Martin Duffy, Sr., is one of the venerable citizens of DeKalb county and receives the respect which should always be accorded to one who has advanced far on life’s journey. His business interests have been carefully managed, and he is today the owner of four hundred and fifty acres of valuable farming land in Clinton and Shabbona townships, from which he derives a good income that supplies him with all the comforts and some of the luxuries of life. He was born in Kings county, Ireland, October 10, 1826, and his parents were Patrick and Ellen Duffy, who were also natives of that country, where they spent their entire lives, the father passing away at the age of sixty-five years and the mother when fifty years of age.
Martin Duffy of this review acquired his education in his native country. In 1850, when in his twenty-fourth year, he bade adieu to friends and family and sailed for the United States. He had heard favorable reports concerning the business opportunities offered in this land and hoped to improve his financial condition by this change of residence. He realized, too, that unfaltering labor is the basis of all success. He first went to work on a farm in Columbia county, New York, and for five years was the employee of one man.
In 1852 Mr. Duffy was united in marriage to Miss Bridget Dugan, who was born in the state of New York, March 16, 1832. Her parents were natives of Ireland, and came to the new world in early life, settling in New York, where the father died at the age of fifty-four years. The mother afterward came west with her daughter, Mrs. Duffy, and reached the venerable age of eighty-four years ere she was called to the world beyond.
The year 1855 witnessed the arrival of Mr. Duffy in Illinois, at which time he located at Serena, La Salle County, where for seven years he rented a farm on shares. They lived carefully, economically and frugally, and in 1865 Mr. Duffy was enabled to purchase eighty acres of land in Shabbona township, DeKalb county. He removed to this farm and has since made it his home. As the time has passed, however, he has extended the boundaries of his property, until he now owns four hundred and fifty acres of land, lying partly in Clinton and partly in Shabbona townships. He also assisted his living children to obtain good farms.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Duffy were born fourteen children: William, born May 2, 1854; John, born May 29, 1855; Ellen, born October 6, 1856, now deceased; Catherine, born February 10, 1858; Patrick, born March 28, 1859; Hugh, born October 4, 1861; Lawrence, born April 4, 1864; Martin, born April 1, 1866; Ann, born February 15, 1868; Margaret, born June 21, 1869; James, born February 14, 1871; and three who died in infancy. They also have forty-five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In politics, Mr. Duffy is a stalwart Democrat and has always voted that ticket. He was school director of this district for twelve years, but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking though he has always kept well informed on questions of the day. When he crossed the Atlantic to the new world he was practically empty-handed. He and his wife are now living a retired life on the old family homestead, on section 13, Shabbona township; and their income through their property interests is sufficient to supply them with all the comforts of life. They certainly deserve much credit for what they have accomplished and their life record proves what may be obtained by diligence, economy and energy. They are now well advanced in years and are honored and respected by all who know them; are a credit to their name and have ever been worthy citizens of the community.
Source: Gross, Prof. Lewis M., Past and Present of DeKalb County, Illinois, Volume II, Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1907