Duncans in Berrien Co. MI


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

Last revised July 22, 2008

Formed 1829 from Cass


1830 Berrien Co. MI Census
      No Duncan indexed

1840 Berrien Co. MI Census
Niles Twp.
Pg.62  Thornton Duncan      0212,101  -  0020,101

1850 Berrien Co. MI Census
10th Div.
Pg.326, #499, Thornton DUNCAN 55 VA farmer $460
                  Peggy 55 VA
                  William 23, John 18 VA
                  George 15 VA
                  (MAD: 1830 Giles Co. VA census; ? Margaret in 1860 Cass Co. MI census)
Pg.447, #1446, R.B. DUNCAN (m) 38 PA grocer $200
                  Maria L. 8, Alice G. 5 MI
                  John F. 3 MI
                  (MAD: ?? husband of Clarissa b.1822 KY, died 5/1850)

1860 Berrien Co. MI Census
St. Joseph
Pg.176, #1298-1263, Robert B. DUNCAN 49 PA merchant $5500-$2000
                  Rosana 28 MI
                  Maria L. 18, Alice G. 16 MI housekeeping
                  John F. 6, Kate 4, Nelly 1 MI
                  Margaret KELLEY 21 MI housekeeping
                  Daniel C. OSWALD 19 NY clerk
                  Bentis? RENWICK (m) 21 GERM merchant
Buchanan Village
Pg.545, #7879-1640, Thomas H. FELTS 22 OH merchant $2000-$200
                  Martha 21 IN (not m/in/yr)
                  James DUNCAN 28 NY clerk

1870 Berrien Co. MI Census
Buchanan Village
Pg.142, #16-16, DUNCAN, James 36 NY grocer $0-$2000
                  Anna 31 IN keeps house
                  DUNCAN, Frances (f) 20 NY at home
Niles, Ward 2
Pg.291, #4-4, HOTEL, including
                  DUNCAN, L.A. (m) 38 IN editor $1200-$5000
Pg.408, #241-243, DUNCAN, Robt. 58 PA grocer (ret.) $3000-$2000
                  Rose 36 CANada keeps, house parents of foreign birth
                  John 16, Katie (f) 14 MI, mother of foreign birth
                  Ella 11, Jennie 8 MI, mother of foreign birth
                  Robert 6, Frank 4, Mary 2 MI, mother of foreign birth

1880 Census, St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan (from Kathy Cawley 3/2007)
S.D.# 1, E.D.# 19, Page# 358A, Image# 23 of 72
age 46, Head, W'd., ONTARIO/IRE./IRE.
Robert, age 17, Son, works in basket factory, MI./PA./ONT.
John, age 26, Son, single, grocer's clerk, MI./PA./ONT.
Frank, age 15, Son, works in basket factory, attends school, MI./PA./ONT.
Mamie, age 14, Daughter, attends school, MI./PA./ONT.
      KDC: *according to a news article dated 8/16/1884, Robert Duncan lost the first joint of two fingers of his left hand in a chopping machine at A.W. Wells & Co. Basket Factory
      (KDC: Robert B. Duncan, b.1864, in 1900-1930 Kalamazoo Co. MI census)

1900 Census, St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan (from Kathy Cawley 3/2007)
S.D.# 4, E.D.# 76, Page# 182A, Image# 39 of 52
1117 State Street
John F.,
Head, Nov 1853, age 46, m'd 16 yrs., MI./PA./PA., hardware dealer
Emma, Wife, Apr 1862, age 38, 0 children, MI./N.Y./MI.
S.D.# 4, E.D.# 77, Page# 207B, Image# 38 of 52
220 Court Street
Head, Nov 1833, age 66, W'd., 7 chi. born, 6 living, CAN. E./IRE./IRE., immigration: 1835
Frank, Son, Mar 1866, age 34, single, MI./PA./CAN., grocery merch.
LAWLER, Patric H., boarder, Dec 1837, age 62, W'd., IRE./IRE./IRE., steam boat agt.

