by Bucky Schriver
for The Frostburg Express
Duffy Family's Roots Forever Planted In The Georges Creek Coal Fields
Michael Duffy was born in 1845 in County Mayo, Ireland. He emigrated to the United States, where he served at Fort McHenry, MD, from 1868 until 1871. His wife, Mary Ann (Murphy) Duffy, was a native of Mount Savage, MD. Her parents, James and Catherine Murphy, emigrated from Ireland and are buried in St. Michael's Cemetery, in Frostburg.
Michael and Mary Duffy made their home in Pekin, and Michael found employment in the Georges Creek coal mines.
The Pattend Mine (later known at the Paton, or Patton Mine) was one of the oldest and most productive mines in the Georges Creek region. Dating back the the early 1850s, the mine was one of several that stood at the end of the west branch of the Georges Creek and Cumberland Railroad.
The Georges Creek and Cumberland Railroad extended to the Beechwood section of Lonaconing, where a large trestle carried the line southwestward across Douglas Avenue, along the hillside behind the present location of Westmar Middle School, to the New Detmold and Pattend Mines, near today's Seldom Seen Road. On September 1st, 1890, just twelve days after celebrating his 13th birthday, Michael and Mary Ann Duffy's son James was killed by a roof collapse at the Pattend Mine. James was working with his brother Tom and a Mr. Fitzpatrick when the accident happened. His funeral was held at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Barton. On September 4th, young James Duffy's broken body was laid to rest in the church cemetery on Mill Run Road in Barton.
In October of 1890, one month after the death of James, Mary Duffy gave birth to a baby boy, whom they named James Joseph, in memory of their departed son.
Seven years later, on December 5th, 1897, Michael Duffy also succumbed to the perils of underground mining, when he died of "miner's asthma." Michael Duffy was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery, in Frostburg.
In the 1910 census, Mary Duffy and her two children, James and Regina, were listed as living in Lonaconing with Mary's daughter and son-in-law, Mary and John Brennan. Mary Duffy was obviously struggling to support herself and her children following the death of her husband. On February 26th, 1913, Mary Duffy's daughter, Catherine, died prematurely at the age of 31. Catherine was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery with her father. Mary Duffy understood both hardship and heartache.
In 1920, Mary's son, James Joseph Duffy, was living in Cleveland and working as a machine operator in a glass factory. Other family members, including his mother, gradually migrated to the Cleveland area. There are 88 Duffys interred in Calvary Cemetery, including Mary Duffy and her children, James Joseph, Regina, and Helen "Nellie" Rowan.
On April 8th, 1888, two years prior to the tragic death of their 13- year-old son James, Michael and Mary Duffy's daughter, Anna Elizabeth was born. Anna was baptized two weeks later, on April 22nd, at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, in Barton. The Duffy's were devoted Catholics. Anna went on to become a nun, and adopted the name Mary Isabel. In her mother's obituary in 1927, Mary Isabel was listed as being a Superior of The Blessed Sacrament School in Fort Mitchell, KY. When her sister Helen died, in 1952, Mary Isabel was serving at the Villa Madonna Academy, in Covington, KY.
Fate carried members of the Duffy family to many distant places from their home in Pekin, but their roots will be forever planted in the Georges Creek coal fields of Western Maryland.The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of state route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our Georges Creek Valley miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF,
P.O. Box 765,
Frostburg, MD 21532.
Contact Polla Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bucky Schriver at email@example.com if you have a story of your own to tell. Look for more “Miner Recollections” in the coming weeks.