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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  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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Levi M. Decker, one of the prominent farmers and well-known, substantial citizens of Shawnee County, whose portrait accompanies this sketch, resides on his well-improved farm in section 13, township 12, range 16, in Tecumseh township. He owns a large amount of land in this county, in Tecumseh and Dover townships and in and about Topeka, aggregating 280 acres. Mr. Decker was born near Paterson, New Jersey, January 5, 1837, and is a son of Martin W. and Mary (Bailey) Decker, who lived to the age of 85 and 78 years, respectively.

The Deckers came originally from Holland and were long established in Bergen County, New Jersey. By his first marriage Martin W. Decker had four children and eight by the second, the latter being: Mrs. Annis Maybe, deceased; Mrs. Elizabeth Wichem, deceased; John, deceased; Mrs. Rachel Holdrum, of New Jersey; Levi M., of this sketch; and Silas, Thomas and Mrs. Mary Jackson, of New Jersey.

Levi M. Decker remained on his father’s farm in Passaic County, New Jersey, until he was 23 years old and then went to Clinton County, Ohio, where he engaged in farming for seven years. During the Civil War he was a member of the State militia and assisted in driving the raider, Morgan, across the border. In 1866 he came to Kansas and bought his present home place, a tract of 160 acres which had been preempted by another party who had built a cabin but had done no clearing. The farm was still unbroken prairie, in its virgin state. Mr. Decker took possession of the cabin and broke the land with oxen and as soon as possible placed it under cultivation. He has improved his home place, made it one of the valuable farms of the township and erected a convenient and attractive residence. He has added to his possessions until he owns 280 acres, distributed somewhat as follows: 160 acres in section 13, township 12, range 16, and 40 acres in section 7, township 12, range 17, all in Tecumseh township; 80 acres in Dover town ship and more than 70 lots in the city and environs of Topeka. For the last 10 years he has directed his attention mainly to raising corn, hogs, cattle and horses.

In 1859 Mr. Decker was married to Mary Ann Hook, who was born in Ohio and was a daughter of Joseph and Rebecca Hook. She died on the home farm in Tecumseh township on May 12, 1885, aged 46 years. The eight children of this union are: Emma, who lives at home; Elvie, wife of Edward Reed, of Morris County, Kansas; Melvina, who lives at home; Alvin, of Kansas City; Mrs. Viretta Cox, a widow, of Monmouth township; and Louis, Nora and Myrtle. By a second marriage Mr. Decker has another daughter, Elsie, who also lives at home. Mr. Decker has been a life-long Democrat and cast his first presidential vote for James B. Buchanan.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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