Above is the earliest picture of the John Duffy family that we have, circa 1888. Standing in the back row, far left, is my maternal grandmother, Ellen (Nellie) Frances Duffy, 13 or 14 years old when this picture was taken. She is the 6th of 10 children born to John and Margaret McLaughlin Duffy.
Two children are missing from the picture. Their names were Lizzie and Rose. Had they lived to pose in the family group above, Lizzie would have been 16 years old and Rose would have been 10. But four years earlier, on May 3, 1884, they had died in a fire that destroyed the family home.
We have no pictures of Lizzie and Rose Duffy. I’ve never found their graves. My grandmother never spoke of them to me. I did not know they existed until Gladys Clover, a Duffy genealogist, located our branch of the family and sent information that included articles about the fire.
From newspaper reports of the fire, the family were making their way down the smoke-filled stairway when Lizzie turned back for the baby. The baby was Burt, the young boy pictured above. What 13-year-old Lizzie didn’t know was that her father had already carried Burt out. Her charred remains were found the next day. Lizzie’s death is described here.
Six-year-old Rose was in her mother’s arms and both were badly burned. Rose lived for 17 more days and died on May 20, 1884.
For a more complete report of the fire, see Duffy Family Fire.