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Below is a family biography included in The History of Wright County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Thomas Duncan, blacksmith, of Hartville, Mo., was born in East Tennessee October 20, 1839, being the son of Robert and Pollie (Duncan) Duncan, and was reared under the reign of slavery, but was a single man when the emancipation proclamation was issued. He then came to Missouri, and he and Anderson Hogue and Hugh White were the first colored men who located in Wright County. Thomas Duncan learned the trade of blacksmith in Tennessee, and in 1872 he located in Hartville, and purchased an outfit, and has been engaged in the business there ever since. Although several blacksmiths have come and gone, he does as much as $1,000 worth of business here in one year. He owns his residence in Hartville, also his shop, and aside from this is the owner of 120 acres of land. He was married to Miss Ellen Vernon, daughter of Lill Vernon, who is the son of Col. Vernon, of Laclede County, Mo., she having been the daughter of a slave in that family. By her marriage with Mr. Duncan she became the mother of five living children: Mary, Clarence, Flora, Toby and Clara. Mr. Duncan is a Republican in his political views, and is a much esteemed citizen. He learned to read and write during the war. His nephew, Prof. Solomon Gilliam, was born in Marion County, Tenn., September 17, 1858, his parents being Solomon, Sr., and Margaret (Duncan) Gilliam. Solomon Gilliam was also a native of Tennessee, and died there before the emancipation. He was a slave in the family of Dr. Gilliam, of Jasper, Tenn. Margaret Duncan became the mother of four children, of whom Prof. Solomon Gilliam is the youngest and the only one now living. Margaret Gilliam died in Tennessee October 3, 1864, and the subject of this sketch was left to the care of grandparents and uncles, and remained with them in Tennessee until January, 1880, when he joined his uncle, Thomas Duncan. He farmed one season here, and then concluded to supplement his common-school education received in Tennessee with a course at college, and with that intention in view went to Lincoln Institute, Jefferson City, Mo., and took the degree of B. S. D. from that institution in 1888. He has taught school for five years, and at intervals during those years he has attended school. He is a man of large vocal capacity, and is one of the best educated men of his race in South Central Missouri. He is a Republican politically.

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This family biography is one of 90 biographies included in The History of Wright County, Missouri published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Wright County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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