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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BARNEY DECKER. In a volume dedicated to the pioneers of the county, the full meed of praise and respect should be given to the gentleman whose name introduces these paragraphs and who was one of the sturdy and heroic pioneers of western Michigan, Somewhat retired from the active business cares which crowded him in life’s prime, he still maintains a constant interest in all matters relating to the welfare of Cass County, and has contributed his quota to its progress. At present he is living in his rural abode on section 21, La Grange Township.

The father of our subject, Frederick Decker, was a native of New Jersey, where he was reared to manhood upon a farm. In that State he married Miss Anna Barney and soon afterward removed to New York, where he settled in a heavily timbered portion of Ontario County Building a small log cabin, he and his wife commenced house-keeping on a modest scale, and he devoted his attention to clearing and cultivating the tract of forty acres which he had purchased. Of his marriage, the following-named children were born: Catherine, Hannah, Ama, Jane, Pamelia, Grant, Barney and Stacey. In his religious belief, the father of this family was a member of the Baptist Church He remained in New York until his death, which occurred when the subject of this notice was a lad of ten years. The wife and mother lived for many years following the death of her husband, and attained to the advanced age of eighty-eight, having made her home during her later years with our subject.

Orphaned at the age of ten years, Barney Decker was forced to become self-supporting at an age when most boys are interested only in sport and studies. For a time he worked by the month, and at first received only $5 per month, but his wages were gradually increased as the value of his services was enhanced. He spent his childhood years in his native place, Ontario County, N. Y., where his birth had occurred on the 20th of September, 1813. When less than twenty-six years old he was married, in March, 1839, to Miss Martha, daughter of Robert and Rebecca (Henderson) Wilson, natives respectively of Pennsylvania and Virginia. They settled in an early day in Franklin County, Ohio, where their daughter Martha was born. Mr. Decker and his estimable wife were the parents of three children: Erskine; Florella, Mrs. John Morris, deceased; and Isabelle, who died at the age of twenty-four years, Religiously, Mr. and Mrs. Decker are identified with the Presbyterian Church and are active workers in religious enterprises. Politically, Mr. Decker is a Democrat and is devoted to the welfare of his party.

At the time our subject came to Cass County in 1838, he purchased seventy-four acres of heavily timbered land, situated one-half mile from Cassopolis. In order to purchase the land he was obliged to incur an indebtedness of $425, but as he was energetic and industrious he was enabled to discharge the debt a short time afterward. He has engaged extensively as a dealer in land, and at the present time is the owner of five hundred and seventy- five acres, the greater part of which is under cultivation. In earlier years he endured all the vicissitudes of pioneer life, but he has lived to enjoy the present comforts and luxuries of life in Michigan and has reaped the reward of his labors.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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