Tombstone Tuesday–James M. & Emma Duff

James M. & Emma Duff, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2013 photo by Karen)

James M. & Emma Duff, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2013 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of James M. and Emma Duff, located in Kessler Cemetery, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:



James M.

James Madison Duff was born 5 March 1856 near Columbus, Ohio, to William and Eliza (Lazaliet) Duff.  He married Emma Mason 25 January 1879. Emma was born 10 January 1857 to John and Louise (Barkmen) Mason.

James and Emma moved to Chattanooga about 1922 and operated a cream station in the town. James died in Chattanooga on 12 March 1935 of peritonitis from a perforated intestinal ulcer. His widow Emma died of pneumonia on 7 Feb 1946 in her son Jacob’s home in Chattanooga.

James and Emma had the following children:

Oley (1879-?)
Jacob William (1882-1948)
Finley Cleveland (1884-1969)
James “Ray” (1886-1962)
Earl (1888-?)
Mabel Fern (1891-bef 1935)
Ross  F (1894-1963)
Bessie (1903-bef 1920)

Their son Jacob William Duff was the subject of last week’s Tombstone Tuesday post.

James’ obituary:


James Duff, 79, highly respected citizen of Chattanooga, died Tuesday morning at 3 o’clock at his home in that place. He took seriously ill on Sunday. A post mortem which was held by Dr. Dailey Jones was necessary to determine the cause of his death and it was found that a hole in the large intestine which had developed into peritonitis was responsible for his sudden passing away.

Mr. Duff had operated a cream station for six years in Chattanooga and before that lived on his farm in Jefferson township.

He is survived by his wife and six sons: Ollie and Earl in Florida; Finn and Ross of Buckley, Mich.; Roy of Jefferson township, and Jacob of Chattanooga. Two daughters preceded him in death, Mrs. Mable Landfair and Miss Bessie Duff.

Funeral services Thursday morning at 10:30 o’clock at the MP Church in Chattanooga. Burial in Kessler cemetery. SS Egger, undertaker. [1]

A week later The Willshire Herald printed a biographical sketch of James Duff. What a great find for a family history researcher.


James M. Duff, son of William and Eliza Lazaliet Duff was born near Columbus, Ohio, March 5, 1856, and departed this life March 12, 1935, at the ripe old age of 79 years.

While still a young man he came to Jay county, Ind., on the 25th of January, 1879. He was united in marriage to Emma Mason. To this union was born six sons and two daughters, Oley of Titusville, Fla., Jacob of Chattanooga, Finley of Buckley, Mich., Ray of Geneva, Ind., Earl of Minns, Fla., Mabel, deceased, Ross of Buckley, Mich., and Bessie, deceased.

In the year 1891 the family moved from Jay county to Adams county, Ind., where they resided until 1922. Since then he has resided in Chattanooga, O.

At the age of 18 he was converted and became a member of the Macklin Methodist Protestant church. After moving to Adams county he changed his membership to the Mount Carmel Evangelical church. In 1907, realizing the need of a church in Chattanooga, he helped to organize a Sunday school in a vacant room and later on helped to organize and build the present Methodist Protestant church of which he was a charter member and remained a consistent and faithful member until his departure. Almost his last public testimony was that he was striving to lay up his treasures in heaven.

He leaves to mourn his departure, his sorrowing wife, six sons, 33 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren, two brothers, Frank, of Texas and William, of Hartford City, Ind., and three sisters, May Bolinger, Allie Smith and Maud Baucher, all of Hartford City, Ind. His father and mother, three brothers, one sister and two daughters preceded him in death. He was of a jovial and cheerful disposition and will be greatly missed by his church, neighbors and friends as well as the relatives. [2]

James Duff obituary. [3]

James Duff obituary, 1946. [3]

After James’ death Emma went to live with her son Jacob Duff in Chattanooga. [4]


Funeral services were held Sunday for Mrs. Emma Duff, 90, widow of the late James Duff, who died at the home of a son, Jacob Duff, in Chattanooga. She had resided with her son since the death of her husband 11 years ago.

Surviving are six sons, as follows: Oley W. Duff, Indian River City, Florida; Earl Duff, Minns, Florida; Finlay and Ross Duff, both of Buckley, Michigan; Ray Duff, Geneva, Ind., and Jacob Duff, Chattanooga. Two daughters preceded in death. [5]

Emma Duff obituary, 1946.