1910 Census, St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan (from Kathy Cawley 3/2007)
S.D.# 4, E.D.# 89, Page# 147, Image# 7 of 31
711 River Street
David C., Head, age 58, M1X, 30 yrs., CAN./CAN./CAN., enginerr/stationary
Jennie, Wife, age 47, M1X, 4 chi. born, 3 living, MI./SCOT./CAN.
Leonia A., Daughter, age 20, single, IL./CAN./SCOT., stenographer/office
DUNCAN, Frank, Brother-in-law, age 45, single, MI./SCOT./CAN.

1920 Census, St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan (from Kathy Cawley 3/2007)
S.D.# 4, E.D.# 107, Page# 229B, Image# 2 of 49
712 State Street
John F.,
Head, owns/free, age 66, W'd., MI./PA./CAN., agent/real estate


Newspaper Obituary from the Scottville Enterprise, Mason Co., Michigan (from Alan Adrianson 4/2000)
      Scottville Enterprise, dated January 14, 1909.
            Josiah G. Duncan Killed
      While at work on a job of grading and ditching near Bachellor Josiah G. Duncan, who lived about a mile east of town, was killed by the caving in of an embankment. It seems that with others they were hauling sand from a cut on the road side and filling a low place in the road across a swamp. The bank had been dug under about six feet, a crust formed by freezing. Mr. Duncan went under the crust to roll out a chunk of frozen dirt, the earth gave way without warning and with a cry of "Oh boys" he was caught between the frozen lumps breaking his neck and one leg. Death was instantaneous.
      We were startled and our hearts were saddened beyond any degree of expression, when the news was carried from home to home on Saturday last that Josiah G. Duncan had instantly met death. The family have the sympathy of the entire community in their sad bereavement. Mr. Duncan was a man of keen intellect, noble principles, a good provider and a kind husband and father. In Custer grange he was a faithful member and will be greatly missed, as his place was seldom vacant. The community has lost a good neighbor for the motto he lived ut was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Mr. Duncan was born in Fulton county, Ohio, November 7, 1851 and died January 9, 1909, aged 57 years, 2 months, 2 days. He was married in Berrien county, Michigan, May 7, 1878, to Miss Kate Stenn. To this union were born five children, four of whom died in the infancy. The wife and son, Merton, and family are left to mourn the untimely death of husband and father, besides two brothers, William M., of Thompsonville, and Robert P., of Otsego, two sisters, Mrs. Ruth Brundage, of Otsego, and Mrs. Anna Jessup, of Orangeville, Barry county, all but the latter being present at the funeral, which took place at the home of the deceased at twelve o'clock Tuesday, Rev. J.M. Moffet officiating. The body was tenderly borne to its last resting place by the members of the grange and interment was made in the Rickey cemetery in Amber.
      (AA: Josiah G. was listed as Jesse G. Duncan on the 1860 census in Allegan Co. MI; family was in 1850 Fulton Co. OH; Josiah Gates Duncan, grandson of John Duncan and Elizabeth McLean)

HISTORIES before 1923

1871 "Berrien County [Michigan] directory and history : containing historical and discriptive [sic] sketches of the villages and townships within the county, and the names and occupations of persons residing therein" by Ed. B. Cowles; pub. Niles, Mich.: E.B. Cowles (LH9944; HeritageQuest 4/2007; and LH4588, 384 pgs)
      Pg.85: Niles City directory: Duncan, L.A., editor Niles Republican, 45 Main, bds. Reading House.
      Pg.257, Buchanan Village Directory: Masonic: James Duncan, Treas.
      Pg.264: Duncan, Brink, clerk with Redden & Duncan.
            Duncan, James, (Redden & Duncan,) h. Main.
      Pg.270: Redden & Duncan, (Samuel W.R. & James D.,) grocers, 43 Front.
            Redden, Samuel W., (Redden & Duncan,) h. Portage
      Pg.344: St.Joseph ... a large number of new residents were added during the year, and among the number R.B. Duncan, ... (& pg.346)
      Pg.357: St.Joseph Village Directory: Duncan, John F., grocery, 39 State, h. 18 Court.
            Duncan, Mrs. R., h. 18 Court, cor. Pleasant.

