated to God under her name, as, among others, that of St. Bride in Fleet street; several also in Germany, and some in France. Her name occurs in most copies of the Martyrology which bears the name of St. Jerome, especially in those of Esternach and Corbie, which are most ancient. She is commemorated in the divine office in most churches of Germany, and in that of Paris, till the year 1607, and in many others in France. One of the Hebrides, or western islands which belong to Scotland, near that of Ila, was called, from a famous monastery built there in her honor, Brigidiani. A church of St. Brigit, in the province of Athol, was reputed famous for miracles, and a portion of her relics was kept with great veneration in a monastery of regular canons at Aburnethi, once capital of the kingdom of the Picts, and a bishopric, as Major mentions.
 Her body was found with those of SS. Patrick and Columba, in a triple vault in Down-Patrick, in 1185, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us:
 they were all three translated to the cathedral of the same city; but their monument was destroyed in the reign of king Henry VIII.
 the head of St. Bride is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon. See Bollandus, Feb. t. 1, p. 99.
1 Major de Gestis Scotor. 1. 2, c. 14.
2 Topogr. Hibern. dist. 3, c. 18, Camden, &c;.
4 Bolland. p. 112 and p. 941, t. 1, Februarii.
(Taken from Vol. I of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
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These are the stories as told to me in July 1931, when Dad was 78 years old, less than a month before he died. They were told with the same degree of accuracy and clarity as I remembered them when I heard them as a child.--Alma (Duffy)
And so he began:
"My father, Philip Duffy, was born in 1819 or 1820 in County Monaghan, Ireland. When two years old he arrived in Canada with his parents. He learned to speak French and spoke it as well as he did English."
"We do not know the date that the family moved to upper New York state but my father was probably already a grown man. They settled in Lansinburg, today a part of the city of Troy. At the age of 31 he married Sarah Ellen Healy from Roscommon, Ireland. She was 16 years having been born in 1835."
"The Healy's were first farmers in Ireland, later shopkeepers. Sarah's father was Michael Healy who came to America as did at least three of her sisters. They all left Ireland before the potato famine which caused a great migration to America."
"My father, Philip, was married to Sarah in 1851 and on October 28, 1852, I was born and was named William Joseph Duffy."
Note: In 1948 when I was in Lansingburg I went to the site of the old Catholic church to see if I could find any records on the family, or to at least find the record of my father's christening. The church had burned many years before and a beautiful church was standing in it's place. At the time of the fire all records were burned. I was told that the marriage record of my grandparents and Dad's christening record would surely have been in that church.-Alma
"I am related to the famous Charles Gavin Duffy, who was my father's cousin. Charles Gavin Duffy was banished from Ireland for editing a paper Called the 'Nation'. He wrote many stirring poems, patriotic poems, and he was the author of several books. The 'Nation' was called 'The Irish Raparee'"
"Charles Gavin Duffy became member of Parliament in Australia, and later became Prime Minister of a province there. He was Knighted by Queen Victoria for his outstanding work in Australia."
"In 1853, my parents decided to go to California. We came from New York City to the Isthmus of Panama by boat. The passengers crossed the mountains of the isthmus by mule."
"When we landed at the isthmus port my mother being concerned about some of the luggage sat me down by some of the baggage. When she came back to get me I was gone. Passengers milling about told her they were sure I hadn't gone the distance to the water so the only solution was that the Indians who had met the boat had picked me up to carry me across the mountains where they would return me to my parents. They would expect a gift of cloth, beads or trinkets. This had been done before to earlier passengers, So my mother and father had to join the rest of the party for the hard trip across the isthmus. When they reached the other side there was my Indian nurse holding me. He turned me over to my parents, healthy and well. I had spent my first birthday while crossing the mountains. The Indian fed me and bathed me in the streams."
"We sailed from Panama up the Pacific, to San Francisco, in a vessel called the 'Golden Gate' It was a side wheeler steamboat.
Our family settled permanently in San Francisco, and there all my brothers and sisters were born. They were Edward Philip, Sarah (who died early and was buried in Mission Delores cemetery) Catherine (Kate), Charles Gavin, Sarah (born after the sister Sarah died) Maggie (died early and was buried in Mission Delores cemetery) and Annie.
"We lived in various places in San Francisco. Finally we moved to a place on California and Mason Streets, at that time on the edge of town, on high hills that were gradually being cut down."
While Dad rested for a day or two I added the following: The hill the Duffy's lived on later became "Nob Hill." It was here that the railroad men and miners, who had amassed great fortunes built their homes.
Once Dad took me to see his old home. It had been sold and later it burned when the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed so much of the city. The house was three storied as I remember it. Dad told me of the lovely velvet carpets and fine furniture and he distinctly stressed the beautiful crystal chandeliers. He pointed out the red barn behind the house where he used to climb up in the hayloft and read undisturbed, He was always an avid reader and I noticed that his taste in books leaned toward history and biographies. He showed me where he and his brothers and sisters would go an the hill to watch for the "S.N. Whipple" the boat carrying supplies and passengers from Stockton. The boat had a calliope on board and it played gay tunes as it steamed into harbor. -Alma
"My father who was a baker by trade had a water wagon route, He got the water from springs at Mission Dolores. He also kept goats. When I was four years old I was playing in a sandlot near my home. An old goat took after me and butted me against a fence. Two Indians came along, saw my fix, and took the goat by the horns and saved my life. The Indians had colored blankets over their shoulders. Indians were scarce in San Francisco in those days. They liked the country better."
"'I went to school on Hyde and Bush Streets across the street from where the St. Francis Hospital is now. (Many years later my three sons were born in the St. Francis Hospital on that site.-Alma) "Later I went to the Washington Grammar School on the corner of Washington and Mason Streets. Then I went to school in the basement of "Old St. Mary's Church" on the corner of California and Dupont, now Grant Avenue. Here the Brothers kept order with a long pole that had a hard knob on the end, and they cracked the misbehaving one on the head with it. This made tears come to the eyes and all mischief was forgotten far the moment. Later I was an altar boy in "Old St. Mary's Church".
"I was 12 years old when President Lincoln was assassinated. All San Francisco was filled with eagerness to hear the particulars. I sold the 'Call'. I bought the papers for ten cents and sold them for twenty-five. They went like hot cakes."
"When I finished the sixth grade I went no farther. This was not unusual in those days."
"Our home was built next to the sand dunes where the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins Hotels are today. At the foot of the sand dunes was the Sand Hill Bakery. One day when I came home from school my mother was baking bread. It was still in the oven and I was hungry. I teased for some bakery bread, which was a luxury. Finally she gave me a five dollar gold piece wrapped in a piece of paper. She put this in my pocket and told me to go to the Sand Hill Bakery for the bread. When I came to the dunes I decided it was much easier to roll down then walk. I took the gold piece out of my pocket and put it in my mouth for safe keeping. As I rolled down the hill I swallowed the money."
"My mother wanted me to become a priest but I had no clerical leanings. I was fascinated by the stage, especially the tragedians who came to San Francisco. My mother sang with the chorus when the opera came to San Francisco. She had a lovely, sweet voice. I went on stage as a 'super' for Edwin Booth, Laurence Barrett, and John Mc Cullough. In Richard III and others I carried a spear."
"I was a volunteer in the famous San Francisco Fire Department, and was attached to Monumental No. 9. Once two rival companies were rushing to a blazing building 'South O' Market'. We stopped on the corner of Fourth and Market to fight out which would get to the fire first. Meanwhile the building burned to the ground."
(Again Dad rested for a couple of days. Meanwhile memories came flooding back to me.
When I was a little girl Dad used to take me to San Francisco with him. He usually visited a firehouse and enjoyed talking to the firemen. One day while we were there an alarm was sounded, the firemen slid down the slick pole from the story above. The immense horses, wild-eyed with excitement backed into the shafts so the harness could be attached. The firemen jumped on the engine and, with loud clanging bells they raced off to the fire. The horses were as excited as the men.
Dad loved to walk along the waterfront and watch the ships being unloaded. The smell of tea and spices blended with coffee made the tales Dad told me of the far away places seem exciting and romantic. Later he would take me to a restaurant where he ordered, for both of us, a steaming mug of coffee swimming with heavy cream and a large piece of strawberry shortcake. This consisted of two layers of cake with a generous amount of whipped cream and strawberries between the layers and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Strawberry shortcake in our home was strawberries and cream between rich biscuit dough. And then most exciting of all was going to a show where magicians per formed tricks that were pure magic.
Another day and back to Dad's story:
"When I was 17 years old I went to sea. Charles St. Clair and Tim Malloy wanted me to sign up on a sailing vessel. Charlie had just been released from the county jail but I did not know that at the time. I was out of work and it seemed a good chance so I decided to meet them. Tim Malloy was a shoemaker. He did not want to go but he wanted me to go with Charlie. They told me to meet them at Kearney and Market Streets the next morning. I went home to pack my bundle and told my mother I was going. In spite of her protests I did go."
"The ship was the 'Flying Cloud' of Boston. ('Flying Eagle' perhaps) Captain Hughes (Captain Hayes) commanded this full rigged clipper ship. We carried a cow, potatoes, flour, and ballast. We were to pick up cargo if possible. We sailed to Manila and from there to Hong Kong. In Manila there were three vessels which were dismasted from a typhoon about a week before we arrived. We were lucky we had wonderful weather all the way to Manila."
"Then we went to Cebu in the Philippines. There things began to happen. Charlie said to me 'Let's desert.' He had fallen in love with a Filipino girl and wanted to marry her. Our ship was going south next day. At 12 noon we grabbed a canoe and started for the far side of Cebu. A squall hit the canoe and turned us over. We started to swim ashore, then I said 'Let's save the canoe'. We swam for hours pushing the canoe. We were exhausted and we had lost all of our dunnage. We wandered around the island for several days without food and almost nothing to drink. Our tongues became so swollen we could hardly talk and I began to have hallucinations. I became separated from Charlie and lay on the ground and slept. When I awoke I went toward what I thought was the city of Cebu. A man came along and asked me where I was going. I said, 'Cebu' It was evening and he said, 'you can't reach there tonight. There are lions and tigers around here in the hills. Come with me."
