Angus McDuck was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 1829 to Dingus McDuck and Molly Mallard, who were both working as coal miners at the time. He had two younger brothers named Fergus McDuck and Jake McDuck.
Angus immigrated to the United States during the late 1840s. In 1850 he was working as a cabin boy in the Mississippi River riverboat Drennan Whyte when it sunk. He was the only survivor. He continued working on Mississippi riverboats and he had obtained his own by 1861, named Cotton Queen. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) he became quite successful as a riverboater. Soon after the end of the war in 1865 he and fellow riverboater Porker Hogg became the two owners of Cornpone Gables, a southern plantation that had gone bankrupt. The two were unable to settle their differences and they decided to have a riverboat race in 1870 to decide who would be the single owner. Both riverboats sunk. Porker had two more riverboats but Angus spent the next ten years as a professional card player.
In 1880, in a poker game with Porker, Angus won the rights to one of his rival's riverboats, named Dilly Dollar. Porker soon lost his other riverboat to the Beagle Boys, a family of outlaws, and retired. Angus on the other hand hired his nephew Scrooge McDuck and a penniless inventor named Ratchet Gearloose as his crew. Business wasn't going well and Angus decided to retire in 1882. He left his riverboat to his nephew and settled down in New Orleans.
He became the writer of a series of dime novels under the title "The Master of Mississippi," based on a highly exaggerated description of his life. His dime novels became very popular and to have more material to add he occasionally travelled through the country.
During his travels he met many famous historical figures of the Western United States. Among others he befriended Phineas Taylor Barnum, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Geronimo. He died sometime between 1900 and 1902.