Looking to get some history at home and keep little (or big!) hands busy? Check out our online activities!
Digital Jigsaw Puzzles
Take a virtual tour around the historic property via jigsaw puzzle! The button below will take you to a trusted website where we have uploaded pictures from around Duke Homestead. Work together, or compete to see who can finish in the best time!
Click on the buttons below to pull up PDFs of activity sheets. You can print and fill these out to learn some history about Duke Homestead, tobacco, and North Carolina!
Click on the buttons below to pull up PDFs of drawings to color in while learning a little bit of relevant history and context for the images.
Washington Duke was born in December 1820. The eighth of ten children, he grew up in what is today known as Bahama, NC on his family's farm near the Little River. He was raised on farming and Methodism. Washington married Mary Caroline Clinton when he was 21 years old, and soon had two sons, Sidney and Brodie Duke. After the death of his first wife, he remarried in 1852 to Artelia Roney. They had three children together: Benjamin Newton, Mary Elizabeth, and James Buchanan Duke. Though Sidney Duke sadly died at 14 years old, and his mother Artelia soon after.
When he married Artelia in 1852, Washington built the house that still stands at Duke Homestead. Washington Duke returned home after serving in the Confederate Navy in the Civil War and decided to begin a tobacco manufacturing business: W. Duke & Sons. He and his children, Mary included, produced, packaged, and sold pipe tobacco. Washington lived at the homestead with his family until 1874, which is when they moved into what is now downtown Durham. This business that began in a small corn crib would one day become the American Tobacco Company.
Washington is widely remember for his philanthropic efforts, which were motivated largely by his Methodist faith. Washington Duke was a devout Methodist whose faith guided him in all aspects of his life, and he even met his second wife, Artelia Roney, at a Methodist revival. He donated to many educational and religious institutions in the Durham area.
On May 1, 1881, Washington Duke, and four others were elected the first Commissioners of the newly-formed Durham County. Duke was one of the leaders in petitioning to have Durham County created.
You may have seen a similar bug to this chowing down on your tomato plants. Tobacco hornworms and tomato hornworms are very closely related, but slightly different. Hornworms are the larvae of the Carolina sphinx moth, and are infamous for chewing large holes through the valuable leaves of the plants. They can grow to be up to three inches long!
The nicotine present in tobacco is toxin that acts a natural defense for the plant; most organisms would die after ingesting it, but hornworms do not suffer any ill effects. Scientists have also found that hornworms are able to use the nicotine they ingest for their own defense against predators, like wolf spiders. Two hornworms are capable of quickly eating through all the leaves of a tobacco plant!
Deworming the tobacco plants has long been a common job for young workers on the farm — children go through the rows of plants and pick the hornworms off the leaves, squishing them or dropping them into buckets of water to get rid of them. In the heat of July, this is an unenviable job!
Durham is known as the Bull City. From the Durham Bulls baseball team, with mascot Wool E. Bull, to Major, the bull statue seen downtown, “Bull” can be seen all over Durham. This all dates back to the highly popular Bull Durham smoking tobacco, originally established by John Ruffin Green in the 1850s. This brand was one the world's best-known tobacco products in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Green adopted the bull head as a mascot for his smoking tobacco during the Civil War, when it began to boom in popularity.
The company was eventually acquired by W. T. Blackwell, who ramped up advertising for the product. The bull was soon everywhere, painted on the sides of buildings, on billboards, and even at baseball stadiums. By 1910 there were approximately 150 Bull Durham signs in ballparks across the country. The baseball team that began as the Tobacconists reformed in 1912 as the Durham Bulls team that we know and love today. Blackwell’s factory still stands in downtown Durham today, as part of the American Tobacco Campus, and is now used as an apartment building — look for the Old Bull sign on top!
Duke Homestead Building Coloring Pages
Washington Duke built this home in 1852 and moved in with his second wife, Artelia Roney Duke, and his two sons from his first marriage, Sidney and Brodie. Artelia and Washington had three more children in this home between 1853-1856 (Mary, Benjamin, and James). At its peak, this four-room house accommodated eight people, including a young girl named Caroline, who was enslaved here in 1855. Duke later expanded the house, adding a dining room and enclosing what was a separate kitchen cabin. In 1931 Duke University acquired the Homestead, and donated it to the state of NC to become a public historic site in 1974.
Tobacco has a long history in North America, starting with Native American culture. After adopting the use of tobacco from Native peoples, early American colonists began air-curing tobacco, which resulted in a dark tobacco leaf. By the mid-1800s, farmers in the Piedmont region were producing Brightleaf Tobacco. Brightleaf, also known as flue-cured tobacco, has a bright golden color and is created through the flue-curing process, which was developed over generations of work by farmers and enslaved laborers. Combined with the right seed and soil types, this tobacco yielded a sweet, lemony yellow leaf ideal for smoking, and fetched high prices.
When it was time to cure the tobacco, it was usually the women’s job to tie the tobacco leaves to tobacco sticks, while children handed them bundles of leaves. The men would tend the fire around the clock for nearly a week, carefully monitoring the heat and progress of the leaves inside. Today the process looks very different, but requires the same highly specialized knowledge and skill.
Once tobacco leaves had been cured, they were moved to the packhouse to be rehydrated and stored for sale. After essentially being baked for a week, tobacco leaves become dry and brittle. Sticks hung with now dry leaves are placed in the lower level “ordering pit,” where leaves absorb the moisture from the exposed ground. The leaves are then pliable enough to be graded—sorted based by size, color, texture, and leaf injury. Leaves would be bundled into “hands” of about 15 similar quality leaves, then stored in the upper level pack house until it was time to go to market. This packhouse was built c. 1901 by the second owners of Duke Homestead, the Newtons.
After his time serving in the Civil War, Washington Duke transitioned from farming to manufacturing pipe tobacco, creating the company W. Duke & Sons in 1865. After outgrowing their first and second factories, Duke constructed this building in 1869. Here the Dukes and other laborers flailed, stemmed, and grated cured tobacco leaves to produce their pipe tobacco, Pro Bono Publico. In 1872 Duke produced about 125,000 pounds of pipe tobacco from his homestead factories. In 1874 Duke left his farm to expand his business in Durham.