Emma Duff obituary, 1946. [6]

[1] The Willshire Herald, 14 Mar 1935, p. 1.

[2] The Willshire Herald, 21 March 1935, p. 6.

[3] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Oct 2013), James Madison Duff, 11 Mar 1935; citing Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, reference fn 18828; FHL microfilm 2022485.

[4] 1940 U.S. Census, Chattanooga, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 54-22, family 291, line 72, sheet 14B, Jacob W. Duff; digital image by subscription, ( : accessed 20 Oct 2013); NARA digital publication of T627, roll 3114.

[5] The Willshire Herald, 14 February 1946, p. 1.

[6] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 October 2013), Emma Duff, 07 Feb 1946; citing, reference Certificate; FHL microfilm 2372652.





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    • Sue Allen on October 29, 2013 at 10:27 am
    • Reply

    What is a “cream station”?

  1. Before our days of mass mobility, plentiful power and refrigeration, and easy access to commercial food, farmers often separated the cream from the milk. There were several ways to do so including a “separator” which was a rather large and cumbersome centrifuge type device that took considerable cleaning and assembly with every use. The cream could be sold for use in butter, ice cream, cheese, etc. By separating the cream it was a much smaller, richer commodity with better storing and handling convenience than whole milk, thus increasing its value and utility to the farmer and “collector.” Like eggs and other farm goods heavily in demand in the cities, the cream needed to be collected or pooled into loads to be delivered to the factories where it would be transformed into products. In those days this made jobs for drivers to pickup and deliver the milk or cream as well as local collection points (stations). Stations that had trucks, cooling, storage tanks, and other advantages that most farms did not have. With bigger, faster trucks, mobile refrigeration, and other advances, the need for so many small, local collection stations rapidly diminished.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the info!

    • Waldo on October 31, 2013 at 8:43 am
    • Reply

    What was the name of the ice cream place in Willshire on main street? I believe it was run by Mary Stetler. Perhaps we referred to it as Mary’s Ice Cream? It was a very wonderful place. Cones were a nickel for little kids and dime for adults.

    I remember my folks separating the cream from our milk and selling it to Mary for her ice cream. After milking the cows, the milk was run through the large, gleaming silver centrifuge with its multiple outflows (cream, whey, etc.). Then the cream was capped into a small, metal can or bucket (looked like a big can, but was really a 2 gallon or so bucket with a metal lid, somewhat like, but still different from, the metal milk cans (10 gal). of the day in which whole milk from the cows was chilled and shipped to the factory.

    Mary put up a new building a few years before she sold the place. It still stands there in Willshire on the corner across from the old Dellinger Hardware and the Jones Garage (names that probably no longer mean anything to anyone). Last time I was in Willshire, the place had changed from Painter’s resturaunt to a knick-knack or antique shop. Since Mary left it has been an empty building much of the time and these short term attempts at new businesses have only been brief experiences (couple of years sometimes).

    Wow! Did Mary make a wicked hot fudge sunday!

    • Ronald R. Duff on February 1, 2014 at 8:02 pm
    • Reply

    Great post! James was my great great grandfather. Thanks for posting.

    1. You are welcome! Interesting family.

      • Paulette Duff Carpenter on September 26, 2015 at 8:22 pm
      • Reply

      Ronald, James was my great grandfather as well. I am Paulette, daughter of Paul Duff, son of Jacob Duff, son of James Madison Duff.

      1. Great! I hope you found the information interesting and helpful.

    • Marcus Duff on May 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm
    • Reply

    Great Info, Karen. I’m Marcus Duff. Son of Jerry Duff (and Linda), then Eugene, then Jacob and of course James. I’m going from memory back from there, so don’t want to post anything in error, but Paulette has it tracked backed to the mid-1700s.

    My wife (Mindy) have 4 children, won’t name them here, but 1 son and 3 daughters. My parents decorate the graves in Willshire and a few other places each year on Memorial Day. Including this past weekend when they took my two oldest kids.

    1. I know your parents and saw your dad last year at Willshire’s Memorial Day Parade. Good to get the children interested in family history. Thanks for writing!

    • Kimberly S Smith on November 3, 2022 at 7:16 pm
    • Reply

    James was my Gr Great Grandfather- My Great Grandfather Finley lived in Buckley Michigan. Thank you for the information.

    1. You are welcome! Thank you for writing.

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