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A Texas State Historic Cemetery
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APPLICATION FOR TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TEXAS

Submitted by

Nevaire Gambrell Richardson

For

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY ASSOCIATION

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY

Submitted by Nevaire Gambrell Richardson

February 23, 2005

    Decker Prairie Cemetery is located in the southwest corner of Montgomery

County, Texas on land granted to Isaac Decker by The Republic of Texas and

issued to him by the Board of Land Commissioners, Montgomery County, on

March 1, 1838, bearing Certificate No. 248.1a 1b   Exact location of cemetery is

shown on Hodge Mason Map of Montgomery County, Isaac Decker Abstract 166.2

    Isaac Decker3 and his wife, Deborah, and their five children came to

Texas from Michigan in 1834. On February 18, 1835, his name appears on the

Stephen F. Austin Register of Families Making Application for Land.4 He states

his occupation as "Boot & Shoe Maker". Failing to receive a land grant for

the Austin Colony, he subsequently made application for Ben Milam's Colony,

changing his occupation from shoe maker to farmer. 5

    On March 17, 1835, he received a Mexican Government Land Grant in

Travis County (640 acres), title issued by Talbot Chambers, Commissioner for

Ben Milam.6 , 6a "This league bordered the Colorado River from the mouth of

Barton Creek in the west to the mouth of Blunn Creek to the east. Its southeastern

border reached to Williamson Creek, near IH-35. The southwestern

corner was approximately where Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road now meet"

(in Austin, Texas). Hostile Indians in the area made the Decker Family desirous

of moving nearer the Gulf Coast. (See Ex. 5, page 2, last paragraph)

    1 Headright Certificate No. 148 granted by The Republic of Texas, Board of Land Commissioners, Montgomery County, issued to I saac Decker, dated March 1,1838. Labor of land (177 acres) described in attached survey, dated April 27, 1841; File 263, Harris County. (Enclosed as Ex.l)

    2 Hodge Mason Map of Montgomery County, revised February 29, 2004. (Enclosed as Ex. 2 )

    3 Photograph of Isaac Decker. Courtesy great-great grandson, E. Wheeler Coe. (Enclosed as Ex.3)

    4 Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families by Villame Williams, 1984; Memorandum of Applications for Land in Austin's Colony, page 9. (Enclosed as Ex.4)

    5 State of Texas Archives http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/findmilam.html also find Isaac Decker.html. (Enclosed as EX.5)

    6 Mexican Government Land Grant in Travis County to Isaac Decker, dated March 17, 1835. (Enclosed as Ex.6)

 

DECKER PRAI RIE CEMETERY     Page 2

    In 1838, he settled down on prairie land (177 acres) granted to him by

The Republic of Texas in Montgomery County, north of Spring Creek. He

established a home and engaged in his trade as a tanner and shoe cobbler.

During the Civil War, he supplied horse harnesses and shoes for the Confederate

Army.

    He and his wife, Deborah, had eleven children. After Deborah's death,

he married three other wives: Ann J. Harrel, a widow (m.1849); Elsie Burnett,

a widow (m.1854); and Susan Ewbanks, a widow (m.1869), who also became his

widow.7   He fathered twenty-two children (including three sets of twins) and

has many descendents still living in the Decker Prairie Area. 8

In .1841, David G. Burnet, President of The Republic of Texas, appointed

Isaac Decker a Commissioner for Spring Creek County. 9 The county was

declared unconstitutional and abolished a year later.

    In 1852, he purchased additional acreage in the area, deeded to him by

Simon Jones, Assignee of John Moore, (Abstract No. 361).10   A small community

known as Decker Prairie came into being and continues to be arbitrarily defined

as an area bounded by Decker Branch to the North; Spring Creek to the South

at the Montgomery/Harris County Line; Mill Creek to the East at Pinehurst;

and Walnut Creek to the West. This area is "boxed-in with a black line" on

the 2004 Tomball Chamber of Commerce Area Map.l l

    7 Marriage License and Certificate: Isaac Decker to Susan Ewbanks, dated
    May 15, 1869. Deeds and Records Book 4, Page 46, Montgomery CountyCourthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex.7)

