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Duncan, Alexander


Posted By: mjv (email)
Date: 10/13/2020 at 17:51:06

Alexander Duncan, of Washington is another one of the truly representative pioneers of Washington County, having made this his home since 1847, a period of forty years. He is a native of Ireland, born in 1813, and is the son of John and Elizabeth Duncan, both of whom were also natives of that country. When Alexander was about seven years of age, the family emigrated to America and located in Somerset County, Pa., where they remained eight years, and then moved to Washington County, in the same State. In 1833 they removed to Richland County, Ohio, where Mr. Duncan died in his one hundredth year. Mrs. Duncan died in Coshocton County, Ohio, from a cancer in her eighty-sixth year. With the exception of the cancerous trouble, she was a hale and hearty woman. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and were among the first to embrace that faith in the days of John and Charles Wesley. Five children were born to them, of whom two are yet living – Samuel, now living in Missouri, and Alexander, in Washington, Iowa.

Alexander Duncan was reared upon his father’s farm, and from the time when physically able, had to do his share of the work in its cultivation and improvement. The education received by him was only such as could be obtained in the old log school-house. That school-house, with its puncheon floor, slab seats and greased paper window-lights, is well remembered by him. For a time he was required to go four miles to school.

On the 17th of August, 1837, our subject was united in marriage with Miss Lydia Frederick, a daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Frederick, who were of German descent, their fore-parents being among the first to emigrate to America. Mrs. Duncan was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1817. She is a cousin of Hon. Ben Frederick, of Marshalltown, Iowa. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Duncan settled in Richland County, Ohio, where Mr. Duncan opened two farms in the heavy timber. In 1847 they sold their possessions in Ohio and came to Iowa, being urged so to do by a brother of Mrs. Duncan, who had come to this state several years previously. They came across the country with teams and landed in Brighton in September of that year. Mr. Duncan first purchased land just across the line in Keokuk County, which he improved and upon which he lived two years, then sold out and bought and improved a farm of 137 acres in Franklin Township, this county. On this farm they continued to reside till 1865, when they moved to the city of Washington, where they have since continued to reside. When they first settled in Franklin Township, there were but three houses in sight, and it was thought strange by many that he should settle out upon the prairie. But his choice was a good one, and he never had cause to regret it. He broke the first prairie east of Indian Creek.

Mr. and Mrs. Duncan were never blessed with children, but years ago they adopted Caroline Homel, who was then but two years of age. This child was given their name, and as Caroline Duncan, grew to womanhood under the kind and watchful care of her foster parents, and is now the wife of N. N. Vinquest, and ice dealer of Kansas City.

In early life, Mr. Duncan was politically a Whig, casting his first vote for William Henry Harrison for the Presidency. Since its organization he has affiliated with the Republican party. Religiously, he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Coming to this country in limited circumstances, by industry and economy, he has accumulated enough to make him and his aged wife comfortable the remainder of their days. In this community non are more highly respected than Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, the pioneers of 1847.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa (1887). Excerpt from Biographical Sketch of Alexander Duncan, pages 508-509.


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