William Duncan was born in Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland on 29 September 1838 to Eliza Cation and Thomas Duncan (story here). He was christened on 7 October 1838.
He emigrated with his mother and two younger brothers, Thomas Cation and John, to the US in 1843 (story here) settling in New York state where his father joined him.
About 1848, the family moved to the Ottawa-Eagle area of Waukesha county, Wisconsin, farming there for many years. In 1850, the Federal Census Thomas is 34, his wife Eliza is 32. The children are William, now 12 years old, Thomas, 10, John, 8, David, 5, and Francis, 2. All the children are in school. The value of their land is $600.
By 1860, the family had grown. In the census that year, William is 21. Other changes: Francis is now called Frank. James, born in 1851, is 9, George, 5, and Eliza, the lone daughter, is 1. The value of their land is now $2100.
On 21 October 1861 William became the first of his siblings to wed. At age 23 he married Mary O. Lurvey in Palmyra, Wisconsin. Later statements said she lived in Leroy, Dodge county, Wisconsin, at the time of her marriage, but no Lurvey is found there in the 1860 census. There were many Lurvey families in this area, but I have not found her in the 1850 or 1860 census. When she married William, she was about 17. The birthdate on her tombstone is 4 June 1843. On her death certificate, it showed her parents as Elisie George and B. Lurvey and her birthplace as Pennsylvania. The informant was her doctor.
On 15 August 1862 William enlisted in Company B, 28th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers to fight in the Civil War. He was mustered into service 13 October 1862. It was recorded that he was 24, had blue eyes, brown hair, fair complexion, was 5’ 8” tall and was a farmer.
Between enlistment and muster, his son, William Duncan, was born 10 September 1862. Caroline Schutte was present at his birth and provided proof in 1866 for young William’s minor’s pension. It’s a little short on punctuation, but proved the connection.
State of Wisconsin
County of Jefferson
Caroline Schutte being duly sworn on oath says that she resides in Palmyra County of Jefferson State of Wisconsin that she is acquainted with Mrs. Mary O. Alderman mother and guardian of William Duncan an infant & minor child of William Duncan deceased who was a private in Co B. of the 28th Regiment of Wisconsin Vol Infantry that she has known the said is Mary O. Alderman for more than ten years…that she was present at the birth of the said William Duncan who was born at Ottawa in Waukesha County on the 10th day of September 1862 that there was no attending physician present and no other person except Mrs. Grace Grant and Eliza Duncan mother of said deceased soldier. that she has been…acquainted with said infant William Duncan and knows it to be the same of which Mary O. Alderman is guardian and minor child of William Duncan deceased…
From the regimental history: the regiment organized at Milwaukee and mustered in 14 October 1862. They left 29 December for Columbus, Kentucky; then moved to Helena, Arkansas in June. This regiment was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 13th Division, 13th Army Corps, Army of Tennessee. They were part of the Yazoo Pass expedition and operations against Fort Pemberton and Greenwood, Mississippi.
On 18 March 1863 William came down with typhoid fever. On 30 March on the steamer St. Louis in front of Fort Pemberton, William Duncan died. He was 24; he left a widow and young son. Many accounts of his death were recorded in Mary’s pension application.
From his commanding officer:From the 28th Regiment’s physician: