John S. Duncan‘s name unaccountably does not appear in some lists of burials in Turner Cemetery, but both his headstone and foot stone still exist. His name is still readable on his headstone, but no dates are legible under his name. His foot stone just has the letters J S D carved on it. In 2011 the TC/MSBA Historical Committee discovered a 1903 newspaper article that quoted an inscription on the tombstone.  Careful digging uncovered it at the bottom of the headstone. It says, “John S. Duncan, professor in penmanship. Died October 10, 1861.  This monument is erected by his pupils, a memorial of their esteem for him as a preceptor, as a citizen, and as a Christian friend.” What a great testimonial for a beloved teacher!

A short while after uncovering the inscription, TC/MSBA researcher found a document on Pitt’s Historic Pittsburgh website that names John S. Duncan as “formerly Professor of Penmanship in Duff’s College” and quotes him as writing, “Impaired health having compelled me to resign my professorship in penmanship . . . ” What Professor Duncan taught was not ordinary writing but a “Course of Ornamental Penmanship for Adepts and Teachers.” The heading of the document is full of ornamental swirls and designs common in official documents of the times.

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