"He took me to his house. People crowded around wanting to see me. A white man was a strange sight. Soon a man came in the house and said to me 'Do you speak German?' 'No! 'Spanish?' 'A little' 'French?' 'No!' I said. Then he asked me if I spoke English: I said I did."
"On his hat I saw Captain of Port. He told me to have something to eat while he went up the road a ways. He came back with Charlie St. Clair. I was eating lamb curry and rice. (forever after a favorite dish of his - Alma) He took us to Cebu, where a crowd gathered around us. Pretty soon the captain looked around and said, 'Where's the other fellow?'' I turned around. Charlie was gone. I Said, 'Go up to English Bill's'. Bill was a Filipino but he could speak English. He went up and there was Charlie. The Captain of Port took us to his own house and fed us chicken, rice and curry. We stayed there all night. The next morning he took us to the American Consul. As we went around the corner there was Captain Hughes of our ship. He said, 'Aren't you tired, boys?' We said we were. He told us to get on board ship. Our clothes were gone and we had gained nothing by deserting. It cost $13.00 apiece to hunt for us so we had to make that up by working without pay until it was covered. We got clothes from the 'slop chest', the place where clothes were kept, and money for them had to be taken from our salary which was $12.00 a month."
"We picked up jute at Cebu for New York. We went down the Indian Ocean and were becalmed near Java for about 5 hours. Then came a storm, just a 'cat's paw', a gentle breeze which took us to the Java coast. Soon we heard,
'Hi ya, hi ya, hee
Hi ya, hi ya, hee
Natives were coming out in a boat. We bought Java Sparrows (small birds with purple feathers and white tails). The Captain bought some yams. One sailor bought a monkey but we lost him later when he climbed up the mast and jumped over-board. We ran into a squall around the Cape of Good Hope. I had to go aloft and scrape the ice off the masts and shrouds with the ship at an angle of 45 degrees. One of the ropes was broken so I took the belt off my trousers to hold the sail in place."
"We crossed the equator twice. Then we went down the Pacific at Java and in the same latitude up the Atlantic after going around Africa. At the equator the sun is overhead all the time. When we reached Cape Hatteras we hit another storm. The sailors say,
'If Bermuda you do pass
Then look out for Hatteras.
If Bermuda you do spy
Then Cape Hatteras passes by'
"We landed in New York. Charlie St. Clair went to Chicago. I was glad to see him go. He slept with his eyes open. When I'd see him asleep it was like looking at a dead man. Charlie wanted me to go to Chicago with him but I didn't want to. It was right after the big fire there and I probably would have made plenty of money. But I shipped to Cuba on the Hermaphrodite Brig, meaning half brig and half schooner. It was during the Cuban rebellion. We got a cargo of hogsheads of sugar and sailed back to New York. Then we got a load of coal from Philadelphia and took it up to Maine. We landed at Boston and went to a sailor's boarding house. Then we went to Charleston, where I saw a family in the process of moving. I got a chance to help and earned fifty cents."
"Next day while walking in Charleston I met a fellow from San Francisco who belonged to the same club I did. He asked me what I was doing and I said. ' Following the sea'. He said, 'Stay here and I'll get you a job. So he did. I worked in a linseed oil works in Boston for about 5 months, and when I left there he got me a job in a gas house. I worked in Boston one year. After the Boston fire, (I was there then), I worked for the railroad as a bricklayer."
"From Boston I went to Missouri. I walked or rode box cars. I wanted to get home to San Francisco in the course of time. In High Hill, Montgomery County, 72 miles from St. Louis, I worked for the St. Louis, Kansas City Northern Railroad laying track. I worked there about two and a half years."
"From there I went to Kansas Pacific laying track. It was here I met Calamity Jane. She was a Mule Skinner. She carried a six-shooter on her hips and lived as tough a life as any man on the prairies."
"One night the voice of someone in pain was heard. The groans were very clear in the night air. There was snow on the ground and snow still falling. There in a gulch on Smoky-Hill was Calamity Jane lying very ill. She had a miscarriage at Pike's Peak and had gone this far but could go no further. We carried her into the dugout and I gave up my bed to her. I did not know who she was, and was very surprised when she lifted up her dress to get into the bunk and I saw she wore men's pants with a pair of six hooters strapped to her hips. Later on I was told that this was Calamity Jane."
"She told us she wanted to go to Fort Wallace where her husband was. She did not have any money so we all chipped in and collected enough to send her on her way. Before going she said she wanted to thank the Irish boy who had given up his bed. Then she kissed me on the forehead."
"Calamity Jane changed husbands so often she didn't bother to marry them. Her husband at this time was Billy Russell. He drove cattle from the Black Hills to Texas and he was in the cattle business, legitimate or otherwise. Calamity Jane had five or six husbands altogether so my boss's wife told me. She said Calamity Jane was a terrible character. We put her on the train to Fort Wallace. I heard that when she was in a saloon in Fort Wallace she shot up all the mirrors in the place. She was drunk and just wanted to do some shooting."
"From Kansas I went to the Union Pacific in Wyoming. I worked there two months in 1877. From there I went to the Southern Pacific in Nevada. I worked there about three months, and from there I went to San Francisco."
"I arrived in San Francisco in August 1877, about six years after I had left. When I was on my way up California Street near my home I met my father. He passed me and did not know me. I didn't know him either. My brother Ed was home and he took me down to see my father where he worked. My mother was away in the country at the time."
"I worked in San Francisco putting on metal roofing. Then I went to San Pablo and worked for my uncle, Augustin Byrone, on his farm. My Aunt Dolly, his wife, was my mother's sister."
This is the end of Dad's quote: Stories told to me over the years' follow. Some from Mom, some because I was there.
When my mother, Eugenia Palmer Duffy was 13 years old she went to Oakland to live with her uncle, George Barrett and Aunt Net. He was very fond of this niece and wanted to adopt her. He told her he would see that she would get an education so she could teach school. She was a very bright girl and would have made an excellent teacher. Uncle George's wife was a typical Bostonian, prim, proper and aloof. She had other ideas about Mom. She kept her busy doing housework. Uncle George was a very wealthy man. He owned hundreds of acres in what is now Richmond, and Barrett Avenue is named for him. He owned property on Grand Avenue in Oakland and they lived in a fine house there. I remember the formal parlor, velvet upholstery on gilt chairs and couch. I remember Aunt Net would let me hold and look in the family album because I was a "quiet, well behaved child." I was thrilled when she would wind up the music box in the album and I could listen to the lovely music as I turned the pages wondering who all those people in the strange clothes could be.
One day when Mom was living in Uncle George's home in Oakland a man came in with some supplies. She learned that the man had come in from San Pablo. Her aunt told her to give him omething to eat on the back porch. Mom was indignant. She thought that if the man were good enough to bring these supplies in to her from San Pablo he was good Enough to eat in the kitchen.
While he was eating she found that he was going right back to San Pablo so she went up stairs, packed her bag and told him she would like to go back with him. Her aunt was astonished. So the two of them rode back to San Pablo in the spring wagon. Later she found out that the man was Billy Duffy, who was 25 years old and Mom was 13, and this was their first meeting. He was the man she married six years later.
Time passed and Billy Duffy went back to San Francisco to work. But he liked his uncle's ranch, so he often came back to work there. He liked the dances in San Pablo and he often came over to them. He was an excellent dancer so the girls in town were delighted when they learned that he would be over to a dance. One time one of the girls told another excitedly, "Billy Duffy will be coming over from San Francisco to the dance Saturday night." "Little good it will do you," said the other, "he's taking that dizzy blond." (The dizzy blond was Mom.)
Finally Mom left San Pablo and went to Oakland to work. One night Dad called on her to take her to a show. Mom noticed a button was just about to fall off his overcoat. She quickly got a needle and thread and sewed it on. He proposed that night. (Her advice to me was "Don't ever sew a button on a young man's coat if you do not wish to marry him. -- Alma)
They were married February 6, 1884 by a Justice of the Peace. Dad had been raised a Catholic and Mom a Presbyterian. Mom didn't feel completely, legally married without the service of the church so later they "eloped" to San Rafael and were remarried in the Presbyterian church there. San Rafael had gained quite a reputation as a paradise for eloping couples.
Later Dad joined the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Blue Lodge in Martinez until his death. He always said, "If a person lives up to the teachings of the Masonic Lodge it is enough religion for any man." He and Mom based their religion on the "Golden Rule' and they not only lived it they passed on the concepts to their children.
Mom told me much about their early life together. She said Billy had been elected Justice of the Peace the year before they were married. He attended to the court work and kept on farming the 40 acre ranch at the Emeric place. One time a constable arrested a number of tramps caught sleeping in a box car on the railroad track near the Southern Pacific. He went to their, (mom and dad's), home looking for the "Judge" to try the men he had in custody. The Judge was busy stacking hay and was anxious to get the job done before the threatening storm. He assembled the prisoners in back of the haystack and sentenced them to the county jail.
A story I remember Dad telling was about a couple who came to the home of the Justice of the Peace to be married. It was late and the Judge had retired for the night. A storm raged. When a knock was heard, the Judge in night cap and flannel gown, stuck his head out the upper story window and asked what they wanted, They said they wanted to get married. He told them to hold hands saying,
Out in the wind and stormy weather
I join this man and woman together.
A flash of lightening interrupted, a clap of thunder followed. He continued with head bowed,
Only He who rules the thunder
Shall lend this man and woman asunder.
Dad was Justice of the Peace for ten years, just as many as Mom's father had served before him. Dad decided not to run again. He was a tax collector and an agent for the Oakland Fire Insurance Company.
After Billie and Jennie were married they lived in a lovely white cottage on Church Street in San Pablo. There Ethel, their first child, was born. Dad was farming the Emeric Ranch which he leased. Later they moved to the "Old house." When Mom saw the house she cried because it looked impossible -- but she decided to make it into a home. She painted, papered a room with colored funny papers from the Sunday papers, made white curtains, and put a potted red geranium in the kitchen window, and it was homelike and cheerful.
