The Duncan Electric Manufacturing Company, Lafayette, Indiana
From: Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana
General R. P. DeHart, Editor in Chief
B. F. Bowen & Company, Publishers
Indianapolis, Indiana 1909


An important manufacturing concern of Lafayette. Indiana. whose influence is far reaching and which would be a credit to any community is the Duncan Electric Manufacturing Company. Which was organized in 1901 for the purpose of manufacturing electric meters, transformers and many other electrical instruments and appliances. The company was organized by Marshall F. Holmes, of the American Smelting and Refining Company; George L. Cragg, and Thomas Duncan, an electrical engineer, all of Chicago. The Lafayette Commercial Club acted with wise foresight when it succeeded in securing this company for Lafayette. They began in a modest way in a part of a building at Third and Mechanic streets. But in a short time the business had grown to such proportions as to warrant using the entire building. However this was only a beginning. More space was soon needed and another building was rented, and still the business of the firm grew. reaching out to remote sections. In 1909 preparations were started for erecting a new building one hundred and thirteen feet wide by one hundred' and thirty feet long, five stories in height, all of modern construction. In eight years' time the business has increased ten times in volume compared to that of the first year. Meters made by this company here are now in use in every state in the Union. being used by electric lighting companies. street railway companies, and large apartments and office buildings that generate their own electricity.

It has been said that an institution is a lengthened shadow of a man, and we are always ready to read with avidity of those who project and control large concerns. The man whose ingenuity and foresight promulgated the Duncan Electric Manufacturing Company is Thomas Duncan. who owned all the patents under which the products of this concern are made, and he has had the active management of the factory ever since the company was organized.

Thomas Duncan was born December 26, 1865, at Girvan. Ayreshire, Scotland, and in that beautiful land of heath and heather, of bluebell and mountain gorse. he grew to maturity, attending there the public schools and the high school, receiving a very serviceable education and remaining under his parental roof-tree until he Was eighteen years of age. In 1883 he came to the United States, and, remaining in New England until 1886. he worked at the drug business. In the last mentioned year he made what proved to be a very important change and engaged in manufacturing incandescent lamps at Boston, Massachusetts. The following year he came West and managed the incandescent electric lamp works of the Ft. Wayne Electric Company, a very important position for so young a man. In 1889 he went to Lynn, Massachusetts, and began the manufacture of electric meters, but in 1890 he returned to the Ft. Wayne Electric Company and established a meter factory for that concern. Here he remained until 1899, when he resigned to go to Chicago, where he became connected with Seemens & Halske Electric Company of America, manufacturers of all kinds of electric apparatus. In this company, Mr. Duncan has charge of manufacturing electric meters of his own invention. In 19o1 the Seemens & Halske Company was purchased by the electric trust, and Mr. Duncan with Marshall F. Holmes and George L. Cragg formed the Duncan Electric Manufacturing Company.

Records show that it is, indeed, rare that an inventor has any marked business or executive ability, but Mr. Duncan seems to be one of the exceptions to this rule. From the time he reached manhood he has been in positions where he had the direction and control of others, always proving his ability to direct men in a manner that the greatest results would be accomplished. The rapid growth of the present establishment shows his caliber as a business man, which is second to none. Naturally he is a very busy man, but the superb system he employs in all his affairs makes his work easy, and he accomplishes a great amount as the sum total of a day's activity. At the same time he keeps abreast of modern thought by diligent study along lines of invention, and keeps up his own work of invention, now having over two hundred patents for inventions in the field of electricity. His name has become far-famed to electrical workers and he is turning his talents to good account and will doubtless rank very high among the world's beneficiaries.

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