Peter Joseph Dufe




Peter Joseph Dufe

Peter Joseph Dufe was born 18 Mar 1784 in Nievern, Nassau, Germany, and died 26 Jul 1846 in Matagorda Bay, Matagorda, Texas.  His first wife was Anna Grisar who he married 12 Jan 1812 in Nievern.  By his first wife, he had one son, Peter, our progenitor.  However, Anna died 30 Oct 1820 in Nievern.  Peter Joseph married second Maria Anna Hehn Huffe, a widow with one daughter, Anna, on 28 Jan 1821 in Fachbach, another small village near Nievern.  She was the daughter of Peter and Elisabetha Hehn and was born 22 Oct 1797.  She died in 1852 in Matagorda, Texas.

In the early 1830s, Friedrich Diercks, known in Texas under his alias, Johann Friedrich Ernst, immigrated to the United States intending to settle in Missouri, but in New Orleans he learned that large land grants were available to Europeans in Stephen F. Austin's colony in Texas. In 1831, Ernst applied for and received a grant of more than 4,000 acres that lay in the northwest corner of what is now Austin County. Ernst wrote lengthy letters to friends in Germany and some of these "America letters" appeared in a newspaper and also in an emigrant guidebook.  He described a land with a winterless climate like that of Sicily. It had abundant game and fish, was fertile and rich, and only needed German labor to make it produce abundantly. Texas was an earthly paradise. Like other writers of America letters, Ernst stressed the positive aspects of the new land and downplayed or omitted the negative.

This publicity attracted a group of petty noblemen who envisioned a project to colonize German peasants in Texas. The nobles hoped the project would bring them wealth, power, and prestige. It could also, they thought, alleviate overpopulation in rural Germany. Their organization, called the Adelsverein, or the German Emigration Company, began work in the early 1840s. They chose Texas as the site for their colony, in part, because of the favorable publicity surrounding the Ernst-inspired migration and perhaps because Texas was an independent republic where the princes might exercise some political control. 

The Adelsverein's first land purchase for settlement purposes was rights to the Fisher-Miller grant, more than 3 million acres of land on the southern banks of the Colorado River between the Llano and San Saba rivers about 100 miles west of Austin. However, when the Adelsverein bought the rights to the Fisher-Miller grant in 1844, they did not know that almost half the tract was unsuitable for farming, because the San Saba mountain ridge runs through it, or that it was occupied by Indians who might resist white settlers' building cabins and planting crops on their hunting grounds.

The Adelsverein also purchased land on Matagorda Bay in 1843 to use as a staging area for gathering supplies in preparation for the journey inland to their permanent new homes. This land, originally named Indian Point, eventually became the port of Indianola. The first immigrants arrived at Indian Point in November and December of 1844. They found that although there was a warehouse for supplies and equipment, there was no housing or means to transport them to their new homes.  Through 1845, the would-be settlers waited on the Gulf Coast in tents and hastily assembled wooden sheds.  The winter of 1845 was rainy and cold, perfect conditions for rampant disease. About 1,000 would-be settlers died during the wait, and hundreds more succumbed on the trip to their new home. Scurvy, caused by a lack of Vitamin C, was blamed by some reports. But there are additional references to fever, which is not a symptom of scurvy, and a mention of cholera. Possibly the epidemic was a combination of several diseases.

On 28 Oct 1845, Peter Duffy, Sr. signed a contract with the German Immigration Co to come to Texas and settle on the Fisher-Miller grant.  According to the terms of the contract, he was to receive 320 acres of land.  On 31 Oct 1845 he and his family sailed from Antwerp, then part of Germany, on the ship "Harriett" and arrived at Galveston 22 Dec 1845, a trip of nearly two months.  The Harriett's passenger list shows: Peter Duffy, married, from Fachbach, Germany; nine persons. 

