Local Matters

One of the biggest surprises since undertaking family research was the discovery of an ancestral connection to Baltimore, my home since 1977. “I’m not from here,” I tell people. But, as my husband sometimes puts it, “she’s more from here than I am…

One of the biggest surprises since undertaking family research was the discovery of an ancestral connection to Baltimore, my home since 1977.  “I’m not from here,” I tell people.  But, as my husband sometimes puts it, “she’s more from here than I am.” 

Several lines ducked in and out of town at various times.  But the most intriguing individual is Levin Dukes, tugboat captain, our 2nd great grandfather, who lived just north of Fell’s Point  from 1847 (maybe earlier?) until about 1859. A Fell’s Point tugboat captain?  It doesn’t get much more local than that.

It was Levin’s daughter, Sarah, who married Lemuel Offutt, M.D., originally of Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1877, and moved to Pennsylvania, from whence we came.  Dad told me in  2008 that his grandmother, Sarah Dukes, who died 16 years before he was born, was a complete blank to him.
  
Two years later, we’ve at least made the acquaintance of Sarah’s parents, Levin and Susan (nee Tagret/Taggart), and know how their story ended.  The beginning of their story remains elusive. The quest hasn’t reached “brick wall” status, the term genealogists use to describe their toughest research problems, but it has certainly been my biggest challenge to date.  More on that in Part II or however many parts this is going to take.

The first known appearance of Levin Dukes in public records is his marriage to Susan Tagret on January 19, 1847, by Rev. Mr. Best (1).  Rev. Hezekiah Best was, at that time, ministering at Seaman’s Bethel Union Mission. (2)  Located at Aliceanna and Bethel Streets in Fell’s Point, it served the seagoing population. (3)  See my previous post on their marriage.

In August of the same year, Levin bought a house at 123 E. Lombard Street. (4)  At that time, Jones Falls, not Charles Street, was the east-west dividing line in Baltimore; according to the deed, the property was near the intersection of Canal Street (now Central Avenue) and Lombard Street.

Levin, age 39, and his wife, Susan, age 27, appear in the 1850 federal census for the 4th Ward of Baltimore City, with three year old James and Susan, five months. (5)  In 1852, Levin sold the house but, apparently, did not purchase other property in Baltimore. (6)  Thirty-one year old Susan died on May 23, 1853, of consumption. (7)

Captain Levin Dukes was listed in Baltimore city directories at the 123 E. Lombard address beginning in 1849, and continued to be listed the year after he sold it. (8)  Perhaps  he sold it to raise cash and the family remained in  residence.  He does not appear in either the 1855-1856 directory, the first one published after his wife’s death, or the 1856-1857 directory.  He re-appeared for one year in 1858; he is listed at 210 E. Baltimore Street, in a home owned by James Pawley, Jr., a glass merchant. (9) That house, in today’s terms, was near the intersection of Baltimore and Catherine Streets. (10)

On January 4, 1860, Levin married again — to Margaret A. Lambie — in the District of Columbia. (11) The family appears in the 1860 federal census in Georgetown. (12)  Margaret was 24 — stepmother to James, 12, Susan, 10, and Sarah, 9,  our great grandmother, born in Baltimore to Levin and his first wife, the year before she died.

Six years later, Levin was dead, stricken in his 54th year, on March 16, 1866. (13) His death was reported in the Baltimore Sun, with an out-of-town byline.

“Georgetown Affairs. – Captain Levin Dukes, a well known resident of this city, and master of the tug-boat Bell Haven, died suddenly on Friday, from an attack of heart disease, while aboard his boat.  The captain had been for many years employed by the Potomac Tug-boat Company, and was much esteemed.” (14)

The funeral was held two days later at his home at 66 Market Street. (15)  He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown in an unmarked grave. (16) 

Several months ago, Clare and I made a trip to Georgetown, and located the house where the Dukes family lived and where his surviving family mourned its sudden, life-changing loss. (17).

66_market_street_smFront_door

We also visited Oak Hill Cemetery, several blocks away, and identified the plot where Levin rests.

 

Dukes_plot

It’s a lovely cemetery.

Oak_hill_3Oak_hill_1Oak_hill_2

And if, eventually, I am able to tell the beginning of Levin’s story, a small marker with his name would be a nice addition. 

