Cation & Duncan – Part I

There is so much to write about our Scottish immigrant couple, Eliza Cation and Thomas Duncan, that it’s a bit overwhelming.  This is the book I wanted to write at one time.  Now it will be a series of blog posts (more manageable) – starting with this bare-bones outline of the early years of their marriage and the births of their children.

Thomas Duncan was born 2 July 1815 in Orwell, Kinross, Scotland.  His parents were William Duncan (1789 – 1851) and Jean Carmichael.
Eliza Cation was born 11 May 1817 in Arngask, Fife, Scotland.  Her parents were Thomas Cation (1786 – 1859) and Janet Forrester.
They married 30 December 1836 – the marriage was registered in Arngask and Strathmiglo, their hometowns at the time.

1836 marr duncan cation

Strathmiglo Parish Register showing the marriage of Thomas Duncan and Eliza Cation, 30 December 1836.

Their first child, a girl, died in infancy, probably in 1837.  On 29 September 1838 a son, William, was born in Strathmiglo and christened 7 October 1838.

A second son, Thomas Cation, was born 18 August 1840 in Dam Head, Kinross, Fife.

A third son, John, was born in March 1842 probably in the same general area in Scotland.

The family emigrated to the United States in the early 1840s.  That story will be my next post.

David was born 10 April 1846 in Rochester, New York.  A later county history (Illinois) says the family lived in Peoria, Wyoming county, NY – southwest of Rochester.

eagle plat map

Plat map of Eagle/Ottawa, Wisconsin showing land owned by Duncans and Cations.

The family moved to Ottawa, Waukesha county, Wisconsin where Frank (Francis) was born 25 July 1848, about two months after Wisconsin became a state.  The family stayed there until after the Civil War.  They lived near the border of Eagle and Ottawa, Wisconsin and both names show up on records.

1850 census

The 1850 Federal Census showing the family in Eagle, Wisconsin.

 James Cation, my great-grandfather, was born 3 March 1851 in Ottawa.  George Baxter was born 26 October 1854 in nearby Fox Lake, Dodge county, Wisconsin.  Thomas Duncan’s brother, William, lived in Fox Lake.

Eliza Jane (Janie) was born 27 Jun 1856 and died 14 December 1857.  She was 17 months old.

On 10 December 1858 another daughter was born in Ottawa and named Eliza Jane.  This Eliza lived well into old age – the only daughter to survive infancy.

1860 census

I’m going to jump ahead – about 74 years – to March 1932.  The youngest child,Eliza Duncan English (she married Frank English), was interviewed by her grandson, Myron Smith, who was about 25 years old then.  I would award Myron every genealogy prize there is.  And I would wish for all of you genealogists to find a family member who interviewed his grandmother 80 years ago.  It solved several mysteries for me.

Here is what Eliza D. English had to say about her father Thomas Duncan.

“Born at Edinborough, Scotland.  Tailor by trade.  Learned trade in Arcade in Glascow [sic], Scot.  Came to America in a sailing vessel.  11 or 14 weeks.  Located at Rochester, N.Y.  Later his wife Eliza Cation and 3 children, Wm, Thomas, and John came over in a sailing vessel.  After several years in Rochester where he farmed and tailored, moved to Ottawa, Wis.  At close of Civil War moved to Fox Lake, Wis.  Lived there 3 yrs.  Then moved to Rock Prarie [sic], Wis., near Janesville.  Lived there about 3 years then moved near Plymouth, Iowa.  Eliza  married while near Plymouth.  Marriage at Osage [Iowa].  Only Thomas & wife & Eliza at Plymouth.”

I will quote from Myron’s interview with Eliza often during the telling of the Duncan story.

8 thoughts on “Cation & Duncan – Part I

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I just finished the lineage of 3 generations for my sister in law, Jameanne Duncan Hamilton Owen. She was a foster child in the hamilton family and her mother died when she was 8 and her father about age 17. I just located her grandfather, James Duncan who is listed with siblings in Wisconsin in the Thomas Duncan family census. His son, Clifford James Duncan was b. 1876 in Iowa, and went to medical school in Illinois. By 1900 He moved to CA with his wife Mabel M. Farmer.


  2. Pingback: William Duncan 1838-1863 Part 1 | This I Leave

  3. Pingback: Cation – Duncan Part 3 | This I Leave

  4. Donna,

    Great update. I found the 1843 ship passenger list and began to associate the Cation and Duncan trees with the 1855 and 1860 census. This helped. I thought Eliza came over with her parents. As it turns out is she traveled with relatives. This solved it.
    Thank you again for your blog.



  5. Pingback: Thomas Duncan Obituary | This I Leave

  6. Pingback: Eliza Duncan & Frank English Family | This I Leave


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s