J.N. Duncan Came To Pampa In 1906

In June 1906 J.N. Duncan hitched his horse to a buggy. With his daughter, Eula, and his son, Ivey, he started on a long journey from Duncan, Oklahoma, to the Panhandle of Texas. He wanted to locate in a good town where he could make a living for his wife, Gatsy, and their seven children and for his mother, “Granny.”

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

His first stop was at Wellington where he bought lots on which to build a house. While he was looking for a carpenter, he heard about opportunities in Groom. He and the two children loaded their bedrolls and cooking utensils and started on the five-day buggy ride to Groom.

He liked Groom better than Wellington. Again he bought lots and was looking for a carpenter when he heard that the White Deer Land Company in Pampa was selling good flat land for $5 an acre. Again he and the children hitched up for the two-day drive to Pampa.

In Pampa he found his Utopia. He bought out the Johnson Mercantile Company (105 N. Cuyler) and a half block facing Somerville Street between Foster and Kingsmill. He employed carpenter L.L. Garton to build a house and returned to Oklahoma for his family who arrived in Pampa on January 1, 1907.

Their first home in Pampa was on the corner of West Foster and Somerville (205 N. Somerville ). The barn was north of the house on West Kingsmill and Somerville.

In 1912 Duncan built a two-story house at present 1101 N. Duncan. The house, which had five bedrooms and a full basement, cost $2,800 for a turnkey job. The tall white house, located “out in the country” then, was a familiar land mark to persons going to and from Fairview Cemetery .

The land on which the house was located was sold to become part of the Cook-Adams addition and the house was moved to 922 N. Duncan where it still stands. About 1927 Duncan built a red brick house at 320 N. Ballard.

J.N. Duncan Hardware and Furniture (formerly Johnson Mercantile Company) opened for business on February 1, 1907. Duncan expanded his holdings to the property between Kingsmill and Foster which is operated today as the J.N. Duncan Estate. Duncan visited with his tenants as though they were members of his family, and some of them kept a special chair in which he sat when he came to visit.

At a time when autos were limited to 12 miles per hour and hitching racks were erected at public expense, the town of Pampa was “duly incorporated.” On February 17, 1912, an election was held at the red brick school house at 309 N. Cuyler. There were 34 votes for and 28 against incorporation. Pampa was first incorporated under “town” and later, on June 23, 1919, classified as a “city” with 860 inhabitants.

The officer elections were held on March 5, 1912, J.N. Duncan was elected mayor and George Kerley, marshal. Aldermen were J.R. Brown, S.S. Thomas, J.T. Crawford, Jr., O.A. Barrett and P.C. Ledrick. The city manager plan was adopted.

For a time J.N. Duncan had the mayor’s office in the small exhibit building that the Santa Fe Railroad made the White Deer Land Company move from the railroad right-of-way about 1908.

In 1926, during the oil boom days, the population of Pampa increased rapidly and business of the post office became so great that its location in the White Deer Land Building (present museum) was inadequate. Many people recieved their mail by general delivery and when the post office closed at 6 p.m., there was usually a line of patrons extending around the corner of Cuyler and Foster.

J.N. Duncan went to Washington, D.C. and offered to construct a building to meet U.S. Post Office specifications. The post office moved from 116 S. Cuyler to 111 W. Kingsmill in November, 1926. As post office business continued to expand, Duncan added 25-foot extensions at two different times.

J.N. and Gatsy Duncan had four daughters and three sons. Lula Duncan Kreiger had a son, Herman Krieger. Eula Duncan married S.S. Thomas and they were the parents of Jerry Thomas and Yvonne Stroup. Augusta “Gussie” Duncan married J.E. Murfee, Jr., and they were the parents of Jeanne Murfee Cook. Jeta Duncan never married.

Ivey E. Duncan married Mattie Kirk and they were the parents of J. Kirk Duncan and Evert Ray Duncan. Emmett Duncan had a son, Don Duncan. J. Wade Duncan married Ferne Barnard and they are the parents of Bill Duncan, Angel Duncan Spearman and Cynthia Duncan West.

For many years J.E. “Pat” Murfee, Jr. and Augusta Duncan Murfee operated J.E. Murfee & Co., at 119 N. Cuyler. The store featured clothing and furnishings for men and women, dry goods, millinery and other items.

Ivey E. Duncan studied law at Baylor University before receiving his degree at Cumberland, Tennessee. He was a practicing attorney and insurance at Pampa in 1917. He retired from practicing law when he became County Judge, serving in 1929-30. Afterward he dealt with oil leases and royalties and kept the insurance business until his sons returned from service in the armed forces. He was on the Board of Directors of the Citizens Bank and Trust Company when it was organized in 1940.

In 1947 Kirk and Ray Duncan, Ivey’s sons, opened Duncan Insurance Agency. First in the J.N. Duncan Building, then at 109 W. Kingsmill, it was moved to 115 E. Kingsmill in 1955. With some of their family, Kirk and Wade are still operating the agency and also are managing the J.N. Duncan Estate.

In 1925 J. Wade and Ferne Duncan bought the Fitzgerald Variety Store and operated it for eight years. They named the store “Wade’s Store — if it’s in town we have it.” After the great drought and depression which followed the oil boom, they lived on a ranch in Wheeler County. They moved back to Pampa in 1945, and Wade dealt with real estate and oil leasing. Also he managed the J.N. Duncan Estate until he retired, at the age of 85 in 1989.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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