Duke, James Rumsey; residence,
Donaldsonville, La., was born in that city Dec. 4, 1859; son of Robert
James and Rebecca (Herring) Duke, the former of whom was born at
Maysville, Ky., and the latter at Donaldsonville. The father's ancestors
came originally from Scotland. The ancestors of the Herring family moved
from Virginia to this state at an early time. The family is of German
and Irish origin.
Robert James Duke, father of the subject
of this sketch, came to Louisiana, as a young man and immediately
located at Donaldsonville. He owned and operated a line of boats plying
between Kentucky and Louisiana points previous to the Civil war, but
after the war, the ravages of which had depleted his fortune, he became
a plantation manager in Ascension parish and so continued during several
years. Later he again became a resident of Donaldsonville and accepted
the position of wharf master, which at that time was a post of much
importance, the traffic on the river being heavy. He remained incumbent
of this office during many years, but when the first railroad from New
Orleans to Donaldsonville (now the Texas & Pacific) had been
completed, he resigned to accept the position of station agent for the
railroad. After serving the road efficiently a number of years, the
attractions of the river business finally prevailed with him, and he was
induced to resign from his position with the railroad and again become
wharf master, the duties of which he continued to administer until his
death, at the age of 68 years.
Of the children born to Robert James Duke
and his wife, several died at early ages. Five of their children grew to
maturity, as follow: Virginia, who became the wife of H. W. Lear of St.
James parish, died at the age of 56 years, leaving 6 children; James
Rumsey, the subject of this sketch; Charles F., died at the age of 26
years; Robert M., now in mercantile business at Hammond; H. C., in the
livery business at Donaldsonville, married, and the father of 6
James Rumsey Duke received his early
education at private schools, following which he attended the public
schools for a time. At the age of 14 years, he found himself obliged to
forego attendance at school, and thereafter devoted his energies to the
activities of a newsboy until an opening occurred in a stationery store,
where he became a clerk and continued about 2 years. At the age of 16 he
secured a contract as carrier of the U. S. mail, and 2 years later
became assistant postmaster at Donaldsonville. So well did he administer
the duties of this latter position that he remained as assistant to the
postmaster 14 years, and it was during this time that Mr. Duke bought
his first real estate at Donaldsonville. He left the post office to open
a grocery store of his own and has devoted his abilities to that
business for a period of about 24 years.
He has been uniformly successful and has
steadily progressed, keeping his business in the forefront of that line.
Mr. Duke's comodious residence now occupies the site of his first
grocery store while the store has expanded to many times its original
proportions. He is affiliated with the democratic party and has served
his neighbors on the school board 4 years and on the police jury a like
term. Mr. Duke is a member of the Episcopal church, and belongs to the
Masonic fraternity, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and Woodmen
of the World.
Sept. 20, 1887, he was married to Miss
Rosa, daughter of Scott and Adele (Lopez) Boudreaux, the former of whom
was born in St. James parish and the latter in Iberville. Mrs. Duke's
father is a merchant in St. James. To Mr. and Mrs. Duke 2 children have
been born, namely: L. E., a graduate of the Bingham school, Asheville,
N. C., and now located at Philadelphia, Pa., where he follows the
profession of a certified accountant; S. M., educated at Louisiana State
university and at Soule' college, New Orleans, now serving in the U. S.
navy and stationed at Newport, R. I. He is a member of a marine band.
Source: Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events,
Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form, volume 3, pp.
702-703. Edited by Alc e Fortier, Lit. D. Published in 1914, by Century