GEORGE DUFFORD, one of the oldest residents of River Township in Pawnee County, has attained venerable years. He is now in his eighty-second and bears his weight of experience with remarkable energy and vigor. The experience of his earlier years which distinguishes him from most men now living was his valiant service as a Union soldier during the Civil war. He was one of the Union men who endured the tortures and indignities of prison life in the Andersonville stockade. He had his trials and tribulations as a Western Kansas farmer. It was in the month of February, 1874, that he came out to Pawnee County, traveling by railroad from Virginia to Pawnee Rock. His real success in life has been won in Western Kansas, and there is no more loyal citizen of the state than this old soldier and old time easterner.
He was born in Morris County, New Jersey, June 5, 1837, a son of George and Elizabeth (Neighbor) Dufford. His father was born in New Jersey in 1797, spent his career as a farmer, and died in 1864. His wife, a daughter of Leonard Neighbor, who was of German stock, was born in 1800 and died at the age of eighty-four. These parents had thirteen children. Eleven of them grew up: Leonard, Stephen, William, Lawrence, Elijah, Henry, Andrew, George, Elizabeth, who married Philip L. Welch; Sophie, who married Jesse Smith; and Anna, who married John Wirt. Of all the sons George Dufford was the only soldier, and he was also the only one of the family to leave New Jersey to find a home elsewhere.
The scenes of George Dufford's childhood and youth were a New Jersey farm. Only the common schools afforded him the benefit of an education. A short time before the war he had set up in merchandising at Middle Valley, New Jersey. He showed his patriotism by leaving the counter and his business to enlist. His enlistment occurred July 30, 1862, in Company H of the 15th New Jersey Infantry. He was under Captain White and later Captain Cornish, and the regiment was commanded by Colonel Fowler, later Colonel Penrose and finally Lieutenant Colonel Campbell.
After the rendezvous at Flemington the regiment was ordered to the front at Antietam. It arrived on the scene after the great battle of that place was finished and Mr. Dufford first came under fire at Fredericksburg. He was also in the second Fredericksburg battle, was wounded, and was sent to the hospital in Washington and later to Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia. On recovering he rejoined his regiment on the Rapidan River, participated in the battle of Mine Run, then in the Wilderness campaign, and at Spottsylvania Court House. May 12, 1864, he was captured. He was in a charge against the rebel works, and was one of the three men to reach the embankment and all three were captured.
Then followed the six torturous months spent as a prisoner of war at Andersonville, Georgia. The conditions of that prison under the notorious General Wirz have been so frequently described that they are a familiar page in American history. Mr. Dufford not only experienced starvation but inhuman treatment. At times the food was cornbread, later only corn meal, and frequently cowpeas were served to them raw. He was so afflicted with the scurvy that he was unable to walk. On going to prison he had managed to smuggle in a watch without being detected by the prison officials, and he finally obtained $15.00 for this timepiece and with it bought food at exorbitant prices from the sutlers. He was finally ordered from Andersonville, hobbling on crutches, and was transferred to another Confederate prison at Milan, Georgia. Later he was started for Savannah, Georgia, and was given to understand that he would be exchanged. However, the train passed through Savannah and becoming alarmed he made his escape at night alone. For some days he wandered around, getting his food chiefly from the darkies or secretly digging sweet potatoes in the fields, and he kept up this miserable existence until one day he fell into the hands of a forager from Sherman's army. On being taken into the lines he experienced a sense of relief and joy such as no other occasions in life have afforded. He was given transportation to Washington to the department of the Commissary General of Prisoners, and was next ordered to report to his regiment after a furlough of thirty days.
That thirty days he spent at home and he rejoined his command at Petersburg. With his old comrades he helped drive the Confederates out of that city, and took part in the final struggles around Richmond and at Appomattox when Lee surrendered. After Appomattox the Sixth Corps, to which his regiment was attached, was sent to meet General Johnston's Army coming North and arrived at Danville, Virginia, before the news came of Johnston's surrender to Sherman. His command then proceeded to Richmond, on to Washington, and the Sixth Corps was reviewed there by itself. The regiment was in camp at Hall's Hill near Washington until mustered out, and he and his comrades separated at Trenton, New Jersey.
In a short time Mr. Dufford resumed the quiet routine of civil life. In the spring of 1866 he went to Frederick County, Virginia, a section of country over which both Confederate and Union armies had campaigned, and he settled right down among the old Confederates. He lived with a man who had lost both sons in the Confederate army. It seemed as though all the life and enterprise, had been taken away through the ravages of war, and altogether the seven years he spent there Mr. Dufford found most unpleasant and unprofitable. In fact he considers it the worst move he ever made.
In the meantime he had been hearing much of the west, partly through railroad agents and by various advertisements. He responded to these inducements by coming out to Kansas and, as already noted, he landed at Pawnee Rock in the spring of 1874. He arrived there with about $600 in cash. He at once took up a homestead, and on the land he built a small box house 14 by 20 feet for the accommodation of his family. He also acquired a small yoke of poor cattle which had to serve as beasts of burden in performing the heavy work of breaking the soil. He kept that team for about three years, and finally traded them for a team of horses. The first crop he planted was entirely consumed by the grasshoppers. It will be remembered that the buffalo did not entirely disappear from the western prairies until the late '70s. After his crop had been devastated by the insects, Mr. Dufford went out on the plains and engaged in buffalo hunting and from that source he secured enough meat to last his household during the winter. During the first summer he bought a cow and used that as a nucleus for entering the stock business. Whenever possible he bought a calf, and finally acquired a substantial herd of livestock. That was one of the most important industries of his early years. In the fall of 1874 he sowed his first wheat crop in Western Kansas. He had never neglected a year of sowing since then, and as a business it has proved his salvation. It would take a long time to recount all the reverses and the successes which have followed season after season, but on the whole Mr. Dufford found himself well satisfied and content with the country in the earlier years and of course that contentment and loyalty have been strengthened by the remarkable era which is now at its high tide.
When he began buying land he paid the railroad company $8 an acre for a quarter section. It was bought with the privilege of payment in six years. The recurring payments were met without difficulty from the crops he had raised. In 1889 he bought another quarter section for $1,050. He also paid $1,600 for a quarter section north of Larned. All this land he still owns and it is worth a small fortune and gives him the financial independence which he enjoys and from which he has provided so liberally for home and family.
He has also performed his duty as a citizen, served on the school board of district No. 9 and for a number of years was its treasurer. He was also trustee of the township many years. Mr. Dufford has been a stanch republican and gave his first presidential vote to Mr. Lincoln in 1860. From his means or his personal efforts he has assisted in building all the churches at Pawnee Rock. He was formerly an active member of the Presbyterian denomination. His fraternal affiliations are with the Knights of Pythias and with Larned Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The year after the war, in 1866, Mr. Dufford was married in New Jersey to Miss Matilda J. Heath, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Larison) Heath. Mr. Heath was a millwright. For forty-six years Mr. and Mrs. Dufford traveled life's highways together until her death in October, 1912. Four children were born to their union: Maude is now the wife of J. H. Armstrong, of Larned, and has a daughter, Florence; Frank is a farmer in Sumner County, Kansas, and married Mrs. Minnie Sneath; Emma is the wife of W. L. Enifer, of Carlsbad, New Mexico; Elmer is still at the old homestead and married Waitie Dickey, and they have a son, George Raymond.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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