Duncan's Retreat was located on the north side of the Virgin River, where Mukuntuweep Creek enters the Virgin River. It was located 4 miles east of Virgin and 3.5 miles west of Grafton (on the south side of the current Highway 9, between Mile Markers 24 and 25).

37° 11.036' North Latitude,   113° 8.104' West Longitude
UTM: 12310542E 4117208N


Chapman Duncan, Alma Minnerly, and a few others settled this area in 1861. But a flood in January of 1862 washed away much of the good farmland. Most of the first settlers moved away and sold their claims to William Theobald, Joseph Wright, William Wright, Clayborne Elder, Jonathon B. Pratt, Robert W. Reeve, and Thomas Burgess. Other settlers moved into the area and formed the village of Duncan's Retreat.

There are several theories about the origin of the name, Duncan's Retreat. One of them is that the name came the idea that Chapman Duncan had retreated from this area. Another is that Duncan retreated to this area after botching a canal surveying job in Rockville.

Farming produced good crops of cotton, corn, wheat, and sorghum.

A post office was built in 1863 and a schoolhouse in 1864. They also built an L.D.S. meetinghouse.

In 1866, when the Black Hawk War caused widespread fear of Indian attacks, the town was evacuated to Virgin, although farmers returned to Duncan's Retreat each day to work their fields. Residents moved back permanently in 1868.

The Duncan's Retreat settlement was all but abandoned in 1891. By 1930, hardly a trace remained - only a few foundations and trees.

About 70 at the end of 1862
50 in 1864
There were 11 families and 79 people in 1880
There were 9 families in 1890
The village was all but abandoned in 1891

L.D.S. Church History
William Theobald was Presiding Elder between 1864 and 1866.
William Martindale was Presiding Elder starting in 1868.
Joseph Wright was Presiding Elder and/or Branch President until he died in 1873.
The Duncan Branch of the Virgin Ward was formed in 18?? and continued until about 1891.
Samuel Stansworth was Branch President starting in 1873.
Moses W. Gibson was the next Branch President.
David B. Ott was the next Branch President.


WCHS photos:
WCHS-03117     1929 photo of a man and one of the old pear trees in the abandoned village of Duncan's Retreat
WCHS-03118     Recent photo of the location of the old pear tree in WCHS-03117


Wikipedia article about Duncan's Retreat

Sons of Utah Pioneers webpage

Washington County Chapter, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, " Under Dixie Sun".
1950 with 1978 Supplement.
Page 117-118.

Southern Utah Memories: Duncan's Retreat Ghost Town Story,
by Loren R. Webb,   February 3, 2013