”JOHN K. DUKE, secretary, treasurer and business manager of the Royal Savings and Loan Association Company, of Portsmouth, Ohio, was bom in Piketon, Pike county, Ohio, August 20, 1844, and is the son of Samuel Duke, who died in March, 1846, when his son was only eighteen months old. He was a Pennsylvania German and a radical oldline Whig, very active in the support of that party. He came to Ohio about 1825, locating at Piketon. His counsel was often sought on business and political questions. He was a man of wide, general information, a deep thinker, and his opinions were never hasty or ill-advised. By trade he was a hat-maker, and in following that pursuit provided for the maintenance of himself and family. He married Miss Elizabeth Ware, a native of Virginia, born in 1832. They reared a family of three children, our subject being the only son. The mother died in May, 1883.
John K. Duke lived in Piketon until 1862, and attended the schools of that village, acquiring a good, practical education. During the second year of the war he enlisted, but owing to his extreme youth was discharged. Subsequently he enlisted with Company F, Fifty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was accepted, mustered into service and his command was assigned to the Fifteenth Army Corps, commanded by the gallant and peerless Major-General John A. Logan, and served until the close of the war, August, 1865. He was in all the engagements with his command; went with Sherman on the celebrated march to the sea, and through the Carolinas to Washington, District of Columbia, and participated in the grand review; and subsequently his command was assigned to duty in the Indian Territory, and was not discharged until the period named above. He has in his possession the gun and accouterments which he carried throughout his term of enlistment. He was accounted a brave and loyal soldier, and his fidelity to the cause he loved was above question.
After the war Mr. Duke was engaged first at school-teaching, but in October, 1866, he located at Portsmouth and has since made his home here, except as hereinafter mentioned. He became a bookkeeper in a wholesale hardware house, and soon afterward secured a similar position in the First National Bank, holding this position until 1874, when he was tendered the position of financial manager and accountant with the Wilson Sewing Machine Company of Chicago, and for one year had an office on the corner of Adams and State streets. At the close of the first year’s contract he was transferred to the company’s office at 827 Broadway, New York city. In time, his health failing, he returned to Portsmouth again, engaging in the real-estate and insurance business, and representing fifteen of the leading American and foreign companies in the country.
In 1890 he established a new system whereby loans could be made for building purposes, his methods being much superior to the old ones for the investing parties. In the past eight years he has built up a business with assets of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and through this enterprise has not only benefited the stockholders but has also enabled hundreds to secure homes in Portsmouth, thus materially aiding in the growth and improvement of the city. Mr. Duke is secretary, treasurer and general manager of the company, and by the exercise of his superior powers of management has placed the enterprise on a very paying basis, being of mutual benefit to the borrower and the lender.
Mr. Duke is an able man of affairs and occupies an eminent position in the circles of the Grand Army of the Republic. He was the organizer and installing officer of every post established in Scioto county and also in many of the other counties in southern Ohio. He labors untiringly for the good of the order, and has served as a delegate to the national encampment. His membership is in Bailey Post, No. 164, of Portsmouth. He has also organized many of the fraternal organizations of southern Ohio, and has been the means of paying thousands and thousands of dollars to widows and orphans through such organizations.
He has been a life-long member of the Methodist Episcopal church and is also a member of the official board of said church and an enthusiastic and efficient worker in the Sunday-school. While he does not seek notoriety, in fact, endeavors to avoid it, yet he is called upon to deliver public addresses in behalf of the Grand Army, the fraternal organizations and church societies. In these lines he is considered an eloquent an instructive speaker.
He was treasurer of the board of education of the city of Portsmouth for a number of years, and the cause of education has always found in him a warm friend.
Mr. Duke cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln while in the army in 1864, and has never wavered in his support of Republican principles; has always been active in local politics and an able adviser upon all public matters, and he works quietly but persistently, his support of the party arising from his honest convictions that the best interest of the country will be subserved by Republican rule.
Mr. Duke was united in marriage October 27, 1870, to Miss Lola C. Lloyd, a daughter of Thomas G. Lloyd, an honored pioneer of Ohio and one of the substantial residents of Portsmouth, Ohio. Their only child, John K. Duke, Jr., is an active young Republican and promises to be a duplicate of his father in business pursuits.”
Death of John K. Duke – “Puts Bullet in Brain”, front page
Link Courtesy of Jose A. Munoz
Source: History of the Republican Party in Ohio, Vol. 2, by Joseph Patterson Smith, The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1898, pages 154-5