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Duncan Family History
Isabel- Entryway of Fulton County
Charles Duncan's Military Record (Coming soon!)
George Duncan - Education Certificates
Last Will and Testament of George Duncan
Last Will and Testament of Flora Duncan
Last Will and Testament of Maud Duncan
Last Will and Testament of Alice Duncan
Duncan Family History - Copied from an essay by Alice Duncan
George Duncan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1787. He was educated as a physician in Glasgow, but gave up his profession for coming to America. In 1816 he was first located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At one time he lived in Pottstown, PA. He helped to survey the Erie Canal. In 1835, he moved to Shawneetown, IL, but soon after moved to the picturesque and beautiful spot on Spoon River, now known as Duncans Mills. At this spot there were rapids, suggesting to him that the erection of a dam and flouring mills. Thus came into being the family Duncan Mill- completed in 1836. Mr. Duncan had able assistants in his sons, John and Thomas.
The mill became famous for 50 miles around. In that large area at that time, this was one important and reliable mill. Winter ice nor summer drought ever stopped its wheels. Only a great flood that overflowed the bottom could make it silent. It was the bad fate of this widely popular mill to be burned by an incendiary in March of 1870. When rebuilt the great expense threw Thomas Duncan into bankruptcy and the mill and dam disappeared years ago. In the days of the mills prosperity, that spot was Lewistowns summer resort for fishing and lathing.
George Duncan was one of our most remarkable pioneers. He died November 14, 1864, at an age of 77 years. He built one of the first good houses any where near here; nearby all were log homes at that time. When they moved into the new house, the log house was used for a school house.
George and Elizabeth Primrose were married in Scotland. On the trip over here someone on the vessel got hard up for money and George Duncan bought the Grandfathers clock. It has pictures on it of Queen Marys escape from Lochlever Castle, but does not have a date. It can be found chiming the time in the home of great-great-great grandson Charles Sherman Duncan of Duncan Mills, who also has Georges medicine bay and survey equipment.
George Duncan had a brother, Henry Duncan. He remained in Scotland caring for their aged other. In a letter he wrote from Leitte, Scotland on November 15, 1833 stated that he planned to come to America in the next year (1834) and make his home with George and his family. He never married. George and Henry are buried just across from the home in Duncan Mills, Illinois.
The following story is by John H. Duncan. The personal account indicates that John may have written the paper of their travels to Illinois.
We forded the streams that chanced to be on the road; among some of them was the Susguehanna, the Maumee, and the Fox. We saw two bark canoes filled with Indians which my father motioned to. They at once came to shore and inquired if we had any whiskey. When told no they seemed to be disappointed. My father asked them if they had any venison. They had none. Father gave them 25 cents and they were pleased. We met Indians every day on the road. They were all friendly. After crossing the Maumee we went up the river into Indiana. We stopped at Fort Wayne all night. After leaving Fort Wayne, we started in a north westerly direction. We crossed several large prairies, among them was the Dorr. We got our board as we traveled from place to place. Sometimes we found the houses where people lived by noticing the blazed trees as we passed along. But on the Dorr Prairie we traveled along until nearly night. Finally we met a man and inquired of him where we could stay all night. He directed us to the edge of wood in the distance. When went where we directed, but to our sorrow the house was vacant. We thot the next best thing to do was to look for another house in which to shelter for the night. Finally darkness overtook us and we were obliged to camp in the woods without supper.
In the morning we started out to look for a house where we could get refreshment, of some kind, as we had been without food since breakfast the day before. On the way out we met quite a few Indians with guns. They had been to the pigeons roost. The number of them was something wonderful. There were thousands and thousands of them. This roost was about 10 miles long. We traveled about halfway through before we found a house where we could get our breakfast. We came to the Lake about 40 miles above Chicago, which was then Fort Dearborn. The road we traveled along the lake was sandy and most of the time two of the wheels of the wagon was in the water. We found Fort Dearborn a small place. There were soldiers there. (Chicago was only a small village at that time. It was so low, wet and swampy no one would have thought of what it is now.) My father could have bought any amount of land any place near Chicago for very little money, but he never dreamed of what it would be. After staying all night in Chicago, we started east the next morn, or started towards home.
We arrived at our home again in Philadelphia some time in the summer. I do not remember how long we was out on this journey. In the fall of the same year (1835) my fathers family, one of his brothers, and Isaiah Wallace and family started with household goods, horses, and cattle to look for a location for a grist mill. We traveled by wagon until we reached Pittsburg, there my father bought a flat boat 80 feet long and 17 feet wide. here we loaded all our property on the flat boat and started down the Ohio River. We boarded ourselves while coming down the river when we wanted some eatables we would stop at some town along the bank of the river and get a supply. On the way down the river at night we ran the boat on a snag in the river. We tried to get off but without success. We saw a light on shore and called for help. They came, but said there was no use, trying to get out at night. So we went ashore with a small boat we made a purchase and by working and pulling we finally freed the boat and started on once more.
We landed at Shawneetown where we sold our boat, and started into Illinois by wagon driving our cattle. We traveled to Fairfield in Wayne County. Here we lived for the winter. In the spring of 1836 we started for Fulton County. We reached Fulton County sometime in April. We crossed the Illinois River at Havana on a ferry boat. Our journey from Wayne County to Fulton County was a dreadful one. The mud was so deep in places that we were obliged to draw one wagon aways with the team, then unhitch and take them back to the other wagons. So it made it very unpleasant.
