Robert F. Duncan is a representative of one of the old pioneer families of Louisa county and was here born on
the 24th of August, 1844. His parents were J. Kennedy and Margaret (Johnson) Duncan, natives of Tennessee, who
on coming to Iowa in 1840 settled in Louisa county where the father entered land from the government. It was a
frontier district to which he came and the family had to meet all of the experiences and hardships of pioneer life.
Much of the district was a wild, uncultivated prairie, and not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made
upon the land which J. K. Duncan acquired. However he at once began transforming the tract into well tilled fields
and for years successfully carried on farming adding to his property at different times until he was the owner
of six hundred acres, all in this county. He also engaged quite extensively in stock raising. Unto him and his
wife were born eight children: Catharine, now deceased; S. H., a resident of Louisa county; Sarah J., who has also
passed away; Robert F., Isabella J., the widow of J. W. Oates of Columbus Junction; J. J., also living in Columbus
Junction; and twins who died in infancy.
Robert F. Duncan was early trained to the work of the farm and in the public schools of the neighborhood acquired
his education, but his opportunities in that direction were somewhat limited as Iowa did not at that time have
a school system which equaled that of the present day. He was twenty five years of age when he started out in business
for himself, purchasing one hundred and sixty acres of land which he immediately began to cultivate. Close application
and hard work brought the usual reward and as a result he was able to extend the boundaries of his farm until he
owned two hundred acres. In connection with tilling the soil he bought and sold stock and found this branch of
his business so profitable that he decided to discontinue general agricultural pursuits and devote his entire time
to the purchase and sale of cattle. Selling his farm, in 1878 he removed to Columbus Junction where he bought a
lot and erected a substantial two story residence which he has since made his home. Some years ago his hearing
began to fail and for a considerable period he used an ear trumpet. But feeling that the time was coming when even
this would not suffice, he determined to learn the movement of the lips and thus interpret the speech of others
while it was yet possible for him to hear in some degree. In this way he seems to have developed what might be
termed a sixth sense for although his hearing has now totally gone he can read the movement of another's lips so
deftly that he can carry on business transactions and take part in ordinary conversation. He possesses a very pleasant
and genial disposition, greatly enjoying the humorous feature of any situation, and his many good qualities have
gained for him the warm regard and friendship of all with whom he has come in contact.
Mr. Duncan was united in marriage on the 9th of March, 1870, to Miss Melissa Bobo, a daughter of Jacob and Rosanna
(Wren) Bobo, the latter a native of Pennsylvania while the former was born and reared in Ohio. In the Bobo family
were twelve children: Sarah, now the wife of Henry Elliott, of Colorado; Filena, the wife of James O'Connor, of
Columbus; four who died in infancy; Michael, Minda and Allan, who are also deceased; Melissa, now Mrs. Duncan;
Harrison, who resides in Davenport; and Anis, the wife of Samuel Edmonson, of Muscatine, Iowa. Unto Mr. and Mrs.
Duncan have been born three children: Ollie, now the wife of Clarence Sherer; Viola, the wife of Richard Wilcox;
and Ella, the wife of Thomas Hendrickson. All are residents of Columbus Junction.
Mr. Duncan gives his political support to the democratic party of which he has been an advocate since age conferred
upon him right of franchise. Both he and his wife are members of the Reformed church and in its membership they
have many friends. Mr. Duncan is regarded as a most trustworthy and honorable business man, conducting all business
transactions with regard to the rights of others, and thus he has gained the confidence and good will of all with
whom he has been associated. Few men are more familiar with the history of Louisa county than he for through more
than two thirds of a century he has witnessed its growth and development. He has seen the wild lands transformed
into productive farms, villages grow into thriving towns, while churches and schools have been established and
business enterprises of many kinds have been introduced all contributing to its prosperity. In the work of upbuilding
he has borne his part to the extent of his ability and the capable management of his business affairs has ranked
him with the men of affluence in his community.
History of Louisa County, Iowa
From Its Earliest Settlement to 1912
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Decatur County, IA
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