1880 "History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan : with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers" ed. by Franklin Ellis & Crisfield Johnson & others, pub. by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia (HeritageQuest image 2/2007, Local History Reel/Fiche Number 4587; FHL film 908,063 item 1 and 1,000,080 item 3)
      Pg.173-174, Berrien Co. MI, City of Niles: (indexed Lawson A. Duncan, b.1832) MAJOR L.A. DUNCAN was born in Columbus, Bartholomew Co. IN. His father was a native of Leesburg [Loudoun Co.], VA, and his mother of Chillicothe, OH. When two years of age his father died, and he, with his mother, went to Charlestown, Clarke Co. IN, to live with his grandfather, the late Judge James Scott. His grandfather and father being newspaper men and editors, he, it may be said, grew up in the profession.
      In 1856 he removed West, stopping in Iowa City [Johnson Co.], Iowa. In 1858, in connection with G.H. Jerome, he assumed the editorship of the Iowa City "Republican," and in 1861 was appointed, by the Governor of the State, one of the swampland commissioners to settle swamp-land claims of the State against the general government.
      While in Iowa he was instrumental in helping that veteran Abolitionist, John Brown, through the State to Harper's Ferry, though ignorant of his destination and full purpose.
      In 1862 he resigned his commissionership to enter the Union army. He was appointed adjutant of the 40th Iowa Infantry upon the formation of that regiment, and took part in the siege of Vicksburg and capture of Little Rock, AR; in the battles of Prairie D'Ann (where, when on staff duty and leading the 50th Indiana Infantry into action, he had a horse shot under him), Jenkins' Ferry, Little Missouri River, and several minor engagements. He was commissioned major March 17, 1865, this being the highest vacancy occurring in his regiment during the war. After the surrender of Lee he served some months in the Indian Territory, and was finally mustered out with his regiment at Fort Gibson, Aug. 15, 1865. Though he was three years in his country's service, he claims only an inconspicuous part in the war.
      In February, 1866, he came to Niles, and in connection with E.C. Dana, bought two newspaper establishments, - the "Niles Enquirer" and the "Berrien County Freeman," - which he consolidated under the name of the "Niles Times." At the expiration of two years Mr. Dana retired, and the name of the paper was changed to the "Niles Republican," since which time Maj. Duncan has been sole editor and proprietor. He claims to publish a good, clean, reliable, local paper, and his patrons and readers acknowledge the justness of this claim.
      In 1872 he was elected presidential elector for the Fourth Congressional District, and cast a personal vote for U.S. Grant and Henry Wilson. He served four years on the Republican State Central Committee, and was one of the board of visitors to the State normal school in 1879.
      Maj. Duncan, since the formation of the Republican party, has always been a warm supporter of that party and its principles. Prior to its organization he was a Whig, having been reared in that political faith.
     MAD: this biography is also on the web at http://history.rays-place.com/bios/mi/berrien/duncan-la.htm (link from Kathy Cawley 4/20/2008)

1888 "Early history of Michigan : with biographies of state officers, members of Congress, judges and legislators : published pursuant to Act 59, 1887" by S.D.Bingham, pub. by Thorp & Godfrey, state printers and binders (HeritageQuest image 2/2007; sketches in alphabetic order, Local History Reel/Fiche Number 4546; FHL film 1,000,076 item 2)
      Pg.240: LAWSON A. DUNCAN, Senator from Berrien and Cass counties in 1883, was born at Columbus [Bartholomew Co.], Indiana, January 21, 1832; entered the volunteer service of his country at the time of its struggle with the southern rebellion, serving three years, and to the close of the war, as adjutant and major of the fortieth Iowa infantry, gaining the highest rank in his regiment in which there was a vacancy; was presidential elector for the fourth district Michigan in 1872. Mr. Duncan has been editor of the Niles Republican for the last twenty-one years. (MAD: 1860 Berrien Co. MI census)

1893 "Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien & Cass Counties, Michigan" pub. by Biographical Pub. Co. (FHL book 977.41 D3p; SLC 9/2007)
      Pg.793-794: LAWSON A. DUNCAN. The public-spirited citizens of Berrien County have contributed ... one of the most popular citizens of Niles. As an official, he has discharged the duties incumbent upon him with energy and straightforward fidelity ...
      Mr. Duncan is a native of Indiana. His grandfather and father were editors, and he early took to journalism. Drifting to Iowa in 1856, he soon became associated with the late Hon. George H. Jerome in the editorial control of the Iowa City "Republican." This pursusit was followed until Mr. Duncan enlisted in the late war. He became a member of the Fortieth Iowa Infantry in 1862, resigning a position as one of the Commissioners of Iowa to settle the swamp-land claims of the State with the general Government. He was appointed Adjutant of the regiment, and subsequently commissioned Major. He was with his regiment in all its engagements until the close of the war, serving in Kentucky, at Vicksburg and in the Trans-Mississippi Department.
      At the close of the war, our subject located in Niles, Mich., where in 1866 he purchased and consolidated the Niles "Inquirer" and the "Berrien County Freeman." From that time to the present, he has had editorial control of the Niles "Times," the name soon being changed to the Niles "Republican." Mr. Duncan has served on the Republican State Central Committee, and for many years was a member of the County Committee, six years of which time he was its Chairman. He was a visitor to the State Normal School one year, a Presidential elector in 1872, and cast a personal vote for Grant and Wilson.
      Mr. Duncan has been Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue and was a member of the State Senate in 1883. He has held the office of Postmaster at Niles for four years. He has been a firm, unfaltering and consistent Republican from the day of the organization of the party, never bitter, but prudent and unwavering.
      (MAD: no date of birth, parents' names, marriage info)

1906 "A twentieth century history of Berrien County, Michigan," by Orville W. Coolidge, pub. by Lewis Pub. Co., Chicago. (HeritageQuest image 2/2007, Local History Reel/Fiche Number 4592; FHL film 1,000,081 item 1)
      Pg.733-734: St.Joseph Twp. & City of St.Joseph. JOHN F. DUNCAN, who is classed with the leading business men of St. Joseph, where he is now engaged in the hardware trade, was born in this city in 1853. His father, Robert B. Duncan, was a native of Shippensburg [Cumberland Co.], PA, and died in 1870, at the age of 58 years. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Rosa Kelley, was born in Canada and is still living. The father came to Michigan in 1834 in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company as a fur buyer and settled in St. Joseph, MI, where he afterward engaged in merchandising. He also established a store in Sodus township but later returned to St. Joseph, where he engaged in the grocery business and also dealt in general merchandising, continuing a factor in commercial life in this city up to the time of his death. He was active and influential in community affairs, served as a member of the council and was also president of the village. His political allegiance was given to the Democracy and by appointment of President Buchanan he filled the office of collector. The father was twice married, first to Alice Fitzgerald, of Niles, by whom he had three children, one of whom, Mrs. D.C. Oswald, of Denver, CO, is living. By his second marriage there were seven children, six of whom are living, John F. being the eldest. The others are: Mrs. William Belyea, living in Grand Rapids; Mrs. Edward J. Head, of Denver, CO; Mrs. D.E. Brown, living in St.Joseph; Frank R., of the same city; and Robert B., who resides in Kalamazoo, MI.
      John F. Duncan was educated in the public schools of his native town and at the age of twelve years entered his father's store as a clerk and for two years after his death he continued the business. He then engaged in railroading in the employ of the Chicago & Lake Shore Railroad Company, now the Pere Marquette system, as baggageman on a mail train for one year. He afterward clerked for E.C. Hoyt in St.Joseph and subsequently was with T.T. Ransom, in whose employ he remained as a salesman for 8 years, gaining thorough familiarity with the methods in vogue in commercial life. He later entered into partnership with James Forbes under the firm name of Forbes & Duncan, conducting a grocery store for 8 years, when Mr. Forbes sold out and the firm became Duncan & Springsteen. This relation was maintained for about 2 years, when they disposed of their store to Frank C. Burke and Mr. Duncan then engaged in the real estate and building business in St. Joseph, which he continued for two years, at the end of which time he puchased the King & Cooper grocery store, which he conducted in connection with other business interests until 1892. In that year the grocery store was sold to the firm of Ankli & Duncan and in 1893 Mr. Duncan of this review purchased the hardware business of M.B. Rice, at the location which he now occupies. This business was established by C.C. Sweet some ten years before. Mr. Duncan has since conducted the store and is now one of the leading merchants of the city.
      In politics he is independent, while fraternally he is connected with the Masonic order and the Knights of the Maccabees. In 1883 in St.Joseph he was married to Miss Emma Gurnsey, who was born in this city and is a daughter of Hiram G. Gurnsey, who came from New York to Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan are members of the Congregational church and are much esteemed people here. He entered business life in an humble capacity but has gradually and steadily worked his way upward, brooking no obstacles that could be overcome by determined and steady purpose.

