Page 30 - MFM August 2013
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Hands of the Workmen

                        Hugh Duncan, 18th Grand Master

                                          Reid Gardiner (3)
Hugh Duncan was born in Glasgow, Scotland,             In 1873 he was then ordained as a minister of the
     on June 28, 1824, the son a clergyman of the        Methodist Episcopal Church, and was one of
Presbyterian Church in Glasgow. He moved his family the pioneer clergymen of his denomination in the
across the Atlantic to the United States in 1852. He Rocky Mountains. Following his ordination, he was
had worked in the mines of Scotland in his early youth appointed to the pastorate at Deer Lodge, was later
and after coming to the United States in 1853 worked appointed to the Blackfoot Agency and served at Sun
in mines from Pennsylvania to Kansas and Colorado. River and Fort Benton where he was a teacher in the
He was regarded as an outstanding authority on coal Indian Schools. The first formal “Methodist” religious
and his services were in frequent demand by coal services, of record, were held in Butte in early 1873
mining concerns. In 1864 he and his                          by Reverend Hugh Duncan, who was then
wife, daughter Sarah, and son James                          serving as pastor of the Deer Lodge Mission.
were members of a large wagon train that                     Being as familiar with the mining camp as
crossed the plains to Montana on the                         he was with the church, he came to the Butte
Bridger route, arriving in Virginia City                     area in early 1873 to lead worship and lay the
on the 21st of July. Like others seeking                     groundwork for a new church. At this time
a better life, he engaged in mining and                      he was also was traveling by horseback 160
secured a claim on German Bar, in Alder                      away to serve the new church in Salmon City,
gulch, mining that section until 1869.                       Idaho. He was transferred to Butte in 1875
However, during this period he was not                       and was that city's first Methodist minister.
unmindful of the higher duties which                         He organized the first Sunday school in
devolved upon him. He was associated                         Butte. He continued to serve Methodist
with the Methodist Episcopal Church.                         churches for the next 30 years.
He labored in mines during the week
and preached each Sunday. As he was                          Salmon’s chapter, of the Order of Eastern
the only clergyman in Alder gulch he was called upon            Star, Hugh Duncan No. 2, was chartered
to conduct funeral ceremonies, and he organized the March 18, 1886, and the Reverend Hugh Duncan
first Sunday school in the territory. It is said of him was authorized to institute the chapter. Rev Duncan,
that he “never forgot a friend or neglected an enemy.” who came to preach once a month to the people of
He also had association with the Vigilante Committee. Salmon, and was the driving force in the creation of
H this chapter. In honor of the man who worked so hard
     ugh Duncan started holding services at Junction to get the chapter started, the charter members voted
     City about 3 miles down Alder Gulch, at a place to name it after him.
where a small side creek entered Alder Creek. Here he  Hugh Duncan was one of the foremost Freemasons
began regular services and constructed a building for       in the Territory. He became a Mason in 1846 in
preaching and Sunday school. It was here that Hugh
Duncan preached his first sermon in Montana. While Glasgow Scotland, and was one of the nine Masons
he was not the first ‘preacher’ in Montana he was the who organized the Grand Lodge of the territory of
first preacher to make Montana his permanent home. Montana, at Virginia City, in 1866. Nine Masons,
Hugh Duncan preached and founded Sunday Schools Masters and Wardens of the three lodges in Montana
and churches in Junction City, Phillipsburg, Virginia Territory, met in Virginia City on Jan. 24, 1866, to
City, Alder Gulch and Sheridan; all the time also organize the Grand Lodge of Montana. The man who
organizing Masonic Lodges in Virginia City, Salmon became the first Grand Master, John J. Hull, Master of
City, Idaho, Missoula, and Butte.                      Virginia City Lodge No. 43, operated a club house in
I Virginia City. The occupation of the most prominent
  n 1869, Rev. Duncan moved his family to a farm of Masons and organizers almost caused a split in the
  160 acres in the Ruby Valley west of Sheridan to an ranks, because one of their number walked out in
area which was to become known as Duncan District, protest and was persuaded to return to the session only
named in his honor. He preached the first sermon by the argument that the formation of a Grand Lodge
in the town of Sheridan. He continued to travel and was more important than the personalities involved.
preach for the Methodist Church. He was beloved The protest was from the Rev. Hugh Duncan, Junior
of everybody, a leader in things spiritual throughout Warden of the other Virginia City Lodge, Montana
his kindly and beneficial life; a zealous Mason fully Lodge No. 9. His position was that the heritage of
appreciative of the power to teach morality through Grand Lodge was the firm stand of that organization
symbolism and example.                                 for nearly 100 years that no man in the liquor business
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