Timeline

1820: Washington Duke is born.  He would marry twice, and have five children.

1855: Benjamin Newton Duke is born.

1856: James Buchanan Duke is born.  Ben and "Buck" are the youngest children of Washington Duke, who with his first wife had two sons, and with his second had one girl (Mary) and two boys (Ben and Buck).

1865: Washington Duke returns from the war, with original assets consisting of "two blind mules and 50 cents."

1874: Washington Duke sells his original land (to be purchased in 1931 by Duke university) and moves into the city of Durham, where the family begins their tobacco business.

1877: Benjamin Duke marries Sarah Pearson Angier.

1881: W Duke Sons and Company is officially launched.  

1884: Benjamin and Sarah's second child, Angier Buchanan Duke (Seman's uncle) is born.

1887: Mary Lilian Duke (Mary Semans's mother) is born.  She is the third child and first daughter of Benjamin and Sarah, whose first son, George Washington Duke, died at the age of two.

1890: The American Tobacco Company is officially launched.  Benjamin's younger brother, James Buchanan Duke, is president; Ben is vice president of the company.

1892: Thanks to some maneuvering by Washington Duke, Durham outbids Raleigh for Trinity College, and the institution opens in Durham. Washington and Benjamin Duke are principle benefactors.

1892: The Dukes open their first textile firm in Durham.  Benjamin Duke is the family leader in their successful textile enterprise.  Eventually, the Dukes would make critical and profitable investments in railroads and banks.

1896: Trinity College opens its doors to women (meaning that it allows women to board, and to receive "equal status" as men) after receiving a $100,000 gift from Washington Duke, who wrote the check on the condition that the college become co-educational.

1901: Benjamin Duke purchases a house on 82nd and Fifth Ave in New York City, and moves his family there.

1903: "Bassett Affair" rocks the Trinity College and North Carolina community.

1905: Washington Duke dies.

1906: American Tobacco Company is found guilty of antitrust violations, and splits into three separate companies: American Tobacco Company, Ligget and Myers, and the P. Lorillard Company.

1912: Doris Duke is born to James Buchanan Duke and his wife.

1915: Mary Lilian Duke marries Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.  The two had met through their siblings; Angier Duke married Anthony's sister Cordelia earlier in 1915

1920: Mary Duke Biddle is born.  Her brother, Anthony Biddle III, is born in September 1921. He would later change his first name to Nicholas.

1923: Mary's uncle Angier Duke drowns at the age of 39.  He leaves $250,000 to Trinity College

1924: James Buchanan Duke establishes the Duke Endowment.  He dies a year later.

1929: Benjamin Newton Duke dies.

1931: Anthony Biddle leaves his wife for a younger woman.

1931: Mary Duke Biddle (MS's mother) makes it financially possible for Duke University to purchase the original Duke family homestead.

1934: Mary Biddle leaves New York City at the age of 14, while her mother suffers a long term and debilitating depression, and moves to Durham to live with her grandmother.

1936: Mary Duke Biddle enrolls at Duke University, at the age of 15.

1939: Mary Duke Biddle marries Josiah Trent, a medical student.  The couple has four children during their ten-year marriage.

1948: Josiah Trent dies of lymphoma.  A few years later, his widow would present the Duke Medical Center Library with the Josiah C. Trent Collection on the History of Medicine.

1951: Mary Trent is elected to the Durham City Council, where she would serve as mayor pro-tem from 1953-1955.

1952: Mary Trent is named one of Durham's five "mothers of the year."

1953: Mary Duke Biddle Trent marries James Semans, a urologist.  The couple would have three children.

1956: Mary Duke Biddle (Mary Semans's mother) starts the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

1960: Mary Duke Biddle (Mary Semans's mother) dies; Mary Semans becomes vice chairwoman of the foundation; Jim Semans becomes the chairman.
      
Mary Semans becomes a trustee of the Duke Endowment.
      
Dr. and Mrs. Semans receive the first Humanitarian-Freedom Award given by the Durham Chapter of Hadassah. Their names are engraved on the Freedom Bell outside Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem.
      
Mary Semans is elected to Duke Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, national political science honorary, for her outstanding contributions to society.

1961: Anthony Biddle (MS's father) dies.

1964: Mary Semans begins a collection of art for Duke University, in honor of her husband's (Jim Semans) parents.

1969: The Semanses receive the National Brotherhood Award presented by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for "distinguished service in the field of human relations."

1970: Mary Semans becomes Vice President of the Duke Endowment.

1971: The Semanses receive the North Carolina award for their distinguished contributions to the fine arts.

1973: The Semanses receive the Morrison Award for their contributions to the arts in North Carolina.

1977: The Semanses establish the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation, which annually funds grants for Duke University programs.

1982: Mary Semans becomes president of the Duke Endowment.
      
The Semanses establish the Mary DBT Semans foundation, which awards small grants for different purposes, to applicants who wouldn't receive funding anywhere else.
      
The Semanses establish the Duke-Semans Fine Arts Foundation, which sends artwork on tour to small communities. Mary Semans is treasurer; James Semans is president.

1986: Mary Semans receives the Duke University Medal. She and Jim also receive the North Caroliniana Society Award.

1994: Mary Semans wins the University Award from the University of North Carolina.

1997: The Semanses establish the Semans Art Fund, which supports students' projects at the North Carolina School of the Arts. This cause is said to be closer to the Semans' heart than any other cause.

2001: Mary Semans steps down as chairman of the Duke Endowment; she is elected to the new position of chairman emeritus.