1880 "[History of the city of Denver, Arapahoe County, and Colorado]" by W B Vickers, Elbridge Gerry, Wilbur F Stone, Samuel Bowles; pub. Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co. (LH11769, HeritageQuest images 4/2007; FHL book 978.883 D3h 1977 and film 1,000,144 item 2)
      Pg.538-539: DANIEL C. OSWALD. Mr. Oswald was born May 3, 1842, in Buffalo, N.Y. His father was a school teacher, and, had he lived, would have ... when Daniel C. was but 8 years old, the death of both his parents, within 6 weeks of each other, left him doubly orphaned, and he was soon bound out to a farmer in the vicinity of Lancaster, N.Y. At 18, he went to St.Joseph, Mich., where he found employment as clerk in the grocery store of Robert B. Duncan (whose daughter he afterward married), and clerked for two years, when he, with a partner, purchased the business of his employer. ... enlisted in Co.K, First Iowa Cavalry, ... He was married February 20, 1878, to Miss Louise M. Duncan, of St. Joseph, Mich. (MAD: St.Joseph, Berrien Co. MI)

1912 "Cincinnati, the Queen City : 1788-1912" (Hamilton Co. OH) by Charles Frederic Goss; pub. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. (LH8153, HeritageQuest images 2/2007 & 5/2007; FHL book 977.178 H2go v.1-4 and film 925,035 and 925,036 items 1-2)
      Vol.4, pg.684-685: JAMES BARKER SR., ... died in Cincinnati in 1905, born at Bilton, near Birmingham, England, in 1840, ... in 1863 to Cincinnati, Ohio, ... his wife, a niece of Joseph Troutman, ... On the 5th of March, 1865, Mr. Barker married Miss Ellen Patton, a daughter of David and Ellen (Smith) Patton, ... Unto Mrs. and Mrs. Barker were born ten children, as follows: Joseph, living in Cincinnati, who is married and has two children; James, Jr., who wedded Ada Keayes, who passed away in December, 1906; Madge, the wife of Israel Hirschberg, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Helen, at home; Harriet, the wife of Samuel B. Duncan, of Coloma, Michigan, by whom she has two children; Sarah, who gave her hand in marriage to Frank Lukens, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by whom she has one son; Herbert, who is still at home; and three who died in infancy. ... (MAD: Coloma, Berrien Co. MI)


"California Wagon Train Lists, Vol.1, April 5, 1849 to Oct. 20, 1852" by Louis J. Rasmussen, 1994 (Placerville FHC book)
      Pg.62 contains information about a Joseph Duncan and others of Berrien Co. MI who passed through Kanesville, IA, on their way to CA shortly before May 30, 1849.


Return to Index to Duncan Research Files in Michigan

Return to The Genealogy Bug's Home Page