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Biography of Freeman L. Decker, Michigan

A History of Northern Michigan and its People, Volume 3, Perry F. Powers

1912, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago

[Bay County Library, Bay City, Michigan 8/13/2008]

FREEMAN L. DECKER. - It is not necessary for a man to be a member of any church in order to be religious.  A man's religion is what he believes in his heart, not always what he openly professes, but that which is his guiding principle.  Mr. Freeman L. Decker, of Lake City, Michigan, is a deeply religious man, although he belongs to no church.  His creed is right and justice, charity and charitableness.  His whole life has been spent in seeking to benefit those in need and in bettering the conditions in his native state.  He is respected by old and young alike.  His knowledge of human nature has taught him to look upon the errors of others in sorrow, not in anger.  From the time he was a mere lad he has had great determination of purpose, balanced by good, common sense.  He has a good word for every one.  Although he is very positive in his views he is most charitable toward the opinions of others and does not insist that it is necessary to think his thoughts in order to be right.  In short, he is a man whom to see is to love and admire.

Freeman L. Decker was born at Pinkney, Livingston county, Michigan, June 1, 1851.  He was the son of James and Sally (Webb) Decker, who were both natives of New York state.  They came to Michigan when it was still a territory.

Freeman received very little education when he was a child.  He had to work hard on his father's farm and was only able to attend school during a part of the winter.  He remained in Livingston county until he was thirty years old, for the most part engaged in farming.  In 1881 he came to Missaukee county and bought land in Forest township.  The people of Forest township at once recognized that Mr. Decker was a born leader.  While he was living at Pinkney he had been constable and for four years he was a deputy sheriff of Livingston county.  Now in Forest township he was elected supervisor and he held this office for nine consecutive years.  He was also justice of the peace for nine years.  In 1890 he moved to a farm he had purchased in Reader township.  Here he was elected to the office of supervisor of the town.  He filled the duties devolving on him for nine years.  During these nine years he was elected assessor of the village of Lake City.  In 1899 he returned to his farm in Forest township and he was again elected supervisor, holding the office for a second period of nine years, thus for twenty-seven consecutive years he was holding the office of supervisor - nine in Forest township, nine in Reader township and then nine in Forest township again.  In 1908 he once more returned to his farm at Lake City, where he was again elected supervisor.  In 1904 he was elected representative to the legislature from Missaukee and Kalkaska counties.  At the next election, in 1906, he was nominated for the same office, but was defeated, undoubtedly on account of his absence in California.  Charles Brott was elected.  In 1908 he was nominated again and elected.  In 1910 he was re-elected.  For twenty-four years he was assessor for the schools of Forest and Reader townships respectively.  For seventeen years he was the chairman of the board of supervisors of Missaukee county.  For seven years he was president of the Missaukee Agricultural Society.  During his first term of office as representative he held the chairmanship of the committee on schools, a standing committee, and was also chairman of the special committee on the cold water school.  During his second term he was chairman of the committee on Northern Asylum for the Insane and of the committee on geological survey.  During his third term he introduced the bill that all fees received by the state officers should be turned over to the state and the salaries to be paid by the state.  This bill became a law, thereby making a saving to the state of at least thirty thousand dollars a year.  The above is a record that no man can beat and very few can equal.  Such a politician is an honor to his party, to his state and to the country.  He is not in politics for what he can get out of it, but he honestly has the good of the people at heart.  Many politicians say they desire the public good.  Mr. Decker makes no such protestations, but that the people believe in him is shown not by his election to office, but by his repeated election to the same office.  There is no man in the country who has done more for it than has Mr. Decker.

In 1878 Mr. Decker married Lucy J. Wood, of Pinkney, Michigan.  Her parents, like those of her husband, originally came from the state of New York.  Mr. and Mrs. Decker had two children: Viola is now the wife of Calden Hair, of Elk City, Oregon.  Mr. Hair is a farmer and fruit grower in Oregon.  George, the second child, is married to Miss Carrie Thompson, whose parents came from New York state.  In the winter of 1906 Mrs. Decker began to fail in health.  In the summer of that year her husband took her to California, hoping that she might regain strength, but the trip was of no use, for she died there.  In May, 1908, Mr. Decker married Mrs. Vina Sherman, a widow.  She was Vina Dean before her marriage and was a Canadian by birth.  Mr. and Mrs. Sherman had four children, two of whom, Zota and Aggie, are living with her in their home at Lake City, where Mr. Decker is very devoted to them.

There is no man in the country who contributes to church work more liberally than Mr. Decker has during his residence here, notwithstanding the fact that he is not a member of any church.  When an appeal is made to him for help, he always investigates it and if, in his opinion, the object is a worthy one, he contributes what he feels he can afford.  Mr. Decker is as clean in his morals as he is in his political life, which has never been besmirched, even by his political opponents.  Because of Mr. Decker's character he is respected and because of his sympathetic, genial personality he is loved by all his wide circle of friends.

August 13, 2008