Duncans in PA


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

Last revised May 15, 2009


The PA Genealogical Society has published some of the early PA county records. Many of the church records and diaries of early Ministers have been abstracted and published; these may contain early marriages of Duncans. The Quaker records have been published by William W. Hinshaw and others.

"Henry R. Baldwin Genealogical Records" Vol.1-34; typed by Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County [OH], 1963 (FHL fiche 6,051,349 and book 977.1 D2bh v.1-34; index pgs. 399-400 on FHL fiche 6,051,339)
      This collection contains an index to many of the early settlers from PA to OH, including Duncans in the Revolutionary War.

DUNCAN FOLDER, Heber G. Gearhart Collection, Genealogical Society of PA, (FHL film 525,548)
      This collection has a lot of material on Duncans in PA)

Also see the published abstracts and indexes to military records by Virgil D. White for Duncans who served in the various wars.

"The Story of Thomas Duncan and His Six Sons" by Katherine Duncan Smith, 1928, (Los Angeles Public Library book R929.2 D911; also from Wayne R. Johnson 8/1993, and John A. Duncan and others)
      This book contains information about descendants of Thomas Duncan, wife Jane, who died in 1776 at Carlisle, Hopewell Twp., Cumberland Co. PA.
      This book also contains on pg.137, extracts from letters of Aug. Duncan. (WRJ: brother of William A. Duncan, Congressman from Cattsburg, PA) of Falling Spring Place, Chambersburg, PA, March 11, 1895, about Seth Duncan, in Abbotstown then Lancaster Co., now [1895] Adams Co., in 1741; and his son General William Duncan who died in Philadelphia about 1885 near 100 years of age.
      Pg.97-99 contain the full copy of a letter from John G. Ford, of 713 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Feb. 15, 1896, also about Seth Duncan who emigrated from the county of Donegal, Ireland, to Pennsylvania, about year 1750 and first settled in Octorara Township in Lancaster County, then to York, PA, then to Abbotstown in York, now Adams County, and his descendants. His letter mentions David Duncan, who kept a large store in either Penn's or Sugar valley in Centre Co., Penna, and a few of his descendants.
      Also included are other letters which Mrs. Smith received from other Duncan researchers.


"The Federal Cases, comprising cases argued and determined in the circuit and district courts of the United States from the earliest times to the beginning of the Federal Reporter, arranged alphabetically by the titles of the cases and numbered consecutively" Cases 5,806 to 6,393, Grey to Heran; Vol.11, pgs.42 to 46 (California State Law Library 12/2003) (MAD: county unknown)
      GRIFFITH v. TUNCKHOUSER; Case No. 5,823; Circuit Court, D. Pennsylvania; 11 F. Cas. 42; 1 Pet. C.C. 418; April, 1817, Term.
      (opinion) WASHINGTON, Circuit Justice (charging jury). The plaintiff appears in court with a regular paper title, a warrant and survey returned into the office and accepted, which, according to the law of this state, vests in him a legal title. The defendant sets up no title whatever, and resting upon his possession merely, endeavours to defend it, by insisting that the survey, though apparently legal, was in point of fact unduly made. A defence of this kind by a mere intruder, is not entitled to much favour, and although the plaintiff cannot recover if this survey be void, still every presumption is to be made in favour of the regularity of a survey made by a sworn officer, returned into the land office and there accepted, until the contrary is proved by the party who impeaches it.
      The first question is, whether this warrant was duly surveyed on the ground, after the warrants came to the hands of the surveyor? Independent of the return of the surveyor, a sworn officer of the government, and the acceptance of it by the land office, without an objection having ever been made to it by caveat or otherwise; Leet the surveyor, has given his deposition, in which he states, that after the warrants came to his hands, they were entered in his books, and duly surveyed. A witness was examined, to prove that Leet informed him that he did not survey these warrants on the ground after he received them. This evidence being merely hearsay, is not competent to prove the fact, that the warrant was not surveyed on the ground, but was admitted by the court, merely to discredit the testimony of Leet, who has sworn that the warrant was duly surveyed. If, after weighing the credit of the two witnesses, the jury should be of opinion, that Leet's evidence ought not to be believed, his return of the survey and the acceptance of it by the office, fortified by the presumption in its favour that it was regularly made, not being impeached by any positive evidence, will be sufficient for the plaintiff. But, admit that it appeared in evidence that no actual survey was made on the ground, it does not follow, I conceive, that the survey is for that reason void.
      The ninth section of the act of 1785, requires that every survey, thereafter to be returned into the land office, upon any warrant which should be issued upon the passing of the act, should be made by actually going upon and measuring the land, and marking the lines, after the warrant authorising the survey should come to the hands of the deputy surveyor. It then proceeds to declare, that every survey made theretofore, that is, before the warrant had come to the hands of the deputy surveyor, shall be accounted clandestine and void. But the same consequence is not declared, if the survey be not actually made on the ground, in the manner described in this section; and it would be strange, if in every case, it should be required to measure and mark all the lines of the survey, whether the same should be necessary or not, and this under the penalty of the survey being void. If the lines of adjoining surveys ascertain precisely the boundaries of the tract in question; if three or even two of the lines of a square be surveyed, so that the remaining line or lines can be laid down by protraction with mathematical certainty; can it be believed, that the legislature meant to avoid the survey, unless those lines were actually measured and marked? This is not to be presumed. In cases where accuracy in designating the particular tract of land cannot be attained without an actual running of the lines, it was certainly proper to require that they should be run and marked on the ground. Infinite confusion would arise, were a different course permitted. The direction in this section to the deputy surveyor, was clearly intended for the benefit of the warrant-holder, by requiring so accurate a description of the boundaries of his land, as to prevent interferences with the adjoining tracts. But, if every object of the law can be obtained without running all or any of the lines, it is going beyond the words, and, I clearly think, beyond the plain intention of the legislature, to declare the survey void, because an act altogether unnecessary was not performed. This has more than once been declared to be the opinion of this court, and it has the clear authority of the supreme court of this state, in the case of McRhea's Lessee v. Plummer, 1 Bin. 227, to support it. In this case, too, the argument that an actual survey is proper, for the purpose of giving notice in pais of the boundaries of the land, is most satisfactorily answered. The entries in the books of the surveyor, and the plots returned into the office, together with such marks as are to be found on the land, will always afford full information to actual settlers and others, of the real boundaries of each survey.
      Now, what are the facts in this case? The tract of land in question, as well as all the others, appended to that of Ann Duncan, were surveyed by Jonathan Leet, as assistant to his brother Daniel, under the authority of the state, in the year 1785 or 1786; after these warrants came into his hands, Jonathan Leet went on the ground, and ran so many of the lines as to satisfy himself that a second actual survey was unnecessary. No evidence has been given to show that he was mistaken in this respect; for although one witness has declared, that he searched for the lines of this tract and could find no marks to distinguish it, he admits that he had neither chain nor compass to assist him, and that no person on behalf of the lessor of the plaintiff was present, or was even called upon to show the lines and marks. It can never be endured, that the acts of a sworn officer, approved by his superiors, should be impeached by the unsuccessful examination of officious and unauthorised individuals. The order of this court put it in the power of the defendant to have this point ascertained in a fair and proper manner, of which he did not chuse to avail himself. But, in opposition to the unsatisfactory evidence of the witness just noticed, is that of Enoch Marvin, who says, that he traced the outward line of all these surveys from Ann Duncan's down to that now in controversy, and found the corner trees of each survey. As to the objection, that the actual survey of this tract of land was made before the warrant came to the hands of the deputy surveyor, it is conclusively answered and obviated by the decision in the case of McRhea's Lessee v. Plummer, in which we entirely concur. In that case, it was decided that the tract of country on which those warrants fell, having been surveyed by authority of the state for satisfying depreciation certificates, but which was afterwards open to appropriation warrants, coming afterwards to the hands of the deputy surveyor, might be applied by him to the survey so made, without running and marking the lines anew. No further observations need be made on this objection.
      The next and last objection to the validity of this survey is, that it was made in district No. 10, whereas the land lies in district No. 11. If the fact be so, there is no doubt but that the survey is void, and the lessor of the plaintiff cannot recover. Whether the fact be so or not, is a question for the jury to decide on the evidence. The fourth section of the act of 3d April, 1792, declares, that the surveyor general shall, with the approbation of the governor, divide the lands thus offered for sale into proper and convenient districts, in such manner as he may think expedient, so that the boundaries of each district, either natural or artificial, may be known; and shall appoint a deputy surveyor for each district. Whether these districts were laid down by the surveyor general, on any diagram or plot of that country remaining in his office, is unknown to the court or jury, as no evidence of that fact has been given. But, if there was any such paper division made, still it is presumable, independent of all positive evidence, that the lines of division were also run and marked on the ground, for the information of purchasers, as well as of the several deputy surveyors, so that, in the words of the law, "the boundaries of each district, either natural or artificial, might be known."
      The defendant's counsel, in their argument, have assumed the fact that there was a paper demarkation of those districts of record in the land office, and insist that the nonproduction of that species of evidence is fatal to the plaintiff's title. But to this argument there are two answers, which seem to the court to be conclusive. The first is, that there is no evidence that any such paper ever did exist, and that if it did, the defendant might prove it, although its nonexistence cannot so easily be proved. The next is, that if there is in the land office any paper which marks the original boundaries of these districts, inconsistent with those existing on the ground, it is for the defendant who impeaches this survey, to produce it, and not for the plaintiff who rests upon his survey made by a sworn officer, returned into the land office and there accepted, as affording prima facie evidence that it was regularly made. What then is the evidence of the dividing line between districts No. 10 and No.11? The depositions of Hoge, the deputy surveyor of district No. 11, and of Jonathan Leet, the deputy surveyor of No. 10, corroborated by their official acts, establish, so far as they are believed, the line laid down by Martin as the division line; which line is to the west of Beaver creek, somewhat more than eight miles from the western boundary of the state. The official acts of these surveyors, appear in the connected plots which they respectively made of their surveys, each of them running up to that line as the acknowledged limit of his district. These connected plots were returned into the land office, and there accepted, without an objection having ever been made to them by the surveyor general; the man, whose particular duty it was to see that his deputies did not transgress the limits of their districts, and who, of all others, best knew what those limits were. Martin, who ran the dividing line under the order of this court, and Mr. Williams, both of whom have for many years resided in that part of the country, have sworn that this is the reputed, the well known, and established line of division, between those two districts. In addition to this testimony, Howel's map of this state has been given in evidence, which lays down the line considerably to the west of Beaver creek. On the other side is another survey made by Martin, at the instance of the defendant, which extends the northern line of these districts as contended for by the defendant, nearly twelve miles from the west boundary of the state; and if the defendant had directed him to extend it twelve miles further, it would have been the duty of the surveyor, acting under the order of this court, to have run that distance. But this of itself proves nothing. The survey and plot which accompanies it, are merely intended to exhibit on paper the dimensions, and relative position of the land, so that the evidence to prove its agreement or disagreement with the boundaries, as asserted by each party, may be the better understood. The deposition of Hugh McCullough was also read, who states, amongst other things, that he made a survey of these districts, under an order of the board of property, made in the year 1815; in which he ran twelve miles from the west boundary of the state, as the northern line of Hoge's district. But, as the court refused to suffer that order or the survey made under it to be given in evidence, upon the ground that, as between these parties, they were ex parte and in no manner binding upon them, the evidence of the person who made that survey, as to the lines which he ran, can prove nothing in this cause. He has given no evidence, as to his own knowledge of the division line. He speaks, it is true, of some marked trees which he found on the line running south to the Ohio, twelve miles from the west boundary of the state, as do also Martin and E. Evans, on the line which the former ran, at the distance of eleven miles and one hundred and seventeen perches from the west boundary. But, whether these marked trees designate the district line, or merely the lines of the different surveys adjoining that line, is not explained by any one of the witnesses. Upon this evidence the jury must decide. Verdict for plaintiff.