Geneva (Eva), Grace Jennie, Raymond Palmer and William Joseph were born there. It was in 1893 that Eva died of diphtheria. Dad had brought home an "old codger" for the night. Mom fed him and he picked Eva up, put her on his knee and talked to her. She was six. Then he went to bed an during the night he became very ill. The doctor diagnosed his illness as diphtheria and whisked him away to what was called the pest house. Eva became ill and died and one by one the rest of the family contracted the disease. It was impossible to get a nurse because the disease was considered deadly. Mom had read of a serum that had been used in the east but there was none to be had in the west. She was so worried, she thought the whole family would die. If nursing and following doctor's orders would save them they would have that. The nursing care was constant, as soon as one had been medicated and cared for the next one was ready and after the last it was time to care for the first again. Uncle Charlie, Mom's sister Mary's husband, came to help. All pulled through and when Mom asked the doctor why she didn't get the disease he said, "Mrs. Duffy you didn't have time to get it."
From the "Old House" they moved to the Byrone Ranch for about three months. Grace remembers seeing Ethel riding a tricycle in the yard and a turkey gobbler chasing her as she raced toward the house.
Then the family moved to the "House with the Wooden Duck Pond." This house was located on a rise just above the Santa Fe railroad tracks. I had always been told that they found me in the wooden duck pond when I was born August 6, 1894. There was an old wooden duck floating on this pond and Grace thinks it strange that none of the children ever took the duck out of the pond. Below the house and on the road near the tracks was a saloon. Here the saloon keeper hoped to serve the passerby as they drove between San Pablo and Oakland. Mom was always worried about the drunks that came out of the saloon as their house was the only one in the vicinity. One day Dad had to go to Oakland on legal business and he was to he gone over night. This left Mom alone with the children. That evening she heard two men at the door, drunk and demanding. She was frightened and quickly locked the door. Afraid they would break it down she piled furniture against it and told the children to get down on their knees with her and pray. Then she drew up a chair facing the door, and with loaded gun on her lap ready to use if needed, she sat the whole night through.
Mom loved this house. It was painted white and the inside covered with tan or brown paper with patterns of parrots, tree limbs or unattractive flowers. This home was considered beautiful by both Mom and the children. There were Eucalyptus trees in front of the house and on the steep hill beyond the house were oaks. Water was carried from a hillside spring to the house and barn. The family had two cows, Fanny and Bessie, and two pigs, Jack and Jill as well as chickens. They had a buckboard pulled by a weary old horse named Tom. The gray mare was named Rosie.
One day the pigs, Jack and Jill were gone--stolen. Dad went down to the saloon keeper and told him, not only had he stolen the pigs, he had them pickled in the back room. "I'll show you just where they are," said Dad, "and you pay for them right now." The saloon keeper couldn't call Dad's bluff because they were in there just as Dad described, so he paid. "Your money doesn't pay for the loss. Those pigs were my children's pets." Then Dad added, "I should put you in jail for this."
Shortly after my birth the family moved to the "Red House." The other houses are long gone but the "Red House," no longer red, still stands in 1968. This house was set back from the road and there was a large apple orchard and a few pear trees around the house. The house stood on the banks of San Pablo Creek just beyond the county road which turns toward Pinole. During the winter the creek overflowed and water came into the house. The family had to stay in the attic until the water subsided. Bill, Jr had a brand new pair of shoes which delighted him, but the first sun shiny day he slipped outside into the sunny yard. Of course the ground was still very muddy. When Grace saw him outside she dashed out to get him. She carried him into the house wanting to save his pretty new shoes. Bill was two years old and Pete (Smith) Mc Quillen forever after called him "stick-in-the-mud." Dad was still farming the Emeric Ranch. The main crop was wheat.
In his ten years as Justice of the Peace Dad had a very close friend, Henry Alvarado, son of Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado, who was governor of California before it became a state. Henry Alvarado would drop into Dad's "Court" at the Chevesich place and listen to the cases as they came up. Judge Duffy encouraged him to study law and loaned his law books to him to sturdy. Henry later became District Attorney of Contra Costa County and later Judge of the Superior Court. The latter he held until his death. Annie Alvarado, his wife, of the Chevesich family had been a school chum of Mom's when they were children.
Mom was anxious to get away from San Pablo. She told Dad they didn't want to raise their children in this sleepy little town. The people lacked ambition and didn't care to better themselves, or their living conditions.
One day Dad came home and told her they were going to move. Mom was delighted. "Where?, " she asked. "San Quentin, I have a job on the guard line." he said. When Mom told me about it later she said, "I did want to leave San Pablo--but San Quentin? It could be worse, much worse, Raising the children among criminals?" She said she was filled with misgivings but added that "it was the best thing that could have happened to us." Dad went to the prison in July and Mom stayed behind to harvest the Apples and sell the cows and horse.
Dad's first working day at the prison war, Fourth of July. This was not a work day for the prisoners and they were all assembled in the big yard where games were played for recreation. Dad's job, along with many other guards, was to walk among the prisoners to see that no trouble started. A prisoner came up to Dad and said, "Hello Judge, don't you remember me?" Dad said, "No, should I?" "You sent me here," he was told and the prisoner added, "Wait here and I'll get some of the other boys you sent over." Dad thought it best to move on, but later he did meet each one and they greeted him as a friend. Dad was always called "Judge" by inmates and prison personnel, in fact, all the rest of his life he was called "Judge Duffy" by all who knew him.
In October the family moved to San Quentin to a house "outside the gates." These houses were privately owned and occupied by guards. The houses "inside the gates" were on state property and owned by the state and they were occupied by officers. Everyone in the little village, but the storekeeper and the bus driver, worked at the prison. Mom loved the house. It had hot and cold water in the house, and luxury of all luxuries---an indoor bathroom. This house still continues to hold a place in the hearts of the Duffy family. Clinton Truman, and Eugenia Katherine were born here. Thirty years later, when Dad retired, he bought the home and after Mom's death Grace and her husband, Ernest Zubler bought it and Grace still owns it in 1968 although she no longer lives there. Don Zubler, eldest son of Grace Duffy and Ernest Zubler, still lives in the house, as of January 1999.
Dad became Chief Steward and the family moved inside the gates. Here a family lived like people of wealth. Our home had 10 rooms, the rent, $8.00 a month, and there were many privileges. We had a prisoner Cook Gardner, and state upkeep on the house. There was a lovely conservatory where Mom delighted caring for her beautiful ferns and hothouse plants. This was on the front of the house on the west side. Also, there was a large, lovely garden.
San Quentin, in the 1890's, was an isolated town on a peninsula. It really was a village built just outside the prison walls, with San Francisco Bay on one side and San Pablo Bay on the other. Guards were paid $50.00 a month when Dad first went to work there and it was some time before a raise was given. Besides, the men worked seven days a week with no day off and no vacations. But supplies that were given to the employees, at cost by the state, helped. A large box of vegetables, grown on the prison grounds and tended by prisoners, was delivered to each family for 10 cents a box. When tomatoes were in season a large lug box was available for 10 cents. The children had hair cuts at the prison barber shop, by prisoners, free, and family laundry was done very cheaply and hand ironed beautifully. Sheets cost 1 cent and shirts 2 cents. Nothing cost over 2 Cents and towels, socks, handkerchiefs, were free. The finest grade of beef was bought by the state and both prisoners and employees ate the best. It was sold to employees for 10 cents a pound. Needless to say, we had large prime rib roast for Sunday dinners and New York steak and T Bone throughout the week. Stews were made of tenderloin tips. In the early days shoes were made by the inmates for the children of the employees as well as the inmates. These shoes were sturdy and they were definitely "con shoes," so few bought them. Later, Bakery goods, baked in the prison bakeshop, were sold and gasoline was only 10 rents a gallon.
Social life had to be created by the townspeople. There were many single men working at the prison and they had quarters at the prison. Dances were held in the schoolhouse. The prisoners took out the desks that were mounted on low platforms and stacked them outside. Then the floors were waxed ready for a night of dancing. So there could be variety they had box socials where the ladies made box lunches, put them in decorated boxes and the men bid on them. At midnight, the lucky gentleman and lady ate supper together. A town girl, grown up, or her girl friends from San Francisco, were very happy when a good looking guard won their special box. Dad would stand on the bench and call out for lancers, which was a very popular dance. We used to ask our parents if we could go to the dance and "peek in." They always let us and this meant we could stand outside the open windows and watch the fun. Sleepiness soon sent us on our way home. Mom and Dad felt perfectly safe as long as Grace was home to watch out for us. Masquerades were very popular and there was much competition among the people in town. A prize was given to the best. I remember one masquerade when Mom helped Dad decide on a costume. He borrowed white pants and jacket from the Officer's and Guard' s dining room. This was the outfit worn by prisoner cooks and waiters. He borrowed a cook's high white hat, so, with black face mask and black gloves and a frying pan hanging from his belt, he made a fine looking cook. Mom sent him off to the dance ahead so she could get into her costume which she had kept secret from him. She made her costume and she had decided to be a Dutch girl. Her skirt was of pale blue and full, a white puffed sleeve blouse, and white apron and a black velvet bodice completed the costume, except for her hair. She had Dad get some raw jute from the prison jute mill. She combed this out and fashioned a wig with two long braids. A mask fully covering her face completed the costume. Anyone of her children would tell you she looked beautiful. Dad danced with her and kept coming back for more dances, trying each time to make her talk. She would not, knowing her voice would give her away. At the stroke of twelve all masks were removed and Dad all smiles greeted Mom with, "I didn't know who you were but you were the best dancer on the floor."
Sometimes during the height of the festivities the prison bell would ring calling all men to the prison to gather arms and cover the hills, beaches, and grounds, for an escaped prisoner. These were exciting times and everyone was filled with concern for husbands and fathers who must hunt for a desperate criminal--a killer--and hunt for him in the dark.
