Happy 145th Anniversary!
Little is known about Thomas' early life. He was born in 1828 in Virginia. His father was Benjamin Duke and his mother's surname was Parker. Family tradition says that he was orphaned and came to Mississippi with a Knowles family. This connection has not really yielded a great deal of help in resolving Thomas' mysterious past, although it has been quite a while since I've done additional exploration and there may be additional records which are more easily accessible to assist in the search. There are Dukes and Parkers living in close proximity in Nansemond County, Virginia, and I've found a potential match through an autosomal DNA test that has Parker roots in that county. There is also some oral tradition in the family that says Thomas worked in the tobacco industry in North Carolina at one point, but without better documentation, I'm not willing to accept this since someone may have made that up to be related to the famous Duke family of North Carolina. There is also no tradition of our being related to the famous Duke family of which I'm aware.
Nancy was the daughter of James H. M. Allred and his wife Louisa. She was born in Tennessee in 1843. James and Louisa had six children. The family is enumerated in the 1850 Shelby County, Tennessee census. Louisa died shortly thereafter, and James married Mary Elizabeth Goodman in 1852 in Shelby County. They had six children additional children. They were in Fayette County, Alabama before the 1860 census enumeration. According to that census, the children born prior to the census, including a 6 month old child, were born in Mississippi. Nancy Malinda, from the first marriage, is in Monroe County, Mississippi in 1860, enumerated with the Benson Tubb household. Her sister, Martha, had recently married Charles Marion Tubb, Benson's son. Mary Elizabeth died in 1883, and James married a third time in 1889 to Hester J. Herron in Fayette County, Alabama.
Thomas and Malinda lived in the Cotton Gin Port area in Monroe County where they were members of the Christian Church. This town became a ghost town about 1887 when residents moved to the newly established railroad town of Amory, just down the road. Thomas died in 1894. Son James Parker "Jim" Duke is listed as the head of household in 1900. Malinda married John Wesley Rogers, sheriff of Itawamba County, in 1906 and moved to Itawamba County. By 1910, son Joseph Thomas "Joe" is running a grocery store in Amory. The Rogers were back in the Becker area of Monroe County by 1920. Malinda died in 1926. Thomas and Malinda are buried in the Greenbrier Cemetery in Becker. The original marker reads "Thomas Duke & wife." Some well-intentioned, but misinformed cousin, has added a second marker that gives her name as "Nora Malinda Allred Duke Rogers." I have never seen a document that identifies her as "Nora." The 1910 census, however, gives her name as Nancy M. Rogers. The 1920 census does as well. I have tried to contact the cousin that I believe erected the marker and have had no response. I fear that future generations will be misled by that marker to believe her name was Nora when it was not. Maybe we need a third marker with source citations?