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This signature, from the Confederate Pension Application of John Berry Duncan, hurts my heart. It’s so tentative and misspelled. You can tell it was written by someone who doesn’t have to write much.

John Berry Duncan's Signature, 1910

John Berry Duncan’s Signature, 1910

John Berry Duncan was born Feb 16, 1822 in Greenville, SC and died April 21, 1915. He moved to Georgia in 1836, where he married Lucinda (Unknown) in Cobb County in about 1845. She died and he married my ancestor Jane Agnes Eddington in abt. 1853. He had at least 10 children, including my ancestor James Solomon Duncan (1859-1939.)

This is John Berry Duncan in around 1912-1915 in Cherokee County, Georgia:

John Berry Duncan and his Cotton Bales

Photo courtesy of Leslie Cook Cox

To his left is the bale of cotton that family legend tells he grew and picked himself at over 90 years of age. So while his penmanship may not have been so stellar, he was very good at many other things. For instance, his obituary in the April 23, 1915 Cherokee Advance read:

“OLDEST MAN IN COUNTY — An Aged Citizen Of Cherokee Stricken With Paralysis — Uncle Berry Duncan, perhaps Cherokee’s most aged citizen, was stricken with paralysis Monday night of this week. He was in his 95th year and attended Sunday School at the First Baptist Church last Sunday. Supt. R. T. Jones called attention to his presence, asking Uncle Berry to stand. He rose, spoke a few words, thanking God for his goodness to him, closing his remarks by waving his hand over the large audience saying ‘I like such as this and want to be in it to the end.’ He passed away early Wednesday morning ripe and ready for the rest that remaineth for one so long in service. Last Sunday in Sunday School on earth, next Sunday at the feet of the great teacher in glory.”

(Thanks to Nan Duke on Ancestry.com for finding this!)

John Berry Duncan and Jane Agnes Eddington Tombstone, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Acworth, Georgia

John Berry Duncan and Jane Agnes Eddington Tombstone, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Acworth, Georgia

His tombstone inscription reads “An honest man is the noblest work of God.”

I really wish I could have known this old fellow. 🙂 While I already have and had awesome grandpas, he seems like he would have been another great one.

Happy detecting!