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The Jukes in 1915

Creator: Arthur H. Estabrook (author)
Date: 1916
Publisher: Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source: Available at selected libraries

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2. Jukes to 1915 for Purposes of Comparison.


In the present investigation, 2,820 people have been studied, inclusive of all considered by Dugdale; 2,094 were of Juke blood and 726 of "X" blood who married into the Juke family; of these 366 were paupers, while 171 were criminals; and 10 lives have been sacrificed by murder. In school work 62 did well, 288 did fairly, while 458 were retarded two or more years. It is known that 166 never attended school; the school data for the rest of the family were unobtainable. There were 282 intemperate and 277 harlots. The total cost to the State has been estimated at $2,093,685.



Situated at an elevation of 200 feet above sea-level, in a rugged, hilly, thinly populated, woody region, is a chain of five lakes. The first three of these, much smaller than the other two, are almost surrounded by high, overtowering rocks which descend into the lakes so steeply that in some places there is no foothold to be had at the water's edge. Between huge clefts in the rock are small patches of land once the home of the early Jukes, but now desolate except for the wild animals which live in the caves once used by the Jukes as both homes and places in which to hide stolen booty. Here a sum of $90,000, stolen in a bank burglary, was hidden for some time. The other two lakes are much larger and are situated 1 1/4 miles from the first three, and are in a comparatively fertile and populous region. The rocks which compose this mountain ledge were useful for cement, and the working of this rock furnished employment to many Jukes. The unused tunnel openings and crumbled-down cement burners may still be seen, although unused for the past 30 years. Many of the Jukes, devoid of personal fear, and fond of hazards, worked in these mines. One of the Jukes living at present has many pieces of cement rock embedded in the flesh of his face, neck, and shoulders, as the result of an explosion while thus employed.


Most of the original Jukes were squatters on the soil and became owners by occupancy. They lived in stone or log houses, usually of one or at the most two rooms, the men, women, and children intermingling freely. Here the Jukes lived for a period of 100 years. The cement industry was discontinued in 1880, owing to the introduction of Portland cement, and a general exodus of the remaining Jukes took place. Now there is not a single Juke living in the ancestral area, and only ruins of these abodes remain.


As the Jukes increased in number a community of criminal men, semi-industrious laborers, and licentious women developed. Children grew up in an atmosphere of poverty, crime, and licentiousness. The girls and young women of these families were very comely in appearance and loose in morals. This combination attracted the men from a nearby city, even those of so-called "good" families. These illicit unions brought forth many an illegitimate child, named usually after the supposed father; as a result one finds among the Jukes some of the most honored names of the region. In this way syphilis has been spread from these harlots to the good and virtuous wives in the nearby community. These Jukes were and are still so despised by the reputable communities nearby that the statement of Dugdale's that "their family name had come to be used generically as a term of reproach" is still true. If anyone in the community now commits even a slight indiscretion he is told that he is acting like a "Juke." (1) The owner of one factory in Z (2) kept a list of Juke names in his office. When anyone applied for employment and his family name appeared in the list, he was refused work. Such is the feeling of the community towards the Jukes.

(1) Locally instead of the word Juke being used the name of the five lakes is supplied.

(2) Z refers to a city of 20,000 people near the five lake region where the Jukes lived. Z County is the county in which Z is situated and is the present home of many of the Jukes. Y is a small village in Z County, about one mile from the lake region.



It was in this region, inaccessible and unfertile, that Max was born somewhere between 1720 and 1740. He is described as "a hunter and fisher, a hard drinker, jolly and companionable, and averse to steady toil." He worked by spurts and became blind in his old age. He had many children - two of whom, Harry and Harvey, married two out of six sisters. All these six sisters were children of the same mother and four bore the same family name, while the name of two seems to be obscure, and these are for this reason assumed to be illegitimate. One of these six sisters left the country and nothing is known of her. The other five are the renowned Juke sisters, Ada, Bell, Clara, Delia, and Effie.


Ada, II 1, who is better known both in Z County and to the general public as "Margaret, the mother of criminals," was born about 1755. She had one bastard child, Alexander, III 1, whose descendants are shown in chart 1. The group of Jukes that descended from Alexander is called the illegitimate posterity of Ada. Soon after this, Ada married Lem; II 2, and had four legitimate children (shown in chart 2), who formed the legitimate posterity of Ada. Ada was temperate and healthy, but not industrious, and in her old age received poor relief. Lem is described by Dugdale as follows: "Laborer; lazy; no property; outdoor relief; healthy; temperate; thief; received thirty lashes for sheep stealing; died 1810."

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