From Galveston they were to sail down the Gulf of Mexico, on a gulf schooner, to Pass Cavala then up Matagorda Bay to Indian Point.  They set sail on this last leg of their journey in July of 1846.  They didn't make it.  On the 26th of July, when the schooner was in the Gulf of Mexico opposite Matagorda, Texas, they were caught in a storm and the schooner was wrecked. 

After the survivors assembled on the beach, it was discovered that Peter Duffy, Sr. and one of the children, the youngest, Anna Maria, had drowned.  To add to their hardships, they lost everything they owned.  All of their furniture, clothing and stores had gone down with the ship.  They were stranded in Matagorda without the means or supplies to make it to the land grant.

A story told by Christine Duffy was that before her father, Peter Duffy, Sr., left Germany he changed what money he had into Spanish Gold and carried it with him in a small box.  When the schooner was wrecked, he got all of his family off safely and then returned to the ship to get his small box of gold.  While trying to get off the ship again he fell overboard and was never seen again.  It is said that the Duffy children spent a great deal of time over the years searching in the Gulf for the gold but never found it. 

Sometime after 1846, the heirs of Peter Duffy, Sr. applied to the State of Texas to try to recover the land in the Fisher-Miller land grant.  In 1851, the State of Texas issued them certificate No. 208 which granted them 640 acres of land anywhere in the State of Texas that there was vacant public land because, by that time, all of the land in the Fisher-Miller grant had already been allotted.  In 1857, they had 640 acres surveyed, tract 171, in Tom Green County on the Concho River.  None of the Duffy family ever lived on their land grant.  In 1872, they sold their land to George Schrieder for 500 dollars. 

In 1848, Maria Anna Duffy bought part of a lot in Matagorda, Texas and in 1852, her son, Andrew, bought the other part of the lot.  In 1853, her heirs sold the lot to Rodolphus Sterling.  In 1858, Christine Duffy married Rodolphus Sterling and when Rodolphus was killed at Arkansas Point, 10 January 1863 during the Civil War, she inherited the original homestead.  The sale of the family home by her heirs indicates that Maria Anna Duffy died between 1850 and 1853.

Child of Peter Dufe and Anna Grisar was:

1.  Peter Duffy was born 10 Sep 1815 in Nievern, Nassau, Germany, and died 13 Oct 1883 in Matagorda, Texas.  He married Anna Catherine in Germany.  She was born 07 May 1819 in Nassau, and died 07 Feb 1887 in Matagorda, Texas.  He is the subject of the next generation.

Children of Peter Dufe and Maria Hehn were:

1.  Peter Joseph Duffy, born 27 Oct 1821 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and died 05 Nov 1821 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany.

2.  Johann Peter Joseph Duffy was born 23 Jun 1823 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germanyand died 01 Aug 1830 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany.  According to the church records, he drowned in the Lahn River. 

3.  Katharina Duffy was born 28 Feb 1826 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and died the next day on 01 Mar 1826.

4.  Gertrude Duffy was born 01 May 1829 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany, and died 24 Apr 1893 in Matagorda, Texas.  She married Samuel Raymond on 10 Jul 1851 in Matagorda.  He was born in England in 1826.  They raised six children: Jesse Gordon, Annie, Samuel, George, Elizabeth and Harriet Virginia.

5.  Andrew Duffy was born 15 Jan 1830 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and died sometime after 1860 when he joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  The 1850 census of Matagorda shows his occupation as boatman.

6.  Johann George Duffy was born 14 Nov 1832 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and died sometime 1850 - 1853.  The 1850 census of Matagorda shows him working as a cooper (barrel maker) and living with his mother in Matagorda.

7.  Jakob Duffy was born 18 Feb 1835 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany died three days later on 21 Feb 1835.

