Decker Pioneer Family

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Decker Family Portrait
Decker Family Portrait
Contributed by David Bethard
Top: Mitchell / James Ernest / Robert Lee / Henry O. / George Bennett / Fannie Esther
Bottom: Clara Isabelle (some say Elizabeth) / James Harrison / Nancy Caroline Likes Hardesty/ Mary Alice Hardesty

The head of this family is James Harrison Decker sitting in the middle, bottom row, next to his wife, Nancy Caroline Likes, surrounded by their children. James was born 4 November 1837 in Kinderhook, Pike Co IL the son of Harrison F. & Bethany Methina (Hull) Decker who were both from Virginia, but married in Pike Co IL 18 December 1834. Nancy Caroline (some have Catherine) Likes was born 21 January 1841 in IN the daughter of Robert & Dolla (Killion) Likes. She was first married to Wm. J. Hardesty with whom she had one child, the daughter who is in the photo to her left - Mary Alice Hardesty. James & Nancy were married in Adams Co IL 24 December 1863. James and Nancy had several children in IL but then they moved to Carroll County MO by 1870 and there they lived out the rest of their lives.

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The Decker Family
From the notebook of Mavis (Turnbaugh) Wike
The introduction and postcript of this family history were written by Janita Metcalf

John Decker was baptized 7 June 1719 in the Dutch Reformed Church at Kingston NY, the son of Jan and Barbara (DeWitt) Decker, of Mombaccus, Ulster Co., NY. He was a descendant of some of the early Dutch settlers of New York. His paternal grandparents were Gerrit Jansen Decker, the son of Jan Gerritsen, and Margrietje Janse Decker, daughter of Jan Broersen. Jan Gerritsen, a native of Heerde, Holland, had settled at Kingston NY before 1664 later moving to Mombaccus. Jan Broerson was originally from Husum, Denmark, settling at Kingston in 1658 after several years in the Dutch West Indies on the islands of Curacao and Santa Cruz. He later moved to Marbletown in Ulster Co., NY. For some reason the children of both men adopted "Decker as a surname although they do not appear to be related. On his mother's side John Decker was a descendant of Dr. Hans Kierstede, the first doctor in New York as well as several other notable Dutch settlers.

John probably grew up near Minisink, Sussex Co NJ (possibly in the neighboring areas of Pike Co., PA or Orange Co. NY, rather than in N.J.) where his family later moved to. He married, about 1740, Diana Kuykendall, also a descendant of Dutch settlers. She had been baptized 18 Jan 1719 in the Dutch Church at Machachemeck (now Port Jervis) NY, but most likely had been born at Minisink NJ, where her father, Jacob Kuykendall, had been one of the early settlers. During the early years of their marriage John and Diana probably lived, in addition to the Minisink region, in the communities of Water Gap, in Monroe Co PA and at Walpack, Sussex Co NJ. all along the Delaware River.

About 1745 John and Diana along with their children and several of their brothers and sisters and their families, moved to Hampshire Co VA (now West Virginia). They settled along the South Branch of the Potomac River near where the town of Romney, is now. They were among the very first families in this beautiful and rugged mountain valley. It was in the wilderness of West Virginia that most of John and Diana's children were born, grew up, married and had children of their own.

The sorrows and hardships they went through can now only be imagined but one story gives a fair idea of the dangers of pioneer life on the frontier. In 1758 Tobias Decker, probably a younger brother of John, moved further west into the mountains and started a settlement on Decker's Creek, in Monongalis Co WV (where Morgantown is now). Among the other settles of this community were John Decker, his brother, Garret and their sister and her husband William Zorn/Zern. On the afternoon of 16 Oct. 1759 the tiny settlement was attacked by about 30 Delaware Indians who burned the cabins, destroyed the crops, killed the livestock and massacred eight persons, including William Zorn and his wife, and Tobias Decker along with his wife and two children. It is said that the others were away from the settlement at the time.

Apparently after the massacre, John and Diana moved their family back to the South Branch Valley of Hampshire Co. The pioneer spirit remained undaunted, however, for in 1767 John Decker sold his Hampshire Co land and moved into Western Pennsylvania. By 1775 he had drifted further west, to the banks of the Ohio River at a place called on early maps "Decker's Fort", near present day Wellsburg, Brooke Co WV. In 1784 John and Diana moved to Knox Co IN along with many of their sons and grandchildren. Legend has that they travelled down the Ohio and up the Wabash River on three skiffs and that on the night of their arrival in Fort Vincennes one of the children of their party was kidnapped by Indians.