Adams Co. MS Deed (SLC 2/2009)
      D-77: 14 May 1805, James Moore of City of Natchez, MS, to John Duncan of State of PA, for $1193, 400 acres on waters of Sandy Creek, Spanish Grant to Cader Robey who sold grant to said James Moore; promissory note. Wit. E. Bradish. /s/ E. Bradish, atty for Jno. Duncan. (FHL film 892,051; SLC 2/2009)

Knox Co. OH Deed
V-87: 5 April 1839, Jacob Miller and wife Jane (X) of Knox Co. OH to Samuel Duncan of State of PA, $600, 64 rods off the N end of Sec. 10 T8 R10 of unappropriated lands, and also 64 rods wide off N end of NW 1/4 of SW 1/4 Sec. 6 T8 R9. Wit. Wm. Kirkpatrick, Andw. Black JP. (FHL film 314,047)

HISTORIES before 1923

1891 "Biographical & Historical Memoirs of MS" by Goodspeed (FHL book 976.2 D3b V.1 Pt.2 and from Evelyn Sigler)
      Pg.673-5: GEN. JOHN ANTHONY QUITMAN (deceased), ex-governor (ca 1835-1836; also 1850) of Mississippi, was born September 1, 1799, ... In 1824 he was maried to Miss Eliza Turner, a native of this county (unnamed) ... To the General and Mrs. Quitman were born 11 children, 3 of whom are now living: Mrs. Duncan, Mrs. Lovell and Mrs. Ogden. ... Rosalie (Mrs. Duncan) lives on the old estate adjoining Natchez, was married in 1861 to W.P. Duncan, who was born in Pennsylvania and died in 1862. In 1825 General Quitman purchased the magnificent property near Natchez, and here erected a stately home. ... This fine old typical Southern mansion is still the home of Mrs. Duncan, his daughter. ....

1909 "Centennial History of City of Newark and Licking Co. OH" by E.M.P. Brister, Vol.I (Memphis Public Library book 977.154 B861c; from Evelyn Sigler 8/1984)
      Pg.250: Chaplain Jones passed through the valley in 1772, and was the second to enter Hanover Township, accompained by trader named David Duncan.

1888 "History of Southeast Missouri ... Counties of Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Perry, Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Madison, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Dunklin, Scott, Mississippi, Stoddard, Butler, Wayne and Iron" by Goodspeed (Sacramento FHC book 977.89 H646g; see Mississippi Co. MO for complete)
      Pg.969: Robert W. Duncan, a prosperous young citizen of Bertrand, Mississippi County, was born in Pike Co. MO, in 1856. He is a son of Robert W., Sr., and Elizabeth Duncan, natives of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively. The former is the son of Thomas Duncan, a native of Scotland, who came to America when about eighteen years of age, and settled in Pennsylvania. He was married there to a German lady, and reared a family. Robert W., Sr., removed to Kentucky about 1846, where he resided until 1852, when he went with an oxteam to California. Remaining there about one year, he returned to Kentucky, and in 1854 or 1855 came to Missouri, and settled in Pike County, in which he now resides, aged seventy-five years. His wife died in 1870, having borne him eleven children: Mary Ann (deceased), Sarah (deceased), Margaret (deceased), Thomas (deceased), Susan, Lizzie B., Robert W., Emeline, John W., Benjamin and William (deceased). The subject of this sketch came to Southeast Missouri in 1884, and located in Bertrand. ... (MAD: Robert W. Duncan, b.1825 PA, married 1843 Marion Co. MO)

1879 "History of Vermilion County [Illinois] : together with historic notes on the Northwest, gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official correspondence and other authentic, though, for the most part, out-of-the-way sources" by Hiram W. Beckwith (Los Angeles Public Library book R977.31 V52Be)
      Pg.833, Middle Fork Township: Charles P. Duncan, post office Potomac, groceries, was born Fountain City, Indiana, July 22, 1852. Married Mary A. Copeland, Aug. 16, 1876. She was born in Vermilion City, Ill. One child, Ernest C., born Aug. 1, 1878. His parents are natives of Pennsylvania.

