JAMES N. DECKER, farmer, sec. 10, Hinton Tp., is one of the pioneer settlers of Mecosta County, and was born in Green Co., N.Y., Sept. 8, 1819. He is the eldest son of Gilbert D. and Mary (Stanley) Decker, both natives of New York, who moved to Canada in the fall of 1833, where the mother died. The father came to Michigan to pass the closing years of his life with his children, an ddied at the home of his son Edward S., in Millbrook, Sept. 20, 1869.
Mr. Decker passed his youth in the care of his parents, and while in Canada was engaged in farming. In the summer of 1865 he came to Michigan, and bought 160 acres of land, principally in an uncultivated state, paying therefor $750. Its value and appearance have been so enhanced by cultivation and improvements, that it is held now to be worth $10,000. The convenient and suitable buildings lately erected are a great ornament to the place. After the purchase of the land he returned to Canada, and passed the winter of 1865-6; and in the following spring he came back with his son, built a log house, and made such improvements as were possible, clearing about secen acres of land, which was sown with wheat. He brought his family in the fall of the same year, and before winter. was finally settled in the Peninsular State. Mr. Decker relates graphically his pioneer experiences, and the clearness of his remembrance, with the interesting character of the numberless incidents, entirely divest the recital of uniformity and tameness, though the tale is one oft repeated.
Mr. Decker shipped the first wheat from Mecosta County over the G. R. & I Railroad, and in 1873, harvested the heaviest crop ever raised in the county - 500 bushels from 10 acres. He has been Township Clerk two years, Highway Commissioner three years, Justice of the Peace 11 years, Township Treasurer one year, and was elected Drain Commissioner in the spring of 1883, to serve two years. In politics he is a Republican.
Our subject was married in the township of HOpe, Canada, Nov. 4, 1840, to Catherine, daughter of James and Mary (Walker) Flanagan, born July 20, 1818, in Canada. Her parents were of Irish nativity, and settled in Canada in its pioneer period, and died there many years ago.
Mr. and Mrs. Decker have buried three of eight children: Nelson, born Sept. 26, 1841, died Oct. 23, 1870; Elizabeth, born Sept. 2, 1843, died Nov. 20, 1870; Catherine, born Nov. 23, 1851, died Nov. 12, 1881. The loss of their children has had telling effect upon the parents. All had reached mature years, and their lives were full of promise. The living children are: Eliza, born June 2, 1845; Hester A., June 23, 1847; Matilda, April 12, 1849; Mary J., Jan. 25, 1854; Amelia R., July 9, 1858. Mr. Decker's father has about 112 living descendants, principally in this country.
As one of the leading agriculturalists of this County, and a gentleman altogether worthy the position, we present the portrait of Mr. Decker in connection with this sketch.