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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent

REV. HERMAN COPE DUNCAN, Alexandria, La., is descended from a long line of illustrious Scotch ancestry, his paternal great-grandshire being a leading promoter of the scheme to place Charles Edward, the last of the Stuarts, on the united throne of England and Scotland, and because of his prominence, after the disastrous battle of Culloden, he was banished and his estates confiscated. Upon reaching America he settled in Massachusetts, and while there took part in the "Boston Tea Party." Subsequently he removed to Central Pennsylvania, and afterward to Washington, Mason County, Ky., several of his sons becoming distinguished in the Black Hawk War. His son, David Duncan, at one time resided near New Madrid, Missouri Territory, and here Greer Brown Duncan, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born, his birthplace being afterward annexed to the State of Kentucky by the violent earthquake of 1811, which changed the course of the Mississippi River. Greer Brown Duncan was educated in Augusta, College, Kentucky, and upon completing his course he studied law with Judge A. Kinney, of Terre Haute, Ind., and was admitted to the bar of that place in December, 1830. Subsequently he removed to New Orleans, and, owing to his fine mental qualities, he obtained a high rank in the social and political circles of that place. His universally successful defense of the property owners against the claims of the celebrated Myra Clark Gains, and his advocacy of the rights of the cities of New Orleans and Baltimore in the matter of the McDonough estates, tended to add greatly to his distinction. Daniel Webster said, in addressing the Supreme Court of the United States in the former suit, that the argument used by Mr. Duncan was so exhaustive that he could add nothing to it. Mr. Duncan was a prominent member of the vestry of Christ Church of New Orleans, a prominent organizer of the diocesan councils, and a representative of the diocese in the general (national) convention. On October 1, 1845, he was married to Mary Jane, daughter of Herman Cope, of Baltimore, who was for many years treasurer of the general (national) convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Their only child is the subject of this sketch, who was born August 12, 1846. He was left an orphan at an early age, his mother dying January 9, 1858. He was prepared for college at the Episcopal Academy of Philadelphia, Penn., and graduated with honors in the University of Pennsylvania in 1867. Having given up the profession of law, for which calling he had begun to fit himself, he decided, in his junior years at college. To prepare himself for the ministry, but deferred his application to be received as a candidate, however, until the latter part of 1867, entering the Philadelphia Divinity School in September of that year. He soon discovered that he could make greater progress by pursuing his studies in private, and he accordingly applied for and received an honorable discharge, and by diligence succeeded in passing his examinations nearly two years ahead of his class. He was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Louisiana, J. P. B. Wilmer, D. D., in the Church of the Transfiguration, New York City, October 25, 1868, and the same year was placed in charge of Emmanuel Church, New Orleans, where he officiated fifteen months. During this time he succeeded in paying off a large debt of the parish, his congregation also rapidly increasing in numbers. In 1870 he was made secretary of the diocesan council, to which position he was elected each subsequent year until he left the diocese in 1875, and on his return, in 1881, was once more elected, and is still holding that position. After one of his elections the council adopted resolutions declaring "That the thanks of this council are eminently due and are hereby tendered to Rev. Herman C. Duncan for the faithful and able manner in which he has discharged his duties." In December, 1870, he took charge of Calvary Church, New Orleans, where he had to face another large indebtedness, which he also greatly diminished during his ministrations. In this parish, on January 22, 1871, he was ordained priest by the bishop of Louisiana, and in April of the same year he was elected registrar and historian of the diocese. As to his administration while in this office, the following resolutions were adopted by the diocesan council in 1876, after he had left the diocese, which will speak for themselves: "Whereas the Rev. Herman Cope Duncan, late registrar and historian, obtained and arranged a most complete and valuable collection of historical documents, to be placed among the archives of this diocese, Therefore be it Resolved, that this council tender to its late registrar and historian its sincere thanks for his long, efficient and untiring service in that capacity." In 1877 he resigned the charge of Calvary Church, and entered upon a missionary life in the Florida Parishes of Louisiana, spending twenty months in this work, filling eleven appointments each month. During this time he was instrumental in causing to be built three churches in Tangipahoa Parish. Grace Church at Hammond being one of the most ornate, rural churches in the State, was the result of a stimulus of $500 procured by him from an unknown lady friend of New York City. Previous to this the people had felt unable to accomplish anything, but with this help they succeeded in raising a sum sufficient to build a church valued at $3,500. His mission work at this and other places was successful in laying the foundation for that permanent growth of the church which is now being largely realized. In 1873 he was elected a director of the Protestant Episcopal Association, the diocesan board of endowment funds. He was at once elected secretary of the board, and while holding this office succeeded in inspiring a renewed zeal in the conduct of the board where before there had been so great a want of it that a meeting had not been
held for several years.

