University of Texas Arlington

James Allen Duncan Family Papers:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Duncan, James Allen.
Title: James Allen Duncan Family Papers
Dates: 1855-1968
Abstract: James Allen Duncan served as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. Following the war, he settled in Bonham, Texas, where he became involved in civic affairs. The James Allen Duncan Family Papers contain materials including diaries, letters, photographs, Confederate currency, Bibles, and financial and legal documents pertaining to Duncan's experiences as a soldier in the Confederate Army and as a settler in Bonham. The papers of Duncan's daughter, Julia Duncan Pagan, are also included and contain correspondence, genealogical documents, clippings, and creative writings.
Identification: GA150-152, GA203
Extent: 4 boxes (1.67 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Biographical Note

James Allen Duncan was born in Bloomfield, Kentucky on September 9, 1840. He joined the Confederate Army in June of 1861 and fought as a member of the 8th Kentucky Cavalry until the war's end. James Duncan married twice after the war. His first wife was Fannie Glover (1853-1876), who died shortly after their marriage. Duncan then married Mattie Bragg in December of 1880. James and Mattie had two children, Allen Bragg Duncan, and Julia Duncan, who married William Pagan.

James A. Duncan settled in Bonham, Texas in 1874, and opened a general store with O.B. Phillips soon after. After financial reverses, the store was forced to close and Duncan began selling fire insurance; then he worked at the First National Bank for several years; later embarking again into the mercantile business. However, J.A. Duncan's major contributions were to the city of Bonham, where he worked as street commissioner and a member of the city council for some years without pay. His greatest impact was felt in his service to the schools. He was a member of the school board from its inception until shortly before his death. The James A. Duncan Ward School was named for him in honor of his valued services to the schools of Bonham. The J.A. Duncan School stood at the end of West Fifth Street until 1951, when it was demolished to make way for the Sam Rayburn Library. Duncan also established the Willow Wild Cemetery Association and was its secretary and manager for years. Fannie Glover Duncan was the first person laid to rest at Willow Wild. J. A. Duncan died in 1918 and was buried at Willow Wild.

Julia Duncan Pagan, whose papers also figure prominently in the collection, was born in Bonham, Texas on March 2, 1890. She attended college at the University of Texas, and was well known in Bonham for her participation in cultural and arts activities. Prior to her death she was a house mother at the Hockaday School near Dallas, Texas. She died in Fort Worth in July of 1968. Julia D. Pagan was survived by her niece, Mrs. Sally Grammer, of Fort Worth, Texas, who donated these papers.


  • Obituaries of James Allen Duncan, Mattie Bragg Duncan, and Julia Duncan Pagan. History of Fannin County, by: Floy Crandell Hodge (Pioneer Publishers, Hereford Texas. 1966).

Scope and Contents

The James Allen Duncan Family Papers consist of diaries, letters, photographs, legal documents, and genealogy of the James Allen Duncan family (1860-1968). Documents pertaining to Lt. Duncan's duties as a Confederate soldier include: financial notes, receipts, military documents, special orders, soldiers railway passes, Confederate money, letters, newspaper clippings, and Lt. Duncan's Amnesty Oath. Documents pertaining to Julia Duncan Pagan, the daughter of J.A. Duncan, include: letters, correspondence, and creative writings. Also included in the collection are various framed and unframed photographs, a late 1800's photo album, two New Testament Bibles, an 1880 Elementary Spelling Book, and four volumes of The Athenian Oracles. Artifacts included in the collection are: a photo album with photos, a pocketbook from the Civil War era, framed dageurreotypes from the Civil War era, and a United Daughters of the Confederacy military service cross.


The James Allen Duncan Papers are arranged in chronological order in 5 series by document creator and document type. They consist of 61 folders in 4 boxes.
All documents are arranged in chronological order within each series.
Series I. J.A. Duncan Papers (22 folders)
Series II. Julia D. Pagan Papers (14 folders)
Series III. Photographs (21 folders)
Series IV. Family Bibles (2 folders)
Series V. Books (2 folders)



Open for research.

Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Duncan, James Allen, 1840-1918--Archives.
Pagan, Julia Duncan, 1880-1968--Archives.
Duncan, Mattie Bragg, 1859-1951--Archives.
Duncan family--Archives.
McKay family--Biography.
Confederate States of America. Army--Diaries.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence.
Bonham (Tex.)--Description and travel.
Bonham (Tex.)--History--Sources.
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection

Administrative Information


The papers were received by Dr. Gerald Saxon, Director of Special Collections, from Mrs. Sally Grammer, who had stored them in her home in Fort Worth, Texas.


James Allen Duncan Family Papers, GA150-152, 203, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.


The Duncan/Grammer papers were generously donated by Mrs. Sally Grammer of Fort Worth, Texas, in February of 1988. Accessioned as number 88-7.

Administrative Information

Grant Support

The retrospective updating and conversion of this finding aid was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Special Collections "Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records" project, 2014-2015.

Container List

J.A. Duncan Papers (22 folders)

Box Folder
GA150 1 Obituaries, 1918, 1951, 1968
Obituaries of: James Allen Duncan (1840-1918) Mattie Bragg Duncan (1859-1951) Julia Duncan Pagan (1880-1968)
2 Diaries of J.A. Duncan, 1860-1861
Four thin, bound volumes dating from January 1, 1860 to August 23, 1861. These diaries record the everyday thoughts and feelings of a young store clerk on the eve of the Civil War. Duncan also keeps a day to day record of the weather.
3 Civil War Diary of J.A. Duncan, June 27, 1861-August 20, 1865
This diary records Duncan's experiences in the Civil War, including his capture on Island 10 in April of 1862, and his imprisonment at Camp Butler until September of 1862. He also describes his rise to Lieutenant, being wounded at Jackson, Mississippi in July of 1863, and his surrender and parole in 1865. For a typed transcript of this diary, see the Holdings File.
4 Memobook Carried by J.A. Duncan, 1861-1865
The memobook contains financial notes, both personal and military, that were important to Duncan at this time.
5 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1862
Two letters received by Duncan during his imprisonment at Camp Butler. One is from L. Frank Duncan and the other is from his father.
6 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1863
This includes military documents kept by Lt. Duncan, for instance: a receipt for two Negroes accused of having weapons, a Certificate of Disability for Furlough, other receipts, and special orders received by Lt. Duncan.
7 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1864
Includes: a letter from L. Frank Duncan telling the young soldier of events at home, military correspondence and documents relating to Duncan's duties as 2nd Lieutenant, and assorted newspaper clippings telling news of the war.
8 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1865
Includes newspaper clippings announcing the end of the war, receipts from the Confederate Army, J.A. Duncan's Amnesty Oath, and pages from a book of General Orders issued to the Confederate Army.
9 J.A. Duncan Civil War Correspondence, undated
Includes Special Orders and a printed picture of General Braxton Bragg and General Bragg's headquarters on Missionary Ridge.
10 Confederate Forms, undated
Blank forms for account receipt and for special requisitions.
11 Soldier's Train Tickets, undated
Train tickets issued by the Quartermaster Department of the Confederate States to J.A. Duncan during his service in the Confederate Army:
  1. From Meridian Miss. to Selma Ala.
  2. From Selma Ala. to Montgomery Ala.
  3. From Montgomery Ala. to West Point.
  4. From West point to Atlanta Ga.
  5. From Selma Ala. to Meridian Miss.
12 Confederate Money, undated
Confederate money kept by J.A. Duncan. Includes: One 50 cents bill, three $1 bills, one $50 bill, three $10 bills, one $2 bill, two $5 bills, one $100 bill, and one $20 bill.
13 Leather Pocketbook, undated
This pocketbook was carried by J.A. Duncan during the Civil War, enclosed is a note dated January, 1913 which reads: "This Pocket Book is a relict of the Civil War, … and was carried by J.A. Duncan in his pocket; could it speak it could tell of many a weary march thro rain and mud, of creeks I swum and hunger and thirst endured; of hardships various and trials severe and some joyous events and incidents that came to the soldier."
14 Correspondence, undated
A letter from Olivia Bryant at Louisville, Kentucky to J.A. Duncan at Bloomfield, Kentucky.
15 J.A. Duncan Diary, May 12, 1873 to September, 12, 1873
This diary tells of a trip Duncan made from Flat Bayou, Jefferson County, Arkansas to Texas: round trip. It also records his first impressions of Bonham, Texas where he would eventually settle.
16 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1873
This relates mostly to Duncan's duties as a collector for Trabue, Davis and Co. Dry Goods Jobbers. There are some personal letters sent to Duncan in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he apparently lived at this time.
17 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1877
Two letters sent by Fannie Glover from Bartlett and Bars Station, Tennessee to J.A. Duncan in Louisville.
18 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1910, 1915
Includes: one letter from a relative, one letter from Civil War comrade J.H. Bemiss, and one letter from the Bonham School Board announcing the naming of the J.A. Duncan Ward School, along with a newspaper clipping announcing the naming of the school.
19 J.A. Duncan Correspondence, 1908, 1914
Contains various documents regarding J.A. Duncan's Confederate pension. The documents prove service in the Confederate Army and include Duncan's approved pension dated 1914. Also a letter from comrade in arms F.R. Smith dated 1911 with news of the aging regiment.
20 Financial and Legal Documents, 1870, 1872, 1874
These documents regard J.A. Duncan's duties on behalf of Trahue, Davis and Co., as well as Vaughan and Bond dealers in dry goods.
21 Abstract of Title, 1894
Abstract of title to land in Fannin County, Texas dated 1894.
22 J.A. Duncan School, undated
Pen and ink drawing of the J.A. Duncan Ward School, Bonham, Texas.

Julia D. Pagan Papers (14 folders)

Box Folder
GA151 1 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence, 1909
Two letters sent from Julia D. Pagan in Austin, Texas, to her mother Mattie Bragg Duncan in Bonham, Texas. The letters regard Julia's experiences at college.
2 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence, 1910
Letter from Deuter G. Whitinghall on-board the RMS Oceanic to Julia D. Pagan in Bonham, Texas. Enclosed in the letter is a menu card from the cruise ship.
3 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence, 1933, 1935
One letter to Julia D. Pagan in Bonham, Texas from a friend signed Beas. One letter from Julia D. Pagan in Witchita Falls, Texas to Mr. Ralph Dennis at the School of Speech, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. One creative writing essay written by Julia D. Pagan.
4 Julia D. Pagan Creative Writings, approximately 1933
Creative writings on a variety of subjects written by Julia D. Pagan, approximately 1933, formerly bound by string in a pasteboard cover.
5 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence, 1942-1943
Includes letters, newspaper clippings, and snapshot photos.
6 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence, 1950
Newspaper articles written by Julia D. Pagan about her travels in Mexico.
7 Legal Documents regarding the death of Mattie Bragg Duncan, 1951
This includes an abstract of the will of Mattie Bragg Duncan, receipt for payment of death tax, and a memory book given by the funeral home.
8 Julia D. Pagan Certificate, 1958
Includes a Certificate of Achievement for completing a Housemother's Conference at the University of Oklahoma. Also includes two pictures taken on a cruise ship in 1958.
9 The Bragg Homeplace, Mobile Ala., 1959
Postcard of the Bragg homeplace in Mobile, Alabama sent to Julia D. Pagan in 1959, and signed Marge.
10 Julia D. Pagan Correspondence with Sam Rayburn, 1936, 1940, 1956, 1957, 1961
Includes a letter of introduction from Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, which introduces Julia D. Pagan. The rest of the correspondence is form-type thank you notes from Mr. Rayburn, in Washington, D.C. to Julia D. Pagan in Bonham, Texas.
11 United Daughters of the Confederacy Medal, undated
This is Julia D. Pagan's United Daughter's of the Confederacy Southern Cross of Honor, inscribed with her father's name, J.A. Duncan, and his company, 8th Kentucky Cavalry.
12 Genealogy File, undated
Genealogy file compiled by Julia D. Pagan, containing lists from family Bibles, a genealogy search request sent from the Alabama Department of Archives and History for information on Mattie Bragg Duncan, and two texts on the family of Richard McKay.
13 W.D. McKay Books, 1869
List of Books that once belonged to W.D. McKay, obviously preserved by Julia D. Pagan.
14 Julia D. Pagan, 1968
Memory Book provided by the funeral home on the death of Mrs. Julia D. Pagan.

Photographs (21 folders)

Box Folder
GA152 1 Male Bust, Melaino type, in case, Post 1855
2 Male Bust, Melaino type, in case, Post 1855
3 Male Bust, Tintype, in pressed paper case, undated
4 Male and Female Images, Tintypes, in union case, undated
5 Two women, Melaino type, in case, Late 1850's
6 Male Bust, cut from album, undated
7 Male Bust, tintype, undated
8 Female, silver gelatin copy of an 1850's dageurreotype
9 Mattie Duncan Burton, Albumen carte de visite, approximately 1878
10 Dr. Eleck Duncan, carte de visite, approximately 1863-1870's
11 Sallie Carson and Mattie Bragg, tintype, approximately 1861-1910
12 Willis Nunnelee, Collodio-chloride cabinet print, approximately 1895
13 Rev. Deuter G. Whitinghall, silver gelatin, approximately 1900-1910
14 Duncan Family on vacation in colorado, approximately 1915-1920
Twenty-six silver gelatin prints.
15 Mrs. Julia Duncan Pagan, silver gelatin print, undated
16 Bloomfield, Kentucky, silver gelatin, 1940
Five snapshots taken of the Bloomfield, Kentucky, home of J.A. Duncan in 1940.
17 Cow, Gelatin-chloride snapshot, undated
18 Duncan Family photographs, approximately 1951, Fort worth, Texas.
19 Five generations of Duncan women, silver gelatin copy, approximately 1951
Box Folder
GA203 1 Photo Album, undated
Album, approximately late 1800's, containing thirty-nine photos, dageurreotypes, cartes de visite, and tintypes. For a listing of the labeled pictures please see the Holdings File.
2 Lady Montag, Friend of Ludwig II of Bavaria. photo in frame

Family Bibles (2 folders)

Box Folder
GA203 3 Family Bible of J.A. Duncan, New Testament, 1888
4 Family Bible of Mattie Bragg, New Testament, 1868

Books (2 folders)

Box Folder
GA203 5 Elementary Spelling Book, 1880
6 The works of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan L.L.D.
From the library of Julia D. Pagan.
6 The Athenian Oracle, Vol. 1-4
These volumes have been added to the book collection housed in the Special Collections Division.