On one such hunt, in early evening, Dad was walking on the hillside on the north side of the prison. The dry grass was slippery so he took the shells from his gun in case he slipped. Before long Brownie, Bill's dog, who could do anything from playing backstop in our baseball game, to duck hunting, even digging clams with Bill and even Con hunting, moved away from Dad toward a clump of bushes, barking furiously. Dad said, "Come out, I have my gun on you." The prisoner came out and walked ahead of Dad as they started toward the prison. When they reached the road Dad thought he would fire a shot into the air to let the other men know the prisoner had been found. Then he realized his gun was empty. He knew he, who was barely 5 ft. 3 in., would be easy prey to the prisoner who was a large man, had better get the shells into the gun and get them in quietly. He did and fired a shot. Guards began coming out of the hills and joined in the march, glad the hunt was over before darkness settled.
One day we children were playing baseball on our only street. A horse drawn cart came rumbling by. We stopped to let it pass. Joaquin, the dairyman, from the other side of the hill was standing up in the cart slapping the reins on the horse for more speed, and holding up two fingers, kept yelling "Two, two." We knew this meant two prisoners, and Joaquin had seen them, so, another "get away." They were caught near San Rafael as they tried to cross the marsh land.
Another time two men got away by crawling on their bellies along a ditch from the rock quarry to the other side of the hill. They were not missed until lock-up and again off to the hills for the man hunt. Before long Pat Highland, a fine Irishman, found them huddled up in a tree several miles from the prison. He pointed his gun at them and in his Irish brogue called, "Come down ye divils, I got the bead o' me gun on ya." They came down, and as he marched them back to the prison he had a trail of us kids behind him.
One day a lady passed through the prison grounds to the private grounds. She had to go through 2 post gate and a guard was on duty there. She seemed agitated and in a great hurry. The guard became suspicious and called for her to stop but picking up her skirts, exposing men's shoes and long trousers, distinctly prisoner uniform, she began to run. He was easily caught. He was a Gardner and when the lady of the house went out, he slipped into the house and dressed in her clothes.
Many stories of bravery were told and retold until they became a part of your life. One night when Dad had just started working at the prison he was on night duty in a post overlooking the women's quarters just inside the walls. Shortly after dark he saw a woman climbing up the wall and when she got to the top Dad told her to go back down. She refused but Dad, who had a very kind and even gentle way of persuading people convinced her it was useless to try to escape so she reluctantly went back down into the women's yard where the rest of the women prisoners were watching her.
Dad had many experiences, but the greatest was when a Negro prisoner, namely Delahanty, shiv in hand, ran amuck in the prison yard. Delahanty was 6 ft. 4 in, and seemingly a gentle man. He loved music and had a beautiful tenor voice. He knew I loved music and he would send professional copies of music to me. These were sent to the prison from San Francisco. Delahanty always sang at the prison shows, put on by the prisoners and attended by the employees and their families inside the walls on New years and Fourth of July.
One day Dad was busy in the prison kitchen when a guard came running in. "What's wrong?" Dad inquired. He was told, "Delahanty has killed St. Louis Fat, stabbed another prisoner and is running out in the big yard saying he'll get Captain Randolph, (Captain or the yard, a free man).
Dad ran as fast as he could to catch up with Delahanty. A Guard named Joe Cannon was ahead of Dad. Delahanty, turned facing Joe Cannon, and with blood still dripping from the shiv said, "Come a step further and I'll kill you." Joe Cannon knew he would carry out that threat so he stopped. Not Dad. He ran up to Delahanty passing Joe Cannon on the way. When he reached Delahanty he said, "Come on Delahanty, hand over the knife." "No Judge," Delahanty answered, I have one more man to get." You have killed St. Louis Fat and the other man is dying. You've one enough for one day." But Delahanty held on to the knife.
While guards on the towers watched with guns ready Dad in his persuasive way talked gently. The guards did not want to shoot. Their bullets could have hit Dad because he was so close to the prisoner, and again, the bullets could ricochet on the paved yard, and an innocent prisoner could be shot.
Dad continued. "Delahanty, I have always been your friend. You know that. I am asking you as a favor to me to hand over the knife." Silence. "You have a chance, Delahanty, to prove that our relationship really meant something to you (he had worked for Dad). You have this chance to show me you are my friend." With hanging head Delahanty handed over the shiv saying, "Judge, you know I wouldn't do this for another man in this prison."
That evening when Dad told us what had happened he added, "and Delahanty and I walked shoulder to shoulder over to the captain's office." I couldn't help but smile as I visualized the 5 ft. 3 in. man walking shoulder to shoulder with the 6 ft. 4 in. Delahanty.
Later Delahanty was hanged and Dad said the hardest thing he had ever been called upon to do as to testify against him in court even though Delahanty told him he understood.
Hangings were dreaded times in San Quentin. In the homes "Black Friday" was never mentioned and although nothing was said about a hanging the town kids all knew. Hangings were always on riday and always at ten o'clock a.m.
When I was in the third grade we had a teacher who went completely dramatic over hangings. Ours was a one teacher elementary school. This teacher always wore a black skirt, white shirt waist and black sweater. She had black hair, flashing black eyes and her features were sharp. To me she was a witch. On the day of a hanging her first words at 9:05 a.m. were something like this, "Just think that poor man has only 55 more minutes to live." Little, if any, work was done. She would twirl around, black eyes flashing and say, "Only 35 more minutes." We watched the clock. The second hand ticked off the minutes. "Four more minutes--three--two, " then standing watching the second hand tick the life blood out of the man, she would throw up her hands and say, "He's gone, he's dead," a long pause then, "Take out your arithmetic books and get to work."
Dad always stated with pride that he had never attended a hanging in his 30 years at the prison. Several wardens asked him to but he declined saying he would not care to. That stand and his feeling of repulsion against barbaric prison practices must have influenced his son Clinton because when Clint became Warden he immediately stopped all brutality and he put into action all the great prison reforms that have changed the penal system all over the world. One thing he could not stop. This was capital punishment. He has worked constantly in America, Canada and even in Italy to get legislation to abolish this practice. Even now he travels constantly giving speeches to stir the public into action.
The high moral standard of our Dad and Mother has had a great influence on the children of this remarkable couple. They were fair, understanding, and most of us thought they thought we were smarter and better kids than we thought we were, so we surely tried to measure up. I believe their understanding of child psychology could stand up with the greats of today. Theirs was based on common decency and the basic precepts of the Golden Rule.
The families who lived inside the gates had prison help. In our home Dad always tried to get a murderer as a cook. A man who killed in the heat of passion was not a real criminal as their hostility was directed against an individual not toward people in general . The officers wives could teach the man how to cook and serve if need be. Most of the cooks in our home were delightful characters.
One such was a tall red haired Italian nicknamed "Red." He was as tough as leather yet soft and sentimental toward the Duffy family, especially Mom. We children, at first resented it when he called her "Mom" but soon we were willing to share her guiding influence on one who needed it so badly.
Red was doing time for stealing a span of horses and a buggy from a ranch in the San Joaquin valley. He had no trouble getting away in the dense Tule fog. All night he drove around the country roads and when morning came he decided to try to sell the team to a farmer. The farmer delayed him and called the sheriff and Red was arrested. The horses, as horses will, guided Red back to their own yard and Red was trying to sell the horses to their owner. When Red told the story to us he said he was "flabbergasted!" Red had been a short order cook, among many other things, and he could cook meat to perfection, His cakes were something else. Mom had taught him how to make cake layers but to Red a cake had no class unless it was decorated elaborately. So the cakes were decorated in brilliant pinks, yellows, reds and the vilest greens you ever saw. He thought they were beautiful.
The Duffy children grew up, married and left hone, but Red stayed on. At Christmas when the married children and grandchildren came home to celebrate, the dining table was pulled out to capacity. Two turkeys were roasting in the ovens for the Christmas dinner and two cooks were busy in the kitchen taking direction from Mom. Red was keyed into high gear. He had never experienced anything like this and he felt a part of the family. When Christmas morning came and Red came from the prison for his day in our home he was like a little child when he found that Santa had left gifts for him on the tree. The socks, neckties and handkerchiefs (allowable gifts)were treasured. I doubt if he ever used them.
One Christmas, when I arrived with my husband and three young sons, a gift was found for me on the tree. It was wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied with a green string. I opened it and found a silver cheese knife inlaid with abalone. A dove of peace was etched on the silver handle as was a horse shoe for good luck and an olive branch. It was from Red. When I thanked him next morning he said he had an inmate friend inside the prison make it for him. He was so proud and happy because he thought it the most beautiful gift he had ever seen.
Later as the table was being set Mom called to me from the kitchen. She said, "Alma, I had several dozen teaspoons in this drawer and some of them are gone." I saw Red quickly duck out to the back pouch and become very busy. While Mom went into the dining room to the silver chest for more spoons I went out to where Red was standing and I said, "Red where did you get the silver to have your friend make my cheese knife? You took my mother's spoons didn't you!" "Well," said Red, "I wanted to give you a nice gift and I needed silver to do it. What else could I do?" I was laughing so hard I ran into the front of the house to tell the rest of the family about my "contraband" Christmas gift. It was shown with great pride throughout the day.
One day Red stole a cube of butter from our home to take inside the walls. This he could use to bargain with other prisoners as butter was not served to them. Red had all his meals in our home so butter was no luxury to him. You could always pick Red out in a line of prisoners. He walked with a rolling, crab like gait as his long arms swung at his side. This day "Red" had to stand in line for some time while the prisoners ahead were frisked before entering the gate to see if they were carrying anything contraband into the prison yard. Red had put the cube of butter under his cap and the hot sun was melting it. He kept mopping his face as the butter trickled down. As he reached the guard Red was mopping furiously. "It's pretty hot isn't it Red?" said the guard. "Yes, hot," said Red still mopping. "Take off your cap and cool off, Red," said the guard. 'Oh no' I like it on." Red was really nervous now. "Take it off!" ordered the guard. Red did. Even the guard had to smile when he saw the cube of butter soft and running down Red's face.
Mom was out in the wood shed one day and she saw something in a box and picking it up she found six chicken eggs carefully set on a soft cloth. She put the covering over the eggs and went into the kitchen to find Red. Red, she said, "I found eggs in the box in the shed. Can you tell me how they got there?" "The chickens laid them," Red replied. "Now, Red, don't tell me anything like that. You know the chickens couldn't get over that high fence and go into the shed and lay the eggs under cover in the box." Red was caught and he said weakly, "Moms, chickens is funny."
