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Biography of William H. 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 398-400

[Heritage Quest Online 12/31/2008]

William H. DECKER.  Both as a business man and a citizen, William H. Decker of Deferret belongs to the class of men who, by their industry, integrity and enterprise, contribute to the advancement and prosperity of the community.  He is a grandson of James Decker, who was born in Holland and emigrated to the United States.  He took up a small tract of land in Ancram, New York, where he spent the remainder of his life.  He married Hannah Spease, who was also a native of Holland, and they were the parents of seven children:  Mary, who married John De Vause, of Great Barrington, Massachusetts; John A., mentioned at length hereinafter; Sarah, who became the wife of Henry Smith, of Holyoke, Massachusetts; James, who lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts; William Henry, deceased; and Josephine, who is the wife of Warren Van Buren, of South Lee, Massachusetts.  All the family were members of the Baptist church.  Mr. Decker, the father, died at the comparatively early age of forty-five, and his widow survived to old age.  Both were estimable and worthy members of society.

John A. Decker, son of James and Hannah (Spease) Decker, was born in 1830, in Ancram, New York, where he was educated, and then entered a wrapping-paper mill, where he remained some years.  Later he went to Holyoke as foreman in a fine writing-paper mill, and held this position for a number of years.  He moved to Lee, Massachusetts, in order to accept the position of general superintendent of a paper company.  This responsible position he retained for twenty years, and at the end of that time engaged in business for himself in East Lee, where he conducted a paper mill for four years.  His next removal was to Westfield, Massachusetts, where for a number of years he had charge of the mill of the Springdale Paper Company, and then spent three years in the mill of the Glen Manufacturing Company, at Berlin Falls, New Hampshire.  After remaining two years with the Ivanhoe Paper Company of Paterson, New Jersey, he spent the same length of time in the mills of the Ontario Paper Company in Brownville, and Watertown, New York, and then went to Rumford's Falls, Maine, where for six years he had charge of a mill.  At Millinockett, Maine, he was general superintendent of the Great Northern Paper Company, the largest in the world.  After superintending the reconstruction of all the buildings of the plant, he retired from business and is now living in a small village near Rumford's Falls, Maine.  He takes an active interest in local affairs, and is one of the leading men of the town, having held the offices of first selectmen, chief of the fire department and chief of police.  He is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, having passed through all the bodies, and is also a noble of the Mystic Shrine.

Mr. Decker married Sarah Goodrich, who was born in 1835 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and five children were born to them, four of whom are now living:  Mary, who married Frank Sibley, of Middletown, Connecticut; William H., mentioned at length hereinafter; Stella, who became the wife of William Hebner, of Millinockett, Maine; and Grace, who resides at home.  All the family are members of the Congregational church.  In 1878 Mr. Decker and his children had the great affliction of losing the wife and mother, who died at the comparatively early age of forty-three, when her son William H. was but ten years old.

William H. Decker, son of John A. and Sarah (Goodrich) Decker, was born May 22, 1868, in Lee, Massachusetts, where he received his education in the common and high schools.  Later he took a course in a business college, and upon leaving it kept books for his father for a year in Lee, Massachusetts.  He then applied himself to learning paper making, and thoroughly mastered all branches of the business, and becoming thoroughly proficient.  He took his first position of trust with the Taggart Paper Company in the capacity of night superintendent at Felt's Mills, in Jefferson county, Massachusetts.  At the end of a year he went to Rumford's Falls, Maine, where he had general charge of a mill under the superintendence of his father.  After remaining there six years he came to Deferret, to assume the superintendency of the St. Regis Paper Company.  The buildings for this plant had just been completed, and under the supervision of Mr. Decker the machinery was all placed in position in a one-hundred-ton mill, equipped with all the latest improvements, and employing three hundred men.  This is the largest mill in this vicinity.  In connection with it is a forty-ton sulphite mill and a 150-ton ground wood mill, the entire plant being known as the most completely equipped plant anywhere in this section, if not in the United States.  Mr. Decker has full charge of these great works, and also of a large number of houses which are the property of the company, most of them having been erected under his personal supervision.  He is probably the youngest man occupying so prominent a position anywhere in this section of the country.

He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, affiliating with Brownville Lodge No. 53, F. & A. M.; Watertown Chapter, No. 59, R. A. M., and to the Knights of Pythias, the Order of Red Men and to the Elks.  He is a Republican.

Mr. Decker married, in 1892, Stella Johnson, and they are the parents of one child, Carleton W., who was born August 28, 1898.  Mrs. Decker is a daughter of John Johnson, a hotel proprietor, who is now deceased.  He and his wife were the parents of five children, for of whom are living:  Cora, who married Charles Codman, of Brownville; Maggie, who is the wife of Leroy Buchanan; John, who resides in Charlotte, New York, and Stella, who was born in 1870, in Brownville, and became the wife of William H. Decker, as mentioned above.  Mrs. Johnson, the mother of the family, is still living at Brownville.

December 31, 2008