Duncan & Patchen – Part 3 Nettie

Nettie Patchen Duncan was widowed in 1901 at the age of 42.  Her sons, Howard, 19, James Edgar, 16, and Thomas (Roy), 14, shared her home in DeKalb, Illinois that year.

Part One of the Duncan – Patchen story is here, Part Two is here.

In 1904 Howard married Margaret Crosby.  In 1907 James married Florence Zollar.  So by the 1910 Federal Census Nettie is living with only Roy.  About the same time, in April 1910 her son Howard died, leaving a wife and daughter.

Roy married Albie Oakland in June 1911 leaving Nettie on her own.  She has many years of life left.

duncan family

Duncans: L-R back: Albie, Harriet, Thomas, Florence Zoller, James Edgar, Helen Mercer, Nettie.
Front: Mary, Helen, and Dorothy Duncan. About 1916

After these bare bones of dates, I don’t have a lot of documentation for Nettie, but I know she was an important person in my mother’s life.  Mom had a large family around her – both grandmothers and lots of extended family.  When Mom’s mother (Nettie’s daughter-in-law) died in 1927, Nettie had a big part in raising the girls.

nettie roy girls abt 1928

Duncans, L-R: Harriet, Nettie, Barbara, Helen, Thomas (Roy). About 1928, after Albie had died.

In the 1930 Federal Census, she is living with her son Roy and his three daughters.  From Mom’s stories, Nettie lived with them until Roy remarried in 1932.

3 girls nettie florence 2

Barbara, Helen, Nettie, Harriet, and Florence (Huckins). This was probably taken about 1932 when Florence married Roy.

back florence lillian mercer front had nettie jdc tdc helen joliet 1

Standing: Florence Duncan, Lillian Mercer.
Sitting: Harriet Duncan Claycomb, Nettie Duncan, Jean Claycomb, Tom Claycomb, and Helen Duncan. Taken about 1944.

6 Nettie 40sNettie was a nurse.  I don’t know of her formal training, but as a doctor’s wife in the late 19th century she was certainly exposed to the profession.  She was also possibly a nurses’ supervisor at a local hospital.  My memory is a little shaky on this.

Nettie died 11 January 1949 at the age of 90 years in Rockford, Illinois.  Her stone has her birth year wrong – she was born in 1858 (and was in the 1860 census).

jc duncan stone det

Duncan Oakland Wiswall reunion 1948a

I am the small girl just to the right of my sister and brother in their lovely striped outfits. Nettie is the tall white haired lady behind me.

My life overlapped Nettie’s for almost three years.  I have no memory of meeting her, but I just found this photo that has both of us in it.  It’s difficult to express how happy I am to learn that we did meet.  And it amazes me to know that I knew my great-grandmother who was born before the Civil War.

Duncan & Patchen – Part 1 (& English)

J.C.’s Story

j c duncan

James Cation Duncan

James Cation Duncan is my great grandfather on the Scottish branch of the family tree.  His parents, Eliza Cation and Thomas Duncan as well as three of his (James’) older brothers (William, Thomas Cation, and John) were born in Scotland, emigrating to the US in 1842.  Another brother, David, was born in Peoria, New York in 1846.  The family continued to move west settling near Ottawa, Waukesha county, Wisconsin.  Another boy, Frank, was their first child born in Wisconsin in 1848.

James Cation, known as J.C., was born 3 March 1851 in Ottawa, Wisconsin.  His birth was followed by a brother George in 1854, a sister Eliza, who died as an infant in 1856, and a sister, also named Eliza, born in 1858.

Two of J.C.’s brothers, William and T.C., enlisted to fight in the Civil War.  William died from fever, T.C. returned.  J.C. studied at Milton College in Wisconsin, graduating in 1869.  Soon after that the family moved to Osage, Mitchell county, Iowa.

On 21 May 1875 James married Anna English, daughter of Samuel and Mary English.  She was born 4 May 1856 in Iowa.  Years later her brother Frank would marry J.C.’s sister.

duncan english marr cert

anna english stoneOn 10 September 1876 Anna and J.C.’s son Clifford James Duncan was born in Osage.  Seven months later on 30 April 1877 Anna English Duncan died and was buried in Osage.  She was almost 21 years old.



According to a county history, J.C. went to Chicago in 1877 to study medicine – probably with his brother Thomas who was a prominent homeopathic doctor.  He then returned to Iowa.

