Obituary for Jonathan M. Duck (1825-1912)
Paris Daily Beacon, Paris Illinois, Monday Evening, Dec. 9, 1912

Taps Sounded for John Duck
Veteran of the Civil War Passes Away at Home near Vermilion, Ill.
An Intimate Friend of Abraham Lincoln
Former Justice of the Peace and Supervisor of Stratton Township
Survived by his Wife and Five Children


Vermilion, Ill. Dec. 9. — John Duck, a pioneer of Edgar County and one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of Stratton Township passed away at his home near Vermilion, at 11 o'clock Sunday morning of old age and general debility. He had been bed fast for practically three years and it had been known for some time that the end would soon come.

John Duck was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky, Oct. 13, 1825, being aged 87 years and almost two months at the time of his death. At the age of ten years he came to Edgar County which has since been his place of residence. He was one of the "forty-niners" who made the trip across the plains with an ox team to prospect for gold in California.

He served for a few months towards the latter part of the Civil war and as a soldier, as well as a citizen, he was conscientious, upright and trust-worthy. He served as Justice of the Peace and Supervisor of Stratton Township, having been one of the best officers ever elected in the precinct.

His first marriage was to Mrs. Sarah Farnham Cox. Seven children, four of whom survive. Viz: Mrs. Laura Fuqua of Vermilion; Mrs. Sarah Ward of Paris; Mrs. Rollin Ford of Vermilion; Mrs. Ida Joyce of Terre Haute. His first wife died and Mr. Duck was married a second time to Mrs. Melvina Farnham. To this union was born one son, Fred Duck who survives and is a resident of Vermilion. His second wife died and he was married the third time to Mrs. Maria Woodruff of Vermilion who survives. There were no children by this union. Aside from his wife and children, Mr. Duck is survived by two half sisters, Viz: Mrs. Elizabeth Pearson of Bloomingdale, Ind.; Mrs. Charity Price of Vermilion. Mr. Duck is the last member of a well known family which settled here in the early days.

Fraternally, he was identified with Stratton Lodge No. 408-A.F. and A.M. By occupation he was a farmer, honest, energetic and fair. An intimate acquaintance of his was no less a person than Abraham Lincoln. His connection with the famous man being set forth elsewhere in this issue.

Funeral Services will be conducted from the Little Grove Church at 11 o'clock Tuesday morning. Rev. Peters of the Christian Church at Paris, officiating. The Cortege will leave the residence at 10 o'clock. Burial will be in the Little Grove Cemetery.




Death of John Duck of Stratton Township Recalls Fact of Interest
Lincoln Once His Attorney
Case was Heard in the Old Court House
Characteristic Remark made by Future President in Resting His Case Without
The Introduction of Evidence

Elsewhere in this issue appears the obituary of the late John Duck which recalls one of the most interesting incidents in the history of Edgar County. It is in connection with Mr. Duck's acquaintance with Abraham Lincoln and it has been repeated often by Mr. Duck who took great pleasure in reciting the details, and well he might cherish the remembrance. There are very few persons now alive who were on more intimate terms with the noted statesman than was Mr. Duck. Although the two men often met while Mr. Lincoln was making a circuit as a lawyer, this narrative deals only with one incident.

Mr. Duck had been one of the forty-niners, who had followed the stream of immigrants to California in the search of gold. Like many others Mr. Duck was unsuccessful in his quest and returned to Edgar County driving his ox team. Shortly after his return, Mr. Duck became involved in some kind of a civil suit, which took him into the Circuit Court. He at once employed his friend, Abraham Lincoln, as counsel.

The day of trial came, the hearing being staged in the old and almost forgotten Court House on the public square. Mr. Duck was the defendant, and the prosecution, with a strong array of legal talent, presented many witnesses to substantiate its claim. Abe Lincoln sat calmly beside Mr. Duck and cross examined each one of the prosecuting witnesses. Finally the testimony was in and the prosecution rested.

Turning to Mr. Duck, Lincoln said, "John here's where the still sow drinks the slop." Turning to the Court he said, "Your Honor, we rest also." When it came his time to argue the case, Mr. Lincoln made one of the most telling pleas ever heard in the Edgar Court Circuit Court. He confined his remarks to the testimony of the prosecution, yet the Jury returned a verdict for the defendant.




Copyright 2004-2011 P.A. Teter
Terms of use of this web site