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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
George F. McDuffee

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 281-282 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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To the anglers of America the mention of the firm of Fred D. Divine Company, Incorporated, Utica, brings to mind visions of fishing rods, quiet pools and trout streams and dreams of Izaak Walton's paradise. For this firm is known the sportsman's world over as the manufacturers of the famous Divine rod. The present head of the concern is George F. McDuffee, who succeeded Mr. Divine as president a good many years ago, but has always kept the name, which is a synonym for good poles. Born on the 14th of November, 1868, Mr. McDuffee claims Utica as his birthplace. Through his mother, who bore the maiden name of Mariah Higby, he is descended from the Higby family that moved from Middletown, Connecticut, in 1789 and settled in New Hartford, New York, which they helped to found. Members of the family have lived in this vicinity ever since, down to the present generation, contributing materially to the development and upbuilding of its industrial and civic life. Mr. McDuffee's father was William McDuffee.

Left parentless at an early age, George F. McDuffee has had to depend largely upon his own resources ever since he was a boy. After obtaining a public school education he earned a livelihood for some time by working in local department stores and wholesale houses in various office positions. Later he entered the employ of his uncle, Delos Divine, who was engaged in the business of repairing the top roll coverings for the cotton industry. Mr. McDuffee became associated with The Fred D. Divine Company, the manufacturer of the famous Divine fishing rod, in 1913, and in January, 1919, he took the controlling interest, becoming president and treasurer. In the few years that he has been managing its affairs the company has prospered greatly. The trade is large and extends to all the points where first-class sporting goods are sold. Mr. McDuffee's policy of putting only the best of materials and workmanship into his goods has borne its fruit in creating a demand for this particular make of pole that is better advertising than any number of skillfully planned merchandising campaigns. For after all there is no advertisement like a satisfied customer, be your wares automobiles or pins.

Mr. McDuffee and Miss Emma I. Adams, daughter of Henry Owen and Martha Jane (Luce) Adams, were united in marriage in Utica, on the 14th of November, 1895. One child was born to Mr. and Mrs. McDuffee, a son, Chester Adams McDuffee, who became associated with his father in the business after completing his education. The great sorrow if his life came to Mr. McDuffee when his son was killed in an automobile accident on the 17th of November, 1923, at the age of twenty-six, his birth having occurred on September 21, 1897. Chester Adams McDuffee was a young person of ability, gifted with those qualities that attract and hold friends. He was a Mason, belonging to the same two organizations as his father, and was one of the most popular of the younger generation of Utica business men and could look forward to a future full of promise, when death suddenly cut short his career. Death is doubly tragic when it comes to one standing at the threshhold of life, awaiting the sweet fulfillment of youth's early promises. In the case of this young man the whole community felt that it had sustained a personal loss in the passing of one of its most able and likeable members, while the sympathy of all went out to the bereaved parents and intimate friends.

Mr. McDuffee is a Mason, belonging to Oriental Lodge, F. & A. M., and Oneida Chapter, No. 57, R. A. M. Aside from performing the ordinary duties of citizen and voter, he has not been active in the political and civic life of the city, preferring to concentrate his efforts upon a single line of endeavor — his business. Mr. McDuffee is one of those men, however, who by building their own fortunes advance the prosperity of the community in which they live, thus Utica has gained materially from the success of the company he represents and directs. The city is proud to claim him as one of her representative manufacturers and The Fred D. Divine Company as a distinctive enterprise of especial notice.

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