Dukedom, a Brief History
According to the facts gleaned from Dukedom, Then and Now (author
unnamed) and Tennessee History Series: Weakley County by Virginia C. Vaughan and
edited by Charles W. Crawford, Dukedom has had a long and interesting history.
As a stop on the stagecoach route from Dresden, Tennessee to Mills Point,
a port on the Mississippi River (now Hickman, Kentucky), Dukedom had become
established as a post village as early as 1833. At that time, Duke A. Beadles applied to Washington, D. C. so
that the community could acquire a post office. Supposedly, Dukedom is the only post office in the United
States by this name. Not only was
Beadles the first postmaster, but also the community's first merchant.
By the latter 1800s, a funeral home, blacksmiths, a Methodist Church and
Christian Church (both organized about 1863), a school, and three stores had
located there. Other businesses and schools entered the scene in the early
1900s, including two drug stores and three grocery stores.
The Dukedom Bank opened in 1904 under the direction of its first
president, Jim Si Cavender, with Everett Atkins as its first cashier.
Supposedly, the Dukedom Bank was one of the few banks to remain open
during the Great Depression. It
remained open because Mace Rose--the cashier--along with two policemen, went to
Paducah, Kentucky and managed to bring back enough money to restore the
confidence of the citizenry and, therefore, to prevent a run on the bank.
Other businesses during the first half of the century were two hotels,
distilleries, and saloons; a cotton gin, tobacco pricing barn, tannery,
barbershop, and shoe shop; and several groceries, and dry-goods stores.
There were also several doctors, two dentists, a brass band, a semi-pro
baseball team, and a telephone exchange. Early
switchboard operators were Horace Puckett and Almos Byars.
One of the many operators who worked and lived in the home containing the
switchboard were the grandparents of Marion Harris, current resident of Austin
Springs. She remembers John Hudson
and wife as the operators in the twenties and thirties.
John or "Toby" was also considered the area faith doctor.
People who believed in his touch would come for healing.
Early schools of the area were Dukedom Academy, Welch School, Ridgeway, McLean, Ellis, Slaughter, and Wiley. Today, consolidation has taken the school from the Dukedom community. However, there are still several businesses left there, including a restaurant, service station and garage, grocery, post office, bank, and funeral home, an auction barn, several beauty shops, and a slaughter house.