Finally Red was paroled. Mom gave him new socks, a tie, and a Shirt---and advice. "Now, Red, I don't want you to ever come back here. You be a good boy." Red promised.
Months passed and one morning when Mom stepped into her bedroom she saw a figure pass by the window crouched way over. He went to the back of the house. Knowing he would have to go to the front to leave she walked slowly to the front porch and waited. Around the corner came the garbage man. It was Red. "I didn't want you to see me, Mom." He was embarrassed. He had broken his parole by marring without permission from the parole board. Besides the lady was another man's wife.
Another cook dearly loved by the Duffy's was a short, very black colored lad, named Ford. He had a beautiful smile and a winning personality. He had been a paper boy in Oakland and one day when he went into a bar to sell his papers a drunk grabbed him, took his papers and hit him. Ford piked up a chair to protect himself and the drunk fell, fracturing his skull. He died and Ford was sent to prison for life.
When company came to our house from San Francisco or the East Bay and stayed for Sunday dinner, Dad would go to the kitchen and ask Ford to come in the living room and entertain the guests. So in a fresh white coat in walked Ford, cornet in hand, his white teeth gleaming as he bowed and smiled. He always played the "Chocolate Soldier" first. He would also play on the Mandolin.
Many of the guests we had in our home through the years were very curious about the crimes of the prisoners. On Sundays, entertainment for the people of the town was the band concert played in the band stand at the front of the prison. As we sat on benches listening to the numbers played by the inmates a constant stream of visitors who had come to see a relative or friend passed by. It was sad to see a poor old mother crying as she said goodbye to her son, and slowly walk down the long walk to get the bus that would take her part way on her way back home, to wait another month when she could come again to visit this wayward son. The band members looked quite handsome in their attractive uniforms. When a handsome inmate sang a beautiful love ballad the romantic young ladies visiting for the day were positive such a person couldn't have committed a crime. When those who were our guests talked to Dad about the inmate, they shuddered when he told them a bit about the crime he had committed.
At dinner the conversation always came around to crime and the guests often eyed the cook as he waited on table. "Aren't you afraid your cook will poison you?'." was the inevitable question we always heard. Dad would say solemnly as he looked around the table at us, his eyes twinkling, "We never know, doesn't this soup taste peculiar --perhaps like arsenic'? " We know the cook was doubled up with laughter in the kitchen.
The cooks from the homes compared notes when they went inside the walls to be locked in their cells for the night. Gossip was exchanged, about the people in the homes where they worked. Once they asked our cook why he never had any gossip to offer. "Well you never hear any gossip in the Duffy home. If you listen when they talk around the dinner table you'll get an education. They talk about school work.
Lee was a Chinese boy who came to cook for us. He had been railroaded to prison. He was an interpreter for a Chinese Tong and a very well educated young man, very sensitive and gentle. A man in a small town outside of Stockton had been murdered and although it was proven that Lee was registered in a hotel in Stockton and a witness testified that he saw him there about the time of the murder, Lee was sentenced to prison for life. The opposing Tong was strong and powerful.
One memory I have of Lee was seeing him at the sink preparing vegetables and tears running down his cheeks. One day Mom told him she heard that the warden needed a boy to greet the prison board and guests as they came up to his house. "I'd like you to ask for the job and then when you have an opportunity talk to members of the board, tell them about your case and they will help you." Lee got the job and before many months he came down to the house to tell Mom goodbye. He told her that it happened just as she predicted. He was paroled to New York and after a letter from there telling about his job we heard no more.
(At this point, my mom Eugenia, inserted a correction of this story-Carol) Lee was told about the job at the warden's and Mom told him to ask for it because the man Lee was arrested with (for the crime they did not commit) worked at the warden's house. The warden was the son-in-law of the governor and the governor visited there often. Mom told Lee to tell his story to the governor. He did and was paroled to the governor's mansion and finally pardoned. His friend was too.
One day Dad came home for lunch and instead of going in to wash for lunch he sat right down at the table. He had his hat on and he didn't take it off. Mom looked at him in amazement. "Why are you sitting at the table with your hat on?" she asked. Dad said nothing, just laughed. Mom still didn't understand and then she saw a very young sparrow on Dad's hat. He had landed on his hat and came home with him. And at another time as he walked down the walk from the prison to our home a lame Seagull with wing dragging followed him until he crossed the street to our home. The seagull waited and when Dad went back to the prison again the seagull followed at his heels until he reached the "front." Each day he waited for Dad enjoying the tidbits he carried out for him as they walked back to the prison.
San Quentin people lived on the brink of danger and excitement. In the early days the man who escaped went by foot over into the hills to find freedom. Later they used faster methods. I was teaching in the elementary two teacher school. Clint's wife, Gladys was the other teacher. One day while school was in session we heard shots whizzing overhead. We looked out the window and saw a tug which carried supplies to the prison being fired on, so we all went outside so we could see better. Over our heads the bullets whizzed, and they were landing all about the tug. A cheer went up from the children when there was a hit. My sons, nephews and nieces who attended the school were eagerly watching with the other children as the tug headed west. We all knew that the bay ended there so they had to turn around and they headed south. The children cheered when they saw the little red Ford, the state car, hurrying along the road across the bay to Paradise, the logical place for them to stop. The prisoners saw the car and turned east toward Richmond. They had to land there because they were just about out of gas. They were picked up by the police. The guard they had taken as hostage was dead. They had held him up an a shield against the bullets and he had been trampled on as the men moved about in the boat. One prisoner had been hit in the leg and they looked a sorry lot as they walked back to the prison from the wharf. Again the town kids were there to follow them back to the prison.
San Quentin girls and boys grew up with a very strong bond of friendship. We might have had differences but they never amounted to much. To create an enemy was foolish - where else would you find a friend? We were all confined in this small town and the bonds that held us were similar to those that held the prisoners. We could go to San Francisco for a day with our parents but we had to come back, to stay. But at least we didn't have an iron door clang shut and locked on us each night.
Our mother was determined that we would have the opportunity of having an education and Dad went along with her. Since education was denied them they were eager to see us go into higher levels. Both Mom and Dad were extremely bright and would have gone far if they had the opportunity.
When Ethel was in college, and some were in high school and others in grammar school and the little ones not in school yet, people who might drop in after dinner, when dishes were done and the long dining table cleared, were always surprised because we were all around the table doing homework or reading. Dad, too, would sit with us and read. Mom might be doing some hand sewing. The little one in the high chair looking at a book, too young yet to read.
When Dad was earning $50.00 a month and gradually got up to $75.00 after many years, all the school supplies had to be bought by the parents. All books and transportation too, had to be paid for each student. This became quite an item as the children began to progress. All the other families made their children go to work after high school. But we managed. I remember I took German as a foreign language because we had the books since Ethel, Grace and Bill had taken German before me. In English our books were quite worn from use. The binding became loose and the covers became a bit battered. "From Milton to Tennyson" barely made it and Shakespeare books had the names of each of us on the fly leaf. We had excellent teachers and we were glad to have the opportunity of furthering our education.
From here on I shall give a very brief account about the Duffy Children:
1. Ethel rode the bus to Greenbrae, the train to Tiburon, the ferry boat to San Francisco, the ferry to Oakland and the train to Berkeley and returned over the same route. She married John Kenneth Turner, author and newspaper man. He wrote "Barbarous Mexico" a famous book revealing the corruption in Mexico under Diaz. The book triggered off the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Ethel became an author and poet. She wrote "One Way Ticket," a story about San Quentin. It was made into a motion picture. Later she wrote "Ricardo Flores Magon," a story about a Mexican Revolution hero. This is a true account. Ethel lives in Cuernavaca and continues her writing career. She has always been a brilliant student in English literature and History.
When I was a little girl my Aunt Ethel would always baby sit with me. She was very easy going (as were all the Duffy's) and would indulge my whims. At that time I was taking dancing lessons so I would dress up in one of my costumes, give her a flashlight and turn off all the lights. Then I would put a record on the phonograph and dance for her while she worked the "spotlight". She would always clap like a good audience and ask for more and I was happy to oblige.
From the time I could remember she lived in a cabin in Laurel Canyon in San Anselmo. It really was a cabin---one or two rooms---and as a kid I thought it was really neat and the best way to live. Laurel Canyon was so named because it was filled with Bay Laurel trees. To this day whenever I smell Bay leaves it brings back memories of that cabin in the woods.
She was known as "The Cat Lady" in her neighborhood because she had 23 cats. She always loved cats and maybe that's where I get my love of cats because they are my favorite animals and I have had many in my life, but never more than two at a time.
To me she was the most "artsy" and avant-garde of all the Duffy's. When she was young she and her husband lived in the "Monkey" block of San Francisco, (Montgomery St. area) where all the artists and writers lived. They were all known as Bohemians, sort of the early version of the "Beatniks" (after "hippies"). They also lived in Carmel, another artist colony. Years later, when she was 70 years old she picked up and moved to Mexico at the request of the Mexican government. They wanted her to write Mexican history for them. She lived the rest of her life there and when she died she was given a 21 gun salute at her funeral and the president of Mexico sent flowers.
2. Eva died at the age of six.
3. Grace was a "straight A" student all the way through high school. When I commented on that a few years ago she said she thought you were supposed to get A's so she did. She was the valedictorian of her class, an honor given to the student with the highest scholastic standing. Because Ethel married right out of college, Dad called it "a matrimonial bureau" so he said Grace should go to San Francisco Normal and be a teacher. Since not too many jobs were open to women and teaching was considered "genteel" Grace did go to San Francisco Normal and taught six years before she married.
Grace lived in the house in San Quentin where Clint and my mother were born. I loved going to this house and used to spend a lot of time there, sometimes a week or so during the summer. From the time I can remember, her daughter Dorothy lived with her along with her two sons Jim and Steve Price. Jim and I are the same age and we grew up together and we have always been as close as brother and sister. Grace was always the one that did everything for everybody. My mother used to worry that when I went there to spend some time that it would only be added work for her. She asked her one time if that were so and Grace said, "No, I like it when she's here because she helps around the house and makes the boys behave" They always used to ask her to make them a sandwich or do this or that for them and I would tell them to do it themselves or I would do it for them.
