John E. Duncan

JOHN E. DUNCAN, a veteran in the service of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, has been continuously identified with the Town of Shannon for thirty years. He has looked after all the business of the railroad there as station agent, telegraph operator and in other capacities, and furthermore has practically built up and maintained the various lines of business represented there. He is a general merchant, grain dealer and for a number of years has been postmaster.

Mr. Duncan was born in Madison County, Illinois March 24, 1862. His father, John Duncan, was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, in 1817, came to America in 1850, was married in New York State and soon afterward settled on a farm in Macoupin County, Illinois. He spent the rest of his days as a farmer and died in Macoupin County in 1890. He was a democrat and a Catholic. His wife, Mary Hooley, was born in County Tipperary in 1818, came to the United States in 1851 and her death occurred in Macoupin County in 1907. Her children were: Patrick, a farmer in Macoupin County; John E.; Margaret, wife of John Moran, a Macoupin County farmer; Nellie, who lives at Girard, Illinois, widow of Owen O'Neil, who was a real estate man at Girard; William, foreman with the Brown-Hamilton Shoe Factory at St. Louis, Missouri.

John E. Duncan spent his early years as a farm boy in Illinois. He attended the rural schools and in 1884 finished his education in the Bunker Hill Academy at Bunker Hill, Illinois. He then learned the art of telegraphy, and from 1885 to 1887 was with the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He then transferred to the Missouri Pacific Railroad and arrived in Kansas April 11, 1887. He was first assigned as night operator at Everest, but in September, 1887, was sent to Shannon, and has never left that place as home and scene of his varied activities. He has been station agent and telegrapher for the road, and in 1909 he bought the only general store in the town and is still its owner and active manager. In 1900 he built the grain elevator and has done much to make Shannon a market for grain raisers in that section. On February 15, 1910, he was appointed postmaster of Shannon, during the Taft administration, and still holds the office under President Wilson.

Mr. Duncan is a democrat, a member of the Catholic Church, is affiliated with Atchison Council No. 723, Knights of Columbus, and the Order of Railway Telegraphers. Besides the home which he built south of the depot in Shannon he owns a farm of 200 acres in Macoupin County, Illinois, and a dwelling house near his store.

Mr. Duncan was married in Shannon in 1890 to Miss Margaret Clark, daughter of Matthew and Catherine (O'Grady) Clark. Both parents are now deceased. Her father was a farmer and located at Shannon in 1883. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan have five children: John Matthew, who graduated from St. Benedict's College in 1911 and is now manager of the store for his father, Catherine, a student in Mount Scholastica Academy at Atchison; Margaret, also in Mount Scholastica Academy; Bernardette, in the Shannon public schools; and Dorothy.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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