Daughters of the Revolution tell the story of Benjamin Duncan

Many of our local residents descend from the earliest pioneers of Anderson County.

Benjamin Duncan, one of the first, was born about 1755 in Culpepper County, Va.

He married Mary (Mollie) Davis, (sister of Revolutionary War soldier Thomas Davis) in December 1776, prior to his enlistment.

During the American Revolution, Benjamin Duncan volunteered for two three-month terms of service as a private in the company commanded by Capt. Cowan in the North Carolina Militia for six months.

In his pension statement, Thomas Davis, who was about 82 years of age, personally appeared before Richard Oliver, one of the acting justices of the peace for Anderson County.

Davis stated:

“He was a resident of Anderson County, who being first duly sworn according to law deposed and said that he was acquainted with Benjamin and Mary Duncan while they resided in Wilkes County, N.C., that they were legally married in Wilkes County in December 1776.”

“We were marched to King’s Mountain before the battle at that place, we were marched from there down into South Carolina to the fish dam ford on Broad River; from there to Tiger River, where we had a battle with the Brittsh,” he said. “Our General was wounded and we were forced to retreat. We were marched from Tiger River and sometime after the battle, we were discharged.”

He did not recollect when the term of service had expired, or the name of the place where they were discharged.

The tour of duty was performed sometime in 1780. They returned home afterward, and Duncan left the area with his family.

Sometime in August of 1781, he rejoined his unit at the Wilkes County Courthouse. They marched from Wilkes to Mecklenburg, from there to Camden, from there to the high hills of Santee, and then on to the Eutaw Springs, where they had an engagement with the Brittish.

Under the command of Col. Malbede, they were sent from there to guard the Brittish prisoners near Salisbury. They were detained after they stopped with the prisoners on Bell’s Branch for about three weeks.

Sometime after that their term of service had expired (November 1781), and they were discharged.

After those two tours of duty, Duncan had served six months in the Revolutionary War. It is believed he lived in Bear Creek Valley where the Y-12 National Security Complex is now located in Anderson County.

He died in January, 1803, and is buried in Yellow Creek, Ky.

Benjamin’s grandson, Jasper Smith, remembered this about him:

“The news spread that Grandfather Benjamin Duncan, the first white settler on Yellow Creek, was dead and the people gathered to view the remains. The Indians also came as they all loved him.

“The good people around the plain coffin sang suitable hymns for the sad occasion. He now lies in a grave on Yellow Creek. He is not like his Great General George Washington who has a tall monument for the people to look at. But Father Duncan and George Washington will stand before the angels on the same footing and Duncan’s grave will be as easily found as the man with the princely monument.”

Benjamin Duncan left 11 children: James (m. unknown Roark), Elizabeth (m. Moses Brown), Samuel (m. Nancy Withers), John, Joshua, Moses (m. Mary Frost, Elizabeth Davis, Nancy Nealon), George (m. unknown Hurt), William, Isaac (m. Tabitha Smith), Alfred, and Judy.

Mary Davis Duncan died in 1843 in Frost Bottom, Anderson County.

If you are a descendant of Benjamin Duncan and are interested in joining the Clinch Bend Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, please visit our website at: tndar.org/~clinchbend/

The Clinch Bend Chapter was organized on Dec. 13, 1945, and confirmed by the National Board of Management, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution on May 15, 1946, under the name Samuel Whitney, ancestor of the organizing regent, Mrs. Lawrence George Henry.

On Jan. 31, 1953, with the need for wartime security ending, the name was changed to Clinch Bend Chapter. A large bend in the Clinch River provides protection on three sides of Oak Ridge and was a key factor in selecting the site for the atomic installations during World War II.

Today, its membership includes women not only from Oak Ridge, but from other communities in Anderson County as well as Knox and Campbell counties.

With its 75th chapter anniversary approaching, the chapter would like to share some history about its early settlers who came to what would become Anderson County after the Revolutionary War.