In the last two posts, I detailed what I have learned about the life of 2nd great grandfather Levin Dukes from his first known appearance in Baltimore records in 1847 until his death in Georgetown in 1866. But who are Levin’s parents and where was he born?
Maryland is listed as his state of birth in both the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses; it is also listed as his first wife Susan’s place of birth in 1850. (1) Twentieth-century census records for three daughters, Susan, Sarah, and Fannie, all identify Maryland as the birthplace of their father. (2)
His age of 39 in the 1850 census, and an 1866 death notice referring to him as being in his “54th year,” suggest a birth year range of 1810 to 1813. (3) At this point, I’m regarding the age of 40 listed in 1860 as one of those census anomalies; his age was probably provided by his twenty-four year old bride. (4) He’s not the first man to have aged only one year in a ten-year span!
Pre-1850 federal censuses list only heads of household by name; Levin is not indexed as a head of household anywhere in 1840, when he would have been aged 27 to 30. There is only one Dukes household indexed in the 1840 federal census for Baltimore; it does not include a male his age. (5) He was probably single until his marriage to Susan in 1847, and if indeed he lived in Baltimore, he was most likely a boarder represented by a tick mark only. Levin and Susan were married in what could be considered a nontraditional church, serving the maritime population, suggesting few family ties to Baltimore. (6)
Margaret Dukes’ 1866 letter, to the D. C. district court overseeing Levin’s estate, states that her younger stepdaughter, Sarah, our great grandmother, was staying with an uncle in Baltimore. (7) So far, there is no evidence that she stayed with anyone other than James Pawley, Jr. Pawley died in 1872 and his will carefully lists family members and their relationships in each clause that devises real and personal property. (8) The “orphans of Levin Dukes” are explicitly mentioned in his will; he instructed his executors to pay the interest earned by Baltimore City stock worth $2,500 to James, Susan, and Sarah, with no mention of a blood relationship. (9)
The surname Dukes appears most frequently in the counties of Caroline and Worcester, and to a lesser extent in Queen Anne’s County, all on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and contiguous Sussex County in Delaware. The border between Delaware and Maryland is a fluid one; people readily moved back and forth.That a man, who eventually built his modest fortune on the water, grew up in a seagoing county seems a strong possibility. It’s a least a working hypothesis! Further weight was given to this theory by two renowned genealogists, who both observed that they had never seen the given name Levin outside the Delmarva Peninsula or descendants of area residents. (10)
It’s complicated, though. There is not one Dukes household in any of those counties that has the right age and gender data match for Levin in 1820 to 1840. If his father died when he was young, his mother could have remarried and moved him into a household headed by stepfather. He may never have been enumerated in a Dukes household; he was born just after the 1810 count.
In the aftermath of Levin’s death, no immediate family members stepped forward to take care of his children of his first marriage. That’s the corollary to my working hypothesis; he left the Eastern Shore as a young man to make his living and had few ties to his childhood home.
I’ve consulted as many derivative and secondary, published sources as I could locate in Baltimore (but certainly not all that have been published) on the counties of Caroline, Worcester, Queen Anne’s and Sussex, without seeing a single reference to a Levin Dukes born 1810-1813. It’s time to delve more directly into original sources at the Maryland State Archives – land records, wills, estate files, guardianship papers, etc. Because there is a cluster of individuals named Levi (very similar name and one often indexed as Levin) and James (the name of his son) in Caroline County, that’s where I’m starting.
After Caroline County, I’m heading directly to Sussex County, Delaware (research-wise) before the other Maryland counties because that’s where Margaret Dukes found her second husband – an intriguing clue, albeit one that undercuts my few-ties-to-childhood-home corollary. (11)
(1) 1850 U. S. Census, Baltimore (Independent ) City, Maryland, pop. sched., 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. 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, pop. sched. 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.
(2)1900 U. S. Census, Montgomery County, Maryland, pop. sched., 2nd District, Clarksburg, enumeration district (ED) 50, p. 20B, dwelling 375, family 387, Susin R. Henderson; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 625. 1900 U. S. Census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, pop. sched., Greensburg Ward 1, enumeration district (ED) 100, p. 30A, dwelling 574, family 625 [smudged], Sarah D. Offutt line 46; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1497. 1900 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., North West Fork Hundred, enumeration district (ED) 99, p. 10B, dwelling 193, family 194, Fannie A. Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 157. 1910 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., Representative District 2 (Greenwood), enumeration district (ED) 105, p. 3A, dwelling 52, family 57, Fannie Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 148. 1920 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., Greenwood Town, enumeration district (ED) 181, p. 1A, dwelling 11, family 11, Fannie Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 200.
(3) 1850 U. S. Census, Baltimore (Independent ) City, Maryland, pop. sched., Ward 4, p. 69B (stamped), dwell. 821, fam. 962, Levin Dukes. “Died,” (Washington) Evening Star, 17 March 1866, p. 3, col. 2.
(4) 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, Georgetown, pop. sched. Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwell. 1034, fam. 1129, Levin Dukes.
(5) A search of the 1840 federal census of the Dukes surname in Baltimore, using Ancestry.com, turned up one hit, a household headed by James Dukes, age 40-50, and including only one other male, age five to 10.
(6) “Married,” The (Baltimore) Sun, 23 January 1847, p. 2, col. 4. Schell, Edwin. “Preacher’s Collection.” Card File. Lovely Lane Museum & Archives (Baltimore, Maryland).
(7)Letter from M.A. Dukes dated June 26, 1866, transcribed by Malissa Ruffner, 3 September 2009; Levin Dukes Guardianship Case 1832; Old Series Administration Case Files, 1801-1878; Record Group 21; National Archives Building, Washington, D. C.
(8) Baltimore City, Maryland, Register of Wills, Wills, Liber JHB 38: 214, James Pawley, Jr. (1872), Maryland State Archives CM 219-20, Annapolis, MD.
(10) Lloyd Bockstruck and Karen Mauer Green, informal conversations with Malissa Ruffner, held 18 June 2010 at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, and 13 January 2011, at the Family History Library, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively.
(11) Pippenger, Wesley E., compiler., District of Columbia Marriage Licenses: Register 1, 1811-1858 ; Register 2, 1858-1870 (Westminster, MD: Famiiy Line, 1994), Register 2, p. 85.