Pages 502-503, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




MARTIN L. DECKER, ex-Treasurer of Allen county, was born in Wallertheim, Darmstadt, Empire of Germany, December 8, 1837. He was born in the same house with his father, John A. Decker and with his grandfather. Both grandfather and father were wine growers, cultivating large farms planted to vineyards. John Decker was married to Philipina Weinheimer and Martin Luther was the third of eleven children. He emigrated to the United States in 1853 and, on his sixteenth birthday, arrived in La Salle county, Illinois. He crossed the Atlantic in the sailer Powhattan, bound from Rotterdam to New York, fifty-two days at sea. Young Decker stopped on a farm near Mendota, Illinois, and worked for wages three years. In 1856, in company with an uncle he immigrated to Iowa and then to Minnesota where, at Austin he ran a saw-mill till 1858. While in the mill he invented a machine for sawing eve-troughs, probably the first one in existence, but which was never patented nor followed up with a profit.

His entry to Kansas in 1858 was celebrated by the preempting of a piece of land near Goodrich, Linn county. In 1859, having sold his claim he crossed the line into Allen county and worked on a farm on the Osage, for Johnston Mann. In the spring of 1861 he enlisted in Company C,


Third Kansas cavalry, Colonel Montgomery. In 1862 the regent was disorganized and Company C was transferred to the 9th Kansas cavalry. In its periods of marching and counter marching this regiment visited Ft. Riley, Kansas; Ft. Gibson, Indian Territory; Kansas City, Trading Post, Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas; Little Rock, Ft. Smith, Duvall's Bluff and campaigned on the White and Mississippi Rivers. He was discharged from the service November 23, 1864, at Leavenworth, Kansas, having done his whole duty toward the flag of his adopted country.

December 8, 1864, Mr. Decker was married at Leavenworth city to Grace A. Thomas, who was born in England November 22, 1846. She was a daughter of Thomas H. Thomas and Mary Evans, the former a Welchman and the latter an English lady. The Thomas' came to Kansas in 1856, from New York State, and settled in Douglas county, near Lawrence.

After his marriage Mr. Decker farmed in Allen and Bourbon counties till the fall of 1867 when he removed to Leavenworth county, residing near Potter where he was a farmer and fruit grower till 1889. The latter year he returned to Allen county and purchased the Mann farm, in Osage township two and a half miles east of Bayard. He resided upon this tract three years, then located in the town of Elsmore and engaged with a son in merchandising. After a three years residence in Elsmore he removed to Iola to assume the duties of county Treasurer.

Mr. Decker has always affiliated with the Republican party. This political relation is a matter in which he feels much warranted pride. The succession of events in the past forty years has shown that party to have been right on all great questions and to be right is to be patriotic. After a contest of a few weeks Mr. Decker was nominated for County Treasurer in 1895 and was elected the same year. He took possession of the office in October of the next year and held it four years. His administration covered one smooth, unruffled and uneventful period of two terms and was one of the many clean and efficient ones of the past dozen years. He was seldom away from his office, was gentlemanly and obliging to all and guarded with jealous care the receptacle of the people's funds.

Mr. and Mrs. Decker's children are: Jesse P. Decker, of Elsmore; Emma, wife of John Amann, of Jefferson county, Kansas; Grant P. and Martin L. Decker Jr.; Thos. H. Decker and Isaac Decker, of Allen county; Henry F. Decker, late with the United States Volunteers in the Philippines. He enlisted in Battery F, Third Artillery, and served in the Cuban and Porto Rican campaigns. Spanish-American war, and later in Company F, 34th United States Volunteer infantry. Mary A., wife of R. Edward Glassel, residing in Joplin, Missouri; Elsie G., Ellen, Walter A. and John A. Decker. It will be observed that Mr. Decker has eight sons who, with himself, cast seven votes for William McKinley in 1900, being no doubt a record unequaled by any other family in Allen county.

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