———————————————–

(1)    “Married,” The (Baltimore) Sun, 23 January 1847, p. 2, col. 4.   Baltimore  City, Maryland, death certificate no. 93353 (1906), Susan D. Henderson, Baltimore City Health Department, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland.   Susan’s last name was spelled “Tagret” in both the newspaper marriage announcement and in the marriage license registration book.   On the death certificate of her daughter, Susan D. Henderson, mother’s last name is spelled  “Taggart.”

(2)    Schell, Edwin. “Preacher’s Collection.” Card File. Lovely Lane Museum & Archives (Baltimore, Maryland).

(3)  Maryland Historical Society. The Baltimore Album Quilt Tradition, (http://www.mdhs.org/QuiltPrj/baltoqu5.html : accessed 5 August 2010).

(4)    Baltimore (County), Maryland, Court Land Records, Liber AWB 384: 388-389; digital images, Mdlandrec.net (http://www.mdlandrec.net : accessed  14 October 2009), citing  Maryland State Archives CE 66-434.

 (5) 1850 U. S. Census, Baltimore (Independent ) City, Ward 4, p. 69B (stamped), dwelling 821, family 962, Levin Dukes; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 January 2010);  citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 282.

(6)    Baltimore (City), Maryland, Superior Court Land Records, Liber ED 8: 442-443; digital images, Mdlandrec.net (http://www.mdlandrec.net : accessed  14 October 2009), citing  Maryland State Archives CE 168-16.

(7)    “Died,” The (Baltimore) Sun, 26 May 1853, p. 2; digital images, Genealogy Bank, (www.genealogybank.com : 17 September 2009). 

(8)    Matchett’s Baltimore Directory (1849-1850).  Baltimore: R. J. Matchett, 1849, 112; digital image, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 31 July 2009.  Matchett’s Baltimore Directory (1851).  Baltimore: R. J. Matchett, 1851, 79, name spelled “Duke”; , digital image, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 14 October 2009 .  Matchett’s Baltimore Directory (1853-1854).  Baltimore: R. J. Matchett, 1853, 90. 

(9)     Woods’  Baltimore Directory (1858).  Baltimore:  John W. Woods, 1858, 150  and 317;  digital image, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 8 November 2009.  

The ownership of the Baltimore Street house was confirmed by the will of James J. Pawley.  Baltimore City, Maryland, Register of Wills, Wills, Liber JHB 38: 214, Maryland State Archives CM 219-20.

(10) Wesley E. Pippenger comp., District of Columbia Marriage Licenses: Register 1, 1811-1858 ; Register 2, 1858-1870, Westminster, Md.: Family Line, 1994: Register 2, p. 85.

(11)   Identification of the current location was made with the assistance of Maryland Historical Society senior reference librarian, Francis O’Neill, on 28 January 2010.  The 1887 Woods’ Baltimore Directory includes a conversion table of old to new street addresses; Sanborn Maps were also consulted:   Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., Baltimore, Maryland; vols. 1 & 2.  New York, NY : Sanborn, 1879-80.

 (12)   1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, Georgetown Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwelling 1034, family 1129, Levin Dukes; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 January 2010); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 101.

(13) “Died,” (Washington) Evening Star, 17 March 1866, p. 3, col. 2.
 
(14)  “St. Patrick’ Day…[Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun],”: The Baltimore Sun, 19 March 1866, p. 4; digital images, ProQuest Historical Newspapers (http://www.proquest.com : accessed 11 November 2009).

(15) “Died,” p. 3, col. 2.

(16) The Oak Hill Cemetery, Burial Records (http://www.oakhillcemeterydc.org/Burials/654.pdf : accessed 11 May 2009), citing  Wesley E. Pippenger’s “Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, D.C.: Monument Inscriptions and Burial Data, Parts One and Two” (2007), “Dukes, Levin.”

(17)  The current address for 66 Market Street, in the 1500 block of 33rd Street NW, was provided by Jerry A. McCoy, Special Collections Librarian/Archivist, Peabody Room/Georgetown Branch Library, Washingtoniana Division, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, in an email dated 7 June 2010, citing the Vertical Files.  

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