1903 "The Past and Present of Vermilion Co. IL" pub. by S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. (FHL film 1,000,518 item 3, and from Donna Hertzog 5/1994)
      Pg.436: Darius Duncan. In days when Vermilion Co. was frontier, Darius Duncan became one of its residents. ... Mr Duncan became factor in agricultural circles, became quite wealthy, prominent & influential resident. Mr. Duncan was born Dec. 2, 1813, in KY; his father, James Duncan, was a native of Pennsylvania and removed with his family to KY at an early day, farming and stock-raising until his death. Subject acquired limited education in native state, assisted his father on home farm in KY until 1833, when he moved to Vermilion Co. IL, near Stateline. ... In 1865 he sold one farm and removed to Danville, later he sold another farm; in the city he purchased lot adj. the Temple on the north and erected a home, later sold ten feet of his lot to the Temple. In 1843 the marriage of Mr. Duncan and Miss Mary Caldwell, native of Circleville, OH, born March 22, 1829, daughter of James and Mary (Hoover) Caldwell, both natives of VA whence they removed to OH and later to Vermilion Co. IL. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Duncan were born two children, Irwin (clerk in a retail house in Danville, died June 20, 1892 at age of 32 years), Charlie married Miss Emma Day and resides on Lafayette Street in Danville. ... Mr. Duncan held membership in First Methodist Episcopal church of Danville. ... Mr. Duncan died Feb. 8, 1893. Mrs. Duncan is now residing at No. 129 Franklin Street ... (MAD: ? James Duncan mar. 1798 Polly Wells in Bourbon Co. KY?; from Harrison Co. KY to Gallatin Co. KY 1818-1828)

1912 "Historical Encyclopedia of IL & History of Sangamon Co." 2 vols., by Newton Bateman & Paul Selby; pub. by Munsell Pub. Co. (SUTRO microfilm 292 reel 1-2, 76 book 1, 286; CA State Library, Sutro Branch)
      Pg.1192-3: DUNCAN, Milton - .... a well-known and highly esteemed citizen of Springfield, spent many years in farming and then retired from farm work. He was born on a farm in Gibson Co. IN, in 1848, a son of Josiah and Caroline (Farriss) Duncan, farming people and natives of Pennsylvania and Indiana, respectively.

1911 "History of Louisa Co. IA From Its Earliest Settlement to 1911" by Arthur Springer, Vol.2 (FHL book 977.7926 H2s; FHL film 924,762)
      Pg.230: JAMES A. DUNCAN. A highly successful and well known stockman of Louisa county is James A. Duncan, who was born in Seaton, (Mercer Co.) IL, on Nov. 20, 1879. His parents, A.L. and Lucinda C. (Gilmore) Duncan, were natives of Pennsylvania and Ohio respectively. The father is a prominent stockman of western Illinois ... He was also one of the organizers of the Oakville State Savings Bank ... In his family were six sons and one daughter: Leemoine G., (later called a son) a resident of Seaton, Illinois; Mary A., who married William Keating, of Seaton; Fred T., who is residing in Gainesville, Texas; James A., our subject; John K., of Dallas, Texas; and Frank L. and Harland H., also residents of Seaton. ....

1908 "Biographical Record of Prominent & Representative Men of Indianapolis & Vicinity" [Marion Co. IN] by J.H. Beers (CA State Library, Sutro Branch)
      Pg.269-272: DUNKIN. The Dunkin family, some members of which spell their name Duncan, orig. from Scotland, branch herein from old Colonial stock of Pennsylvania in the Red Stone country. John Dunkin, grandfather of Michael and William Dunkin, of Selma [Delaware Co.], IN, was a farmer who went from Pennsylvania to OH as a young man; in latter state he married Elizabeth Sunderland, who died July 15, 1843, in Union Co. IN, she the dau. of Peter Sunderland, one of orig. pioneers. The Sunderlands had preceded Dunkins to that section, and when John Dunkin, accompanied by a companion, crossed the mountains with a knapsack on his back, he found them well settled. Dayton, OH, was then a hamlet ... After marriage, John Dunkin settled on Mad river, 3 miles southeast of Dayton [Montgomery Co.], where he cleared a farm and resided until death. He & wife were parents of: William, b. Sept. 22, 1788, died Nov. 22, 1870; John, b. Oct. 21, 1790; Peter, b. June 8, 1792; Michael, b. Jan. 29, 1795, died young; Rachel, b. Jan. 20, 1797, d. Jan. 2, 1860; Benjamin, b. Aug. 20, 1799; Michael, b. Aug. 28, 1801; John b. Sept. 5, 1803; Joshua, b. Sept. 25, 1805; Polly, b. Nov. 22, 1807; and David, b. Sept. 22, 1810, d. Sept. 1, 1881. These names and dates are from the records left by William Dunkin, and copied in the family Bible.
      (MAD: William in 1850 Delaware Co. IN census; Peter and Benjamin and ? Michael (Richard?) in 1850 Carroll Co. IN census; John ?? 1850 Fulton Co. OH census; Joshua ?? age 40?; 1850 David in Union Co. IN census; Elizabeth (Sunderland) in 1840 Union Co. IN census)