    8 Welcome to Tomball, A History of Tomball, Texas by Lessie Upchurch;
    pages 29-31;
    D. Armstrong Co., Inc., Houston, TX; 1976. (Enclosed as Ex.B)

    9 Montgomery County History 1981, Compiled and Edited by Montgomery County Genealogical Society, Inc., pages 16-17. (Enclosed as Ex.9)

    10 Deed of Trust from Simon Jones, Assignee of John Moore, to Isaac Decker,conveying Land Certificate of John Moore No. 365 for 640 acres of land (Abstract No. 361). Deeds and Records Vol. S, Page 1, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex. 1 0)

    11 2004 Tomball Chamber of Commerce Area Map. (Enclosed as Ex. 11 )

     

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY            Page 3

    A burial ground for family members was set aside by Isaac Decker near his

homeplace which was located off Wright Road on property now owned by

Richard and Anna Pender (see Exhibit 2). The earliest marked grave (1873) is

that of Annie Coe, daughter of Victoria Decker Coe and Montgomery "Doc" Coe. 12

    Isaac Decker also died in 1873; 13 and in accordance with instructions contained

in his Last Will and Testament, directing that "my body be decently intered

in my own burring ground", he was laid to rest there. His original sandstone

grave marker was replaced, some years later, by a small granite marker. However,

a mistake was made in engraving the date of death (1879 instead of 1873).

This explains confusion noted in Black Box Probate Records. Now, a large,

correctly engraved tombstone marks the grave of Isaac Decker, who dedicated

land for this cemetery so many years ago. 14 All of his property and possessions

were bequeathed to his wife, Susan, and his beloved son, John.15

    In 1891, John Decker and wife Sallie, E. A. Boone and wife Susan (Decker)

Boone (widow of Isaac Decker)16,  Tom Randal and wife Ellen deeded the

property to Frank Josserand. 17   Between 1891 and 1950, the property changed

hands seven times, always with the exception of "about 1/2 acre in an enclosure

    12 Photograph of Annie Coe's grave stone. (Enclosed as Ex.12)

    13 Death Dates - Black Box Probate Records, Pages 7 and 46; Montgomery County Library, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex.13)

    14 Photograph of Isaac Decker's grave stone. (Enclosed as Ex.14)

    15 Last Will and Testament of Isaac Decker witnessed on December 27, 1869. Filed January 10, 1874. Application for probate filed February 15, 1874 by Susan Decker. Probate Record Book #13 Minutes. page 420, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex.15)

    16 Marriage License, dated December 12, 1877, and Certificate of Marriage, dated January 15, 1878, joining Susan Decker and E. A. Boone. Deeds and Records, Book 3, Page 226, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex. 16 )

    17 Deed of Trust, dated June 4, 1891, from John Decker and wife Sallie; E. A. Boone and wife Susan; Tom Randal and wife Ellen to Frank Josserand. Deeds and Records Vol. 10, pages 579-582, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex. 17)

     

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY            Page 4

used as a cemetery, situated in the West portion of said 881 acres". 18   Billie

Pfeiffer (adjacent land owner) has in her possession deed search information

from Griffin Abstract Company, Inc., Conroe, Texas, which corroborates research

done at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, Texas, by members of the

Decker Prairie Cemetery Association.

    In 1960, the I/2 acre cemetery plus additional acreage was deeded to the

Decker Prairie Cemetery Association by Frank Pfeiffer and wife Billie. Metes and

Bounds of the 2.75 acre Decker Prairie Cemetery are clearly define in the Deed

of Trust. 20

    Entrance to the cemetery is obtained by traveling North from Spring Creek

Bridge 1.2 miles on SH 249 to stoplight at Decker Prairiel Hardin Store Road.

