Sunday, February 17, 2013
John H. DECKER 1881-1953 (?)
When setting out to establish my dad’s family background I discover my mom has a copy of his birth certificate which gives the name of his father and mother. With that information in hand I head out to NARA and learn how to look up people in the 1920 census. Once the index has been searched, a match identified, microfilm loaded into the machine, I begin scrolling the pages looking for grandpa. A few whirs and clicks later there he is - his name jumping out at me. I’m amazed, I actually found him and there before me another group of my family is revealed.
My great grandfather, John H. DECKER lived with his wife, Lola and six children in Long Point Livingston, Illinois according to the U.S. Census from 1910-1930. He harvested grain on a rented farm, where his oldest sons helped him with the labor. John was 25 and Lola 21 when they got married around 1907. The exact date and place is not yet know, as the marriage record hasn’t yet been located. Both sets of parents for John and Lola immigrated to the U.S. sometime before they were born. My great grandparents were educated, both could read and write, Grandpa John completed the 5th grade and Grandma Lola completed the 8th grade. In 1930 the family owned a radio set, the importance of this to me means they weren’t isolated since they were able to hear the news and be entertained by music or radio shows. This is also good to know since I was unable to locate other DECKER or GUSTAFSON families living close to them. A change occurs in 1940, the family is now living in Evans, Marshall, Illinois, again on a rented farm harvesting grain, and four children remaining in the home.
In 1918 my grandfather registered for the World War I draft. It’s here I learn he is of medium height and build with dark gray eyes and light brown hair. Since he was 36 when he registered this may have prevented him from serving in the war, as the 1930 census states he isn’t a veteran. That registration card also gives me his birthdate 2 Nov 1881 in Woodford County, Illinois. Another draft registration is found for WWII. More wonderful information is gleaned; his middle name is Harm, height, 5’ 10”, 265 lbs., ruddy complexion, and gray hair – if I could only create a picture from this information.
Several questions still remain about Grandpa John. Where is he in 1900? I’ve found some possibilities but haven’t firmly established who’s mine. At the time I didn’t know who his parents were; I found one possibility but determined that it wasn’t the correct link. When and where did he pass away and where is he buried? Where and when was he married to Lola GUSTAFSON? When did his parents immigrate to the U.S? In Ancestry.com a family tree has given me a death year, and family information, but I want to verify if this is correct.