William Duncan was born in Amherst County, Virginia, in the year of this country’s birth. His father was a highly respected Baptist pastor, but it wasn’t until William’s twentieth year that he was converted to Christ. Immediately he began growing in the things of the Lord, and soon he was preaching. There were many struggling churches in the area, and William began to travel between them assuming the role of pastor of four congregations. For more than thirty years, Duncan continued this kind of ministry.
When he was fifty-four he felt the Lord’s leadership to follow his children to Missouri. His Virginian churches begged him to stay with them, and one congregation even promised to give him the finest farm in the county for his support, but he couldn’t disobey his Lord. Once he was settled in his new home, he again began a rotation ministry between five churches. At the age of sixty-two he was asked to run for Congress, but he already had a higher calling, and refused.
At the age of seventy, as he was preaching, he felt ill and had to be escorted from the pulpit. When he seemed to regain his strength, he was helped onto his horse and allowed to ride the twenty miles to his home. He was put to bed with congestive fever, and on the follow Saturday, October 10, 1846, William Duncan went home to be with his Lord. Most government offices were closed that day, but the circuit court was in session. When the sitting judge heard that Duncan had passed away, he adjourned the proceedings. That began a week of general mourning throughout the area for a good and worthy servant of God.