Turn left and travel .9 mile West to cemetery entrance on right hand side of

Decker Prairie Road (see Exhibit 10 and also map attached to Historic Texas

    18 Deed of Trust, dated July 15. 1891, from Frank Josserand to J. R. Laird Deeds and Records Vol. 10, pages 631-32, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe. TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
    Deed of Trust, dated September 27, 1918, from J. R. Laird to
    L. J. Dixon, Deeds and Records Vol. 98, pages 540-42, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
    Deed of Trust, dated February 21, 1920, from
    L. J. Dixon to A. Scott and wife. Deeds and Records Vol. 98, pages 408-09, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
     Deed of Trust, dated March 15. 1924, from A. Scott and wife to Charles J. Jebousek. Deeds and Records Vol. 107, pages 11 0-11, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
     Deed of Trust, dated May 8, 1937, from Charles J. Jebousek. Sr. to Charles Ward. Deeds and Records Vol. 198, pages 228-231. Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
    Deed of Trust, dated January 10, 1941, from Charles Ward and wife Judy to J. W. Wommack and Harry
    L. Kline. Deeds and Records Vol. 216, pages 202-04, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex.18)
    Deed of Trust, dated August 10, 1950, from J. W. Wommack and wife Zemma and Harry
    L. Kline and wife Sally to Frank Pfeiffer and wife Billie. Deeds and Records Vol. 301. pages 69-70, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as part of Ex. 18)
    19 Billie Pfeiffer's address and telephone number (see Ex.24).
    20 Deed of Trust, dated June 25, 1960, from Frank Pfeiffer and wife Billie to Decker Prairie Cemetery Association. Deeds and Records Vol. 484, pages 605-06, Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Enclosed as Ex.19)

     

DECKER PRAI RIE CEMETERY         Page 5

Cemetery Designation Application). The double-gates entry is clearly marked

with a metal archway inscribed "Decker Prairie Cemeteryll.21

    Since this is a privately owned cemetery, the double gates are kept locked.

Combination to the lock is given only to Cemetery Association Members. However,

a small metal gateway adjoining the main entrance provides public access to the

cemetery for those who wish to walk inside (see Ex.26). The area is enclosed

by a chain link fence (see Ex.26).

    The Decker Prairie Cemetery Association was formed in 1958. Constitution

and By-Laws for the Association were adopted on May 31, 1961. 22  An Employer

Association Identification Number 76-0274345 for tax exemption was issued to

the Association on April 11, 1989. 23

    Members of the Association meet annually. Officers of the Association meet

at other times throughout the year, as deemed necessary by the President. At

the General Membership Meeting, in addition to business and election of officers,

a brief Memorial Service is conducted for persons buried in the cemetery during

the past year. 24 Yearly dues are paid to the Association; and the Association

is responsible for upkeep of the cemetery. The Association presently has 114

member families.

    Persons requesting membership in the Association are accepted upon

approval of Officers of the Association. Members of the Association do not

purchase specific plots for burial; but every effort is made to satisfy a family's

wishes in time of bereavement.

    Decker Prairie Cemetery is located in close proximity (.4 mile) to the

Decker Prairie Community Building and Old Settlers Bar-B-Q Pavilion maintained

by Montgomery County.

    21 Photograph of Decker Prairie Cemetery Entrance. (Enclosed as Ex.20)

    22 Constitution and By-Laws of Decker Prairie Cemetery Association.(Enclosed as Ex. 21 )

    23 Letter from Internal Revenue Service. (Enclosed as Ex.22)

    24 Memorial Service Program, dated October 4, 1997. (Enclosed as Ex.23)

     

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY    Page 6

    The cemetery now contains 355 marked graves;, 35 reserved marked grave

sites; 1 grave marked in memory of Elbert A. Decker buried in Sue Cemetery

at Mill Creek; and 8 unmarked graves (recent burials). These graves will be marked in 2005.

    Descendants of Isaac Decker believe that there are some unmarked graves

of family members, dating back to the mid-1800's. Also, the Decker Prairie

Cemetery Association had no record of 8 names which appear on the Chaparral

Genealogical Society Canvass. We have discussed this matter with Terri Little,

a member of the Chaparral Genealogical Society; and we will continue to seek

information regarding these persons. At present, however, location of these

old graves and proof of interment is a matter of hearsay.

