The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Dessa Rodeffer/Quill Publisher

Meet your neighbor Ruth Duncan of Stronghurst.

Ruth was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky and came to Illinois in 1924 with her parents Walter and Lena Ferguson and older brother Henry when she was three.

Her grandparents farmed and lived between Disco and La Harpe and Ruth's family lived with them until her dad found a farming job.

He began working for farmers by the month, and Ruth said they had moved 13 different times.

She attended school at the Bradshaw County School, in Milan near Bushnell, and in Gladstone before attending high school in Stronghurst. She quit school as a Junior during the depression when her family was having hard times and went to work in different homes. She started in Gladstone helping a woman who was going to have a baby and was very sick.

There she said she cut up her first chicken and fried it for the family. She was paid $4.00 a week plus room and board.

In 1938 she met Kenneth Duncan and recalls that she first saw him fishing at a lake near Gladstone. His sister, Ruth's friend from high school, invited her over a few times and before Christmas, Ruth married Kenneth on December 12, 1938.

Kenneth had been working for John and Cecil Brook of Stronghurst. In fact, Kenneth was 15 years old when John sent him out with a team of horses to plant corn his first time, Ruth said.

Now married, Cecil Brook built a brand new house on the Brook family farm southeast of Stronghurst for the newlyweds and Kenneth worked for John and Cecil for 7 years.

They moved just south of Stronghurst when they rented a farm from Newt Marshal and raised 7 children. All but one graduated from college as their son Melvin, just wanted to farm.

Ruth kept active as a mother and farm wife and she and her family kept active in the U.P. Presbyterian Church in town. She taught Sunday School most of her life, was involved in Missionary, and a Deacon. She is a Willing Worker, is the Janitor at the church and a volunteer at Oak Lane Nursing Home.

For pleasure, she took lessons on oil painting from Mrs. Evelyn Bunt and has painted many pictures for her home. She also keeps busy making quilts along with baking and cooking, and gives away food, paintings, and quilts to her family.

She is an Illini fan, a Tiger Woods fan, and keeps registered on his website in hopes of winning a Buick he gives away after each win.

How many grandchildren does Ruth have? Her neighbor thought she had over a hundred, but she says she doesn't. She has too many to count, but not too many to love.

Ruth is one of our very busy neighbors who makes Henderson County a great place to live.