8.  Simon August Duffy was born 24 May 1836 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany.  He married Eposepe Green 14 Oct 1870 in Calhoun, Texas.  She was born 28 Jul 1849 in Jackson, Texas, and died 15 Dec 1923 in El Campo, Wharton County, Texas.  August Duffy served in the Confederate Coast Guard during the Civil war.  He mustered into Company D of the 6th Texas Infantry (the Matagorda Coast Guard) on 04 October 1861.  He died 23 December 1899 in Matagorda Texas.  August and Eposepe raised a large family of sons and daughters:  George Andrew, Jessie, August, Mary Louisa, Margaret Irene, Andrew, John Edwin, Christine, Peter, Henry, Dora and Charles.

9.  Christina Duffy was born 21 Feb 1839 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and died 26 Aug 1839 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany.

10. Christine Caroline Duffy was born 19 Feb 1841 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany, and died 22 Jul 1925 in Port Lavaca, Texas.  She married three times.  Her first husband was Rodolphus Dickerson Sterling whom she married 01 May 1858 in Matagorda, Texas.  He was born 14 Apr 1834 in New York and died in the Confederate service on 10 Jan 1863 in Arkansas Point, Arkansas. Christine then married Jacob L Hastrich on 07 Jul 1863 in Matagorda.  He died 12 Jan 1866.  Her third husband was Charles Smith.  They were married 09 Jan 1869 in Matagorda.  He was born 02 Mar 1841 in England, and died 09 Aug 1916 in Port Lavaca,Texas.  Christine had twelve children.  By Rodolphus Sterling she had Rodolphus Dickerson Sterling, Ida Sterling and William Augustus Sterling.  By Jacob Hastrich she had Charles Lenard and Jacob L. Hastich.  And, by Charles Smith she had Nancy Jane, Catherine May, Wilburn Harry, Julia Magdaline, George, Eugene and Walter James Smith.

11. Anna Maria Duffy was born 17 Jan 1844 in Fachbach, Nassau, Germany and drowned in the same storm as her father on 26 Jul 1846 in Matagorda Bay, Texas.


Nicholaus von Beckenbach (1705 - ca 1750)

Johann Christian Beckenbach (1739 - ca 1790)

Johann George Beckenbach (1772 - 1834)

Johann Jacob Beckenbach (1797 - ca 1850)

Peter Beckenbach (1836 - 1878)

Charlie Geiger Beckenbach (1869 - 1932)

Edwin Ford Beckenbach (1906 - 1982)


John Simons (1715 - 1780)

Shadrach Simons (1758 - 1801)

John Joseph Simons (1793 - ca 1858)

Henry James Simons (1818 - ca 1870)

John James Simons (1842 - 1969)

James Elmo Simons (1870 - 1935)

Madelene Shelby Simons (1913 - 1985)


Heinrich Dufe (ca 1760 - ca 1810)

Peter Joseph Dufe (1784 - 1846)

Peter Duffy (1815 - 1883)

Peter J Duffy (1851 - 1924)

Annie Elizabeth Duffy (1877 - 1935)


William Peake (ca 1800 - ca 1832)

Joseph Peake (1826 - 1876)

Lucy Charlotte Peake (1851 - 1883)


James Bradley (1720 - 1788)

Francis Bradley (1743 - 1780)

James Alexander Bradley (1768 - 1839)

Margaret Weir Bradley (1813 - ca 1880)


Shelby Phillip (ca 1650 - 1731)

Evan Shelby (ca 1690 - 1751)

Moses Shelby (1728 - 1776)

Evan Shelby (1748 - 1825)

Moses Shelby (1784 - 1826)

James Madison Shelby (1814 - 1889)

Jane Eliza Shelby (1846 - 1902)


Michael Vogg (ca 1800 - ca 1845)

John Frederick Vogg (1824 - 1901)

Margaret Vogg (1856 - 1878)


Alexander Coachman (ca 1640 - 1671)

Tilney Coachman (ca 1660 - 1716)

John Coachman (1700 - 1750)

James Coachman (1732 - 1789)

Joseph Coachman (1761 - 1814)

Mary Lynch Coachman (1792 - ca 1857)


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