Richard Duke, born about 1804

by Gary D Duke, 2005

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Richard Duke was born in Kershaw County, South Carolina, in 1804. He was the first-born son of Moses Duke and Nancy K. Burge. Nancy’s parents were Burrell Burge and Elizabeth Ford. The father of Burrell was Richard Burge and this Richard was guardian of Nancy’s younger siblings after Burrell died. It is possible, but unproven, that the father of Moses Duke was also named Richard. So, Richard Duke was named for, perhaps, both of his grandfathers.

Richard first shows up in the 1830 Kershaw census at which time he is married, 20-30 years old, his wife is 20-30, and they have one male child 0-5. My guess is that they were married about 1828 and that the child is less than a year old. This census lists everyone in a rough alphabetical manner so it is not possible to identify near neighbors for Richard. There is no record of any marriage nor any land or other records for him. Because there may be a chance that Richard’s wife’s maiden name was Powell, I note in 1830 Kershaw, these two men:

David Powell 11001-20001 male & female 20-30

Isham Powell 000100001-000000001 male & female 60-70

From information about his father we know that Richard and his parents and siblings all moved from South Carlina about 1832 and settled near each other but they were right on the Mississippi/Alabama state line so that Moses was in Mississippi and Richard was in Alabama. His father registered land grants and land purchases in Lowndes County, Mississippi in 1833 and 1835.

The first record of Richard in Alabama was on 9-20-1839, when he recorded four grants of land totaling 320 acres, all in Fayette County (in the part split off several years later to form Lamar County). Three of the grants were in sections 26, 31, and 35 of township 15s, range 15w. Sections 26 & 35 are adjacent to each other but 31 was 4 miles west. The fourth grant was in section 1 of township 16s, range 16w which placed it about another mile southwest of section 31. I note that on 9-2-1839, Benjamin B. Powell recorded two grants totaling 80 acres in section 35 of township 15s, range 15w. These lands adjoined Richard on the south side.

Richard’s Aunt Elizabeth Duke Foster and her husband Thomas L. Foster and their sons, Richard, Moses and Andrew Foster all owned several hundred acres of land about four or five miles north of Richard’s land. His brother, Bartlett Smith Duke, bought the lands of Andrew Foster in 1848 so he also lived near Richard.

In the 1840 census Richard was listed in Fayette 010001-011001 - he was 30-40, his wife was 30-40 and they have three children. Looking back at 1830, they only had a son under five years old - no daughters. But, in 1840, the oldest child is a girl 10-15 years old, then a boy 5-10 and another girl 5-10. I do not believe the older girl is theirs although it is possible that the 1830 census incorrectly listed the sex of their first child..

Next door to Richard in 1840 lived Benjamin B. Powell, a man 40-50 years old with a wife 30-40 years old and only one daughter 10-15 years old. I don’t know how, if at all, B. B. Powell may be related to Richard but the Powell families keep showing up near the Dukes and I “wonder” if Richard’s wife was a Powell?

In the 1850 census we finally get some names of the other members of Richard’s family.

They are still in Fayette County, near the town of Milport. (Milport is in sections 22-23-26-27 of township 17s, range 15w – each “township/range” is six miles square so it contains 36 square miles) But, if he still lived on the lands he recorded in 1839, then he was 10-15 miles north/northwest of Milport. His family was:

Richard Duke 46m SC $200 assets farmer

Martha “ 45f SC

Sarah J. “ 5f AL

Moses F. “ 2m AL

Benjamin B. Powell is no longer in Fayette, nor can I find him in any other state but, living next door to Richard and Martha, is:

Mary Powell 40f TN $180 assets farmer

Margaret “ 12f AL

Mary “ 12f AL (Twins?)

On 9-2-1860 Richard recorded another land grant of 40 acres at township15s, range 14w, which would be 9 miles northeast of Milport. So this is a total of five parcels of land with almost 20 miles separating some of it. Given the slow transportation of those times, I believe he must have sold and purchased other lands of which we have no record in order to have his farmlands closer together.

In the 1860 census, his family is:

Richard Duke 52m SC $600r.e. $500p.a.

Mary “ 46f SC

Sarah “ 16f AL

Moses “ 14m AL

Mary Powell still living next door to them:

Mary Powell 50f TN

M. E. Corder 25f SC

The census reports from 1830 through 1860 require some 1830 they had a very young son who would have been 30 years old by 1860. This son must have come with them to Alabama but there are no “Duke” men unaccounted for in the families. In 1840 that same son was 5-10 and there was a girl 5-10 (plus the 10-15 female that I don’t think belonged to them) so in 1850 there should have been a 15-20 boy and a 15-20 girl? Where are they? The information given about Sarah and Moses in 1850 and 1860 is consistent, but, I note that Richard’s wife in 1850 is “Martha - 45 years old” whereas in 1860 she is “Mary - 46 years old”. I understand that “Martha” and “Mary” may be slang versions of the same name - but how could she have only aged 1 year when 10 have passed? Did “Martha” die and Richard remarry? There is no record of it. Son Moses, born in 1847, was the last child but, if the 1860 census is correct, then “Mary” was only 32 when he was born........why no more children?

I conclude they had a son born in 1830 who died and a daughter about 1835 who also died. Then, for some reason, they had no more children until 1845? Ten years? And then they quickly have two more children 1845 & 1847? I speculate that Richard’s early son and daughter died AND his first wife also died about the same time-shortly after 1840. He then remarried about 1844 to Martha and they had two more kids before she got too old. “Mary” in 1860 is probably the same woman and her age is just a census screw-up (note that Richard’s age is also wrong by 4 years)

Both Richard Duke and his wife Martha/Mary disappear from all records before the 1870 census. No records of their deaths or disposition of their property has been found (see “comments” below). I must presume they both died in Fayette/Lamar county but their burial site also has not been found.


