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Abstract

From 1956 through 1967 viewers enjoyed one of the most popular early television shows, To Tell the Truth. Host Bud Collyer would call on three contestants, standing side by side, to explain briefly who they were. Giving different stories, all claimed to be one and the same person. When they finished making their presentations, the host would turn to a panel of four, asking them to identify the only contestant who was in fact telling the truth about himself or herself. Then Collyer would ask that person to please stand up.

There were two contemporaries, both named James Duncan, who figure prominently in the life of Adams and Cumberland counties, Pennsylvania, in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Recent attempts to explain who they were and what they did have resulted in just enough confusion that neither man would likely have qualified for appearing as a contestant on To Tell The Truth. The time has come to set the record straight, at least to the extent that the available credible evidence makes it possible for us to ask the real Adams County James and the real Cumberland County James to please stand up. [excerpt]

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