Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Brick Wall: Thomas Duke

Today's blog post is about one of my brick wall ancestors. It's also a product of the beginnings of a review of the information I have on this family. I have noted in here gaps in my database because of old software and never going back systematically to review information as well as changes in my research methodology from a genealogical newbie to more recent years. Some of my comments are in the footnotes.

Thomas Duke was born 3 May 1828 in Virginia according to his tombstone which was is located in Greenbriar Cemetery in Becker, Monroe County, Mississippi. According to family tradition, he was the son of Benjamin Duke and his wife ______ Parker. He is said to have been orphaned when he came to Monroe County, Mississippi, allegedly with a Knowles family. There are family stories which indicate he spent some time working with the tobacco industry in North Carolina before coming to Mississippi. He served for the Confederacy in the Monroe Guards. His widow Malinda applied for a pension in 1900 from the state of Mississippi. (1) He married Nancy Malinda Allred 15 Aug 1867 in Monroe County, Mississippi.(2) (The original tombstone reads "Thomas Duke & wife. In the years since I first began doing genealogy, a cousin has erected a second tombstone which has her name as "Nora Malinda Allred Duke Rogers"; however, I have come across absolutely no evidence that her name was Nora. She went by the name Malinda. The 1910 U.S. Federal Census shows her name as "Nancy M."(3)  An article by a member of the Rogers family indicates her name was Nancy Melinda Duke, a widow, when she married John Rogers after Thomas' death.(4) I have contacted this cousin, who also wrote an article which appears in Monroe County: A Pictorial History using the name "Nora," asking her for her source for the name Nora. I have received no response.) Allegedly, his oldest daughter, my great grandmother Berniece Estelle "Bennie" Duke was named in honor of his father, Benjamin. That is why she was called Bennie. His oldest son was James Parker Duke. The James came from Nancy's father James. The Parker is supposed to have been Thomas' mother's maiden name. Although I'll leave the documentation of these persons for possible future blog posts, the children of Thomas and Malinda are:

1. Berniece Estelle "Bennie" Duke (Jul 1868-15 Jun 1949); married Andrew Capus "Cape" Thornton
2. Martha Virginia "Virgie" Duke (16 Dec 1870-17 Jan 1956); married William Richmond Moss
3. James Parker "Jim" Duke (12 Feb 1873-1 Sep 1971); married Electa Bristoe/Bristol
4. Joseph Thomas "Joe" Duke (3 Jan 1876-6 Jul 1960); married Mary Catherine Conwill
5. Myrtis Duke (9 Jul 1883-24 Mar 1976); married Egburt Green Betts, Jr.

Thomas Duke died 18 May 1894 in Monroe County, Mississippi (according to his tombstone).

Needless to say I have not yet performed a reasonably exhaustive search for Thomas' parents. I need to get the Confederate Pension application file as I have only the index. I may have it somewhere in a folder or in a notebook, but it's not in my database. Searching all of Virginia and North Carolina will be a major task.  I'm hoping that some of the wonderful online resources we now have may prove helpful in this search. Years ago I did find a Benjamin Duke in Nansemond County, Virginia who was living at the right time to have been Thomas' father, and there were Parker families in the area. I have not yet located any records showing Thomas was placed under anyone's care as an orphan in Virginia or North Carolina, but I have only researched in a few counties (and some of those searches were done before I completely documented where I had searched, although I may still have some notes of sources with check marks in that old Duke notebook that I need to dig out).

Sources:
(1) Betty C. Wiltshire, Mississippi Confederate Pension Applications, A-G. (Carrollton, Miss.: Pioneer Pub. Co., n.d.), p. 250.

(2) Monroe County Mississippi Marriages (1821-1921). 4 vols. (s.l.: s.n, n.d.), Vol. 2, p. 149. Note: This is a name and date index of marriages in Monroe County that is held at the Evans Memorial Library in Aberdeen, Mississippi. I have a copy of the recorded marriage from the circuit clerk's marriage volumes in a notebook in a closet that I don't feel like digging out at the moment. I obviously need to add that better source to my genealogy database! I have a lot of gaps like that from my early research in my database because my original genealogy program only had 10 fixed-width lines for research notes, sources, or whatever one could cram into the space.

(3) 1910 U S. Federal Census, Itawamba County, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 5, town of Fulton, SD 1, ED 20, sheet 2A (written), John Rogers household, dwelling 28, family 29; NARA micropublication T624, roll 743; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 4 Jan 2008).

(4) Elizabeth Roberts, "John Wesley Rogers Family," in Franks, Bob and Turner, Roy, eds., An Itawamba Sampler: A Researcher's Guide to Itawamba County, Mississippi (Mantachie, Miss.: Itawamba Historical Society, 1990), p. 19.

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