John & Margaret Duffy


John Duffy was born in Ireland.  The exact place, day and year of his birth are unknown. At the time of the 1850 census John's age was listed as 36 which would have made his birth sometime around 1814.  However, his tombstone listed his age at the time of his death in 1876 as 72 years old.  This would have made his birth around the year 1804.  The names of his parents are not known.

It is also not known exactly when John Duffy arrived in the United States.  It is known that he purchased 80 acres of farmland in Monroe County, Illinois from the U. S. Government for $1.25/acre on May 31, 1841.  The land he purchased is in Section 22, Township 3 South, Range 10 West, which is just outside the small community of Madonnaville and several miles southwest of Waterloo, the county seat.  The area is also known as New Design Precinct.

John Duffy married Margaret McCauly on Feb. 9, 1848.  The marriage record is recorded in the record books of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Hecker, Ill. In St. Clair County.  However, since the marriage license was issued by Monroe County, the marriage probably took place in Madonnaville since the priests were visiting Madonnaville on a circuit prior to the construction of the permanent church in 1857.  The marriage produced at least six children.  The second oldest girl was Margaret Duffy Kipping.

Margaret McCauly was born Feb. 9, 1828 in County Galway, Ireland in the Parish of Bullaum/Grange. She was baptized three days later on Feb. 12th.  Her father was John McAuley, her mother, Mary Cummins.  (Note: When the family first arrived in the U.S. they changed their surname from McAuley to McCauly, later the spelling was changed to McCauley.)

It is not known exactly when Margaret arrived with her family in the United States.  However, in the 1850 census, Margaret's younger sister, Mary, who was 14 at the time and still living at home, was listed as having been born in Maryland.  Margaret's cousin, Michael, who was living next to his aunt and uncle, was listed as 15 years old and having been born in New York.  Therefore it is probable the McCauly family arrived on the East Coast sometime in the mid 1830's.  Margaret's father purchased 320 acres of land from the U.S. Government in Monroe County on Aug. 24, 1839.

Also at the time of the 1850 census there was a Thomas Duffy, age 60, living with John and his family.  In the census column for occupation, Thomas's occupation was listed as "none."  It is possible, although there is no proof at this time, that Thomas was John's father. This listing in the 1850 census is the only record for Thomas Duffy that has been found to date.  It is not known when or where he died.

John Duffy apparently never did learn how to write as a copy of a note he signed just months before his death reveals that he signed the document with an X.  It is also apparent that John had money problems throughout his life.

The local newspaper published in Waterloo reveals that practically every year during the 1850's and 1860's John Duffy was listed as being delinquent in the payment of his real estate taxes.  John Duffy died on Dec. 12 1876.  He is buried in the cemetery at Madonnaville.  At the time of his death he had a number of outstanding debts, some of which were past due.  After his death court papers reveal that his widow stated that the debts exceeded the value of the estate.

After John's death his widow, Margaret, was appointed Executrix of the estate.  On March 22, 1877, she filed what was known as a Widow's relinquishment and selection document whereby she relinquished her claim to $1100.00 worth of estate property to pay estate debts and asked to retain ownership of various items she valued at $2042.40.  Apparently the debts were not paid and towards the end of 1883, Margaret asked the court to allow her to sell two parcels of land to generate funds to pay off the remaining debt.

Margaret's children and grandchildren opposed the proposed sale of land to pay off the debts.  In their opposition in court the children and grandchildren claimed that:

            -a proper inventory of the real and personal property of the estate was never filed

            -a correct appraisal of the assets was never filed with the court

            -a correct account of the true debts was never filed with the court

            -the value of the estate assets was more than $3779.00 as claimed by Margaret

            -at the time of his death John was the owner of a large amount of personal

            which was not included in the inventory of the estate and large credits were owed

            him in excess of $1000 and were not included as part of his assets

            -Margaret kept assets for herself which would have brought more than $1800 if

            publicly sold

            -Margaret kept for herself all income from the rent she received form the estates

            land which had been rented out

            -Margaret paid off at least $2000 of her personal debts from the profits earned  

            from the estate

            -there were sufficient funds from the estate to pay off all debts without selling the

            land owned by the estate

Apparently the judge agreed with Margaret concerning the dispute.  A notice was filed in the local newspaper stating that two parcels of land, a 55 acre parcel and an 80 acre parcel, were to be sold at auction on June 21, 1884 to the highest bidder to pay the estate's debts.

The record at this point is confusing.  The 55 acre parcel was apparently sold in 1884; but for some unexplained reason not the 80 acre parcel.  On July 30, 1891, another notice was filed in the newspaper stating that the 80 acre parcel was again to be auctioned off on Aug. 27, 1891, to pay debts as previously ordered by the court in December 1883.  Apparently this sale did take place and presumable the estate's debts were finally paid off nearly 15 years after John Duffy's death.  It is not known what effect this family dispute had on the relation ship between Margaret and her children and grandchildren.

Margaret died of influenza on May 15, 1898 in New Design Precinct near Burksville, Illinois.  She is buried in the cemetery in Madonnaville, Illinois. However, cemetery records indicate that no tombstone was placed on her grave site.  It is not known if the lack of a tombstone was the result of family financial difficulties or if it was related to continuing family strife due to Margaret's handling of her late husband's estate and the subsequent sale of the family farm to pay off debts.

Click the below links to view more data about this family.

John Duffy Tombstone    Margaret's birth record, Galway, Ireland

John Duffy Land Purchase Paper        Land Paper Two     John Duffy Marriage

John & Margaret St. Augustine Church Marriage Record

Court Record filed after John's Death           John Duffy's Will    

The following links all pertain to the Probate and distribution of John Duffy's properties.

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Submitted by Gene Block: Note Anyone related to these families is welcome to contact me at