    29 United States Servicemen, representing 6 branches of the Service, are

buried in Decker Prairie Cemetery. 15 persons, representing 4 fraternal

organizations (Masons, Eastern Star, Knights of Columbus and Woodmen of the

World) are buried in the cemetery. Also, there is 1 engraved tombstone

reserved for another member of Eastern Star; and 1 engraved tombstone reserved

for a member of the Catholic Daughters of America. 25 In addition, the cemetery

contains a monument erected by "We the People of The State of Texas" in honor

of Richard Dewey Metcalf. 26

    The cemetery was canvassed and catalogued by Oveta and Horace Wright

on March 18, 1978 and their findings published in a booklet entitled Montgomery

County Cemeteries, copyright 1979. Also, it was canvassed by the Chaparral

Genealogical Society in 1983-85. 27   A more recent canvass was done by

Carl H. Sims in 1995 and updated in 2004. 28

    25 List of Servicemen, Fraternal Organizations and other special grave markers attached to Historic Texas Cemetery Designation Application.

    26 Photograph of Richard Dewey Metcalf's grave stone. (Enclosed as Ex.24)

    27 Montgomery County Cemeteries, Vol. 1, Decker Prairie Cemetery, pages 26-32 available upon request.
    Chaparral Genealogical Society Canvass available upon request.

    28 Canvass of Decker Prairie Cemetery by Carl H. Sims available upon request.

     

DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY        Page 7

    The cemetery was mapped by Joe Richardson and Tony Chennault. Jr ,

members of the Decker Prairie Cemetery Association. in 1990. This map is

kept updated by Joe Richardson and Carl Sims.29

    Adjoining land owners are shown on enclosed sketch with names. addresses

and telephone numbers confirmed on attached Montgomery County Appraisal

District Property Descriptions. 30

    Mailing address for the Decker Prairie Cemetery Association is as follows:

      Decker Prairie Cemetery Association
      % Mrs. Vernon Brown. Secretary
      27302 Decker Prairie Rosehill Road
      Magnolia. Texas 77355

    The cemetery is ' kept clean and mowed throughout the year. except when

the beautiful Texas Bluebonnets and other wildflowers are seeding. The

cemetery is considered a landmark in the community which also bears Isaac

Decker's name. 31

    We respectfully request your kind consideration of our application for a

Texas Historical Marker.

 

 

 

    29 Map of Decker Prairie Cemetery prepared by Joe Richardson and Tony Chennault. Jr. (updated 2004) available upon request.

    30 Sketch showing adjoining land owners with attached Montgomery County Appraisal District Property Descriptions. (Enclosed as Ex. 25)

    31 Additional photographs of Decker Prairie Cemetery. (Enclosed as Ex.26)

 

    DECKER PRAIRIE CEMETERY

    Montgomery County, Texas

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chaparral Genealogical Society Canvass of Decker Prairie Cemetery, 1983-85.

Harris County Survey Records. Isaac Decker Survey (Abstract 166) Property Description. File 263. (Exhibit 1)

Montgomery County Deed Records. Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX.
Book 4, Page 46 (Exhibit
1).
Vol. S, Page 1 (Exhibit 10).
Book 3, Page 226 (Exhibit 16).
Vol. 10, Pages 579-582 (Exhibit 17). Pages 631-632 (part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 98, Pages 540-542 (part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 107, Pages 110-111 (part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 198, Pages 228-231 (part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 216, Pages 202-204 (Part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 301, Pages 69-70 (part of Exhibit 18).
Vol. 484, Pages 605-606 (Pa rt of Exhi bit 18).

Montgomery County Genealogical Society, Inc. Montgomery County History, 1981. (Exhibit 9).

Montgomery County Library Black Box Probate Records, Conroe, TX. (Exhibit 13).

Montgomery County Probate Records. Probate Record Book #13 Minutes.

Montgomery County Courthouse, Conroe, TX. (Exhibit 15).

Montgomery County Texas Cemeteries, Vol. 1, Decker Prairie Cemetery, Pages 26-32; Copyright 1979.

State of Texas. Employer Identification Number: 76-0274345. (Exhibit 22).

Upchurch, Lessie. Welcome to Tomball, Texas. D. Armstrong Co., Inc., Houston, TX, 1976. (Exhibit8).

Williams, Villamae. Stephen.F. Austin Register of Families. (Exhibit 4)                

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