The Deckers settled in the southern part of Knox Co along the White River where they later operated a ferry. A small village called Deckers is there today. John Decker died in 1791 and Diana in 1797. They had a family of about 10 children. Elizabeth, Barbara, John, Isaac, Joseph, Abraham, Susannah, Moses, Luke and possibly Jacob.

Moses Decker, one of their younger sons, served in the Pennsylvania Militia during the American Revolution. He seems to have lived near his parents at Decker's Fort, in Brooke Co WV and moved with them to Knox Co IN in 1784. He later settled in Gibson Co IN and appears to have moved to Randolph Co IL only a short time before his death which likely occurred on 30 July 1814. His wife was named Christine and they had at least seven children: Moses (2nd), John, Diana, Aaron, Nancy, Susannah and Charlotte.

Three of the children of Moses and Christine Decker later became pioneer settlers of the Barry area (Pike County IL). There are still many descendants of this Decker family living in the area, but since most are descendants of female members of the family, many may not be aware that they are related to the Decker's. For some odd reason there weren't very many male Decker's and the few there were seemed to have died young, unmarried, or just simply moved away!

The first member of the Decker family to settle in Pike Co. was Nancy (Decker) Pulliam, a daughter of Moses and Christine Decker and the wife of Thomas Pulliam. She was born on 1 May 1792 probably in Knox Co IN and died 6 Mar 1873 near Kinderhook. She is buried with her husband in the Hull Cemetery. She came with her husband and children from Wabash Co IL in 1829 and settled in what is Barry Township.
Children are:
1. Benjamin Pulliam m Keturah Hammond. Moved to Carroll Co MO
2. Christine Pulliam m Daniel Boulware
3. John Pulliam m Rebecca Likes. Moved to Appanoose Co IA
4. James Pulliam m Charity Hinch. m2 Mary Woolridge, m3 Eliza Gale. Moved to Appanoose Co IA
5. Susannah Pulliam m David Denton Hull
6. Lucy Pulliam m Samuel Wallace and Samuel Hinch
7. Nancy Pulliam m Charles Hull and Hamblen A. Lock
8. Thomas Pulliam m Margaret Bridgewater and Elizabeth Thomas
9. Eliza Pulliam m Charles P. Collier
10. Ellen Pulliam m Allen McKee
11. William Pulliam died at age 11

John Decker, son of Moses and Christine Decker was born about 1782 probably either in Brooke Co WV or Washington PA. He married 18 Nov 1815 in Knox Co IN to Eleanor Johnson. He settled on "Decker's Prairie" in Wabash Co IL in 1814 along with his sister Nancy and brother Moses. He came to Pike Co about the same time as his sister, 1829 but settled just over the Adams Co line in Richfield Township. He later lived at different times in both Pike and Adams Counties, and the last record of him is in 1860 when he was living near Kinderhool.
His children:
1. Christina Decker m Joseph Smith
2. Johnson Decker m Angeline Nutt or Batie
3. Washington Decker said to have at sea enroute to California
4. Diana Decker m Abram Landers
5. Rebecca Jane Decker m Oskar Wagy
6. Nancy Decker m Joseph Smith husband of her deceases sister Christina
7. John Decker
8. James Decker
9. William Decker

Most of this family seems to have left the area. There were quite a few members of Rebecca Wagy and Nancy Smith's families remain in Pike and Adams Co and leave a few descendants.

Moses Decker (2nd) son of Moses and Christine Decker was born 6 March 1780 in Washington Co PA and died 1864 near Barry. He was married to his second cousin Christine Harness, a daughter of Adam and Sarah (Kuykendall) Harness. (Nathaniel Kuhlendall, the father of Sarah Harness, was a brother of Diana (Kuykendall) Decker.) Christine was born 25 Feb. 1782 probably in Hampshire Co WV and accompanied her parents to Knox Co IN in 1799, where she probably married Moses in the early 1800's. He fought at the Battle of Tippecanoe against the Indian in 1811 and is said to have been badly wounded. He moved to Pike Co in 1830 to a farm near Barry. He is buried in the George Cemetery, long since destroyed, near Barry. His children are:
1. Adam Decker m Mary (Cunningham). Buried Alive

