Location: Great Falls, Montana
On 4 April, 1936, Alfred Pierce Duncan of Great Falls, Montana then 63 years old wrote a letter to his son Marion Alexander Duncan, at Marion's request, giving details about his family. This page provides a transcript of this document created by Marion on his computer in the 1980s
I, Alfred Pierce Duncan, was born near Junction City, Kansas, on April 13, 1872. I am the seventh child in a family of nine children. I came to Great Falls in 1901. I married Elisa Marie Venetz on April 13, 1904.
My sister, Grace, was born near Junction City, Kansas, in 1878 and died at Cleo, Oklahoma, in 1904 and is buried there. Her husband’s name was Edward Neuenschwander.
My brother, Stuart, was born near Junction City, Kansas, in 1875 and still lives there. He was married to Lettie Keene who died in 1917 (Marion's comment: March 11, 1918).
My sister, Dora M., was born in Dundee, Scotland, on February 22, 1871, and came to the U.S.A. in September 1871. She married Martin Thomas in 1888 and they now reside in Guthrie Oklahoma.
My brother, David C., was born in Dundee, Scotland, on May 16, 1869, and came to the U.S.A. in 1871. He married Helen McKeever in 1898. They now reside near Junction City, Kansas.
My sister, Anne Stuart, was born in Dundee, Scotland, about 1867. She died in infancy and is buried there.
My brother, Robert, was born in Dundee, Scotland, about 1865. He came to the U.S.A. in 1871 and resided near Junction City, Kansas, until 1896 when he moved to Alberta, Canada. He married Margaret Eustace in 1898. He died in 1909 and is buried at Leduc, Alberta.
My sister, Mary, was born in Dundee, Scotland, about 1862 and came to the U.S.A. in 1871. She resided near Junction City, Kansas, until she died in 1906. She is buried in Junction City. She never married.
My brother, Charles Fleming, was born in Dundee, Scotland, about 1860 (April 21, 1861). He died in infancy and is buried there.
My father, Robert B. Duncan, was born in Aberdeen (“Strachan”), Scotland, in 1829. He moved to Dundee at about age 16. He resided there until 1870. He married my mother at Dundee about 1858. He was engaged in the flour and feed business. He represented the Broughty Ferry Mills five or six miles out of Dundee. He came to Kansas in 1870 and purchased land in the northeast corner of Dickinson County. This land was about ten miles northwest of Junction City. That city had the nearest railroad station at that time. The notorious James (Wild Bill) Hicock was town marshal of Junction City at that time. My father went back to Scotland in the early part of 1871, closed out his business, and returned to Kansas to build a house and to make ready for the family that was coming over in the Fall. My mother came over with the family in September 1871. Father went into the cattle and hog business. He had about 200 head of cattle most of the time. Some of the old-timers familiarly called him “Cow Duncan.” Father lived on the old homestead until he died in September 1901 at the age of 72. He died from injuries received from being thrown from a buggy or wagon when the horse he was driving ran away. He is buried at Junction City.
Father’s parents lived in a suburb of Aberdeen, Scotland (“Strachan”). They lived in a farming village called Strachen. His parents were farmers. I do not recall many particulars about father’s family.
My mother once sent me a clipping from an Aberdeen paper. It was a notice that father’s brother, John Duncan, was killed by lightning while asleep in a bed at Strachen. I have often heard father speak of his brother, Archie, who was in the butcher business in Dundee. He often mentioned his sister, Nancy, who was married to a man by the name of Stratton. Mr. Stratton had a restaurant in Dundee. I have also heard him speak of a sister, Mrs. Abernethy.
Father also had a brother, David, who came to the U.S.A. about 1880. I don’t remember ever having seen him although mother told me he came to our house and stayed overnight one time. He lived in Illinois. His post office address was Judd. The last time I heard of him was in 1900. He wanted to come out to live with Robert. Robert didn’t want him so he did not reply to the letter. I suppose he is dead by now for he would be over 100 years old. He never married and seemed to be a sort of black sheep in the family.
Mother told me in 1916, when we were home on a visit, that some of the younger generation Duncans in Scotland were killed in the World War which began in 1914. I had never heard of these members of the family up to that time although they were cousins of mine.
Mother was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1835. Her name was Anne Fleming. Her father was home secretary for the Dundee Calcutta Ship Company, a line of merchant ships running between Dundee, Scotland, and Calcutta, India. One of mother’s sisters was married to one of the ship captains. His name was Captain Mc Master. He contracted typhoid fever in Calcutta on one of his voyages and died in Calcutta. They had three children, a boy and two girls. Their names were James, Dora and Grace. Jimmie went to sea when he was about 16 years of age to learn the business. His ship encountered a severe storm in the Mediterranean Sea and went to the bottom with a loss of all hands including Jimmie Mc Master. Mrs. Mc Master died in 1913. I assume the two girls are still in Dundee.
Mother had two other sisters of whom I heard her speak. One married and went to live in Melbourne, Australia. The other married and went to live in Hobarttown, Tasmania. I don’t think that either of these women would be alive now since both were older than my mother. It is probable that they have left some of their descendents in those towns.
I think I recall mother speaking of a brother, George Fleming. The only relative of mother’s I ever saw was her cousin, George Beats. He came to visit us about 1885. He was on furlough from the British Army. The last we heard of him was when he was stationed with his regiment in New Zealand.
Mother went back to Scotland on a visit in 1910. She returned in 1911 on the S.S. California. (Marion's comment: should be 1912). The Titanic sank on April 14-15, 1912. The night the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank with great loss of life, the California was located only 19 miles from the disaster. Although they were the closest ship to the wreck, they didn’t go to the rescue. Their captain sure got a calling down for his neglect of duty. Mother died in 1923 at the age of 88 years. She is buried in Junction City.
Alfred P. Duncan