1884 "History of Indianapolis & Marion Co. IN" by Berry Robinson Sulgrove; Indianapolis (FHL film 934,914 item 1, book 90)
      Pg.174-5: ROBERT B. DUNCAN is of Scotch descent, his grandfather, Robert Duncan, born in 1726, a native Scotchman, having emigrated to America in 1754, where he engaged in the pursuit of his trade, a tailor. He married Agnes Singleton, born in 1742, also of Scotch parentage, and had children: Robert, James, John and three daughters. Robert was born in Pennsylvania on Sept. 28, 1772, and during his youth resided in that State, after which he removed to Western NY and engaged in farming pursuits. He married Miss Anna Boyles, and had children: James, Esther, William, Robert B., Margaret, John, Samuel, Jane and Annie. The death of Mrs. Duncan occurred in 1822, and that of Mr. Duncan on Jan. 6, 1846. Their son Robert B. was born in Ontario Co. NY, June 15, 1810, where the earliest seven years of his life were spent. In 1817 he removed to OH and settled near Sandusky, his residence until the spring of 1820, when the family emigrated to Conner's Station, in the present Hamilton Co. IN, then an unsurveyed prairie. Various employments ... until 1824, when became a resident of Pike Twp., Marion Co., farmed. ... (MAD: see Marion Co. IN file for more)

1910 "Greater Indianapolis : the history, the industries, the institutions, and the people of a city of homes" (Marion Co. IN) 2 vols., by Jacob Piatt Dunn (FHL film 934,914 items 3&4, books 92&93)
      Vol.2, pg.698: John Sanders Duncan, ... His father was the late Robert B. Duncan, born in Ontario Co. NY, June 15, 1810. In his (Robert Boyles Duncan) 14th year the family moved to Pike Twp in Marion Co. IN ... died in March, 1897 ... his wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary E. Sanders (a daughter of Dr. John H. Sanders of Indianapolis), ... married Miss Sanders in 1843. Their childrn were: John Sanders, Robert P., Anna R. (deceased), and Nellie G. The Duncan family, originally Scotch, has resided in America over 150 years, since Robert Duncan emigrated in 1754. He was born in Scotland in 1726 and married Agnes Singleton, also of Scotch parentage. Their first home was in Pennsylvania, where their son Robert was born Sept. 28, 1772, their other children being James and John and three daughters. Some years later the family home was moved to western NY and in 1817 Robert Duncan, the second, settled near Sandusky OH. Robert (the second) had married Anna Boyles, and their son Robert Boyles was 7 years old when taken to OH, and at the age of 10, in the spring of 1820, the family located at Connertown, Hamilton Co. (then a part of Marion Co.). (MAD: see Marion Co. IN for more)

"Pennsylvania: Genealogies chiefly Scotch-Irish and German" by William Henry Egle, 1886; 2nd edition 1896 (Placerville book GEN REF 929.109748 E)
      Pg.554: William Gregory Beckley, b. July 29, 1839, son of Alfred Beckley (native of Lexington KY) & Emily Neville Craig, m. Margaret Esther Duncan & had issue: Emily Virginia; Laura Steel; Walter Lee; Emily Neville; John Duncan.
      Pg.554: Isaac Craig Beckley (brother of Wm. Gregory), b. March 2, 1841, m. Mary Duncan (no date) & had issue: Clinton Theodore; Robina; Edward Gray Comingo; Sarah.
      (MAD: see Greenbrier Co. WV)


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