Biography of John P. Duncan
Adams County, NE Biographies





John P. Duncan has resided in Roseland since 1887 and has had a part in the business development of the town. For a number of years be was engaged in the grain, coal and live stock business but is now living retired. His birth occurred in Elgin, Illinois, on the 14th of September, 1845, and his parents were Patrick William and Bridget (Kingsley) Duncan, the former born in County Monaghan, Ireland, and the latter in County Wexford. They were married, however, in the vicinity of Hartford, Connecticut, about 1843 and in the following year removed to Chicago, whence they went to Elgin, Illinois. The father, who was a stonemason, worked on the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad and after leaving the employ of that corporation continued to follow his trade for sonic time. He also farmed near Elgin for a few years but later went to Savanna, Illinois, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits and also worked as a stonemason. In 1870 he decided to try his fortune still farther west and came to Adams county, Nebraska, homesteading on section 14, Silver Lake township. That place remained his home until 1879, when he took up his residence in Roseland, where he died about 1900 and where he is buried. He was a man of marked public spirit and held the esteem of his fellow citizens in full measure. He lost his first wife when their only child, our subject, was but six months old and subsequently he married Ellen McGrath, by whom he had the following children: William F., a resident of Roseland; James, of Thorp, Washington; Eugene, Julia, Mary and Kate, all of whom are deceased; Anna, the wife of Lee Arnold, of Roseland township; and Ella Bovard, who lives at Ayr, Nebraska.

John P. Duncan was educated in the common schools of Illinois and through assisting his father gained much valuable knowledge of farming. In 1870, when about twenty five years of age, he came to this county and took up a homestead on section 10, Silver Lake township. His first residence here was a shanty built of palings, and his farm equipment was very primitive. But he was determined to succeed and by dint of much hard work and careful planning he gained a start and from that time on his resources increased steadily. He engaged in farming until 1887 and during that time brought his place to a high state of development. In October of that year he built a residence in Roseland, the second house to be erected there, and he has since resided in the town. About 1888 he and his brother Gilliam built an elevator in Roseland and for a number of years he was one of the leading grain, coal and live stock dealers of the locality. The enterprise and sound judgment which enabled him to succeed as a farmer were again demonstrated in the conduct of his business interests in Roseland and he gained a gratifying measure of prosperity. He is now living retired and is enjoying a leisure which his former labor has made possible.

Mr. Duncan was married when twenty eight years of age to Miss Anne Dempsey, who passed away leaving a daughter, Bridget Frances. In 1881 Mr. Duncan was again married, Miss Bridget Loughran becoming his wife. To them were born seven children, namely: Stephen P., a druggist of Blue Hill, Nebraska; Mary Ellen, the wife of Frank J. Roth, of Roseland; Annie F., who is a stenographer in the employ of the Peters Trust Company of Omaha; John W., a practicing physician of Omaha; Sarah, at home; James, attending the State University; and Kathleen, deceased.

Mr. Duncan is a democrat in politics and served as supervisor for a number of years. He and his family are members of the Assumption Catholic church and observe its teachings in their lives. Fraternally he is associated with the Workmen lodge at Roseland. He is acquainted with practically the entire history of the county as it was but sparsely settled when he arrived here in 1870, and in the fall of 1871 he planted what was probably the first fall wheat sown in the county. While so occupied the Indians stole a horse and it was not until the following April that he recovered it. This incident is of interest as it indicates the annoyances to which the early settlers were subjected by the red men and there were also many other unpleasant features of pioneer life, but Mr. Duncan had faith in the future of the county and lived to see that faith amply justified.

From:
Past and Present of
Adams County, Nebraska
Supervisong Editor: Judge William R. Burton
Assistant Editor: David J. Lewis
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, 1916


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