Matthew Duffee

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Matthew Duffee (born Matthew Duhey December 25, 1803 at Sirham Frank, Dennihill Parrish, County Tipperary, Ireland; died April 1878) was the operator of the Washington Hall and Indian Queen Hotel in Tuscaloosa and Duffee House at Blount Springs.

Duffee's family, headed by his father, John, and mother, the former Elan Kennedy, emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, arriving February 4, 1822. They Americanized their name from Duhey to Duffee aboard the ship. Duffee proceeded to settle in Tuscaloosa in 1823 and ran a small inn before purchasing Washington Hall in 1839. He married Martha Gillespy, the daughter of Irish immigrants who had settled in Tennessee, in 1832. They had four children: William H., George Gillespie, Margaret Kerr Gillespie, and Mary Gordon.

In the 1850s, Duffee purchased the former Goffe House in Blount Springs, renaming it "Duffee House". He and his family made an annual trip to take up residence there in the summers, where in addition to running his hotel and parlor, he raised flowers and food crops. Shortly before the Civil War he and his family took up permanent residence at the Springs and he purchased the adjacent ridge, called Duffee's Mountain for a home site.

The war ruined Duffee's business and forced the family to live on the generosity of neighbors. He died in 1878 and is buried in a family graveyard near their cottage. His widow and youngest daughter, Mary Gordon, remained there for the rest of their lives and are buried with him.


  • The Southern Immigrant (April 4, 1878)
  • "A Poet Plunderer: Mary Gordon Duffee's Theft from the Confederate Government" (June 24, 1889) The New York Times
  • Owen, Marie Bankhead (1949) The Story of Alabama: A History of the State. 5 volumes. New York, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Sulzby, James Frederick (1960) Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press ISBN 0817353097