ORANGEBURG OUT OF THE PAST

W. Hampton Dukes: 1867-1947 Mr. W. Hampton Dukes established what is now the longstanding funeral service establishment in Orangeburg, Dukes-Harley Funeral Home, in 1896. Hampy Dukes was born in 1867, one of fourteen children born to John Henry and Sophia Dukes in Orangeburg. He was named for his father’s former cavalry commander General Wade Hampton. Mr. Dukes was educated in Orangeburg and was an avid baseball player, having played on a local all star team called the Orangeburg Diamonds that played against teams from other towns and cities. He graduated from Professor J.H. Clark’s School of Embalming in 1895. In 1896 he established the Dukes Undertaking Company on St. John Street near the county jail. His business was granted one of the first licenses in South Carolina issued to embalmers. For the first several years he was the only licensed embalming firm between Columbia and Charleston. In that day and time all funerals were conducted with horse buggies and carriages. Additionally he sold marble and granite tombstones for cemetery graves. Mr. Dukes was a past president of the South Carolina Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association. He was a member of the Rotary Club here, as well as being a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World. He was very active in civic affairs in Orangeburg. Religiously he was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Methodist Church. Upon his retirement Clifton and I.S. Harley continued his funeral business as the Dukes-Harley Funeral Home which is now celebrating 120 years of offering funeral services here in Orangeburg. Mr. Dukes was an avid fisherman and was well known for the fish fries he held. He even had a custom made cast iron frying pan for these events that measured over three feet in diameter. Mr. Dukes married the former Agnes Lightfoot and they had two daughters, Mrs. G.E. Rhodes and Mrs. R.C. Leslie. He died in 1947.

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