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Descendants gather to dedicate Lee County's Duff Mansion House

Submitted by Mary Ruth Laster • Jun 6, 2019 at 4:30 PM

A dedication ceremony for the historic Duff Mansion House,  a pre-Civil War home located in the Stickleyville community of Lee County, Virginia, was held Saturday, April 27.

Eunice Laster, who is the owner and, along with his sister Genevieve Laster Washburn, a member of the last family to live in the home, presented the opening remarks. Dr. Lawrence C. Fleenor, regional historian and retired physician, provided the history of the area.

Martha Bess DeWitt of Nashville, Tennessee, and the granddaughter of Robert Cecil Duff, recognized the descendants of Captain William Powell and Eliza Newland Duff who traveled from far and wide to attend the dedication.

Representatives of the Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society, The Southwest Virginia Historical Society, the Lovelady DAR, the Major George Gibson DAR, and the Lee County Sharpshooters were also recognized.

Steve and Walter Bayless, grandsons of the Rev. Guy B. Duff; Judy Bayless, wife of Walter; and Charles Newland, the great-nephew of Eliza Newland Duff, each provided a verbal picture of the clan and their lives through the years.

The Duffs, who were prolific letter writers, preserved their family history by keeping hundreds of letters in safekeeping. Steve Bayless also presented one of the first suits owned by the Rev. Duff when he was a child to Mary Ruth Laster, to be kept as part of the visual history in the Duff Mansion House.

Pat Duff Gulley played guitar and sang “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” and “Precious Memories.” She accompanied by husband Bob on his harmonica.

A salute to Captain William Powell Duff was given by Captain Kyth Banks and Private Devin Dishner, 30th Battalion, Virginia Sharpshooters.

Martha Bess DeWitt delivered the closing prayer and house blessing.

A picnic on the grounds featuring pioneer fare and other delectable food followed the ceremony.

Members of the Duff clan traveled from Washington, D.C.; Prattville, Alabama; Lebanon and Fillmore, Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Athens and Nashville, Tennessee; Danville and San Ramon, California; Burleson, DeSoto and Dallas, Texas; Bellingham, Washington; and Alexandria and Abingdon, Virginia, to attend the event.

On March 21, 2019, the Duff Mansion House was officially listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register. In coming months, it will be presented for inclusion in the National Registry.