I remember Grace sewed beautifully. Once for a high school formal dance she helped my mother make a beautiful dress for me from a Vogue pattern. Actually I'm sure that Grace did all the work and mom only helped.
It seemed to me that Grace was always quiet. But she had more wisdom and racticality than anyone else in the family.
4. Ray was a real engineer. But he was also a great baseball player. After high school he went to Van der Maillen College of Engineering in Oakland. He worked a couple of years in order to save enough money to put himself through college. He worked for the San Francisco Harbor Commission after he became an engineer and finally went to work for the California State Highway Division. He was maintenance engineer and then construction engineer of highways in the central costal counties in California. This was his profession until he retired.
I always called him "Daddy Ray" because when I was born he "bought" me from the hospital. I was born in Letterman General Hospital in the Presidio in San Francisco because my father was in the Army. It was on a Saturday that the doctor told my mother we could go home and to call my father to pick us up. Then he came back and told my mother that they had to pay before we could leave. Since it was a military hospital you only had to pay for food. It was $9.36. She tried to call my father back but he had already left. She knew he wouldn't have that much money on him (it was 1940) so she called her Brother Ray who worked in the city and worked on Saturday mornings. He came over to bail us out and wouldn't let them pay him back. After that he would say to me, "I paid for you and you are my baby".
When I was about 2 years he used to pick me up and carry me around and I would say to him, "But people will say we're in love" ("Oklahoma" had just come out on the stage and that was a popular song from the show). He always called me "Petie" and at my eighth grade graduation, when I was marching down the aisle with the rest of the kids he stood up and yelled, "Petie!" Being the usual 13 year old I was embarrassed at the time, but now I look back on that incident with fond memories.
He and Mabel had a "rumpus room" in the basement of their house and always had great parties there. At Christmas time if you would call the house, Ray would always answer the phone, "Duffy's Tavern, Santa Claus speaking".
They had a large rosebush with pink miniature roses in the yard and every morning before he went to work, he would always pick a rose to wear in his lapel.
5. Bill was a brilliant student even though he suffered loss of hearing during his high school years. When he graduated from high school he said he wanted to go to California Agricultural College at Davis. Dad was amazed. Remembering his years of farming in San Pablo he said "You don't go to college to learn how to farm. You go to work on a farm." "No ! " Mom, said. "Scientific farming is just becoming known. He'll be wise to go to college and get what scientific knowledge is available." So Bill went to work and saved his money to go to Cal Aggies and graduated in 1915. He has worked in farming all these years. He bought farm land in Sutter Basin becoming a very successful farmer. He has contributed much to the rice growing industry by his research.
Bill was a farmer in Woodland and the only times I saw him, when I was a child, was when he came down to San Quentin to visit, mostly during the holidays. He used to sit me on one knee and Joanne Hawk (his granddaughter) on the other knee and do a trick. He would take to pieces of tissue paper and wet the ends of his fingers and stick them on and say "Jack and Jill sitting on a fence, fly away Jack, fly away Jill" and they would disappear, and then, "come back Jack, come back Jill" and they would reappear. For the longest time I couldn't figure out how he did that, but when I got older he showed me how he would stick the tissue behind his ears and then retrieve them.
Bill wrote a book called "To San Quentin for life". Here is an interesting quote from the book about his father:
"...The prisoners had a poem about Duffy. We don't know who wrote it or why, but I can recall the opening stanza. It is called
"Duffy's on the Wall"
"The guards stood in their boxes.
The bell tolled six o'clock.
A band of faithful trustees
Were grinding out the locks.
The signal soon was given
All answered to the call
Then 'Alla men, left, fall in line
For Duffy's on the wall'"
I think that Bill looked the most like Grandpa Duffy and that's fitting because he had his name.
6. Alma: Having such brilliant brothers and sisters ahead of me, it was assumed by the faculty and many of the students that I, too, must be brilliant. My math courses wouldn't have put me in that category, but I did pass them with college grades which had to be B's. Since San Francisco Normal worked out so well for Grace, Dad thought I should go to San Francisco Normal. I had wanted to be a teacher from the time I entered first grade so I was very happy. I taught 16 years in San Quentin and during World War II, one year in Robbins, in Sutter Basin where my sons were farming.
Alma always used to call me "Pixie", but she was like a pixie herself. She always had a smile and twinkling eyes and a story to tell. She used to tell me that when I was a baby, she was taking care of me one time and feeding me strained spinach, and I guess I didn't like it because I spit it out all over the place. She said she didn't blame me because it was awful and she wouldn't like to eat it either. She was for "spare the rod and spoil the child", which endeared her to all her nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
When I was in grade school she lived in Oakland and would take care of me sometimes when my parents went on a trip. If it was during the school year my parents would get permission for her to give me my lessons because she had been a school teacher. We would sit on the front steps of her house and have lessons in the morning and about noon she would say, "Well, that's enough of that" and then we would do something fun like go to a flower show or a gem and rock show in downtown Oakland. One time I was there over the 4th of July and she took me to see the fireworks at Lake Merritt. It was the biggest fireworks show I had ever seen and to this day I can still remember the wonderment I felt at the sight.
Later, after she moved to San Rafael she took me up to her Jim's ranch in Woodland for the day. I remember going out to the fields and there was a small building with a truck scale on it. It looked just like the scale in the doctors office only about a million times larger, with all the weights, etc.
I always loved to stay with Alma because we was so young at heart and would play games with me and tell me wonderful stories too. It was kind of like having a grown-up and a child all in one person.
7. Clint worked after high school and then went to work at the prison as the warden's secretary after he and Gladys were married. He threw himself into penal work and reform and eventually became warden at San Quentin Prison. It was at this time he changed the idea of just punishment alone to that of confinement and rehabilitation. He has devoted his time since retirement to lecturing and trying to have capital punishment abolished. To learn more about his work read his book "The San Quentin Story," of which he was co-author. Later he wrote several other books.
Clint became the warden of San Quentin Prison just before I was born so my early memories are of him living in the big warden's house. The house was over 100 years old and had 11 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a formal living and dining room as well as a more cozy living area on the family side. It was filled with beautiful antique furniture and was a great place for a kid to explore and play in. There was an attic with an old pipe organ in it and my cousin Joanne and I used to go up there to play it. You had to pump the pedals to get it to go and neither one of us was tall enough to do that and play the keys at the same time so one of us would sit on the floor and push the pedals with our hands while the other one would play on the keys. My Aunt Gladys would always say that she knew where we were when we were up there because you could hear that thing all over the house. There was also a room next to Clint's office that had a regular barber's chair in it where he would get his hair cut by one of the prisoners.
There were two wings that made up the house and on the second floor there was a sort of a sunroom that went between the wings to connect them. There were buzzers all over the house that you ring to call one of the "house boys" if you wanted something. All the master buzzers for the house were in the sunroom. Joanne and I would go up there and ring all the buzzers at once and then run and hide under one of the beds. All the trustees that worked in the house would come running and then Fong would come looking for us. After a few times he would discover our hiding place and we would have to find a new one. I guess Fong was kind of the head house boy and he sort of acted as our "nanny" when we were there. He would tuck us into bed at night and scold us when we were mischievous which was practically all the time.
When I was there by myself I would enlist one of the house boys to be my playmate. There was one man named Lee who took me up behind the warden's house to show me the house all the trustees lived that worked in the house and on the grounds. It had a sign out in front that said "Cook's house" but I always thought it said "Crooks house." One time my parents were away and they sent me a package. It was wrapped in twine and I asked Lee to cut the twine with his pocket knife so I could open it. He said "We aren't allowed to carry pocket knives". I couldn't understand that because all the boys in school and all the men I knew always carried pocket knives. He did have a nail clipper so he used that to cut the twine for me.
Another time when Joanne was about 8 and I was about 10, another house boy named Larry had to deliver some papers to Clint in his office inside the prison. He asked us if we wanted to go with him, and since we had never been inside we jumped at the chance. He left us standing in the yard and went inside the building to deliver the papers. There were prisoners in their jeans and blue work shirts standing around and lounging against the walls. Joanne and I just looked at each other with eyes as big as saucers but we were too scared to speak. When Larry came back and took us outside the gate I asked him why he just left us there alone when the warden's two nieces would make perfect hostages. We laughed and said, "Do you think I would leave you there alone if they weren't trustees just like me?" I had thought all trustees wore white uniforms that the house boys wore.
All the Duffy uncles were teasers but Clint was the biggest tease of all. Every time he would come to our house he would say he was going to take something of mine home with him. A favorite doll or toy. He would just go on and on about it until I was in tears. Gladys would get mad at him and tell him to leave me alone. I had a stuffed rabbit that was coming apart at the back seam and the stuffing was gray and he would say, "It's a rabbit!" and he would go back and forth, "mouse", "rabbit", "mouse", "rabbit", until I was in tears once again.
When I got a little older he started calling me "Susie Q". I Would say, "My name is not Susie Q, it's Carol", and we would go back and forth on that one. At least, since I was older it wouldn't get to me so much and I didn't end up crying.
After he left the prison as warden, he and Gladys moved to Kentfield. They had a big ranch style house with a very large front yard. There were lots of tropical type plants like Banana trees and huge ferns and there were always lots of giant slugs to be found among them. I would ask Gladys for a salt shaker and then go back down to the garden and pour salt on the slugs to see them shrivel up.
When Clint left the prison as warden he continued to do work in the field of penology. He was appointed to the Adult Authority Board, more commonly known as the Parole Board. After retirement he traveled around the United States and other countries lecturing about the penal system and speaking against capital punishment.
8. Eugenia (Jean:, graduated from San Rafael High School the last of the immediate Duffy family but it wasn't long before it began to be attended by the grandchildren of William Joseph Duffy and Eugenia Palmer Duffy. After high school Jean took up beauty work but gave that up when she was offered a better paying job as secretary at Thayer's Garage. This was during the depression. She had complete charge of the garage and crew when the owner and his wife went on a trip to Europe for a year. Before, and for sometime after marriage, she was in library work.
