Biography of James W. Duncan

James W. Duncan, born in 1861, is the son of Morgan H. Duncan, a white man, and Penelope C. Craig, a Cherokee descended from Granny Ward, one of the most remarkable women of her time. Young Duncan came with his parents to the Cherokee Nation in 1869, settling in the Delaware district, near the line of Chetopa, Kansas, on the Neosho River. He attended the neighborhood schools until seventeen years of age, after which he went to the Vinita school, and at the age of twenty-three years entered the national male seminary, Tahlequah, graduating from there in 1885. Immediately afterward he was appointed to teach at Carey’s Ferry, and after one term became principal of the Vinita School, having two assistant teachers and one hundred sixty-nine pupils. Mr. Duncan, however, resigned his position before he had taught quite one year, in order to enter Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, where he remained four years, graduating with his B.A. degree in 1890. On his return he was elected professor of English and history in the Cherokee Male Seminary, and taught until the close of the term. Mr. Duncan, during the last general election in his country, took an active part in the defense and support of the National party, speaking publicly at the meetings in Delaware and Coowescowee districts. In these addresses he spoke long and fluently in behalf of education, a subject upon which there are few young men in his country as well able to converse. Mr. Duncan is a gentleman of far more than ordinary ability, with a thorough English and classical education, and fitted to occupy a professorship in a college of high standing. But the salaries paid by a nation to first-class teachers are not sufficient to retain their services for any length of time, and the young man educated for the professor’s chair soon becomes a clerk or a farmer, or something else calculated to lead to a better remuneration. Mr. Duncan is a single man, and lives at Tahlequah, but has a farm of 300 acres in Coowescowee district.


Indian Territory,

O'Beirne, Harry F. and Edward S. The Indian Territory: Its Chiefs, Legislators, and Leading Men. St. Louis. 1898.

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