Tag Archives: Irish

Thursday, August 3, 2017 – The Miller’s Tale

Thursday, August 3, 2017 – The Miller’s Tale

Dear Mr. Stephen Miller,

This is a photograph of my great grandfather and the origin of the Duffey line – J.W. Duffey. He was probably about 40 years old in the photograph.

According to the proposed immigration rules, he would not be allowed to enter the United States today. He was only 12 years of age when he and his two brothers and mother and father came to America in 1848. He had no skills and did not speak English. He was 12!

His family – aka MY family – came to America from Ireland – County Cork to be precise. It seems in 1848 there was this agricultural blight called The Potato Famine. Perhaps you have heard of it. There was literally no food and hundreds of thousands starved to death. The British government’s policy was “Let the Irish starve.”

I suppose the family decided not to go to the continent of Europe. Almost every country was embroiled in revolutions and rebellions of people trying to persecute and oppress groups of people they didn’t like and other groups called The Resistance. For example, that Otto von Bismark guy was strutting around scaring France and then he united a bunch of little states in what would become Germany. Troubled times. So the next option was America. People immigrated there because it offered FREEDOM. Perhaps you have heard of it too, Mr. Miller.

However, J.W. Duffey would become a blacksmith and serve in The War Between the States in such a capacity, achieving the rank of Sgt. He would receive an honorable discharge from the Confederate Army. He used those smithy skills to build the railroads of Alabama and Mississippi before settling in Louisiana where he ran a livery stable.  Just below his name on his headstone it reads “Born in Ireland.”

GGGrandfather would marry and raise several children, one of whom became my grandfather. Both of GGrandfather’s children, one of whom became my father graduated from high school, when only 8% of the entire US population did. My father would graduate from Miss Lynn’s Business College and become a bookkeeper.

 

Then came the rest of J. W. Duffey’s heirs four and five generations later. We all graduated from college – good ones too! We became doctors, lawyers, social workers, business owners, business leaders, accountants, teachers, mothers, fathers, civic leaders and a couple of the heirs even like horses and that blacksmith stuff.

Mr. Miller, I would hate to think what would have happened in 1848 if that12 year boy and his family were not allowed to come to America.

Enough about my family coming to America, Mr. Miller. How about your family? Please know I signed you up withAncestry.com. so you can determine how, when and why your family arrived in America. Miller? I betting the name is English as in white, male and protestant. Your ancestors probably said “Let the Irish starve.”

Statue of Liberty, 1986. Photo by me.

Sincerely yours,

The proud heir of an Irish immigrant.

PS – Mr. Miller if you wear a pink bow tie, you really will look like Pee Wee Herman.