Duncans in Clay Co. IN Histories


Duncan research files of
Mary Ann (Duncan) Dobson
the Genealogy Bug

Last revised October 29, 2007

HISTORIES before 1923

1909 "A history of Clay County, Indiana : closing of the first century's history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth" by William Travis, pub. by Lewis Pub. Co., Vol.I (FHL book 977.327 D3k; typed by Evelyn Sigler)
      Pg.194: Mrs. Lovina Duncan, wife of Ezra O. Duncan, left at age 51 in 1868 by death of her husband, to care for her orphan children, adopted various means for keeping the wolf at bay in providing a livelihood for the family and preserving unencumbered the title to the small farm on which the family had been domiciled by the father. Some of her methods for the earning and husbanding of a cash account for emergencies bordered closely upon the heroic. As an example, she resorted to the wash-tub, an employment which necessitated her going to the homes of her patrons to render the service. During several seasons she did the washing regularly for two or more families at the town of Middlebury, six long miles from her residence. This distance she walked in the morning, then, after the day's washing, returned home in the evening on foot, making the round trip of practically thirteen miles on several different days of the week.
      Pg.619-621: The Duncan Settlement. The extreme south end of Harrison township has long been popularly known as "The Duncan Settlement," or "The Duncan Corner," as it is, geographically, the southeast corner of the county, for the reason that it was settled and improved at a very early day by a numerous family of this name, who, half a century ago, numbered one-half the population of this territory. Isaiah Duncan, a native of South Carolina, born October 15, 1785, who, in his native state, acquired a homestead of five hundred acres, which he sacrificed in the payment of debts for which he had "gone bail," came to Indiana in 1831, to start anew and retrieve his loss, locating on a purchase made from a primitive occupant named Scritchfield, which has ever since been in possession of the family, on which now lives Obadiah Duncan, the youngest of a family of sixteen children. About the same time also came three brothers from the Carolinas, John, Joshua, and Eli Duncan, who, for a time, lived in Clay county, but later on settled elsewhere, whose descendants are not now found here.
            Isaiah Duncan did not come directly to Indiana on leaving Carolina, but when first to Tennessee, thence to Ohio, thence to Illinois, where he retraced his course, coming to Clay Co. IN. (MAD: Newberry Co. SC, Greene Co. TN, Miami Co. OH, White Co. IL) Soon after locating here he made a trip to Ohio for apple-seeds, from which he produced the original orchard in his territory, and from which, it is said, he gathered fruit six years from the time of planting. A few years later on he was joined by his nephews, George W. Duncan and Giles W. Duncan, who walked all the way through from the Carolinas, whose father, George Duncan, did not leave his native state. Giles W. Duncan afterward went to Iowa, where he died, February 6, 1879, aged 82 years. (MAD: ?? Giles Duncan in 1850 Greene Co. IN b. 1815 ?; no Giles b. 1797 found in 1850.) George W. Duncan acquired land and continued to reside in Clay County, having owned and occupied what is now known as the Trump place, on the southeast corner of which is the Duncan cemetery, where he resided until his death, April 20, 1860, aged 42 years, 8 months and 19 days, survived by his wife, Lovina Duncan, who died March 7, 1877, aged 59 years, 3 months and 18 days. Of George W. Duncan's children there is but one survivor, Mrs. Mary Fiscus, who resides near the old Winters place, in the border of Owen county. Patrick, Frank and Benjamin Duncan, who reside within this territory are grand-sons, whose father, Giles W. Duncan, was at one time engaged in merchandising at Middlebury, where he died thirty years ago.
