The Story

The Story


“ The cornerstone of this building which we dedicate today bears the inscription: “Artelia Roney Duke Science Building. Donated by her sons, James B. and Benjamin N. Duke. ”

Governor of NC, Angus W. McLean

Dedicatory Exercises and Addresses

April 27, 1927

Catching big air

New Years in Oregon

The Crew at the Cabin

My Photo Albums

It seems entirely fitting that Washington Duke should have met Artelia Roney, while attending a protracted meeting at old Pisgah Church.  He was visiting in the community, and from the first meeting he was attracted irresistibly to her. He became a frequent visitor at her home and at length took her for his wife.

They were married at her home.  Esquire Jesse Gant, one of their neighbors, who was a Justice of Peace, performed the ceremony.

They established a modest home in Durham County, there, three children were born to this union: Mary, who married Robert E. Lyon; Benjamin and James Buchanan, generally known as “Buck.”

Her home life was filled with duties, occupations and joys that are usual to a young wife and mother - cleaning, cooking, sewing, mending, entertaining, instructing inspiring the young minds and hearts of her children and making a haven of peace for her devoted husband.

In the wisdom of God, at an early age, she had done her work and earned her rest.  In the full bloom of her young womanhood, before the sun had reached its zenith and while it yet climbed toward midday, God called her, and she slept.

On August 20th, 1858, at only twenty-nine years of age, she was laid to rest in the soft bosom of mother earth in the little Methodist church yard at what is now Haw River, within a few hundred yards of that great artery of transportation on Highway Number 10.  There she rests:

                                                        “.  .  .  by the side of the road

                                            where the race of men go by.”

The children, thus early deprived of the ministering love of their young mother and the husband so soon bereft, cherished her memory in their hearts.

Washington Duke never married again and the children were largely cared for by their aunts. In their early ‘teens we find them back at their grandfather’s home at “Granny Roney’s”, where they spent three years under her guidance.

These years were filled with the usual occupations of happy normal boys and girls of that time.  Here they milked the cows, did the chores, worked out on the farm and went to school at the old log schoolhouse known as Harden’s schoolhouse and later at a school that was conducted at Old Pisgah Church.

There is strong evidence that the old swimming hole in Boyd’s Creek was a place of rendezvous for all the boys of the neighborhood, and that “Bull Pen”,” the forerunner of modern baseball, was a favorite sport.  Not the least enthusiastic devotees of these sports were the two sons of Artelia Roney Duke.

“Granny” Roney was a rigid taskmistress and a strict disciplinarian, and something of her strong personality and discipline was communicated to her granchildren at this critical ‘teen age in their lives.

It is always an interesting and sometimes fruitful field of study, to endeavor to know the fountains of inspiration, from which beneficent and noble actions flow.

The recent philanthropies of her sons, to Church and to educaton - the statesman-like vision and the conception of a healing ministry that brings to practical charity all the business acumen and efficiency of the modern captain of industry - cause one to question:  What was the source of the inspiration, whence came the urge, for these great philanthropies, which are notable, not alone for the magnitude and splendor of their conception, but also for the commanding genius of their organization and execution?

Others have made great fortunes; others have exhibited commanding genius for organizing and exploiting resources in America and the world that have brought them to positions of commanding influence in the control and disposition of vast sums of money.  And many of them have been content to pass from the scene of their earthly labors, without much care or concern for the generations that are to follow them.

It is the everlasting credit of the sons of Artelia Roney Duke that they have had the disposition, the desire and the urge to make splendid contributions to many worthy causes that from time to time have met with their approval and favor. 

We are learning anew the truth of the old adage “As the twig is bent, so the tree will be inclined”  Modern students of child nature have insisted that the first days and months of a child’s life, certainly the first few years, the pre-school age, is the age that gives the child the great body of his impressions and his acquaintance with his world and the direction and intensity of his interest. 

