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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
James Rumsey Duke

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 children.

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 Historical Association.

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