            At the time of the Mormons' proselyting this part of the country, George W. Duncan joined and accompanied them to Nauvoo, but from change of mind from disappointment or other cause, did not stay with them, turning about, without as much as unloading his household, and returning to Indiana. After coming back he proceeded to organize "The Saints," establishing churches and ordaining ministers. One society was organized at the original Duncan school-house, which stood a little distance west of the Henry Willis residence, where preaching was regularly maintained. In the work of instituting the church of "The Saints" Duncan was joined by one John Fiscus, and it was currently said that the two reciprocally baptized each other into the "Kingdom." A short time before he died Duncan compiled a hymn-book, which was in the hands of the publisher at the time of his death, the selections for which evinced the good tasted and fine discrimination of the author. It is said, too, that he was the writer of one or more tracts setting forth the distinctive tenets of his church and the Bible authority in support of the same. At this day, however, there is not known to be a copy of any one of these productions in existence, nor can the family give any definite account of them from recollection. In 1856 George W. Duncan was elected to the state legislature, jointly with James W. Modesitt, of Posey township, the county under the apportionment of that time having been entitled to two members in the lower house of the general assembly. Though not a man of education and polish, Duncan ranked above the average in native talent and ability. Among his neighbors he was a moulder of public sentiment, commanding their respect in the capacity of teacher, minister and justice of he peace. As a legislator he was vigilant, argumentative, and resourceful in the philosophy and logic of common sense.
            Of the sixteen children of Isaiah Duncan, eight of whom were born before and eight after coming to Indiana, fifteen grew up to manhood and womanhood, one dying in infancy. He was twice married, there having been six children with the first wife and ten with the second. They were, Elizabeth C., Atha R., Mahala P., Henry O., Rebecca J., Hannah B., Ezra O., Eli M., Isiah H., Samuel F., Amos B., Mary A., George L., William C., Obadiah L., of whom Isiah H., Amos B., Obadiah L. survive. These are the second generation in the history of the family in their adopted state, from whom have descended the third and fourth generations.
            While the Duncan family has not in any special sense distinguished itself, neither collectively nor individually, it has an enviable record for industry, sobriety and good citizenship. None have ever been arraigned in the courts of the county charged with crimes or misdemeanors. None have ever been known as inebriates. The names of none of them are to be found upon the divorce dockets. None have sought more congenial climes in liquidation of their obligations. In evidence of public appreciation and confidence have been honored with positions of trust and responsibility. Both Henry O. Duncan and Ezra O. Duncan were elected justice of the peace. In 1869 Isaiah H. Duncan was elected township assessor and consecutively re-elected, covering a period of nine years' service as principal, followed by five years more as deputy assessor and real estate appraiser, a total of fourteen years' service in this capacity. Subsequently, in 1892, W.S. Duncan was elected to the same position. In 1872, Henry O. Duncan was honored with the nomination of his party for county treasurer, but in the campaign of that year no one could have been elected on the Democratic ticket to any office in the county.
            There is one thing to be said of the Duncan family, in the social sense, which can not be said of any other family in the history of the county, perhaps not within the state. Three of the six daughters were of one mind in declining matrimony and devoting their life service to the parental household, the three fulfilling their tenure of life at practically the same age. They were Mahala P., born February 16, 1813, who died April 2, 1876, aged 63 years, 1 month and 16 days; Rebecca J., born December 18, 1819, who died February 28, 1880, aged 60 years, 3 months and 10 days; Hannah B., born June 12, 1822, who died March 28, 1882, aged 59 years, 9 months and 16 days.
            Within the area of the "Duncan Settlement" there have been but few industries other than the agricultural. The first circular saw-mill in the south end of the township was planted on this territory by Ezra O. Duncan, joined by one or more of the brothers, which was operated near the site of the present school-house soon after the close of the Civil War. There was also a blacksmith shop, conducted by a man named Isaac Richart, who wielded not only the "hammer and tongs," but also the "birch" in season. A character distinctly remembered by the older citizens was Wiley Smith, a blind man, who, at the time of the production of flax for the manufacture of home-spun linen fabric, operated the flax-brake. Smith was the father of Henry O. Duncan's second wife and lived in a cabin west of Henry O.'s house, and on the opposite side of the road. Another character in this "Corner," though of a later day, was Jack Maston, who played the fiddle for the dancing parties in the "Settlement" and its surroundings.
            Isaiah and Amos Duncan built the first frame school-house in the "Settlement," which stood just west of Henry Willis's residence. The present frame schoolhouse was built in 1873.
            The present population of this territory and its immediate borders includes a number of substantial, well-to-do people aside from the numerous offspring of the family whose early colonization gave it name, among whom are William L. Price, Henry Willis, Isaiah Harris, Thomas Wilson, Judson Wagstaff, William Morris, William Gerber, Otto Nixon.

