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 John Riley “Jack” Duncan

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John Riley “Jack” Duncan

Texas Ranger and Bounty Hunter. Born to James and Katherine Duncan. He was raised in a small farming community in Hardin County in north central Kentucky. He and his brothers tended to the family's farm while his father served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After the war, the family engaged in several business ventures in addition to farming that failed. A young John tried his hand at running a small saddler's shop. The family decided to move to Texas, settling near Dallas. By 1875 the Duncan family was well established in the bustling, frontier community, John and his father were employed as butchers while one of his brothers was in the land business. John joined the police force in October 1876 and rapidly acquired the reputation as being an effective lawman. However, most of his duties were rather mundane, ranging from arresting drunks and minor criminals to controlling the city's large population of feral dogs. The effort to bring the state's most infamous criminal Wes Hardin to justice intensified during this time. Because Hardin had considerable support from family and friends, the Texas Rangers' strategy involved collecting information through undercover detectives. John was recruited into the Texas Rangers in July 1877 specifically to help track down Hardin by working undercover, gathering information in Gonzales County, TX, where both Hardin and his wife had considerable family. With the cooperation of local law officers, a railroad official, and a local judge, an ambush was set up in the smoking car of a train that Hardin and several of his friends had purchased tickets. Hardin was subdued after a melee, which most likely involved Hutchinson, Perdue, and perhaps another deputy initially, but was ended when Armstrong knocked Hardin unconscious with his revolver. Guarded by John and Armstrong, Hardin was transported by train back to Texas to stand trial; he served 17 years in prison for his crimes. John ended his service with the Texas Rangers after only four months. John then became a bounty hunter, his activities as a bounty hunter brought him into contact with the rougher side of Dallas society such as the saloons, brothels, and gambling establishments. It was a dangerous life, which resulted in John being shot by a prostitute on February 9, 1878 under rather mysterious circumstances in a Dallas brothel. John's recovery was slow and later complications resulting from this gunshot lead to a tracheotomy being performed to save his life. He required an inserted silver breathing tube for the remainder of his life. He was successful as a bounty hunter. He married Emma Jane Bowles on October 20, 1884, in Dallas, Texas. They had four children. When Hardin's death in 1895 created a resurgence in interest in John's career, he supplied a listing of all the "bad men" he had either captured or assisted in the capture of. The list included 21 names with a total in collected rewards of over $12,000; with Hardin heading the list. His life as a western lawman was documented in a book "Bounty Hunter" by Rick Miller. He died at the age of 61.

Bio by: Shock

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 4 Jun 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9843
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Riley “Jack” Duncan (25 Sep 1850–16 Nov 1911), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9843, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .