Duncan, John Martin (1851–1917)

By: Carolyn Hyman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 3, 2019

John Martin Duncan, lawyer and statesman, son of Franklin and Caroline (McAnnelly) Duncan, was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on February 7, 1851. In 1858 the family moved to Marion County, Texas, where Duncan worked in Nash's Iron Foundry during the Civil War. He studied law and in 1872 was admitted to the bar at Jefferson, in the office of Judge John C. Stallcup. Duncan established his practice in Longview, where he was elected county attorney of Gregg County in 1876, the year he married Allie Davis. From 1878 to 1882 he represented Smith, Gregg, Upshur, and Camp counties in the Texas Senate. In January 1884 he moved to Tyler, where he formed a partnership with James S. Hogg. Duncan was elected county judge the same year. In February 1889 he was appointed general attorney with Horace Chilton for the receivers of the International-Great Northern Railroad. In 1896 he was a delegate to the national Democratic convention and a leader of the movement to swing votes to William Jennings Bryan. From 1905 to 1909 he was Smith County representative in the Texas legislature. At the close of his legislative service, Duncan moved to Houston, where he practiced for less than a year before ill health caused him to retire. He moved to San Antonio and died there on April 21, 1917; he was survived by his second wife, Edwina Louise (House), whom he had married in 1890 after the death of his first wife.

Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Galveston News, January 21, 1917. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Railroad and Transportation Law

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Carolyn Hyman, “Duncan, John Martin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/duncan-john-martin.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 3, 2019