Since I mentioned Susanna Hormel (mother to George A.) last week I thought I would give you a little background on her family, the Deckers.
Also of German heritage the Decker Family immigrated to the United States arriving on a ship called the Houghton on June 29, 1852. Ludwig Decker, Susanna’s father, was born in Neuwied, Germany in1806, “the only son of educated and well to do parents.” At age 15 he entered his obligatory 3 years of service in the military. He had hoped to return home to the family meat packing business following this stint but was selected to serve an additional term as a bodyguard for the King of Prussia, Frederick William III. “Only very tall, well built men were picked for the honored post,” reported by William Henry Hormel in Two Families Under One Flag.
Not much is recorded about Susanna’s mother, Emma (Anna) Marie Boecking (or Backing according to some records). She and Ludwig married in 1834 in Germany and had five surviving children. Her 1876 burial site was recently located in the Zion Cemetery in Buffalo. NY. The lengthy inscription on the tombstone tells about her life and says she had nine children.
During Ludwig’s military service he had the opportunity to travel throughout Germany. He developed a ‘wanderlust’ and wanted to see more of the world, and especially to see a free America. “He was of a very democratic spirit and craved more elbow-room, both for himself and for his family. He could not bear the thought of having his four sons undergoing the hard discipline of army life for future wars, and giving up the very best years of their young manhood,” described W.H. Hormel.
They sailed for six weeks reaching New York Harbor at the end of June. The ship register indicates that they traveled with a daughter and four sons as well as with an infant daughter who died during the voyage. The surviving daughter was Susannah Wilhelmina and her four brothers include Albert, Henry, Herman and Jacob-you will see these same names come up again in George’s family.
The Deckers continued in the meatpacking business in America and were very influential in young George A.’s life as you will learn in future articles. Ludwig Decker died in May of 1899 in the Austin Neighborhood of downtown Chicago, Illinois after spending five years there with his son and grandchildren. George A. and his brother the Rev. William Henry served as pallbearers with their cousins.