FRISBY PRATT DUKES first came to Benton County in 1855, in search of a location, and in the following year moved here with his family. He was born in Caroline County, Md., Sept. 22, 1819, and is the son of Daniel Dukes, born in Maryland, but of English descent, and Anastacia (Plummer) Dukes, American born, but of Scotch descent. They were married about 1817 and were the parents of nine children, seven of whom lived to be adults, two dying in infancy — Frisby Pratt, Martha, Mary, Theodore, Ethelinda, Thomas and Louesa. He was in the War of 1812 and was at Baltimore at the time that city was threatened. His old musket was in the family for many years. Daniel Dukes' last Presidential vote was cast for William Henry Harrison, Frisby at that time casting his first vote for the same candidate. In 1826 the family moved to Richland County, Ohio, then a new country, locating in the heavy timber, where Mr. Dukes died in 1842, Mrs. Dukes surviving him until about 1877. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
F. P. Dukes, the subject of this sketch, being the oldest of the family, upon the death of his father the support of the family was thrown upon him. In that early day wages were very low, and when twenty-two years of age he worked for $10 a month by the year, giving the entire amount for the support of the family. On the 14th day of February, 1850, he was married, in Richland County, Ohio, to Miss Cornelia Kerr, born July 9, 1822, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Mercer) Kerr, who were the parents of eleven children — John, David, Cornelia, William, Amos, Thomas, Isaiah, James, Levi, Nancy A. and Francis. In October, 1848, Mr. Dukes went to Illinois, and located in Peoria County. After his marriage in 1859 he moved his family to Elmwood, in that county, where he was employed by W. J. Phelps, and he helped raise a crop of wheat on the site of the present town of Elmwood. Starting from Richland County, he had but little money, and when he reached Peoria County it was gone. Meeting Mr. Phelps, a prominent man of that county, he made some inquiries as to Rock Island County. Mr. Phelps asked him if he did not want a job, and being out of money he struck a bargain with him and remained two years. In the meantime he purchased a fine piece of land one and a quarter miles west of Elmwood. Moving upon it he improved and subsequently sold it to Mr. Phelps. He purchased the land at $5 and sold it at $40 per acre. On coming to Benton County he bought land on sections 27 and 28, in Taylor Township, owning at one time 680 acres. He improved 280 and sold the remainder at a considerable advance on what he paid for the same. At that time there were but few scattered houses along the timber, all of them being of the rudest kind. His first grain was hauled to Iowa City, then the terminus of the Rock Island Railroad. For his wheat he received forty cents per bushel. It required three days to make the trip. Sometime later he raised large quantities of corn and many hogs. He says that he sold forty as fine hogs as he ever saw for $1.20 per hundred. At the same time he sold 900 bushels of corn to Joseph Houck for twelve and one-half cents per bushel. Being desirous of benefiting his town, he subscribed $300 toward building the bed of the railroad, which he paid for in oats at fifteen cents and corn at twenty cents per bushel.In early life Mr. Dukes was a Whig, but subsequently became a Republican. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which body his wife is also a member. Mr. and Mrs. Dukes are the parents of four living children — Mary, wife of D. E. Voris, attorney at law, Vinton; Charles, a graduate of Cornell College, now engaged in teaching; Edwin, a student in Cornell College, married to Miss Kate Thomas, a teacher and graduate of the New York State Normal School; and Ida. In October, 1877, Mr. Dukes moved to Vinton, where he now resides, and owns a nice residence on Jefferson street.
Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies" [database online] Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <http://iagenweb.org/benton/>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 242-243.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on January 28th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.