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Biography of Lawrence Decker, New York, Michigan

History of Branch County, 1979, Vol. 1

Copyright 1980, Branch County Historical Society, Coldwater, Michigan

pages 144-145

[on file at Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, Midland, Michigan, November 2008]

Decker Family

David Decker first married a woman named Shook, who died about 1839, leaving a small daughter.  His second marriage was in 1843 to Lucy Gibbs Rossman.  To this union were born six children.  He is listed as a landowner in Butler Township in 1835.  He held several township offices during his residence in Butler Township, and owned a farm in section nine.  In 1851 the family moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan.  Later he purchased a farm near LaGrange, Indiana, where he died, November 29, 1886.

Richard Dennis Decker came to Butler Township in 1837.  he married Mary Ann Shook on February 2, 1845.  In 1844 he had bought a farm in Northeast Quincy, where he died on March 7, 1902.

Cornelia Ann Decker was born in 1823 and died March 19, 1903 in Jonesville, Michigan.  She married Rev. Leonard Rossman.  They had nine children.

Jacob H. Decker came to Butler Township with his mother, probably about 1838 or 39.  He attended the public schools of the district., the school being made of logs, with hewn logs for benches and desks.  In 1853, he married Elizabeth Rossman.  In 1855 the family moved to California.  About 1868 he sold his California property and returned to Butler Township, where he bought a farm.  After four years, he sold his Michigan property and returned to California, where he died December 14, 1914.

Jacob Decker was six feet four inches in height and weighed 212 pounds but was not fat.  He was said to be the largest man in California in a contest at the State Fair.  [Mrs. Glenn Dodes]


Lawrence Decker

Lawrence Decker was a descendant of Jan Broerse Decker who arrived in one of the earliest settlements in New York state, New Amsterdam, in 1644.  His parents were Peter L. Decker, born February 23, 1790 in Columbia County, New York, and Cornelia Swart, daughter of David and Nancy Swart.  They were married January 12, 1813 at Gilboa, New York.  Their children were:  David, born November 1815 in Greene County, New York; Lawrence, born October 12, 1818 in Schoharie County, New York; Richard Dennis, born December 13, 1820 in Schoharie County, New York; Cornelia Ann, born July 8, 1823 in Schoharie County, New York; and Jacob H., born January 1833 in Shelby, Orleans County, New York.

Peter L. Decker died December 8, 1834, in Orleans County, New York.  About 1838 or 39, his widow, with her youngest son, Jacob H., joined her three elder sons, who had settled in Butler Township, Branch County, Michigan.

Lawrence Decker settled in Butler Township in the fall of 1838.  Homer, at that time, was the post office and trading place for the people living in the northeast part of Branch County.  He came on his pioneer trip by the way of Homer.  After leaving that settlement, the path to his land was marked by blazed trees.  He left Homer armed with a gun and an ax and with a haversack of bread, pork and beans and a paper of salt.  Before arriving at his destination, a heavy rain set in and, being unable to split enough basswood slabs to make a shelter before night came on, he was compelled to pass his first night in Branch County exposed to the storm, save what shelter was afforded by the lee side of a large tree.  His powder, tinder and punk were so dampened that he was unable to strike a fire for his comfort or protection from wild animals.

Lawrence's life was spent on his farm.  he was an official of the township when Branch was the metropolis of the county, often making his visits to that place on foot from his residence, following a path indicated by blazed trees.  He was a member of the Methodist Church for fifty years and helped organize the first Methodist Society in southern Michigan.  He was a charger member of Lodge number 88, Free and Accepted Masons.

He married Sarah Jane Hager, daughter of Henry and Sophia (Shafer) Hager, on October 12, 1837 in Genessee County, New York.  Their children were:  Nancy Catherine, born November 2, 1838, who married John Bowers;  Sophia, born August 29, 1840, who married George Ravell;  Maria, born August 7, 1842, who married B. H. Calkins; Emily, born May 26, 1849, who married Wilbert Gorball;  Celinda, born October 31, 1852, who married Rev. A. N. Eldred; and Henry, who died in infancy.

On June 27, 1856, Sarah Jane (Hager) Decker died, leaving her young family.  Her sister, Henrietta Hager, born May 27, 1827, cared for the family left motherless.  On August 22, 1856, Lawrence Decker and Henrietta Hager were married by her brother, Rev. Jacob Hager.  Two daughters were born to this union, Sarah Jane, born 1861, who died in infancy, and Eva, born June 30, 1865, who married A. J. Rainey.

Lawrence Decker died February 20, 1887.  His widow, Henrietta, died March 7, 1914.  They are buried on the family lot in Whig Center Cemetery, Butler Township.

One granddaughter of Lawrence and Sarah Jane Decker, Miss Evangeline Eldred, resides in Benton Harbor.  Among the great-grandchildren of Lawrence Decker are Mrs. H. R. Beerbower and Mrs. W A. Wolfe of Butler Township, John Bowers of Litchfield, Mrs. Glenn Dodes of Concord, Mrs. H. D. White and Leon Van Patten of Allen, and Mrs. Henry Brodock of Michigan Center.  [Mrs. Glenn Dodes]

December 9, 2008