DUNCAN, William,, son of William and grandson of John Duncan, of Derry township, was born October 16, 1806; died March 31, 1884. from early manhood he was engaged in the tobacco business, the last twenty-five years of his life at the corner of Third and Walnut streets, Harrisburg, where his son and grandson have successively succeeded him. He was one of the organizers of the first lodge, No. 68, I. O. O. F., established in Harrisburg, and was the first district deputy grand master in Dauphin county. Early in life he connected himself with Zion Lutheran church and for many years was an elder in the church, and a superintendent of the Third (or Bible Class) department of the Sunday-school, which from a class of less than a dozen attendants increased under his zealous efforts to a membership of hundreds, compelling the sessions to be held in the nave of the church and making a reputation for the school that attracted the attention of Sunday-school leaders throughout the country. One of the bells of "Old Zion's" chime, so well known to all Harrisburgers, bears the impress of William Duncan's name, as a tribute to his Christian work, and a memorial window in Bethlehem Lutheran church is a like testimonial from the Sunday-school over which he presided for so many years.
Among the Scotch who, during the reign of James I, of England (1603-1625), emigrated to the north of Ireland and availed of the patents granted by the Government in the distribution of the confiscated lands of the Earls of Tyrone and Tryconnels, were ancestors of William Duncan. This colony of Scotch emigrants made history for the Protestant religion during the insurrection of 1641-1649, and the province of Ulster, after the loss of thousands of lives and untold suffering on the part of the Scotch settlers, became the bulwark and synonym of Presbyterianism for the whole world. In the lapse of time many of the descendants of this heroic race, by reason of increased taxation and obnoxious governmental exactions, set their backs on the scenes of their forefathers' tribulations and successes and emigrated to the province of Pennsylvania, commencing about 1720 and continuing until 1750, bringing with them to the regions of the Susquehanna the same Calvanistic principles that animated their ancestors in the battles of the Irish insurrection and in their noble defense at the siege of Londonderry, the impress of which can be clearly seen in the characteristics of the population of Dauphin county to this day. Mr. Duncan's great-grandparents were among the earliest of these Scotch-Irish emigrants from Ulster. His grandfather, John Duncan, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and his father, William Duncan, was a deputy superintendent of military stores during the war of 1812-1814. His mother was born, Nancy Young, and at marriage to his father was the widow of Lawrence Bennage.
William Duncan married Elmina Stehley, daughter of George Stehley, of Harrisburg, May 7, 1835. Mrs. Duncan's maternal grandmother was a daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Dietz) Pancake; she was born in Germany, June 24, 1743, came, when a child, to this country and lived with her brother, Peter Pancake, an early settler of Paxtang. In 1762 she married Sebastian Crevous and with her husband moved to Fort Augusta. Mr. Crevous was among the first Pennsylvanians to volunteer for service in the Continental army, having entered the First battalion of the rifle regiment, April 9, 1776, was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776, and died, soon after, in the hands of the enemy. Mrs. Crevous continued to reside in Augusta township, Northumberland county, after her husband's enlistment and death, until July, 1778, when, warned of the impending Indian outbreak instigated by the British army at Wyoming, shw abandoned in haste her home and all her personal belongings and with her three children took flight in a bateau down the Susquehanna river, guiding and working the boat herself to Harris' Ferry, where with many other refugees she was given shelter by John Harris. A few days later she took her family to an uncle's, at New Holland. After a few years she returned to Harris' ferry, married Richard King and had by this marriage one child, Sarah King, who married George Stehley, and was mother of Mrs. Duncan. William and Elmina (Stehley) Duncan had these children: Jacob Mifflin; Dauphin Luther; William Sneeder; Charlotte Louisa, Mrs. E. T. Jaques, of Woodbury, N. J.; Elizabeth Ashmead, Mrs. Charles Westerman, of Philadelphia; and Sarah King.
Historical Review of Dauphin County
Transcribed by Gwen Bixler Drivon at GGDGEN@aol.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription
Date of Transcription: 12 Feb. 2001
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