1909 "A history of Clay County, Indiana : closing of the first century's history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth" by William Travis; pub. Chicago : Lewis Publishing (LH10318, HeritageQuest image 10/2007; FHL book 977.244 H2t and film 928,385 item 2)
      Vol.2 pg.103-104: WALTER COVINGTON DUNCAN, M.D.-- Among the representative business men of Harrison township is Walter C. Duncan, M.D., a well-known druggist of Clay City. A native of Indiana, he was born October 13, 1855, at Noblesville, Hamilton county. He comes from substantial Scotch ancestry, being a lineal descendant in the fifth generation from the immigrant ancestor, the line of descent being thus traced: Coleman, Daniel Coleman, Henry Coleman, Coleman Covington, and Walter Covington. (MAD: use caution on birthplace of the earliest Coleman Duncan)
      Coleman Duncan, who was born in Dumfrieshire, Scotland, came with his brother George to America in colonial days, settling in Virginia, where he lived during the remainder of his life. Daniel Coleman Duncan removed with his family from Virginia to Kentucky, becoming a pioneer of Hopkinsville, and was there employed in tilling the soil until his death. James Coleman Duncan was born in Culpeper county, Virginia, but was brought up on the Kentucky homestead. When a young man he came to Indiana as a pioneer settler of Hendricks county. Taking up a tract of timbered land three miles north of Salem, in the Fort Red School House district, he reclaimed a farm from the wilderness, on which he resided until his death, and many of his descendants are now living in that vicinity. He was twice married, and was the father of sixteen children, and as his second wife was a widow with six children when he married her he had the care of twenty-two children, truly a patriarchal family.
      Coleman Covington Duncan was born in 1831, in Hendricks county, Indiana, on the parental homestead. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, and as a boy eagerly seized every opportunity for increasing his knowledge and advancing his education beyond that obtained in the common schools. When ready to start in life on his own account he embarked in the mercantile business, for a number of years thereafter being located at Carpentersville, Putnam county, Indiana. From there he went to Otterville, Boone county, Missouri, where he dealt in live stock until after the breaking out of the Civil War. Returning then to this state, he kept a hotel at Greencastle for a number of years, and then engaged in the marble business in Illinois, first in Salem, and later in Vandalia. Giving up that business, he again came back to Indiana, and after a short residence in Brazil settled in Clay City, and here spent his last days, dying at the age of 73 years. His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Glen, was born in Hendricks county, Indiana, 67 years ago, a daughter of William A. and Mary (McKenzie) Glen. Her parents were both born in Virginia, of colonial ancestry, and were among the earlier settlers of Hendricks county. Of the children born to Coleman C. and Elizabeth Duncan, four grew to maturity, as follows: Walter C., the subject of this sketch; James William; Mary; and Frank. (MAD: 1860 Cooper Co. MO census, 1870 Marion Co. IL census)
      Walter C. Duncan received his early education in the public schools, and at the age of 19 years began the study of medicine with Dr. R.H. Hogan, then one of the leading practitioners of Salem, Illinois. He subsequently attended lectures at the Saint Louis Medical College from which he was graduated with the degree of M.D. in 1876. The ensuing year Dr. Duncan practiced with his former preceptor, and then located in Vandalia, Illinois, where he was in active practice for eight years. Removing then to Smithboro, Illinois, he was there located as a physician for three years, in his professional career meeting with success. Coming to Clay City in 1889, the Doctor purchased a drug business which he has conducted most successfully ever since.
      Dr. Duncan married, in 1889, Mrs. Elizabeth (Perkins) Brown, who was born in Bond county, Illinois, a daughter of Henry and Mary Perkins. By her marriage with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Duncan has had one child, William Brown, of Millbury Grove, Bond county, Illinois.

1909 "A history of Clay County, Indiana : closing of the first century's history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth" by William Travis; pub. Chicago : Lewis Publishing (LH10318, HeritageQuest image 10/2007; FHL book 977.244 H2t and film 928,385 item 2)
      Vol.2 pg.487: JOHN MASON DUNCAN.-- In the ancestry of Mr. Duncan are found men who have distinguished themselves in their day and generation. They have been efficient laborers in the cause of Christianity as ministers of the gospel, earnest and eloquent ... Dr. John Mason, the grandfather of John M., was the leading Presbyterian minister in Baltimore, Maryland, in his day, and his son, Dr. John McKim Duncan, commenced life for himself as a lawyer, but afterward studied for the ministry under the able leadership of Dr. Jewett of Terre Haute and became a Presbyterian minister in Maryland. He preached mostly in the East.
