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Duvall, Joseph Pryor


Father of the well-known detective of that name, came to this place about the year 1821.  He was a Kentuckian in every sense of the word, and was from near the "Stamping Ground," in Scott County, a section of Kentucky noted for its "sharp-shooting rifles," fine horses, and pretty women.  Mr. D. provided himself with one of each of the former before he left "Old Kentuck," but neglected to secure one of the latter.  However, that deficiency he supplied soon after his rrival here, in the person of Miss Sally Wood, daughter of David Wood, Esq.

It was the custom of the country at the time he was married, to dance two or three days after a wedding but Mr. Duvall's father-in-law belonged to a church the members of which had a "holy horror" of anything like dancing, but would not feel willing to consign a fellow mortal to endless punishment, if he would indulge in a glass of old Bourbon;" so I believe the dancing was dispensed with in this case.

Mr. D. was a Clay Whig of the old school.  With "latch-string outside the door, "he was always glad to have his numerous friends call on him, and was every ready to entertain them with an account of a Kentucky horse-race, a squirrel-hunt, a chew of tobacco, or a glass of whiskey; or, if about the time of day, with a good, old-fashioned Kentucky dinner.  He was constable of Center township from time immemorial.  Their jurisdiction then was co-extensive with the county.  It has been said of him that he would ride to the extreme limits of the county to see a person on official business, have his horse fed, take dinner, and return without mentioning business to his friend, lest in so doing he might injure his feelings.  Like many others I have written of in this work, he was hardly ever at a loss for an anecdote to suit every occasion; if he should be, it would not require much mental labor to get up one to order. 

There are many anecdotes of him extant, too numerous to mention in this short sketch.  On the fourth of July, 1838 (I think it was), he invited several of his friends to a squirrel barbecue (the writer among the rest), which he had prepared in the creek-bottom just south of his house.  After the solids were disposed of and the fluids began "flying fast and furious," some of his invited guests had not yet entered an appearance, Mr. D. took a few bottles of "extracts" and hid them in a hollow log for the use of his absent friends, should they arrive.  They not coming, he forgot them.  HIs son tells me he found the bottles, their contents in a good state of preservation, long after his father's death.

Mr. Duvall lived on the Madison road, about what was, in his day,two miles from town, as a person would not be considered in town until he reached Washington street.  His house was siutated on the north or bluff bank of Pleasant Run.

One evening, as he was returning home from town, a free fell across the horse on which he was seated, killing the horse instantly, smashing the saddle, and injuring Mr. Duvall severely, from which he never recovered, although he lived several years afterwards.

Mr. Duvall owned considerable property, and had he lived it would have made him wealthy.  He was man generally willing to take the world as he found it, and valued the friendships of his numerous acquaintances more than their money.  He was a plain, off-hand man, free from intrigue or dissimulation, and a generous and kind neighbor.  His death was regretted by all.



Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 72-74.
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