My mom was the "baby" of the family and was spoiled by all of her brothers and sisters. Since I was the baby of the baby I was spoiled by everyone. Everyone always did everything for her, especially Grace so she didn't learn to do things like cook and sew. Her mom tried to teach her to sew but she always ran when she saw the needle because sewing didn't interest her. She finally learned to sew when I started taking dancing lessons because it was very expensive to have costumes made. She would tell me, "I put my life's blood in those costumes, literally because I would stick myself with the needle and bleed all over then". She actually got quite good at it even though it wasn't her favorite thing to do and she also made a lot of my clothes. One story she told on herself about sewing concerned a pair of jeans of my brother's. She was sitting on the sofa sewing patches on the knees and when she was finished my brother came in to get them. When she started to hand them to him she found she had sewn them to her dress.
After she finished high school she went to beauty school for a time. We used to have a curling iron that you could put on the stove to heat up. Then I would sit in the kitchen and she would curl my hair and almost burn my ears off at the same time. She could cut hair and cut mine for years. I remember going for my first "store bought" hair cut I was probably about 12' years old at the time.
Once when I was about 3 or 4 years old I was swinging on the door of a corner hutch we had in the kitchen. It wasn't long before the whole thing came tumbling over, dishes crashing to the floor all around me. I got out of the way just in time so that it didn't fall on me. There was a tea set in the hutch that had belonged to Mom's mother and some of the dishes got broken. I remember her sitting on the sofa in the living room with her head in her hands, her whole body shaking. I thought she was crying because of the mothers's dishes and I felt terrible. Years later she told me she was laughing because I looked like a mouse with big round eyes. She didn't want me to know she was laughing at the time though because I had been a bad little girl.
Another time when I was about 3, we were in downtown San Rafael and she ran into a lady friend. It seemed to me they had been talking for hours and I was getting bored as all I could see were knees. I kept tugging on her hand and saying "Let's go", and she said, "In a minute, so after a few times of this I just kicked her in the shins. She said to the lady, "Excuse me just a minute", and kicked me right back. I never did that again. Child psychology! It worked!
We used to ride the bus to town. I would strike up a conversation with anybody. When I was 6 years old I had asked her how old she and Dad were and she told me, but not their real ages. So when we would get on the bus I would say to anyone who cared to listen, " My father is 19, my mother is 16, my brother is 14 and I'm 6". The people on the bus would look shocked but I never noticed. After a few times of that Mom said to me, "I have to tell you something, I'm not really 16", and she told me her real age. I just said, "Gosh, does Dad know you are that much older than he is?" "Well, I 'have something else to tell you". Then she told me his age. So that put an end to that.
When I was in 7th and 8th grade I ran around with a group of girls and boys and we used to have parties about once a month. We would take turns having the parties at each other's house. Whenever the party was held we kids would want the parents to disappear except when the party was at my house. All the kids wanted my mother to be at the party. She taught us how to do "Black Magic" and hypnotize someone. She was the best "subject". We would send her out of the room and decide among ourselves what we wanted her to do, like play the piano or whatever, and then call her back in and just "think" the command all together. She always acted like she was in a trance and she always did what we were thinking. I don't know how she did it. All the kids loved it and thought she was a nut (a great compliment). She used to get those little French bread baguettes and cut them in slices and put a little hamburger on them with a little piece of cheese on the top and put them in the broiler to cook. They were like little cheeseburgers open faced sandwiches. Also she took an old coal bucket, painted it black and put Pennsylvania Dutch type Decals on it and then she would fill it full of ice and bottles of Coke and sit it on the hearth in the living room so we kids could help ourselves to sodas. She could relate to anyone no matter what their age.
One story I always remember her telling me was about Gram and Gramps and the twenty dollar gold piece. Gram's birthday was October 27th and Gramps birthday was October 28th. One year he gave her a twenty dollar gold piece for her birthday and the next day she gave it back to him for his birthday. This started a tradition that went on for many years (with the same gold piece) until the United States government went off the gold standard and recalled all the gold back in. They turned that gold piece in with any other gold money that they had. My mom was upset about it. She told her mom that they could have kept that one piece for the sentiment that was attached to it and no one would have been the wiser or even have minded.
I'm so glad that Mom made sure that I spent time with all of my aunts and uncles. I had the most wonderful childhood. The Duffy family was always a positive influence on my life and throughout my life my mother was my best friend.
I hope that the younger generations of Duffy's will add their memories in writing to pass along to their children and that the written history of the Duffy family will go on for many generations to come.
Before I forget I would like to tell a little about the songs our parents sang to us when we were small. Dad couldn't carry a tune very well, so we learned when we grew up, but we loved his singing. With a baby or a young child on his lap and the others sitting around he would sing our favorite, "Forty-nine Blue Bottles" going from the 49th to none and then putting them all back verse by verse. This usually was done in the kitchen while Mom was preparing dinner. She must have cringed when the last bottle was on the wall and we begged, "Sing it again." When I realize she had to endure this song through the growing up of the seven children, what patience' Other songs Dad sang and were loved by all of us were "Blow the Man Down," "The Regular Army" and "Mulligan's Guards." There were others I'm sure that the years have erased in memory.
Mom would sit by our beds in the evening and sing gentle, tender songs of love and even sad songs. Some I remember were "After the Ball," "A Light in the Window," "The Ship That Never Returned," "Mistletoe Bough," "No Sir, No!," "Blue Juanita," the song that begins, "the fox set out in a hungry plight, and begged of the moon to give him light," (he was after his "din o") and many nursery songs, also stories and poems. Dad's stories were colorful and exciting, Mom's sweet, tender, and sentimental. Also sad ones like "Babes in the Woods."
Mom, being very creative, entered into the spirit when Grace and Ethel and Edna Black, a cousin from San Francisco, would put on shows in our home. Ethel wrote plays, Mom made costumes and I'm sure worked with them on little skits using some of the kids in town as well as all of us. The parents would come to see the play, and even more exciting the school teacher came. Mom would make cakes and lemonade to serve when the draw curtain closed on the performance.
She made dresses for us girls that were beautifully designed. She'd cut a pattern from a newspaper, listen to our ideas and desires, and when the dress was finished, she too, was proud. As Red would have said the dress had "class." When we put the dress on for the final trying she would say, "Go and show it to Dad." He would say it was beautiful, or lovely, and he liked it. Mom would add, "and it cost only------quote so much." "How much for your time?" he would inquire. "Oh I don''t count that," she would reply and he would come back with "you must count your time. That is the most important part." I'm sure that remark made the dress invaluable to us----no price tag could touch it.
Years pass by quickly but the children of Billy and Jennie Duffy seem to have inherited the vital youthful spirit of their parents. They have never let age interfere with interesting activities.
In the fall of 1962, Grace, Jean and I decided to paint in oils. We took lessons for a time with one art teacher, then moved to another and finally painted on our own. One day, early in 1967 Mr. Torrance who owns a fine art gallery in Marin, asked me if I would like to have an exhibit in his gallery. I was amazed as many long for such an opportunity. I flashed back, "How would you like to have an exhibit of the four Duffy sisters?" Before he could catch his breath I added "don't commit yourself. Wait until you see our work." We took over several paintings, he liked what he saw and became very excited. He gave us the longest exhibit given in the gallery and it was better attended than any other. After all the only four girls in the Duffy family, all ready to exhibit, isn't something you encounter every day. Add to that their ages at the time were 60, 73,78 and 82 which also puts it on the unusual side. Ethel had a few paintings she had done years before but while living in Mexico had developed a type of craft based on authentic ancient Mexican art she called "Golden Saucers."
Were the seven living children of Billy and Jennie Duffy influenced by the character traits of their parents or did they inherit some of these traits? What does it matter?
We know Dad, when he went to sea as an impressionable young man, and later when he worked with crews working on the railroad cross country, was exposed to rough, hardened men. Yet, we all knew him to be a man of strong moral code, mid Victorian in behavior, not one of us ever heard him swear. One day when he heard me say "gee whiz" he said "Alma, don't swear." When I told him it wasn't really swearing he said simply, "the way you said it, it; was." He never expected of anyone what he wouldn't do himself.
Mom might be described as a modest, gentle, lady, with high ideals by those who knew her but she was more than that. We knew her to be strong in her convictions of justice. Many times I heard her say about something she thought wrong in our government or social patterns, "Oh! If I were a man, I'd work and clean up and change conditions that are so wrong. I wish I were a man right now." And yet, we knew her to be so gentle, so understanding. I'm sure not one of us can remember being given an order as such, or an alternative. Dad and Mom must have guided, yet we didn't know it if we were. We lived together as a large happy family and we all liked each other, and loved and respected Mom and Dad.
It is impossible to sum up what it was that made Mom and Dad special. I think Juanita, Ethel's daughter, said it well when she came to me for incidents when she was writing about the Duffy family. She said, "It's easy to write about Gramps. He was such a warm, delightful character with a great tense of humor, twinkling blue eyes, a great story teller, and one who loved and was proud of his Irish heritage."
"But how can you write about Gram?" she asked. "She was perfection---and how does one write about perfection?)"
An after thought:
You have the Palmer--Barrett Genealogy, so you have complete lineage with Mom's side of the family. (Eugenia Amanda Palmer Duffy)
I shall add just a few notes so we may bring the Palmer and Duffy families together in California. My mother's father, Truman Dixon Palmer, was born January 28, 1823 in Franklin County, New York. He married Emma Calista Barrett, a young school teacher, who was born in Clark's Corner, Ashtabula County, Ohio. May 2, 1828.
In 1859 Truman Dixon Palmer and family came to California. They had two living children at this time, Amelia (Millie) age 12 years and Mary, 1 year old. They left Conneaut, Ashtabula Co. and went by boat down the river to St. Louis, Missouri. Here a caravan of covered wagons was formed and they headed West.
