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Duff, Asahel
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Duff, Asahel
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 619-620


Asahel Duff, a resident of Spring Creek township, is the owner of two hundred and forty acres of land, his farm being devoted to the production of cereals and fruit. His land is located on sections 1 and 12 and two hundred acres have been placed under cultivation. His time and energies are concentrated upon the further improvement and development of the place and he has come to be known as an enterprising agriculturist.

Mr. Duff was born in Detroit township, Pike county, February 10, 1846, and is a son of Asahel and Abigail (Milligan) Duff. Tradition says that the Duff family in America were descended from thirteen Irish brothers, all of whom were in revolt against King George and the English government when living in Ireland. The family name at that time was spelled McDuff. A price was set upon the heads of these brothers by the English crown and therefore they emigrated to America and changed their name to Duff. Before separating after they came to America they agreed to maintain the old Christian names commonly in use in the McDuff family, including John, James, Andrew, Philip, Joseph and Dennis. These names frequently appear among the relatives of this day. The brothers served in the cause of liberty during the Revolutionary war, doing their full share in winning the independence of the thirteen colonies. After the close of the Revolution they separated and settled in different states of the newly formed Union.

Philip Duff, grandfather of our subject, was a native of Kentucky and was a son of one of the original thirteen McDuff brothers who came to the new world. He married a Miss Duncan, and unto them were born eight children, five sons and three daughters, namely: Andrew D., Alfred, John, Hiram, Asahel, Ann, Jane and Lydia Duff. Of these Andrew D. and John served in the Mexican war. Andrew D. Duff was also distinguished in public life, serving for eighteen years as a circuit judge in a district which contained Jackson, Marion, Franklin, Williamson and Saline counties. Asahel Duff, father of our subject, was born in Kentucky and at an early age accompanied his parents on their removal from that state to Saline county, Illinois, where they lived for a short time and then removed to Franklin county, Illinois. Later Asahel Duff, Sr., came to Pike county, where for many years he carried on general agricultural pursuits. He married Miss Abigail Milligan, whose parents were natives of Milledgeville, Tennessee, in which state they were married. The mother's name in her maidenhood was Hicks. Following their marriage they removed to Illinois at an early day, Mrs. Duff being at that time a little maiden of about four years. In their family were two sons, while Mrs. Duff was the only daughter. Her father served as a soldier in the war of 1812 and in a muster of his company he was overcome by heat, which caused his death. The death of Asahel Duff, father of our subject, occurred in Newburg township, Pike county, in 1857, at the age of fifty-six years. His wife, who was born in 1808, also passed away in this county when seventy-seven years of age. In their family were nine children, of whom Asahel Duff, of this review, was the seventh in order of birth. The record is as follows: George B., Mary, Nancy, William C., Dennis, Elizabeth, Asahel, Hugh H. and Philip. The last named died in infancy and others now deceased are: George B., who died in 1861; Dennis in 1881; and Nancy in 1903. Dennis and William Duff served in the Union army throughout the Civil war, Dennis acting for four years as a member of Company E, Twenty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, while William was for three years a member of Company I, Ninety-ninth Illinois Regiment of Volunteers.

In taking up the personal history of our subject we present to our readers the life record of one who is widely and favorably known in Pike county. He was reared upon his father's farm in Newburg township and in the neighborhood acquired a good common-school education, pursuing his studies in one of the old-time log schoolhouses. On the 8th of October, 1874, he secured a companion and helpmate for life's journey by his marriage to Miss Ruth H. Sweat, and unto them have been born seven sons, as follows: Andrew D., Asahel C., Cicero A., Henry E., Harry C., Virgil A. and Homer V. Of this number Cicero died in infancy. Mrs. Duff is the daughter of John and Rachel Sweat. Her father was a native of Maine and came to Pike county in 1840. He was of Irish descent, while his wife, who was born in New Hampshire, was of English lineage. They were married in Scott county, Illinois, and soon afterward came to Pike county. In their family were nine children, namely: Evaline G., Clara V., Edwin T., James M., Ruth H., Mary E., Augustus J., Rosaline J. and Lestina V. Sweat. Of these Edwin T. and Mary E. are deceased.

Mr. Duff has always been independent in his political affiliation, regarding rather the capability of the candidate than his party connection. His life has been one of activity and since starting out in life on his own account he has made steady progress. His farm of two hundred and forty acres has been brought under a high state of cultivation, two hundred acres of the tract being now improved. He raises good crops of wheat, corn and hay and he also makes a specialty of raising cattle and hogs, having fine graded shorthorn cattle and Poland China hogs. Both branches of his business are proving profitable. He also raises fruit and take it all in all his farm is a well developed property, neat and thrifty in appearance and equipped with all modern improvements and accessories.

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Submitted: 07/02/09

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