My father, George Duncan, seeing Spoon River just the thing to run a mill. He concluded to settle where I now live. He built a house of logs. The land was Government land, but father bought this claim from Alex Shaver. He then built a barn after which he began the erection of a dam and saw mill. The saw mill had burrs for grinding wheat. The saw mill was just west of the bridge on the Lewistown Road. After a while he built the mill which burned in 1870. My brother, Thomas, and I helped my father in the mill.
Shortly after we got settled in our new home a friend and I went on horse back to Philadelphia on business from Duncan Mills. We was on the road about 30 days. I remained in Philadelphia until spring. I came home on a boat. In 1840, I was married to Jane Branson of Woodland Township. I brought my wife to Duncan Mills to live and where we have lived ever since. Born to my wife and I nine children, six of whom are living. They all live near us. Seven years ago, this eleven of June our children and many friends made a surprise for us to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It was a complete surprise. There was four present who was at the wedding, namely Charles and Calvin Branson of Ipava, Mrs. Mary Schenk, wifes sister, and my sister, Mrs. Margaret Dilworth. The mill is a thing of the past. The town which was named for my father is still dotted down on the classic Spoon River. It improved very slowly. My wife and I live with our three daughters in the story and half frame house which my father built about 50 years ago. I also own a farm but my family days are over. At this time, there was only a few homes. Near Solomon Winchell lived on the farm now known as the Tom Brown farm and later belonged to Warren Hendee. Moses Meeker lived on the farm mow owned by Harry Strouse. East of us was the Farrises, our nearest neighbors was over a mile away. Our post office was Lewistown. There was but a few woods. the woods were mostly along the river. It was no uncommon thing to look south from our home and see deer bounding over the hills. I shot my first and last deer in Spoon River bottoms. Wild turkeys were also plentiful.
The following information is provided by W.J. Scott after he read the sketch about John H. Duncan.
Isabel, Entryway to Fulton County by Georgia Skiles (Local teacher and historian)
Isabel Township was the entryway for most of the very early Fulton County residents. In fact, the hermit, and first Fulton County settler, Mr. Davidson, made his home on the south bank of Spoon River. It takes its name from Point Isabel, the jut of land just south of Spoon River, where these people crossed the Illinois River.
Fast of the heels of John Eveland and Oasian Ross came the Gardiner brothers, James and Charles. They brought with them the nucleus of an orchard which later flourished. Their home was the first stop of the old stage line from Springfield to Quincy and when James built the lovely old home which still stands, it became the hub of social life for miles around. Part of the eastern portion has been torn away, but the grand old ballroom still remains on the second floor. To the north rises the lawn where on lazy summer afternoons, plays and entertainments were given and on the south stretches a porch the length of the house from which may be seen four counties. This home is not readily accessible for viewing as it is situated off Route 100.
Duncan Mills is still in existence. One house remain at Otto - the others are only memories. The old hotel was torn down in 1947 by Harry Hagney. The little hamlet was situated just west of the present bridge on Route 24 over Otter Creek. This is a lovely and picturesque spot which is well kept by the present owner, Donald Bucy. On this road, too, is the Otto Cemetery containing the graves of many of the early families.
Duncan Mills, which is joining the Spoon River Drive this year, was platted in 1867 and took its name from the mills built here in the 1830s by George Duncan. At that time there were rapids in the river and Duncan built not only a saw mill with burrs, but also a grist mill soon afterwards. Farmers came many miles because of that fact. It was such a lovely cool spot that it became a favorite picnic grounds and on Sundays was a merry place.
The mill was burned by an arsonist in March of 1870, but was rebuilt in 1871, probably late March or April. The expense threw Thomas Duncan (George Duncans son) into bankruptcy and the mill ran only for a few more years. Almost as late as 1880 there was a little steamer plying between Duncan Mills and Havana, carrying the output of the mills and farm products to be loaded on larger vessels for market.
There are several cemeteries in Isabel Township. Besides the aforementioned Otto Cemetery, there is the Rose Cemetery northwest of Duncan Mills, overlooking the valley of the Spoon. Here lies Major Samuel Hackelton, who figured in building a bridge, store, and mill on the Spoon just north of where he now sleeps. he fought in the Black Hawk war and also in the Mexican War where he met his death. He was the thirteenth Speaker of the House in Illinois.
The Foutch Cemetery off Route 100 is situated above the old Foutch Homestead and is a lovely, quiet country cemetery. It contains the graves of the Gardiner family and many other early families. Going on south on Route 100 you will find the Kearney Cemetery, the only Catholic cemetery in South Fulton. This cemetery is noted for its panoramic view of the Illinois River bottom lands.
Last Will and Testament of George Duncan
My last will and testament is that I bequeath to my Grandson Charles Duncan the notes of hand I hold against Caleb Dilworth.
Last Will and Testament of Flora Duncan (Daughter of John H. and Jane Duncan)
I, Flora Duncan, of the Township of Isabel, Fulton County, Illinois, of the age of Fifty-three (53) years, being of sound mind and memory do make, publish, and declare this to be my last will and testament.
Last Will and Testament of Maud Duncan (Daughter of John H. and Jane Duncan)
I, Maud Duncan, of the City of Lewistown, in the County of Fulton and State of Illinois, Spinster, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me, at any time, made.
Last Will and Testament of Alice Duncan (Daughter of Charles and Mary Jane Duncan)
I, Alice Duncan, of the Town of Isabel, in the County of Fulton and State of Illinois, being of sound mind and disposing memory and being mindful of the infirmities and uncertainties of this earthy existence, so hereby make, publish, and declare this to by my last will and testament, hereby expressly revoking all other wills by me at any time made: