William Duncan was born in Lower Canada, fifty miles southeast of Montreal, August 27, 1824. His parents, William and Margaret (Smith) Duncan, were natives of Scotland. The subject of this sketch removed to Windsor county, Vermont, when nineteen years old. He obtained his education in the schools of Canada and Vermont. He learned the carpenter's trade in Vermont and spent the year 1847 in Boston, Massachusetts, working at his trade. He then returned to Vermont, where he continued the same business until September, 1848. In that year he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, which contained, at that time, only one frame building. He lived in Des Moines six years, working at his trade. He then moved to a farm twelve miles east of that city, on which he resided until August, 1862, when he enlisted in company D, of the Second Iowa Cavalry commanded by Colonel Hatch. He served three years and three months. He was in the battles of Farmington and Corinth. His regiment formed part of the Seventeenth Corps of the Army of the Tennessee. He participated in all the skirmishes and cavalry fights of that corps, in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, etc. He was honorably discharged at Davenport and returned to Polk county where he lived until March, 8, 1868, at which time he moved to his present location on section 3, Atlantic township. He was married in Windsor county, Vermont, to Abigail Williams, a daughter of Henry and Abigail (Cram) Williams. They have seven children--Mary, Luella, John, Emma, Ada, Jennie and Maggie. Mr. Duncan's farm contains one hundred and six acres, all under cultivation, with a good bearing orchard. He built his present house in 1882. It is in the form of an octagon, two stories in height, with an octagonal dome rising from the center of the roof having a window on each side, affording magnificent views of the surrounding country. He values his house at something like three thousand dollars. He has the most complete system of water works in Cass county, everything operating automatically, and an abundance of water for every purpose. He keeps the Chester White hogs and graded Shorthorn cattle. Mr. Duncan is a Republican in politics.
Contributed by Lisa Varnes-Rex from "History of Cass County, Iowa. Together With Sketches of its Towns, Villages and Townships, Educational, Civil, Military and Political History: Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Old Settlers and Representative Citizens." Springfield, Ill.: Continental Historical Company, 1884, pg. 842-843.