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Biography of James Henry Decker, New York

Genealogical and Family History of the County of Jefferson, New York, Volume I

The Late R. A. Oakes, The Lewis Publishing Company, New York/Chicago, 1912

Pages 418-420

[Heritage Quest Online 12/31/2008]

JAMES HENRY DECKER was born in Troy, New York, October 18, 1832, and died in Watertown, New York, October 16, 1867.  His parents were James and Azubah A. Decker.

James Decker (father) was born in 1808, and was a jeweler conducting a large wholesale and retail establishment in Troy, New York, for a number of years.  He afterward removed to Denmark, Lewis county, and thence to Watertown about the beginning of the civil war.  He invested in western real estate owning a quarter section in the present city of Maquoketa, Jackson county, Iowa, where he built an extensive hotel and other buildings.  Subsequently he returned to Watertown and purchased the home at No. 48 Arsenal street, which is now occupied by Mrs. James H. Decker.  His attention was also given to the supervision of his invested interests in the west and in Lewis county, New York.  He was recognized as a successful business man, so placing his investments that they brought a good financial return.  His death occurred in 1881, aged seventy-three years.  His wife, Mrs. Azubah A. Decker, nee Betts, was born in Lansingburg, New York, in 1810, and died in 1891, when about eighty years of age, at Maquoketa, Iowa.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Decker were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and took an active part in its work.  Mr. Decker was a stanch Republican.  Their family numbered four children:  Emily Antoinette, wife of H. G. P. Spencer; James H., mentioned hereinafter; Victoria Eugenia, wife of Edwin R. Woley, of Chicago; and Leonard Wesley, who died in 1900, at Maquoketa, Iowa.

James H. Decker spent the greater part of his boyhood days in Troy and Denmark, New York.  He pursued his education in the common schools, and for some time thereafter was engaged in farming, making his home in Denmark.  A lover of fine horses, he became the owner of many animals of great worth.  He owned seven that were especially valuable, and for one of these he refused an offer of two thousand dollars, eventually obtaining a much higher price.  His business efforts were capably conducted, and his sound judgment brought to him prosperity.

James H. Decker was married September 8, 1852, to Miss Caroline A. Reynolds, who was born in Valatia, Columbia county, New York.  Her father, Raymond Reynolds, was born in the same county in 1802, a son of Nathaniel Reynolds, whose father was born in Manchester, England.  Raymond Reynolds was a master mechanic, long in the employ of Nathan Wild's cotton mills at Valatia.  He died at Valtia, in 1857, at the age of fifty-five years.  He was a firm adherent of Republican principles, and a liberal, religious and upright man.  His wife, who bore the maiden name of Christine Phillips, was born in Columbia county in 1809, and died in the first week of November, 1896, at the age of eighty-seven years.  She held membership in the Presbyterian church.  By her marriage she had five children, three of whom attained years of maturity, but only two are now living - Caroline, widow of James H. Decker, and Adelaide, the wife of D. T. R. Waugh, a leading and highly respected practitioner of St. Albans, Vermont.  The eldest child, Celeste, was the wife of Charles Duane Squire, who raised a company and commanded it in the Civil war under General Bradley Winslow.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Decker:  I. James R., born January 15, 1857, in Watertown.  He pursued his early education in the common schools, afterward attending the high school, and later St. Michael's College at Toronto.  Subsequently he took up the study of medicine, attending lectures two years in New York, but failing health forced him to abandon further study.  He married Miss Flora Smith, who was born in Salem Massachusetts, and they had two children:  James Henry, and Marguerite.  The former, educated at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, is now a mechanical engineer, occupying a position with the New York Central Railroad Company at Lima, Ohio.  The latter is living with her aunt, Mrs. Dr. Waugh, in St. Albans, Vermont.  2.  Anna C., the only daughter, is now the wife of Charles F. Smith, a native of Jefferson county, New York, and they have one son, Charles Palmer, who was educated in St. John's Military School near Syracuse, New York.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith reside at Lima, Ohio.  Mr. Decker died October 3, 1886, at the age of twenty-nine years.  Mrs. Decker resides in her beautiful home on Arsenal street, one of the finest residential districts of Watertown, the house being located nearly opposite the court house.

December 31, 2008