Behind the Article on William ‘Sonny’ Duke

William ‘Sonny’ Duke

When I received an e-mail from Alvah Beander that Sonny Duke had died, I did not know anything about Sonny until Alvah told me. I started inquiring about Sonny from my Elderly Advisors. After talking to my advisors, I knew I had to write about Sonny. I contacted his cousin, William “Bill” Gordon and Sonny’s daughter, Wanda Duke Kyler.

As I was researching and writing the article on Sonny, I thought to myself how many African Americans in Alexandria did not know Sonny. Sonny’s life as a businessperson was exceptional and an inspiration to individuals who want to embark on their own business, especially for African Americans.

Through the research and interviews with his cousin and daughter, I was able to reveal Sonny’s passion for being the best businessperson he could be. He valued his customers and he strived to deliver his customers’ clothes within 24 hours. He dressed for success and he rolled up his sleeves to do their clothes even when he had a staff to do the work.

Sonny worked long hours even when his health was failing. He was truly dedicated to making his customers satisfied, which result in his business being successful. His customers were in Alexandria and in Fairfax, Virginia. Sonny’s success really came from his parents that groomed him to be a businessperson. He worked beside his parents in their business starting at the age of thirteen. By the time he was eighteen, his parents made him a manager at their drycleaners.

The life of Sonny is an example of the young learning from their elders. Sonny was good in listening and learning from his elders because his life was a testimony to what he accomplished by learning from them.

You can read Sonny’s story in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper dated February 3, 2021 on page 6, at

California Firefighter with Family Ties in Alexandria, VA

California’s Firefighter with Family Ties from Alexandria, Virginia.

Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on, “Reuben Anthony Burton – “Making His Ancestors Proud” dated April 18, 2019.

Reuben Anthony Burton

Alexandria descendants are located throughout the United States, they are doing remarkable things across the United States. One young man with strong family ties in Alexandria, Reuben Anthony Burton is a California Firefighter. Reuben’s mother, Frances Norton-Burton who also lives in California has several generations of her Norton, Carter and Robinson families who had made Alexandria their home. Although Reuben was not born in Alexandria, his mother made sure that he knew his Alexandria roots. Reuben was christened at the Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church which is the home church of the Carter/Robinson families since the Civil War. Reuben’s grandfather, Arthur Norton and his family had been members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria since the Civil War.

Just like Reuben’s Alexandria cousins, Clayton Thompson and Kendall Thompson, they all

In honor of the fallen 9-11 victims.

decided to be firefighters. As a child Reuben wanted to be a firefighter, he found out what he needed to do to make it happen and he did it. He is an inspiration to all young people that wants to make their dreams a reality through obtaining the necessary skills to achieve their goal.

Check out a California’s Firefighter with Family Ties from Alexandria – “Making His Ancestors Proud” can be read in the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s newspaper on page 13 at


In 2015, we celebrated the 150th year anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Now, we are in the 150th year anniversary dates of the “Reconstruction Era”. The Reconstruction Era refers to the period in the United States history that immediately was instituted after the Civil War. This Era was a rebuilding of the Nation and a period of time that the federal government set conditions to include the rebellious Southern states back into the Union. But this also was a period of time for all African Americans to participate in their own destiny and to claim their rightful place among other citizens.

For the first time, all African Americans are recorded in Federal, State, and County records with first and last names. Since individual States and their people heard that the Civil War had ended at different times, one must note that certain Reconstruction records might not have started in those States until after 1865. Many scholars agree that the “Reconstruction Era” was from 1865 – 1877.

In celebrating the “Reconstruction Era” on this blog site, I will be posting many blogs that will have genealogy value. The blogs include research on African Americans in Alexandria during the Reconstruction Era.

Please visit my business web site at for my upcoming lectures and workshops that will include “Reconstruction Era” type lectures. Thanks!

Celebrating 150 years end of the Civil War

Price and Burch Slave Pen – Duke Street, Alexandria, VA


For 2015, I will be doing a series of articles in celebration of the end of the Civil War. Alexandria African Americans contributed a lot to the growth and history of Alexandria, VA. The forgotten historical contributions of many African Americans in Alexandria have been unknown for far too long. Great accomplishments were made in the 19th Century; but by 1900 many accomplishments were pushed back by Jim Crow laws and segregation. For one whole year, my blog will take you back in time to Alexandria in the 19th Century (1800 – 1899). These articles will focus on the contributions that African Americans made in Alexandria including business, politics, churches, occupations, education, and the continuing fight for their civil rights in the 19th Century. I will start posting these articles twice a month starting on January 11, 2015. If you are not following my Blog, please go to my Blog and sign up to receive notices of upcoming blogs at Thanks!

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