It was the privilege of her children to come under the spell of her influence, to drink from her soul, as she poured her soul and spirit into the souls and the spirits of her little ones, for only a few brief years.  She died at only twenty- nine years of age; but not too soon for her to have left upon the young hearts and lives of her children the deep and lasting impress of her devout character that filled them with reverence for God and love for fellow-man and a sense of the stewardship of life.  The strength of her personality so burned itself into the warp and the woof of the lives of her children that the fruit of their labors and the beneficence of their hands are but the realization of her dreams and aspirations for them.

The first command with promise enjoins the honoring of “father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

The donors of this building, erected to the memory of their mother, may rightly claim the promise of that command and we rejoice that we are privileged to help to honor this girl of Alamance County, whose sons have honored her, and in so doing are receiving the rich blessings of Almighty God and the thanks and appreciation of this generation, and will receive the generous appreciation of generations yet unborn.

Artelia Roney Duke, An Appreciation

By D.R. Fonville, Burlington NC

The Artelia Roney Duke Science Building

Dedicatory Exercises and Addresses

Elon College, North Carolina

April 27, 1927

On the Slopes

Artelia Roney Duke

“An Appreciation”

Following is a speech written and given by D.R. Fonville of Burlington, NC at the Dedication of the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building on April 27, 1927. The building was donated to Elon College in Artelia Roney Duke’s memory by her sons James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke of Duke University. The speech offers a glimpse back in time of the Roney, Trollinger and Duke Families.

On June 28, 1829 a girl baby came to live at the modest country home of John and Mary Roney in what was then Orange County and in 1845 came to be Alamance County, North Carolina. 

She was named Artelia and was the sixth of twelve children.  Her home was such as was the usual home of the sturdy settlers of a rural community who lived close to the soil and to whom the job of wresting from nature a living for a large family, with limited equipment, was serous business.

In her veins ran the blood of thrifty American stock, in which was a strain of Scotch-Irish, which has been noted for practical common sense joined to high idealism and piety. 

Ten miles from this campus still stands the old John Roney home, her birth-place, near the banks of Boyd’s Creek, a quarter of a mile from Stonewall Springs, which her sons later acquired from the father of your speaker.  For many years they had its waters shipped regularly to them, not alone, as we believe, for the health-giving properties of its mineral content, but in part, because it came from the birth-place of their mother. 

She was fortunate in her parentage.  Her father, John Roney, was thrifty, hard-working, deeply religious, a great lover of his church, and enjoyed the high esteem of his fellow citizens. 

Her mother was Mary Trollinger, a sister of William H. Trollinger, who gave the site of the beautiful campus on which Elon College is now built.  The Trollingers have long enjoyed the great respect and esteem of their fellows, and have always been noted for their thrift and industry, their practical common sense, as well as their high standards of morality and their keen appreciation of spiritual values.

She grew to young womanhood, a lovely and attractive personality, attending church regularly at old Pisgah Methodist Episcopal Church, not far from her home.

LINK: Artelia Roney Duke
An article written by North Carolina genealogist
and historian, Lousie Overton. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/RONEY/2000-01/0948984635

Artelia Roney Duke Building

Elon University   Elon, North Carolina

The Roney Fountain-KHC 2011

Photograph: Elon University Website

Artelia Roney Duke, daughter of John and Mary (Trollinger) Roney and granddaughter of Henry and Mary “Polly” (Thomas) Trollinger, married Washington Duke in 1852.  “Telia”, a devoted wife and mother of three children, Mary Elizabeth, James Buchanan, Benjamin Newton, and two children from Washington’s first marriage, Brodie and Sidney, lived in a modest home now referred to as the Duke Homestead in Durham county . 

In 1858, Sidney contracted Typhoid and Telia rushed the child of 13 years into seclusion to her hometown in Haw River to care for him.  Sidney died on August 10th and Telia died ten days later on August 20th leaving behind her husband, Washington Duke and four children.

Barbara Anne “Annie” Roney and Elisabeth “Bettie” Roney, sisters of Artelia quickly rushed to the Duke Homestead to care for Washington, Brodie and Artelia’s young children, James (Buck), Benjamin (Ben), and Mary. 

