William A. Duke has been a resident of Wayne county since his birth and is numbered among the honored citizens and successful farmers of Green township. He was born at Williamsburg, this county, Feb. 15, 1847, a son of Solomon M. and Eliza (Bishop) Duke, the former born in North Carolina and the latter in Webster township, Wayne county.
The maternal great-grandfather, Benjamin Bishop, was born at Kingwood, N.J., April 5, 1759, and in 1779 volunteered for service in the Revolutionary war. His father was also born in New Jersey and was a sea captain. While in London he was "impressed" into the British naval service and was so held seventeen years, for eleven years of the time being kept continuously on a war vessel. After his release he returned to America to find that his family had gone west to occupy some Revolutionary war land grants in Eastern Ohio. From there they had removed to Wayne county, locating at Webster, where he eventually found them, and he lived there the remainder of his life. Solomon M. Duke, a son of John Duke, removed from North Carolina to Ohio and thence to Wayne county. He was a tailor by trade and located at Williamsburg, becoming one of the influential citizens of that village and being held in uniform confidence and esteem. His wife passed away in 1876 and his death occurred in 1888. They were the parents of fourteen children, four of whom are living: Benjamin, a Civil war veteran, resides in Richmond; Wiliam A. is the next in order of age; Marian is the wife of John King, of Centerville; and George is a farmer in Green township.
William A. Duke is indebted to the schools of Williamsburg for his early educational training and attended until about sixteen or seventeen years old. When a lad of twelve years he worked out by the month, attending school when he could, and he has devoted a good portion of his active career to the agricultural industry, being now the owner of a well improved farm of 150 acres. At the age of nineteen years he purchased a team, earning the money to pay for it, and then rented fields near Williamsburg and farmed three or four years. He then purchased a threshing outfit and operated that in season fifteen years. He also purchased a half interest in a saw mill with Reuben Woolley and became actively engaged in operating that and two threshing outfits, at the same time buying walnut andother timber and hauling it to Richmond. In 1883 he sold the mill and purchased the place where he now resides. He is a general farmer and stock raiser, and through energy and good management has developed a valuable property, the while he has so ordered his life as to gain and retain the high regard of his fellow men. He is very liberal in his political views, and while he takes a loyal interest in local affairs of a public nature has never been incumbent of office. Mr. Duke has been twice married. His first union was solemnized in 1878 with Miss Mary Smelser, daughter of John and Eliza (Stegall) Smelser, and she died in 1881, being survived by one son, Frank, a farmer in Green township. In 1883 Mr. Duke contracted a second marriage, being then united in wedlock to Miss Margaret Ellen Outland, born in Randolph county, Indiana, Sept. 29, 1855, a daughter of Thomas J. and Assinith (Pritchard) Outland, who came to Randolph county from North Carolina, Mr. Outland bringing a number of slaves with him and setting them free when he reached the soil of Indiana.
Of this second union of Mr. Duke were born six children-Charles, Harold, Mary, Herschel, Robert, and Clifford. Harold married Emma White, daughter of William White, and they have a son, Doyle. Mr. Duke has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Williamsburg, since early manhood, and his wife is a birthright member of the Friends' church.
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