In 1874 he returned to his old field of labor in the Sixth District of New Orleans. In the meantime a new parish, called St. Mark's Church, had been developed from Emmanuel Church, and of this he took charge. The parish was overwhelmingly in debt, but he succeeded in reuniting the two parishes under the name of St. George's Church, and he left it, at the time of his resignation in October, 1875, unencumbered. In April, 1875, Mr. Duncan was elected trustee of the Church Education Society of Louisiana, and in the same year a member of the board of missions of the general (national) church. In November, 1875, he removed to Illinois, becoming rector of the Bishop Whitehouse Memorial Church of Chicago, which position he held for some nine months, when he returned to New Orleans and took temporary charge of Christ Church, the parent parish of the southwest. Here he remained during the summer, and was then called to the rectorship of Grace Church, of Kansas City. He was personally unknown to any of the parishioners of this charge, and was elected entirely upon the ground of his reputation. He accepted the invitation and entered upon his duties in October, 1876, and was almost immediately thereafter appointed by the bishop of the diocese, dean of the Missionary District of Kansas City, embracing the counties of Jackson, Platte, Clay, La Fayette, Cass and Johnson. He organized the Convocation January, 1877. Grace Church enjoyed a great degree of prosperity during his administration. Mr. Duncan was elected trustee of St. Paul's College, Palmyra, Mo., September 26, 1878. He resigned the rectorship of Grace Church, Kansas City, March 3, 1880, and entered on his duties as rector of St. James Church, Alexandria, La., April 17, 1880. This church comprehends, besides the congregation of the parish church property, Chapel congregations at Pineville (Mount Olivet), Lamothe's Bridge (St. John's), Kanomie (Bishop Wilmer Memorial), and Boyce (St. Philip's). During Mr. Duncan's retorate, a large debt has been paid off St. James' Church, a rectory built, a tower to the church erected and many other improvements made, the church consecrated. Mount Olivet  Chapel has also been enlarged and consecrated; St. John's Chapel rebuilt, the Memorial Chapel rebuilt and both consecrated; St. Philip's Chapel built, the latter after designs of Mr. Duncan's own drafting. To date, September 15, 1890, there have been, during Mr. Duncan's rectorate, 615 baptisms; 200 persons have been presented for conformation; 313 persons have been added to the communicant list, and the number of confirmed persons in the parish has been increased from 198 to 347. In 1881 he was elected secretary of the diocese, which office he still holds, and in 1883 was elected to the triennial general convention of the church, being re-elected continuously up to the present time. On the division of the diocese in archdeaconal districts in 1889, he was elected one of the four archdeacons of the diocese. In 1886 he was appointed secretary of the Commission on Christian Unity of the National Church, and as such is charged with the conduct of the negotiations to that end, with the several Christian bodies of the land. In 1888, after about twenty years' work in collation, he published the history of the diocese of Louisiana.

In 1870 he was elected a fellow of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, and subsequently was made chairman of the scientific section of philology, in which position he filled the usual lecture requirements. He is past master of Jefferson Lodge No. 191, of the A. F. & A. M., of New Orleans, and is past most eminent high priest of Kansas City Chapter. He organized, and was thrice illustrious master of Palace Council No. 21, Royal and Select Masters, of Kansas City, and prelate of Kansas City Commandery No. 10, and past grand prelate of the Grand Commandery, K. T., of Louisiana. He has held the office of grand chaplain of the Grand Council of the State of Louisiana, and subsequently also the same position in Missouri. He was elected grand principal conductor of the works of the Grand Council of Missouri in 1879, and appointed chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana in 1881, and has continued in that office to date. He organized, and was elected high priest of Keystone Chapter, Alexandria, in October, 1887. He was grand scribe of the Grand Chapter of Louisiana in 1886; deputy grand high priest in 1887, and grand high priest in 1888, to which he was re-elected master of Summit council, R. & S. M., in 1888; grand principal conductor of the work of the Grand Council of Louisiana in 1886, and grand master in 1889, being re-elected in 1890. He was elected junior grand warden of the Grand Commandery of K. T. of Louisiana, in 1889, receiving his re-election in 1890. He was elected chancellor commander of Alexandria Lodge of the K. of P. in 1885, and first master of Pelican Lodge of the A. O. U. W. in 1884, to which latter office he has been continuously re-elected up to date. During the existence of the McEnery government, from 1872 to 1876, Mr. Duncan was chaplain of the Senate of Louisiana. In 1878 he was elected chaplain of Company A, Jackson County (Mo.) National Guards. He was married January 9, 1883, to Miss Maria Elizabeth Cooke, in St. John's Church, Washington, La., and the issue of their marriage has been two children, a daughter (who died at birth, in 1884), and Greer Assheton (who was born March 31, 1887). Mrs. Duncan is the daughter of the late Thomas Alfred Cooke, M. D., and of Frances Pannill. Dr. Cooke was a son of Thomas and Catherine Byrd (Didlake) Cooke, of Gloucester County, Va., and Mrs. Cooke was a daughter of David and Frances Assheton (Wikoff) Pannill, the latter being the grand-daughter of Ralph Assheton, a provincial councillor of Pennsylvania, and the first lawyer to settle in that province. He was a descendant of Sir John de Assheton, of Assheton-under-Lyne, Salford Hundred, Lancashire, England, who was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Henry IV. The mother of Frances Assheton Wikoff was a daughter of Frances Assheton and Stephen Watts, who was fifth in descent from Sir Thomas Watts, Lord Mayor of London in 1600. Mr. and Mrs. Watts removed to Louisiana in 1774, and Mr. Watts was afterward recorder of deeds of the "English Settlement," on the Mississippi River. In character, Mr. Duncan displays much individuality, and it is self evident that he copies from no one, but hews out his own path. The legal acumen necessary to abstruse investigation, he has evidently inherited from his distinguished father, and tenacity of purpose and boldness of enterprise he possesses in an eminent degree, his record showing that he has remarkable executive ability. His power to achieve great things lay in his power to concentrate his thoughts, and to his intense resoluteness, which made him proof against all confusing and diverting influences. He formed at the outset of his career a solemn purpose to make the most and best of the powers which God had given him, and to turn to the best account possible every outward advantage within his reach. This purpose has carried with the assent of the reason, the approval of the conscience, and the sober judgment of the intellect.

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