The Indians they met were quite friendly. When they helped in any way, my grandparents gave them bolts of red cloth they carried with them for that purpose. One Indian came over to their wagon and wanted the fair haired white baby (Aunt Mary). When he was refused he went on his way. Another one, drunk, came up and demanded "ski" (whiskey) from grandfather who was sitting in the driver's seat with his rifle across his knees. He touched the gun and said, "You get," and the Indian did.
It took 165 days to reach California from St. Louis. When crossing the Sierras they met Kit Carson who acted as scout and guide to the pioneers. Aunt Millie was so excited she exclaimed," Oh ! So this is Kit Carson."
The caravan stopped at Sutter's Fort In Sacramento, then on to San Francisco, and finally they settled in San Pablo, Contra Costa County. Mom was born in California.
Truman Dixon Palmer made bullets for the Union army in Civil War at a blacksmith forge in San Pablo. Also, he was Justice of the Peace for 10 years.
It is rather strange that both the Palmer and Duffy families came to California in the 1850's and settled just a few miles apart. Both were pioneers.
Mom told us children many times, "You are of good healthy, stock , good Pioneer stock."
This is your heritage!
The following are some of my recollections --- Jean (Duffy) Peters.
One of my earliest memories of Dad is in the house where I was born. On the kitchen wall was a large clock with a pendulum--the type that was used in the little country schools. I can still see Dad take out his watch and set the clock by turning the hour hand to the hours, one by one, until he came to the right time. He would always stop on each hour for the clock to strike.
When I was four years old we move we moved to the house below the one where I was born. It was a beautiful house on the main street, on the corner. The garden war beautiful too, and there was a huge Mulberry tree that was fine for climbing. I loved the berries too, when they were ripe. There was a faucet by the back porch that seem to drip all the time. There was a heliotrope bush there that smelled so sweet. The smell of heliotrope or the taste of mulberries can make me a little girl again. Along the east side of the house there were steps that went up over a stone wall, then a path that led up the hill to the house where I was born. Grace, Ray, Bill and Alma's friends used to congregate at the wall. It was known as Duffy's corner . On Sunday, lock up was at 3 o'clock so Dad would be home early. We had only two meals on Sunday----breakfast and an early dinner. After the dinner chores were over Mom would play the player piano, and Dad would it his Morris chair. I'd climb up on his lap and we'd both have a nap while Mom played.
When I was seven years old we moved inside the gates. We lived for eleven years in the ten room house that had formerly been a duplex but as we were such a big family, it was converted into a single duplex for us. I loved that house. It was a great house in which to play hide and go seek, both inside and out. I can still see Mom down on her knees, chasing Helen Gulde (now Marzetta) around the table growling at her like a bear. Helen used to come to the house to see me but if Mom wasn't busy she'd say, "Mrs. Duffy let's play Grandma Bear." She'd be scared to death as Mom chased her and tho I pretended I was too old for that kid stuff, I was scarred too.
On each side of the house, toward the back, were sheds. On the West side the shed was used for storage--coal, wood, garden tools, etc., and the shed on the east side was used by the cook when he wasn't busy in the house. Red, who was my friend and playmate, papered the shed inside with funny papers for me and he built me a table and chair and a darling dressing table. We'd play a game. I'd go into the shed, sit at the table and ring a little dinner bell. Red would come in with a big white apron wrapped around him and ask for my order. Whatever I would order would usually turn out to be bread and butter and milk. We'd have a great time. When Red was back in prison for the second time, I'd see him when I went up to the Sunday lockup. We'd greet each other (silently to be sure, but with great warmth). He'd mouth, "Hello Jeannie Wiennie Wiennie", and I'd mouth, "Hello Red", with a furtive wave. He was quite a character, but a good friend to me.
Lee was truly a Chinese Gentleman. His name was Lee Gow. Mom always insisted that he was innocent and it was finally proved he was. Alma says he was registered at a hotel in Stockton at the time of the Tong murder. I remember Mom telling me neither Lee or the man sent up with him had ever been in Stockton. Mom wanted Lee to go to work in the Wardens house because Warden Smith was a son-in-law of Friend Richardson, the Governor at that time. The governor would visit at the Warden's home often and after Lee went to work there he became interested in Lee's story. He had Lee paroled to the Governor's mansion in Sacramento and soon after Lee and the other Chinese man received pardons.
Ford (Eugene Henry Ford), was my best friend and favorite of all our cooks. He must have been with us about four years. In all those years I never saw him anything but cheerful, full of pep and eager to please. Where most cooks weren't looking for any extra work, Ford would say "Jeannie if you'll leave your shoes out tonight I'll shine then first thing in the morning. He'd also leave his mandolin with me on rainy nights for me to play. It was a waste though. I never could get any tunes out of it. Ford could though, also the cornet, as Alma has said. Ford was the only prisoner I can remember that wasn't in on a "bum beef". That meant they were really innocent, that somebody had "framed" them. Ford told me his story many times. Alma isn't entirely correct about the incident. Ford was a Porter on the trains running from Oakland to the East. One night, after getting in to Oakland, he was on his way to a party and stopped in a bar to have a drink. He got into an argument with a fellow and the man came after him with a knife. Ford picked up a chair and hit him over the head. The man died. Though it certainly was a case of self-defense Ford got thirty years. Could have been color, he was a fine person. I used to have him tell me the story to hear the punch line which was, "And, you know, Jeannie, I never did get to that party.
I must have been about eleven years old when he came to work for us. Bill Leathers came to live with us when he was so young he could barely walk. Ford and been with us for sometime. Bill was born in March 1917. I was eleven in April 1917.
Ford adored Bill. He made a little wagon and he'd pull him all around the garden and through the house, Bill was with us for, at least, two years and was like my little brother. There was a step from the dining room to the kitchen and Bill used to help himself get up and down the step by putting his hands on the dining room wall. One time, I guess his hands weren't too clean and there were two little hand prints on the wall. As long as Ford was there, no one was allowed to wash off those prints.
We lived just a few doors from the school. When Dad was at work and Mom would have to go to San Francisco for the day, I would have to take my lunch to school because they didn't want me to be alone in the house with prisoners around. One day, when I had taken my lunch, I had a hard boiled egg that I had boiled the night before. At lunchtime, when I cracked it to eat it, it was a fresh egg. I cupped my hands to hold it and ran home to Ford and showed him what happened. For years I thought Clint had played a joke on me but now I feel sure Ford did it. I can just imagine him laughing over my consternation.
When we'd have company for Sunday dinner (and this was almost every Sunday) our guests would wonder if our cooks would ever try to poison us. Dad, who loved to tease, would say it could be possible, we could never be sure they wouldn't. I could see Ford's black, black face grinning at me from the kitchen.
Ford went "out" on my fourteenth birthday. He was paroled to Oakland where he worked in a garage. After Dad retired and we were living in the house Clint and I were both born in, Mom and Dad received a post card that read, "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Duffy, I am at last free of your fair city." It was signed, "Eugene Henry Ford".
Mom and Dad bought the house where I was born after Dad retired from work. He didn't receive any pension but he had worked hard to get pensions for the guards for years. I think before Dad died that the guards were getting pensions when they retired after thirty years work for the state. Dad never received any though.
Sometimes when I'd come home from work, Dad would be sitting on the enclosed front porch. I'd say, "What are you doing, Dad?" He'd say, "I'm just sitting here meditating." He had a great life to meditate about.
Alma talked about the songs Dad used to sing. Here is one I remember very well. It goes...
Down in a coal mine, underneath the ground
Where the rays of sunshine never can be found
Digging dusty diamonds, all the season round
Down in a coal mine, underneath the ground.
Dad had no voice for singing but I thought he sang beautifully.
Mom was the San Quentin agent for all the San Francisco newspapers for over twenty five years. With a large family she needed all the money they could get. Dad insisted they save something each month even if it was only fifty cents. All my brothers delivered papers and when Clint was in high school, I got the job. As a matter of fact, I delivered about ten papers before I went to school. Mom would write the names on the papers but, as I couldn't read, she would stack them in the order that the houses were situated and I'd deliver them. After a while I was able to read the names by sight. When I was in-school, I delivered all outside the gates and, sometimes inside the gates too. I kicked all the time about having to deliver papers but now I realize I really enjoyed it. I didn't like going around to "collect" at the end of the month. When I was about twelve I got the job of janitor for one of the two room school. My friend, Grace (Sis) Monaghan had the other room. We got the job because our fathers were school trustees. The job paid $5.00 a month. We both hated the job. I used the money I earned to take music lessons and there was $30.00 left over. In my second year of high school I bought a suit with that money.
Each first of the month Mom would have to go to San Francisco to pay the newspapers. I'd go with her because she was hard of hearing. We'd make it a shopping day too. We used to leave San Quentin on the seven o'clock bus that the commuters took and we would arrive in San Francisco at five minutes to eight. Mom and I would walk up Market Street looking in the windows as we went, to pass the time until the stores opened. We loved the paintings in Sanborn & Vail (now Schwabacker Fry). We'd take a suitcase for our purchases and when we'd go home on the 5:15 we'd be laden down. At each of the newspapers, The Chronicle, Examiner, Call and the Bulletin, Mom was treated with great respect and friendliness. I was impressed by the attention she received at each place. She was a good business woman too.
I can remember my dad being paid in gold pieces. It was inside the gates so I was seven or older. I'd get up on Mom and Dad's bed and they would let me play with the gold pieces. There weren't many but they were very pretty.
Mom was an excellent seamstress. When she was twelve years old she made a confirmation dress for a girl and was paid for it. I had lots of pretty clothes and a new formal for almost every dance.
Dad used to say, "and I said Si". I used to wonder who Si was. I was grown up before I realized that what he said was, "And I said, said I".
It always used to shock me when he would tell about marrying this or that person. As I grew older I realized he was talking about performing the Marriage ceremony when he was Justice of the Peace.
Dad was a jolly, good-natured Irishman. His temper would flare up quickly but only lasted for a minute then he would be laughing again. Once when I was about sixteen he got worked up over something and I started to laugh. He turned to me and said, "What are you laughing at?" I said, "Because I know just how you feel" With that he was laughing with me.