In 1863, Washington and Brodie joined the Civil War effort. For three years the three children, now in their ‘teens, were sent to live with Artelia’s parents, the children’s grandparents, John and Mary Roney in Haw River.  It is written that “Granny” Roney was a rigid taskmistress and a strict disciplinarian and the children learned to farm, milk cows and attended school at Harden’s Schoolhouse and Old Pisgah Church.

Following the Civil War in 1865, Washington Duke and the children returned to the Duke homestead.  Annie and Bettie Roney, sisters of Artelia, continued to care for the children at the Durham home.  Washington and his sons began selling cigarettes out of a wagon across the state and ultimately built a factory at the crossroads of Durham with crude machines to manufacture cigarettes.

In 1875 Washington Duke contributed his first gift in the amount of $85,000 to the Methodist Church, Trinity College which ultimately became Duke University. 

Over time, Anne became a permanent member of the Washington Duke household caring for the children and Washington at the Fairview Estate in Durham, North Carolina until Washington Duke’s death in 1905.

Throughout her life with the Washington Duke family, Anne became interested in the development of Trinity College, which ultimately became Duke University. Barbara Anne Roney donated the Roney Fountain to Trinity College in 1901 that served as a centerpiece of the college entrance in honor of Washington Duke and also donated a valuable Shakespearean collection to the Trinity College Library.  Barbara Anne Roney died at 83 in 1922.

Records also indicate William Henry Trollinger, Artelia’s family relative had given the land for the site of the Elon Campus to Elon College.  In 1927 the late James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke, sons of Artelia Roney donated the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building to Elon College following the devistating fire at the college campus in 1923. The following was written for the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building Dedicatory Exercises and Addresses:

“Mr. Duke presented a beautiful life size portrait of his mother as a gift to the college for the dedication ceremony. This portrait has been placed in the corridor of the first floor of the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building, where it will perpetually remain and speak its message of beautiful motherhood to all who shall look upon it.”

On May 11, 2011, The Roney Fountain was beautifully restored, relocated and dedicated in honor of Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, niece of Benjamin N. Duke and James B. Duke at a dedication ceremony in the Rose Garden Circle at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens of Duke Universiaty wth Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke University and William M. LeFevre, Executive Director of Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

In September of 2011, Preservation North Carolina presented an award to Duke University for the preservation of  The Roney Fountain.

Roney Fountain: Durham County Library

April 27, 1927 Dedication of Artelia Roney Duke Science Building Excerpt from Dedicatory Exercises and Addresses, Elon College

“Mr. Duke presented a beautiful life size portrait of his mother as a gift to the college for the dedication ceremony. This protrait has been placed in the corridor of the first floor of the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building, where it will perpetually remain and speak its message of beautiful motherhood to all who shall look upon it.”

2012 - The Portrait is now displayed in a place of distinction on the main floor hallway of the Powell Building at President Lambert’s office at Elon.

This plaque is displayed on the restored Roney Fountain in the Rose Garden Circle at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University, Durham, NC.

An early postcard of The Roney Fountain at Trinity College.

Photograph Sarah P. Duke Gardens Website

Artelia Roney Duke


"She died at only twenty-nine years of age; but not too soon for her to have left upon the young hearts and lives of her children the deep and lasting impress of her devout character that filled them with reverance for God and love for fellow-man, and a sense of the stewardship of life."

                 D.R. Fonville

Restored Roney Fountain Plaque: KHC




LINK The Times News Article- Burlington NC
Restored Fountain ties Duke, Elon and Alamance County Together March 11, 2012, Mary Yosthttp://maryyost3.wordpress.com/history/


Ben & James B. Duke donated money for the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building at Elon College (now Elon University in memory of their mother.  The same year, the sons commissioned a portrait of their mother, Artelia Roney Duke. The portrait still hangs at Elon University.

Belk Library Archives,

Elon University, Elon, NC