JOHN W. DUNCAN, was born at Kingston, Tenn., August 22, 1843. His great-grandfather on his father's side, came from Virginia, and was killed by the Indians in 1780, in Washington County, Tenn.
His grandfather, Robert Duncan, moved from Washington County, Tenn., to Roane County, that State, and died there in 1814. His father, Robert D. Duncan. was born in Roane County, Tenn., February 15, 1808; and married Nancy K. Liggett at Kingston, Tenn., January 10, 1839. Eight children were born unto them, five of whom still survive. Robert D. Duncan was a merchant at Kingston, Tenn., for many years until the breaking out of the civil war: came South at its close and located near Fort Payne, Ala., engaging in agricultural pursuit until 1878, when he removed to Atalla, Ala., and again entered and continued in the mercantile business until his death, which occurred in March, 1885. Ile was a consistent Christian fifty-three years, being a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. His mother, who was also a member of the same church, survived until October 8, 1887. His grandfather on his mother's side was Henry Liggett. He served in the War of 1812. He came from Wythe County, Va., in 1816, to Kingston, Tenn; married Elizabeth Center, of that place, and engaged in the hotel and mercantile business. He amassed a considerable fortune; was a prominent Mason, and held various offices of trust, among which that of County Judge. Died in 1861.
The subject of this sketch entered the cavalry branch of the Confederate Army as private, at an early age, serving in Tennessee and Virginia; with General Early in Maryland in 1884, and with Armstrong's Scouts, operating inside the Federal lines till the war closed; was paroled at Kingston, Ga. At the close of the war, came to Alabama, Hand had his first experience as a plow boy, making a crop. Growing weary with farming, sought and obtained a position as clerk in a railroad store, and soon after, in connection with a fellow clerk, bought a small stock of merchandise and opened up in a tent, following the line of construction of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. June 1, 1S0, was married to Mary F., daughter of J. S. Morgan and Sarah J. Revel. Four children have been born to them as the result of this union. Eula M., Oscar D., and Charles O'Connor, still survive, while little Myrtle has gone to join the angels. In 1872, with a small stock of merchandise, he again commenced business in Atalla - a place that was then justly celebrated for the failures of her merchants, not one of whom up to that time had proved a success. But with untiring energy, coupled with a determination to win, He conquered all obstacles and scored the first success that had been achieved at that place. In 18;'3, in connection with John S. Morgan, he took a contract to mine and ship the first lot of ore ever sent from this section of North Alabama, hauling the same in ox wagons. The ore was mined on lands owned by J.S. Morgan, the pioneer in the mineral business of this county. He was born in Abbeville District, S.C., in 1814; came to Alabama when a young man, and settled in what was then Cherokee County; represented that county in the legislature in 1851-52; was one of the founders of Gadsden, giving her the name she bears; gave the name of Etowah to our country, and also that of Atalla to our neighboring town. He devoted thirty years of his life to the investigation of minerals, predicting, years ago, a great future for our country; but he did not live to see the fulfillment of his prediction, as he died March 22, 1881.
Subject of this sketch, after successful prosecuting the mercantile business in Atalla till 1882, moved to Gadsden and continued to carry it on until January 1, 1887, when he closed out, and has since devoted his time to other duties, being one of the incorporators and secretary and treasurer of the Gadsden Ice company. Is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as is also his wife.
Source: McCalley, Henry, Northern Alabama : historical and biographical. Birmingham, AL: Smith & De Land, 1888, pp. 835.