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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
John Duncan


JOHN DUNCAN.  Among the well-known and most highly respected residents of Thamesville is the genial postmaster, John Duncan, who has held that office for the past quarter of a century. 

The Duncan family has long been known in the County of Kent, and is of Scottish extraction, grandfather Duncan, the first of whom any authentic record has been preserved, having been born in Scotland.  At an early day he settled in the County of Essex, Ontario, where he followed farming until his death.  His children, all born in Scotland, and all   now deceased, were:  James, George, Betsy and Margaret.  Betsy married Duncan McVicar, and settled in Chatham township, but both are now deceased, and none of their family now resides in the County of Kent; Margaret married George Wallace, of Chatham township, and both are deceased.

James Duncan was born in Scotland in 1814 and was twenty-one years of age when he emigrated to the New World, settling in Ontario.  In 1834 he located in Malden, and thence moved to Chatham township, where he engaged in farming for about two years.  In 1855 he moved to Thamesville, where for twenty years he was employed in a general store, during that time being appointed postmaster, which office he held until 1876, when he resigned in favour of his son John.  His death occurred in 1879, when he had attained the age of sixty-five years, and his wife died in 1861.  James Duncan was twice married, his first wife having been Janet McVickar, by whom he had seven children:  James, of Windsor; George, deceased; Jessie, deceased; Jean Noble, wife of William Laughton, of Bothwell; Helen, deceased; and John and Margaret (twins); Margaret married Stearne J. Ball, and died leaving three children, Helen,m Charles and Frances.  The second wife of James Duncan was Mrs. Ann (Minshall) Anderson, by whom he had two children Charles George and Ann Jessie; the former is a millinery salesman of Toronto, and the latter the wife of Stearne J. Ball. 

John Duncan was born in Chatham June 13th, 1853, and was only a child when his parents moved to Thamesville.  There he grew to manhood, and with the exception of two years spent in Chatham has made Thamesville his home.  While in Chatham he was connected with the post office in that city, and upon the retirement of his father was appointed to the position of postmaster at Thamesville.  In 1903 Mr. Duncan erected the Duncan block, in which are located the post office and the Merchants Bank, and in connection therewith is Mr. Duncan’s fine brick residence.  Mr. Duncan served most creditably as town clerk from 1886 to 1896, and is now Canadian Pacific Railway ticket agent and Dominion Express agent for Thamesville; for thirteen years he was librarian of the public library of the city.  In his social affiliations Mr. Duncan is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

In 1879 Mr. Duncan married Miss Helen McDonald Johnston, daughter of James H. Johnston, an early settler of the County of Kent, and two children have been born to them:  Katherine McVickar, who is a student at the University of Toronto,  class of 1904, B.A.; and James Kenneth, who is associated with his father in the post office.  Mr. and Mrs. Duncan are consistent members of the Presbyterian Church of Thamesville, and are justly numbered among the leading people of that place.


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