Brodie Duke


Brodie Leonidas Duke (September 17, 1846 - February 2, 1919) was an American entrepreneur, often credited with starting the tobacco manufacturing industry in
Durham, North Carolina Durham ( ) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defi ...
. Founder of Semper Idem, and co-founder of W. Duke, Sons & Co., Brodie produced and sold tobacco products across North Carolina for over 20 years. He mainly worked out of his property around Downtown Durham, including from his famous warehouse, the Brodie Duke Warehouse.

Early life

Brodie Duke was born in 1846, to
Washington Duke Washington Duke (December 18, 1820 – May 8, 1905) was an United States of America, American tobacco industrialist and philanthropist who fought in the American Civil War for the Confederate States Navy. In 1865, he founded the "W. Duke, Sons & ...
and Mary Caroline Clinton two years after their first child, Sidney Taylor Duke. Just one year after Brodie's birth, his mother died. Five years later, his father remarried to Artelia Roney, from
Alamance County, North Carolina Alamance County in the south-central part of the county just north of Snow Camp, North Carolina, Snow Camp. Bass Mountain, one of the prominent hills in the range, is home to a world-renowned bluegrass music festival every year. Also, isolated m ...
. Washington and Artelia had three children, Mary Elizabeth Duke,
Benjamin Newton Duke Benjamin Newton Duke (April 25, 1855 – January 8, 1929) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of Ameri ...
, and
James Buchanan Duke James Buchanan Duke (December 23, 1856 – October 10, 1925) was an American tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In bio ...
. In 1858, Sidney caught
typhoid fever Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella ''Salmonella'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living an ...
and died at age 14. Days later, Artelia, who had been caring for Sidney, fell ill and died as well. Along with his father, Brodie volunteered for military service in the Civil War, and served as a guard.


The Duke family owned and ran a 72-acre farm in what is Durham County today. Brodie was the first of the family to move away, and relocated himself to Durham. He purchased a two-level space, living in the upper level, while selling tobacco from the lower level. After a few years, the rest of the Dukes followed in Brodie's footsteps, and moved to Durham. At this time, Washington Duke built a split warehouse to share with Brodie, and the two held an agreement by which each would sell the other's products. Eventually, Brodie built his own warehouse, and co-founded "W. Duke, Sons & Co." with his father, step-brothers, and a family business partner, George Washington Watts. Despite the rest of the Duke family's affection towards Watts, Brodie despised him. So much so, that he bought three pieces of land in Durham, and named the streets so that they read, "Washington, Hated, Watts," from East to West. In 1902, however, "Hated St." was renamed "Gregson St." after Amos Gregson, a Durham minister. Built around 1878, the Brodie Duke Warehouse is the oldest warehouse, and one of the oldest tobacco-related buildings, in Durham. It remained operational through the mid-twentieth century. In 2000, educational testing company,
Measurement Incorporated Measurement Incorporated is an educational testing company based in Durham, North Carolina. The company was founded in 1980 by Dr. Henry Scherich. Measurement Incorporated currently administers state-wide standardized tests for Arizona, California, ...
purchased the warehouse and renovated it.


When he first moved away from his family, and started his business in Durham, Brodie developed an addiction to alcohol. In the early 1890s, he traveled to Illinois to receive the " Keeley Cure" for his alcoholism. The process started with the institution offering the new patient as much alcohol as they could drink. Each patient received injections of bichloride of gold four times a day, as well as multiple other tonics, for four weeks. He returned to North Carolina completely sober, however less than 3 years later, he declared bankruptcy, the mills were taken over by Benjamin, and Brodie returned to his alcoholic tendencies.


{{DEFAULTSORT:Duke, Brodie 1846 births 1919 deaths People from Orange County, North Carolina Duke family