Biography - James A. Duncan

JAMES A. DUNCAN. Whether our subject can trace a lineal descent from Duncan, King of Scotland, whom Holinshed has chronicled and Shakespeare has made famous in the wonderful tragedy, Macbeth, the writer knows not, but it is a good name, and one which he who bears it, may be proud of. Doubtless of Scotch descent, our subject's father was born in Delaware County, Pa., in 1788. His mother who in her maidenhood was Mary K. McKeever, was a native of Virginia. After marriage, they first settled in Belmont County, Ohio, and then came to Shelby County, this State, locating in Richland Township in 1838, where both parents passed away. The mother died April 30, 1862. The father survived her two years, his decease taking place April 10, 1864. Mrs. Duncan, our subject's mother, was of Irish ancestry.

James Duncan, Sr. was the father of six children which included four sons and two daughters. Our subject was the eldest of this little brood and was born in Belmont County, Ohio, August 27, 1834. The original of the sketch was but four years old when his parents removed to Shelby County, and here he grew to manhood in Richland Township, where he has always made his home, so that he has a pretty accurate idea of what pioneer life is, although the country was not such a wilderness in his boyhood as it was on the coming hither of some of the older settlers. When he became old enough to enjoy society, the district in which he lived was well settled, and boasted some of the best people in the State.

In 1859 Mr. Duncan was married in Ash Grove Township to Miss Nancy J. Evans, who was a native of Shelby County. She was the mother of three children whose names are John, Robert and Caledonia. John married Miss Lillie Wilhite and made a home of his own. Caledonia is the wife of Charles Rubel. Mrs. Nancy J. Duncan died in Richland Township, August 25, 1867. Two years later, January 27, 1869, he was married to Mrs. Hannah Stevens. She was the widow of Lowrey Stevens and a daughter of Isaac and Rebecca Jones, and was born in Butler County, Ohio, August 21, 1836. By this marriage, our subject is the father of one child whose name is James O.

The original of our sketch has always followed the pursuit of agriculture. He settled on the farm where he now lives in the spring of 1857. During the last years of the war, he responded to the call for volunteers and enlisted in September 1864, in Company B. of the Twelfth Illinois Regiment, and served for somewhat over three months. He of whom we write takes a fairly active part in political matters. He is a follower of the Reform party, his political theories being all that the name of his party implies. The esteem and confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens is evidenced by the fact that he has been elected to many important local offices, he has been Highway Commissioner and School Director for a number of years and each of these positions has been filled to satisfaction of his constituents. He shows his loyality to his calling by allying himself to the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association. He with his wife, has ever taken an active part in religious affairs. They are both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in which they are ardent workers. He has been Steward of his church for several years and also has held the position of Trustee.

Mr. Duncan is the owner of an excellent farm comprising two hundred and eighty acres of land, upon which have been placed the best of improvements. The latest and most improved farm implements are in use upon his farm, to further his efforts in making the place a model of agricultural neatness and productiveness, and this he has fairly accomplished, the place being worthy of attention to all who lake a pleasure in advanced ideas regarding agriculture which is conducted in a scientific way. There are good buildings upon the place, his residence being a home in every sense of the word, architecturally attractive and practically comfortable. His barns and outhouses are neat and of good size.

Extracted 26 May 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 535-536.

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