      Dr. John McKim Duncan was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and was of Scotch descent. His wife, in her maidenhood Elizabeth Lawrence, was of English descent, and was born and reared in Exeter, New Hampshire. Her father was a successful lawyer in New Hampshire, and was an intimate friend of Daniel Webster and a first cousin of Franklin Pierce. Three children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Duncan -- John Mason, Eliza McKim and Lena.
      John Mason Duncan, the first born of the children, is a native son of Philadelphia, born December 14, 1855, and in 1863 he came to Cloverland, Indiana. But after two years here he went to Terre Haute to attend school, and remained in that city until March, 1870. Going thence to Exeter, New Hampshire, he entered the Exeter Academy, and after leaving college went west, returning in 1875 to Terre Haute, where he studied under the preceptorship of Harvey D. Scott. In time Mr. Duncan entered the insurance business with Luther G. Hager, continuing for nine years as an insurance man, and then coming to Posey township, Clay county, he became the owner of his present farm of 200 acres and is engaged in dairy farming.
      In Terre Haute, in 1887, he married Glenn Philips, who was born and reared in Michigan, and they have six children: J. McKim, Donald McGregory, Margaret G., James Modesett, Ellen E. and Theodore. From the Republican party Mr. Duncan transferred his political allegiance to the Democracy, and he is an active worker in local politics.

1884 "Counties of Clay and Owen, Indiana, historical and biographical" ed. by Charles Blanchard, pub. by F.A. Battey (SUTRO microfilm 277 reel 15 book 56, CA State Library, Sutro Branch, and SUTRO book F532 C6 B6 1884 & microfilm 71 reel 8; FHL book 977.243 H2o)
      Pg.83: Religious History - Mormons ... Among those who left this locality to join the church in the West were Fielding Lankford, Frederick Ott and George W. Duncan. Ott and Duncan were ordained ministers. Not liking the surroundings after reaching Nauvoo, Duncan returned, and subsequently organized the Church of the Saints, ordaining ministers in the same. It is due to the memory of Mr. Duncan to say that he was a man of more than average native ability. In the capacity of teacher, minister and Justice of the Peace, he ranked high among his fellow citizens. As a member of the General Assembly of 1857, he commanded general appreciation on the part of his fellow legislators. In 1838 or 1839, a minister of this order, named Babbitt, came to Bowling Green and preached in the court house ....
      Pg.186-7: Harrison Twp. Early Settlers - Among the many arrivals of the years from 1830 to 1840 may be noted Isaiah Duncan, who founded a settlement in the southeast part, where George Duncan now lives, ...
      Pg.409: Bowling Green & Washington Twp. Allen Ray of Bowling Green, b. Marion Co. IN March 22, 1847; m. Martha E. Davenport of Ohio. Mrs. Ray died May 9, 1869. Allen Ray m. 2nd Feb. 1871 to Amanda C. (Zimmerman), dau. of James and Anna Ducan, natives of Kentucky ....
      Pg.424-5: Clay City & Harrison Twp. Isaiah Hamilton Duncan, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in this township Dec. 4, 1832, and is a son of Isaiah and Nancy (Murdock) Duncan, natives of South Carolina and Georgia, and of Scotch and Irish descent respectively. Our subject remained at home until he was twenty-two years of age, and acquired from the subscription schools an average education. December 31, 1858, he married, in Owen Co., Mahala Winters, a union which gave birth to seven children, six of whom died in infancy - Elsie, Wilson and Willard (twins), Sylvia A., Ura C., and one unnamed; the only living issue is Julia Ann. Mr. Duncan is an uncompromising Democrat. He is an industrious man and an esteemed citizen. He was a member of the late Grange organization, and Master of his lodge. In 1869, Mr. Duncan was elected Township Trustee, an office which he held for eight successive years. Mrs. Duncan is a member of the Christian Church.
