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Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 3/13/2011 at 09:57:45

Jacob E. Decker & Decker Packing Plant
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

In 1896-97, John T. RICHARDS (1837-1903) built a meat packing plant along the Winnebago River in the northern portion of Mason City. Jacob E. DECKER and his son Jay began renting the RICHARDS plant on July 4th of 1899.

Jacob and Jay DECKER purchased the RICHARDS plant for $6,000 in 1901 and established the Jacob E. DECKER & Sons Meat Packing Company. This plant provided a thriving business for the DECKERS and greatly boosted Mason City's economy. At one tme, the plant employed 1,3000 people.

1910 Biography of Jacob E. Decker

The business community of Cerro Gordo county as a valued acquisition in the person of Jacob E. DECKER, who is the executive head of the well known corporation of Jacob E. DECKER & Sons. This corporation succeeded to the business of the Mason City Packing Company, of which John T. RICHARDS was president and which initiated the business about the year 1897, when operations were instituted upon a modest scale. The present plant was largely erected and equipped by the present owners, who have found it necessary to augment the facilities from time to time to meet the constantly increasing demands placed upon the establishment.

The plant now has a capacity for the handling of one thousand hogs daily, besides about fifty head of cattle and a relative number of sheep and calves. The firm represents one of the most important industrial enterprises in Cerro Gordo county and it affords employment to an average of more than one hundred men in addition to the regular office force and corps of traveling representatives, of which latter the number is usually about twelve.

Branch houses are maintained in Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota. In the earlier stages of the business its functions were confined to the slaughtering and handling of hogs only, but with the development of the facilities for the handling of cattle, sheep and calves, the enterprise has inured greatly to the benefit of the stock growers of this section, as well as to those engaged in the retail meat trade.

All of the buildings of the plant, as at present constructed, were erected by Jacob E. DECKER and they afford an aggregate floor space of nearly 100,000 square feet.

The corporation is absolutely independent in its operations and its products are sold directly to retailers in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and Montana, besides which carload shipments are made to nearly all of the large cities in the United States, with especially large trade in Texas. The export business of the corporation is likewise expanding in scope.

The company manufactures the celebrated Elk brand of ham and bacon. The officials of this important concern are as here noted:

Jacob E. DECKER, president; Jay E. DECKER, vice-president; Ralph W. E. DECKER, secretary and treasurer; Edmund R. DUNLAP, sales manager.

Jacob E. DECKER, president of the corporation of Jacob E. DECKER & Sons, was born at Neuweid Prussia, on the 1st of April, 1849, and in 1852 he came with his parents on their removed to America. He is a son of Louis and Ann (BOECKING) DECKER, the former of whom died in the city of Chicago, in 1899, at the patriarchal age of ninety-four years, and the latter of whom died at Buffalo, New York, when sixty-two years of age. After coming to America, Louis DECKER established his home in the city of Buffalo, New York, where he engaged in the pork-packing and butchering business, in which he there continued until his final retirement from active labor. The enterprise which he established so many years ago is still continued by his son Albert.

Jacob E. DECKER gained his early education in the public schools in the city of Buffalo, but he early assumed practical responsibilities, as he began to serve as a driver on the towpath of the Erie canal when but twelve years of age. Shortly afterward he ran away from home and began sailing on the Great Lakes, while later he followed sea-faring life on the ocean for a time. During the season of closed navigation of the Lakes, he worked in packing houses and in the connection he recalled with no slight pleasure the fact that when he was thus employed by the Swift & Company of Chicago, they did not handle to exceed two carloads of cattle a day and that he was with the Armour Company when that great concern considered the butchering of four hundred and eighty head of cattle in a single day a large output.

Mr. DECKER continued to sail on the Great Lakes during the summer seasons for a period of seventeen years and through his identification with the packing houses in the winter seasons he obtained a thorough knowledge of all the details of the business.

In 1873 he initiated independent operation as a provision dealer in Chicago. He also began the slaughter of hogs and increased the scope of his operation as his capital justified.

It should be recalled that he was superintendent of a packing house before he had attained his legal majority and in view of his occupation it is also interesting to recall that his ancestors on the maternal side largely followed the sea-faring life and that his father's family were long identified with the butchering and general meat business in Prussia.

Mr. DECKER developed his plant in Chicago until it had a capacity for handling five hundred hogs and one hundred head of cattle daily.

He disposed of his interests in the business in 1897 and two years later he came to Mason City, Iowa, to establish a packing plant and thereby provide a business opportunity for his sons. The outcome of this plan is shown in the extensive and important business controlled by the corporation of which he is president.

In 1907, at a convention of the organization held in the city of Chicago, Mr. DECKER was made an honorary member of the American Meat Packers Association.

He is a staunch Republican in politics, has served as a member of the city council in Mason City from 1901 to 1905 inclusive, and in the office of water commissioner he gave the most effective service in rehabilitating the local water system. He is essentially liberal and public spirited in his attitude and is held in unqualified esteem in the city that now represents his home.

He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, including the commandery in the city of Chicago, where he also holds membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine. He is also identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Royal League.

His wife and daughters are members of the order of the Eastern Star and his sons and son-in-law are all identified with the Masonic fraternity. Mrs. DECKER and her daughters are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

In the city of Chicago, on the 24th of September, 1873, Mr. DECKER was united in marriage to Miss Augusta SCHRAM, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They have two sons and two daughters. The two sons are officers of the corporation of the Jacob DECKER & Sons, as already noted; Maude L. is the wife of Edmund R. DUNLAP, sales manager of the company, and Miss Gertrude is a cultured musician and conservatory graduate and is now an instructor of voice culture and music at the Normal School at Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Transcriber's Note: Jacob E. DECKER served as one of the officers of Dodge's Point and Park Company of Clear Lake. He built a cottage on Dodge's Point.

E. R. BOGARDUS (1850-1927) came to Mason City as a child. A self-taught architect and contractor, he designed and built many of Mason City's notable buildings including a Neo-classical Mason City home for I. W. KEERL in 1894, located at 199 2nd Street SE. The home was later purchased by Jacob E. DECKER.

The home was later purchased (2002) by the Mason City Foundation and was renovated for over one million dollars as a bed and breakfast, which continues to be a popular getaway today.

The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

"Mason City History Timeline" Mason City Public Library

WHEELER, J. H. History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Vol. II. Lewis Publ. Co. Chicago. 1910.

The Globe Gazette, Mason City IA

Compilation by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2011

Jacob E. DECKER & Sons Packing Plant, Mason City, 1905

Jacob E. DECKER & DECKER Packing Plant, Mason City

Cerro Gordo Biographies maintained by Sharon R. Becker.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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