From: Jennifer (Osburn) Pierce: Adam came with his parents from Wabash Co., IL to Pike Co., IL in 1830 where he settled near Kinderhook. He was buried in the GeorgeCemetery, long ago destroyed, near Barry, IL. Adam DECKER was buried alive; It seems that he collapsed suddenly andaccording to medical practice of the era, was deliberately bled inorder to let the "bad blood" out of his body. After he had died andwas lain in his coffin someone noticed that blood was still flowingfrom the cut made to bleed him; an impossibility if he had actuallydied, since blood cannot flow after the heart stoops beating.Apparently no one noted the significance of this until it was toolate. From this it is assumed that Adam was only unconscious when hewas buried. (Information on Rootsweb World Connect from James Hug)

2. Moses Decker (3rd) m Melinda Boren
3. Sarah Decker m Morris Hammond
4. Harrison F. Decker m Bethany Hull
5. Catherine Decker m Gillium Bailey
6. Abner Decker m Phoebe Nichols, later moved to Texas

(Pike Co. Democrat - 23 Mar 1876)
(Ab Decker is s/o Abner & Phoebe he is buried at Barry Cemetery) - Barry had an exciting trial before Esq. Ferris, growing out of the facts as detailed in last week's Adage as follows: About ten o'clock on Saturday night last a young man named Ab Decker entered the house of one Warren Ward, who lives about three miles south of New Canton, and attempted to enter the bedroom of a young lady in the employ of Ward. Decker, who had retired for the night, told Decker to leave the house. Decker declared that he would not do it, when Ward got up and started for Decker, who was turning around, pulled off his coat preparatory to giving battle. Ward seized a gun barrel and dealt Decker a blow over the head which knocked him senseless, a condition in which he has remained ever since, and at last accounts. Tuesday night it was thought he would not live the night through. Later--Decker died on Thursday morning.

7. William Decker m Clarissa Whitten, moved to Bozeman MT

There are still a few descendants of Moses (2nd) in the Barry area. Most from his son Moses (3).

Moses Decker (3rd), son of Moses and Christine (Harness) Decker was born 16 Dec. 1806 in Knox Co IN and died 25 Feb 1884 near Kinderhook. He was married 8 Feb. 1827 to Melinda Boren, who had been born 2 Sep. 1809 in Sumner Co TN., the daughter of Tarleton and Hannah (Dillon) Boren. Melinda died 25 May 1877 near Kinderhook. They are both buried on their own farm, north of Kinderhook along with two of their sons that died young. Moses remained in Wabash Co., until 1835 when he joined his parents and other relatives in Pike Co., settling on a farm near Kinderhook.
He was the father of 11 children:
1. Hannah Decker m James Likes
2. Greene Decker died age 14
3. Martha Decker m Thomas Wagy, moved to Clay Co MO
4. Malinda Decker m Stephen Wagy
5. Abner Decker died at 2 years
6. Ezra Decker m Sarah Like moved to Audrain then to Clay Co MO.
7. Asher Decker m Sarilda Likes, 2nd to Celia Lewton, 3rd Bessie Gustine, 4th to Jane Phennegar
8. Christina Decker m Daniel Lewton
9. Mary Decker m Andrew "Poe" McCall moved to Audrain MO then to Hand Co SD
10. Margaret Decker m Jack Tooley
11. Emmery Decker m Harriet Hull moved to Hooker OK

I have discovered 19 instances of descendants of either Moses, John or Nancy, that married "cousins" of theirs, that is a descendant of one of the other two.

Roberts (Pullium) Brinkman of Barry and her brother, Glen Roy of New Canton, and their children and grandchildren are direct descendants of John I and Christina Decker, Thomas and Nancy (Decker) Pullium who came to this area in 1829 were Roberts and Glen Roy's great==grandparents, and it is they who are buried in the Hull family cemetery located on the Russell Call farm northwest of Barry. It's obvious that there are many, many others of the Decker ancestry in the area, but we do not know from which line they came down from.

The history of the Deckers not only relates to the early history of the Barry area but to Kinderhook as well. Kinderhook too was platted in 1836, this being their sesquicentennial year also, as well as El Dara. Both were platted in April of 1836. Ancestry from the early settlers of Barry, Kinderhook, El Dara, New Canton and Hull overlap today, and are so entwined that they are tied together in a bond that will never be broken.