      Pg.431: Clay City & Harrison Twp. Samuel Horn, a farmer and stock-raiser, son of Daniel and Priscilla (Caton) Horn, natives of PA & of German descent. He was born in Washington Co. PA, Sept. 7, 1838, parents moved to Ohio in 1841, and to this State and Twp in 1857. Samuel m. in 1860 Adaline Duncan, who died October, 1863, whereupon, January 20, 1867, he m. 2nd Elizabeth Dickey, nee Roush, by which union they had 5 children ....
      Pg.535: Lewis Twp. Benjamin Coppock, farmer, only child of John and Mary (Duncan) Coppock, natives of South Carolina, born in Miami Co. OH, Sept. 15, 1832, whither his parents had emigrated, and whence he was brought to this township in 1842... In Aug. 1862, he enlisted in Co. K, 85th Reg. IN Vol. Inf., in which he served until the war was ended, having participated in the battles of Thompson Station and Cassville, GA, whence he was sent to the convalescent camp at Chattanooga, and again assigned to duty in Gen. Sherman's great campaign and march to the ocean, and was discharged at Alexandria. Mr. Coppock has been thrice married - Nov. 24, 1853, to Zeresh Puckett, who d. Feb. 27, 1873, having borne eight children - Jemima, Rebecca Ann, Mary M., Ida May and Thomas B., living, together with Nancy Jane, Joseph and an infant deceased. July 22, 1875, he m. Elizabeth Mattox, from whom he was divorced, and July 30, 1882, he m. his present wife Mary (Cutsaw) Coppock. Mr. Coppock is a member of Vigo Lodge, No. 29, A.F. & A.M., and was the first Master Mason made therein. In 1867, he was elected Justice of the Peace, and served ten years consecutively. In 1880, he was made Township Assessor, which office he now holds. In politics, he is a Democrat.
      Pg.540: Lewis Twp. John M. Majors, farmer and stock-raiser, is the only son of Wright and Atha R. (Duncan) Majors, both of English descent, the former a native of Tennessee, the latter of South Carolina. John was born in White Co. IL, Feb. 1, 1831, whence his parents removed to this State in 1843, and settled in Owen Co. Our subject attended the neighborhood schools, and was brought up on the home farm, where he remained until his majority. In Feb. 1865, he entered at Terre Haute in Co. B, 149th Reg. IN Vol. Inf.; served until nearly the close of the war; was honorably discharged but still suffers from the effects of pneumonia contracted during camp life. He was wedded in Clay Co. to Nancy M. Smith, by which marriage they became the parents of six children - Atha E., an infant (deceased), Rebecca Jane, Thomas M., Mahala Ann and Dessa May. In 1873, Mr. Majors purchased and settled on his present farm, comprising 160 acres of fruitful, cultivated, improved and well-stocked land, some of which contains valuable strata of coal. In political matters, Mr. Majors is a radical Democrat, but liberal or independent in local affairs. His and his wife are members of the Christian church.
      Pg.543: Lewis Twp. Mahlon Neal, farmer, miller and merchant, is the third in the family of Henry and Mary (Duncan) Neal, natives of TN and SC, and of Irish and Welsh descent respectively. Mahlon was born in Miami Co. OH, August 30, 1820. He received but sparely of education, having attended for a time a subscription school the tuition for which was paid by him in hauling wood. In September, 1842, he moved to this State and settled on his home land. January 5, 1843, he married Mary Ann Love, a union which give issue to eleven children - Henry T., James B., Albert, Mary Ann (deceased), Mahlon R., Barbara M., Caleb, Eliza Isabel, John B., Harriet E. (deceased) and William Alonzo (deceased). After the death of his first wife, he wedded, July 29, 1879, Nancy Jane Shepherd, by which marriage they had two children - Florence May and Mary F. (deceased). Mr. and Mrs. Neal are prominent members of the Church of Christ, in which the former is an Elder, a fluent speaker and an influential Christian. Without means and assistance, Mr. Neal has accomplished a life success by thrift and energy. He is the owner of a paying mill property, a fine farm of 300 acres in high cultivation, and with good stock and varied improvements; he has also a controlling interest in 1200 acres of excellent coal land in Clay Co, and a large stock of general merchandise at Jasonville, IN. Trustee of this township for ten years, and County Commissioner one term. He voted for Gen. Fremont in 1856, and is a stanch Republican.

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