Southern Illinois History Page

Gov. Reynolds' notes on Duff, the counterfeiter

Pioneer History of Illinois

    [In late June 1778, George Rogers Clark and his men] descended the [Ohio] river to the old Cherokee Fort, or Fort Massacre, below the mouth of the Tennessee River, and forty miles above the mouth of the Ohio, where they found a party of hunters from Kaskaskia commanded by John Duff. Clark learned from these hunters that Lieut.-Governor Rocheblave, a Canadian Frenchman, commanded Fort Gage at Kaskaskia and the country: and that the militia were organized and will disciplines: that spies were out to give information if the Long Knives came into the country. This was the Indian name for the Virginians, and the New England people were called Bostonians by the French and Indians of that day.[p. 92]

    Clark secured his boats, and engaged John Saunders, one of Duff's hunting-party, to be his guide to Kaskaskia. The whole hunting-party were willing to return with Clark, but he took only one of them. [Webmaster's note: This doesn't match with other accounts. Clark took all of the hunting party with him, for fear that they would warn the British.]
    The country between Fort Massacre and Kaskaskia, at that day, 1778, was a wilderness of one hundred and twenty miles, and contained, much of it, a swampy and difficult road.
    At one time, poor Saunders, the guide, was bewildered, and the party suspected him of treachery; but soon after, he became himself again and led the party safe to the vicinity of Kaskaskia. [p. 93]

    In 1799, four Indians, Shawnees, were loitering about Lusk's ferry on the Ohio, and were in search of a man in that region, to kill. It is supposed that some one at Fort Massac wanted to destroy a man named Duff, who resided on the bank of the river, and hired these Indians to commit the murder. They came to the house of Mr. Lusk and examined him minutely, but did not molest him. He was not their victim. At length, they killed Duff, who resided at the mouth of Trade Water, on the Ohio. They escaped and there the matter ended. It was rather common in these times to employ Indians to commit those crimes. [p. 285]

    [Webmaster's note: This is just one of at least three versions of Duff's death. In his other book, Reynolds writes the murder took place in 1805 at the Island Ripple near the Great Salt Springs in Gallatin Co., Illinois. The mouth of the Tradewater is on the Kentucky side and is used to describe the site of Flynn's Ferry, an early crossing point. The road from Flynn's Ferry ran to the Great Salt Spring. Later it became known as Ford's Ferry Road. The road from Shawneetown to the Great Salt Springs intersected the first road on the west side of where it crosses the Saline River. That crossing point or ford is called Island Ripple, or "riffle" as the local dialect pronounces it. The Saline River empties out into the Ohio just a few miles above the Tradewater.]

Created June 2, 1999 by Jon Musgrave © 1999