Duncan Township was named in honor of Buford Duncan, the first settler. Camp creek, the principal stream, runs through the south east portion, and Eliza creek on the northwest border of the township
. The latter empties into Bald Eagle Lake, five miles north of New Boston. The vicinity of Camp creek was a favorite camping ground for the Indians; hence its name. The soil of Duncan township is of a high grade rich black loam. Coal of excellent quality is found in veins ranging from two to five feet.
Besides Buford Duncan, among the pioneers were James Vernon, William Epperly, Joseph King, Ebenezer Bunting, Joseph N. Elbridge, Tyler McWhorter and William S. Roe. Tyler McWhorter started a nursery, but sold this place and moved to the farm now owned by his son, Laon, just south of Aledo. The following article by the late Tyler McWhorter will be read with interest.
"The first settler of this township was Buford Duncan, who located on Section 16, in 183S. Mr. Duncan came from Indiana. He was a man characterized for plainness of manners and the strictest honesty. He was already somewhat advanced in life, and was the father of a considerable family of children, most of whom settled in the same neighborhood. Soon after Buford Duncan had located in the township, his brother, Braxton Duncan, located on Section 17. Braxton Duncan was of a slender constitution and only survived a few years. Subsequently several persons connected with the Duncan family located in the same neighborhood and formed a nucleus of what became known as the Duncan settlement. Among the early settlers of that neighborhood should be mentioned William Epperly and James Vernon. Buford Duncan has been dead many years.
"Among the early settlers of the township of Duncan was also Luman Castle, who located on the south boundary of the township (Section 36) near the town of Millersburg. It was also at an early date that Joseph King located on the south side of Section 33. It was near the same time that Robert Morris located on Section 25. Robert Morris was from Scotland. In 1844 he was elected county surveyor. He also served as the first township treasurer, and held that position till the spring of 1846, when, being attracted to an overland adventure to California, he resigned his charge as township treasurer, and the writer of this sketch became his successor. Mr. Morris died in California.
About the spring of 1844, Elbridge G. Howe and Lucian B. Howe made a location on the north part of Section 33. It was in the summer of 1845 that the writer of this sketch, accompanied by a brother-in-law (William S. Roe) located on Section 31. It was then the sole purpose of the writer, with the limited means at his command, to start a large experi mental orchard in connection with the nursery business. The name chosen for the nursery was PomeRoy (Royal Fruit) Nursery, and by that name the neighborhood is still known. It is scarcely necessary to add, PomeRoy Nursery subsequently produced the trees for most of the oldest bearing orchards of this county, and for some of the adjoining counties. At this early date very few public roads were yet laid out in the township. The few traveled roads wound their way over the prairies, following the most favorable make of ground.
"For many years the early settlers could mow a full supply of hay on the open prairie, and when the frosts of autumn had killed the prairie grass, it was with watchful care that the early settlers felt the necessity of protecting their property from the sweeping destruction of prairie fires. These fires were often started ten or fifteen miles distant, how or by whom could seldom be ascertained. On many occasions both men and women were rallied out through the hours of night to protect fields and fences. It was the practice to plow fire guards around exposed sides of farms.
"The first school house was built in the Duncan settlement, the whole township being taxed as one district. Subsequently another district was set off on the south side of the township, called the PomeRoy district. Several other divisions of school districts have since taken place. It now has nine school houses and three churches. It has become a prosperous agricultural township, and sustains an able and industrious population. But this township is so peculiarly situated that it is not crossed by any of the leading lines of travel.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois
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