On May 1, 1867 in Fayette, Richard’s son, Moses Foster Duke married Martha Clementine Mace. She was born in Fayette in July, 1850. I must comment here about the name “Moses Foster Duke”...........Richard Duke’s middle name is unknown - not even a middle initial is known. There is no reason to believe it was “Foster”. His aunt, Elizabeth Duke, his father’s sister, married while they were all still in South Carolina to Thomas Lloyd Foster, and her Foster family closely associated with the Moses Duke family. Thomas & Elizabeth Foster had a son in 1812 that they named “Moses Duke Foster”. Richard’s brother Bartlett Smith Duke, had a son in 1835 which he named Moses Duke and the middle name may have been Foster, but this son died in an accident before 1840. Then, Richard Duke had his son Moses Foster Duke in 1847. Perhaps Richard was honoring the memory of his brother’s deceased son? Or, just liked the name? It will be seen that Richard’s son, Moses Foster Duke, then named one of his sons “Moses Foster Duke” born in 1885.

On November 8, 1868 in Fayette, Sarah R. Duke married Nathan Merrian Chambliss but this is not Richard’s daughter. Sarah R. Duke was born 1853 in Georgia and was the daughter of Martin Duke who also lived in Fayette in 1860. Despite extensive searching, I cannot locate Richard’s daughter after the 1860 census.

In 1867 the western portion of Fayette County was removed and re-named Jones County until October 1868 when Jones was re-named Sanford County. It remained Sanford until February, 1877, when it was again re-named Lamar County. The land area remained the same.

In the 1870 census, although Richard and his wife are gone, their son Moses Foster Duke is still living there:

Moses F. Duke 23m MS

Martha C. 19f AL

Alice O. 2f AL

George C. Lawrence 16m AL (works on farm - related?)

In the 1880 census, Moses is still there:

Moses Duke 1847m AL

Clementine 1852f AL

Alice 1868f AL ( Rhoda Alice?)

Artie 1-1870m AL (Artman)

Ezekiel 4-1872m AL

Johnnie 4-1874m AL (John W.)

Donnie 1878m AL (possibly Oscar Lee Duke?)

(Not in this census but they had one other child - next)

Lock 10-1880m AL

After Lock was born, Martha Clementine died and Moses F. Duke married again on July 13, 1884 in the Bethel Church of Christ in Lamar County. This second wife was Margaret Cloer Sprouse, born 3-31-1854 and she died 5-16-1930. Her grave is in the Bethel Cemetery. Moses F and Margaret had four children:

Moses Foster Duke 07-20-1885 AL

Lula A. 02-00-1888 AL

Rhoda J. 05-00-1889 AL

Emma A. 01-00-1892 AL

Margaret Duke and her four children are listed in the Lamar County census in 1900, living near the town of Lawrence. Moses Foster Duke had died about 1895 and he is also buried in the Bethel Church of Christ cemetery but his stone does not list any dates of birth or death.

Marriage records in Lamar County show:

01-02-1884 Alice Duke m James E. Rector

03-11-1890 A. A. Duke (Artman) m Sarah Belle Johnson

And in Lowndes County, Mississipi:

11-24-1898 E. A. Duke (Ezekiel) m Nettie Partain

And in Marion County, Alabama:

01-28-1897 Oscar Lee Duke m Fannie B. Evans

(I’m not sure Oscar is a member of Moses Foster Duke’s family. He continued

living in Marion County through 1930)

In 1900 John W. Duke, Lock Duke and Artman Duke still lived in Lamar with their families. John W. has no wife but two kids under 5. Lock Duke was single and lived with Artman. Son Ezekiel Duke lived just across the Mississippi state line in Lowndes County with his wife and two kids.

By 1910 most of the children of Moses F Duke and his two wives still lived in Lamar. John W. Duke had remarried to Abbie ___ and they had three kids born after 1904. Artman Duke had died but his wife Belle still lived there with four kids, the last born in 1905. Lock Duke had now married to Rosa ___ and they had three kids. Lock lived next door to Belle Duke. Margaret A Duke, then 55, still lived there with only her daughter Emma living with her.

Son Ezekial Duke, apparently the wanderer of the group, had moved to Texas about 1905, then to Payne County, Oklahoma, where he lived at the time of the census. His family was:

Ezekiel A. Duke 38m AL

Nettie 34f AL

Lula 15f AL

Merdelle 11m MS

Alton 5m TX

Erdele 4f TX

Willie Partain 23f AL (sister-in-law)

By 1920, Ezekiel A. Duke had moved again, now he was in Red River County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border. His wife Nettie and five kids were at home and sister-in-law Willie was still with them. Next door lived brother John W. Duke with his wife and seven kids. Moses Foster Duke (Jr) with his family still lived in Lamar, Alabama, and his mother, Margaret lived next door.

In the 1930 census, John W. Duke had moved his family back to Lamar County, Alabama, but brother Ezekiel A. Duke, ever the wanderer, had moved his family about 500 miles west to Hudspeth County, Texas, not far from El Paso. His wife Nettie and son John and sister-in-law Willie lived in his home.


Richard Duke unfortunately lived in Fayette County, Alabama, and did not move into Mississippi when the rest of his family moved to Chickasaw County, Mississippi, in 1848. “Unfortunate” because the Fayette County Courthouse burned about 1870, destroying almost all local land, birth, marriage, death, etc, records prior to that date. The meager information obtained about his Fayette life comes from Federal Land records or Federal Census records.

I have made no effort to track the descendants after the 1930 census.