4. Some Bits of History|
of the Decker Family
By Wayne Decker|
a great grandson of Isaac Decker and Harriet Page Wheeler
Of the three women in the first company of “Mormon” pioneers who traveled from Winter Quarters to what is now the State of Utah, two were my kin. They are shown on a panel of the “This Is The Place” monument at the north of Emigration Canyon, together with the third lady of the party and the two boys, Lorenzo Sobieski Young and my grand-father Isaac Perry Decker.
The two Decker women were my great grandmother, Harriet Page Wheeler Decker Young and her daughter, my great aunt, Clara (Clarrisa) Decker Young. At the time of their arrival, Clara was the sixth wife of Brigham young and Harriet was the second wife of Brigham’s brother Lorenzo Dow Young.
Clara’s nineteenth birthday was July 22 1847, while they were entering the Valley. She had been married three years and three months. It would be two and a half years before she became a mother. She was born in 1828 of a 24-year-old mother and a 28-year-old father who already had three children-Lucy Ann 6, Charles Franklin 4, and Harriet Amelia 2.
Clara’s parents were intelligent, hard-working frontier people who were wholeheartedly “taming the west”. Land was comparatively cheap the further west you went. If you were a hard expierced worker, you could clear the land, build a house. raise some crops, some stock. and some children. When the “spread” was complete, you could sell it as a going concern, pack up your family and go further west with sufficient capital to take on a larger project.
Her father, Isaac Decker had been successful by the time he married the village school teacher in Phelps, Ontario, N.Y. about 150 miles northwest of his birthplace, Taghkanic, Columbia N.Y. which is about 50 miles south of the present Albany. How many stops he made between his birth place and Phelps, I don’t know, but a few months before Clara’s birth he moved to Freedom, Cattaraugus, N.Y. about 80 miles southwest of Phelps. Here be lived for about 6 years during which the youngest daughter, Fanny Maria, was born April 24 1830, before moving on to Portage
County Ohio. Because no town is mentioned, I surmise he had taken a considerable ranch project by this time.
It was here in 1833 that the Deckers joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All though I have no proof of it I think Lorenzo Dow Young may have been the missionary in the case, which may explain the tremendous friendship that lasted between these two men. The records do show that Dow was doing missionary work in New York State at that time.
Clara’s father continued to acquire and develop property, after 1833 but the vicissitudes and movement of the Church dictated his direction. I presume that the Deckers had been somewhat exposed to “Mormonism” for ten years or so having lived within a very few miles of the Hill Cumorah, Joseph Smith. Brigham Young and other names and places associated with the early church.
Historian-Biographer Orson F. Whitney says of Clara: “She was always a delicate child, being afflicted with asthma from her earliest years. Until she reached the age of ten, her fond parents had scarcely any hope of rearing her.” He continues, “When she was not quite three years old, (a month before her sister Fanny was born), she met with a fearful and well nigh fatal accident, the painful details of which can scarcely be read without a shudder. It was a day in March. Her father was busy chopping wood in the woodshed, when little Clara, who was nearly always at his heels, toddled out to where he was working. She drew near unobserved, as he was bending over, intent on the task, and as he raised the ax to strike, ran right under it. Before he could prevent it the blow descended, nod terrible to tell, almost cleft the skull of the little innocent, who fell to the ground, as the horrified parent supposed, dead. Half - insane with grief, he bore her to the house, where the startled and stricken mother and family shared his sorrow and despair. A young surgeon chanced to be living with the family, so that immediate care was at hand, although life was then deemed extinct. Seizing upon the forlorn hope that possibly the child might not be dead, but only stunned, it being discovered that the thick matting of the little woolen
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