Nettie’s Story

Nettie Patchen Duncan

Nettie Patchen Duncan

Annette Mary Jane Patchen always went by the name Nettie – even in legal papers.  [There was a genealogy lesson for me here – I had been looking for her full formal name].

She was born 2 December 1858 in Cassell Prairie, Wisconsin to Cassie Ann Rosenberry and Orson Patchen.  Her father died from illness in the Civil War in 1862.  Her mother married again, this time to Michael Gallagher, who also died in the war.

Before 1870 Cassie married her third husband, Lewis Abbott who had been married previously and had adult sons.  The Abbotts lived in Iowa.

In 1878 Cassie and Lewis have a daughter, Lillian.  Nettie’s famly consists of her mother Cassie, stepfather Lewis, brother Clarence, and half-sister Lillian.

On 8 April 1880 James Cation Duncan and Nettie Patchen marry in Osage, Iowa.  He is 29 years old, she is 21.

duncan patchen marr cert

Part 2 can be seen here.  Part 3 is here.

Thomas LeRoy Duncan

James, Thomas, and Clifford Duncan

James, Thomas, and Clifford Duncan.

My maternal grandfather, Thomas Leroy Duncan (Roy), was born in LaMoille, Bureau county, Illinois on 22 November 1889, the youngest of four boys.  He had a half-brother Clifford, and two full brothers, Howard William and James Edgar (Ed).  His father was James Cation Duncan, a homeopathic doctor in DeKalb, Illinois.  His mother was Annette MaryJane Patchen, who always went by the name Nettie, even on official documents.  She was a nurse/supervisor in the DeKalb area for most of her life.  Roy lived in northern Illinois for his entire life.

abt 1918 formal

He married his high school sweetheart, Albie Irene Oakland, on 21 June 1911 in Sycamore, DeKalb county, Illinois.  They had three daughters, Helen, Harriet, and Barbara.  Mom often told stories about their outings – many picnics, family reunions, and just fun times.

TLD girls AIO bridge abt 1919

Duncan family gathering:  Albie, Harriet, Roy, Florence (Ed's wife), Ed (Roy's brother), Helen Mercer, Nettie Duncan; front: Mary, Helen, Dorothy Duncan.

Duncan family gathering: Albie, Harriet, Roy, Florence (Ed’s wife), Ed (Roy’s brother), Helen Mercer, Nettie Duncan; front: Mary, Helen, Dorothy Duncan. About 1916.

Albie and Roy bowling

The idyllic family life didn’t last long.  Albie died 20 June 1927 in DeKalb, Illinois.  She was 38 years old.  The girls were 14, 12, and 10 when their mother died.  Roy’s mother Nettie, and Albie’s mother, Mary Ann, helped take care of the girls.

This is the family soon after Albie's death.  Roy's mother, Nettie, is helping raise the girls.

This is the family soon after Albie’s death. Roy’s mother, Nettie, is helping raise the girls.

Thomas Leroy Duncan

Thomas Leroy Duncan

On 10 August 1932 Roy married Florence Huckins.

On 10 August 1932 Roy married Florence Huckins.

florence roy dog radio

Florence, Topper, Roy at home.

I like this photo of Roy and Florence in their home – it’s nice to have some photos that aren’t posed.


pc tld to hdc

Florence, Harriet, Roy, Jeanie, Tom,  and Donna (in front).

Florence, Harriet, Roy, Jeanie, Tom, and Donna (in front).  And Polar, the dog.

The Duncans visited us in California often.  Grandpa Duncan was so much fun – I wrote about his positive attitude earlier here.  Florence died on 10 January 1957, long after the girls had married and left home.  But Roy was alone again.

harriet barb jim edith norris helen roy 1957

I think this was taken at the time of Florence’s funeral.
L-R: Harriet, Barbara, Jim (Helen’s son), Edith Norris (Florence’s sister), Helen, and Roy.

Marcella Rice becomes Mrs. Roy Duncan. 1965

Marcella Rice becomes Mrs. Roy Duncan. 1965

The third time around Roy married a younger woman, a little hedge against having to bury another wife.  On 14 April 1962 Roy and Marcella Rice were married in Kings, Illinois.  She adored him and was able to care for him for the rest of his life.

Thomas Leroy Duncan died on 28 October 1983 in Rochelle, Ogle county, Illinois.  He was 93 years old and had lived a full, enthusiastic life.

Grandpa Duncan

Grandpa Duncan