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Michael Decker Children Letters

These letters were transcribe by & received from a descendant of Angeline (Decker) Kniskern, and date from the period of the Civil War to 1889.  They are letters sent amongst the children of Michael Decker and Elizabeth Bovee, mainly living in the Town of Berne, Albany Co., New York.

Letters are in PDF format and will open in a new window.

Letters 1 & 2

Scanned letters 1 & 2 belong together and are combined into one pdf.

Letter 1 was enclosed in envelope postmarked Washington DC, May 24, & appears 1862, but could easily be 1865.  Envelope is addressed to Miss Angeline Decker, South Berne, Albany.


Letter 1 is dated March th 17, and starts with ďmy dear sisterĒ and also states ďI have been a soldier for 17 daysĒ, and Wm H. Decker enlisted on March 1, 1865.


Letter 2 is dated March th 18, and starts with ďI will try to finish my letterĒ and appears signed by W.H.Decker.  Letter 2 also references ďlet Anngeline see thisĒ so, not sure which sister was intended recipient.







U.S. Christian Commission

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief


(below was handwritten)


Dismounted Camp March th 17




Dear Sister I now

steel the opertunity to rite a

few lines to you to let you know

How I get along   I am well at present

and hoping these few lines will find

you the Same    Soldiers life

agrees with me first rate 

I have ben a soldier 17 days 

I started from Lockpoart the 3

of this month and Enlisted The 1

 so I had about  ? 1-1/2  furlo and came

to Elmira and stayed There over

one week and then started

for the front   we got on the

?cars at 4 oclock In the afternoon

and got to Baltimore the next day

about noon and Then went


to the Bull  ?pen and stayed till

about 4 oclock In the afternoon

and Then went to the Boat   we

wasent alowed to go a step with

out a gard tide to us    we rode

on the Boat all that night and

all the next day and all of the

next night Ė till the next day

at noon and then we reached

City Point but the worst of

all we had to take Deck pasage


and had to sleep ?out on

Deck   one night  It rained all


?Sorts and The most of the

Poor Buggers had to lay out

In It but I sliped (slipped) clear of that 

I went and crawled under


some ?plank and kept dry 

I tell you It Is a site to


See the  ?monakers and gun

Boats on The river and the



foarts along The way    we came


by ?farxns  ?xanro and the boat

Stoped there about two hours

but we wasent alowed to get off of the

Boat   we brought 20 Diserters down

with us and two of them was

sentenced to be Shot to day

last night when The Soldiers came

 to this camp from city Point

we came along the lake Shore


and there ?Layed dead Horses

and in one hollow There was

too dead men of all Smells I

ever saw    that coped all   I tell

you It made a feller think

of Home.  I have to go And Drill 

I have got through Drilling

and I will try and finish my


?Epistle to you   this is the first

day I have ben on Drill and

I can Drill as well as the best


of them    we  ?havnt got mounted

yet so we have to Drill

on Foot   yesterday when we

Were to City point there were


about 100 ?xxx came and

give them Selves up   I tell you

these are a ruff looking Set 

they raged (ragged?) and Dirty as the

ground    I will tell you

what rations I draw here   last night I


drawed ?hardtack Pork and coffee


Sugar and I have jest ?bers and

Drawed a ration of Soft Bread   we

Have plenty Such as It Is    I donít

grumble at It any way    I Expect

we will draw our arms to morrow

and I will have Some photographs

taken and will Send you one  

I went to the Commisioners (commissary?) for

this paper   It donít cost me

any thing and that is cheap.









U.S. Christian Commission

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief


(below was handwritten)


March  th    18


I will try to finish my letter 


I have jest been a walking   I got


through ?the ?good Season for ?It  xx 


?11 oclock yet  ?I donít think you could


 bear that   If you tride to get up


and get your breakfast and get


through walking by that time.  I


Have to cook my own grub. 


I tell you how we cook our grub


we have to go down on the The Bank


and build a fire beside a ?Stump


and boil our coffee In a cup and our


?meat we roste on a Stick   to day


We ?draw ?Potatoes and Beans and


Unions    I am going to draw my


arms In a few ?minutes  day before


yesterday   There was a man Sent on


gard and he went and got ?an


ax and cut His arm half off




He thought he would get his


Discharge but he will get fooled


and then he ?jumped in the ?backhouse


?and then he went to the river


and ?tolerated he was going to hang


Him Self  There was ?3 men Standing


rite by him but However he give


that up and then he was going to


Dround himself so He jumped


In and went to the bottom and


?Struck his arm In the ?mud and


he would ?stuck there till this


time if they hadent Pulled him


out  he Is to the Hospitle  now 


there was a little ?fireing up


the river Last night.  I canít


think of any thing more at present


?Let Anngeline see this   tell her


to rite to me


Direct     W. H. Decker

Dismounted Camp near city

Point   xx xx New York


Letter 3 (Envelope)



post stamp impossible to read

Letter 4

(Updated 1/27/10)


Letter 4

Letter written by Lucius H. Decker to Angeline, and appears written from Pine Hill (where heíd enlisted).

 The following was handwritten:

 Pine Hill

October the 1, 1862

 Dear Sister (s?)

 It is with pleasure that I have the

 opportunity of writing to you once more to inform

 you that I am well at present and hoping these

 few lines will find you enjoying the same

 blessing    I left our rigiment Six weeks ago last

 Sunday on the recruiting Servise   I have had very

 good luck a recruiting    I have sent some Twenty

 to washington to be forwarded to the rigiment. 

 our rigiment had Some Seven hundred and fifty

 men when I left and now I find out To day

 by the papers that we have Some eighty Seven

 left.  So you can Judge for yourself what they

 have had To stand before  They have been in Seven

 battles since I left   among them that was killed

 was Jerrymiah Townes   Richard Hammond was wounded

 and John Haines is wounded and I regret To Say

 that we lost our best man in the rigiment

 and that was our Colonel George W Pratt

 and we lament his loss    he died ?to   Albany ?to

  his fatherinlaw    Minard was in Some four

 battles   he was wounded in the battle ?to  bulls run 

 he was wounded in the thigh with a musket ball

 and a piece of a shell glasing him along the

 head    I got a letter from him two or three days

 ago    he stated that he was in New York City in

 the hospitle    he stated that he was gitting long smart

 from his wound    Cathrine and the children are

 all well    I Should think that you would write her a

 letter for She says that you have not wrote to her

 this Sumer    She thinks that you have forgot that

 you have a sisterinlaw in ?ulster    so I want you to

 write to her for it will be some consolation to her

 and the children to hear from you once and xxxx 

 Minard stated that he should be home on a furlow

 for twenty days as soon as he got his pay   I think

 that I Shall be out to See you in about two weeks

 if nothing happens   I had a letter from Samuel  ?J  

 and mother    they were all well    John & Sarah was well 

 I want you to write to mary Ett and Foster and

 tell them how Minard is    Tell Wesley to write

 to me    I should wrote to him but I did not know

 whare to direct the letters to him    Please write as soon

 as you git these few lines     Direct to Pine Hill Ulster

 Cty NY. 

 Give my love to all inquiring friends

Sergent L H Decker

To Angeline E Decker


Letter 5

(Updated 1/27/2011)


 Letter 5


Letter starts with ďto my dear sister and brotherĒ

and is signed: from Mary E F  to A E K


(Mary Etta Decker Foster to sister Angeline E. Decker Kniskern & perhaps brother-in-law John C. Kniskern; Angeline married John Calvin Kniskern in March, 1864)


[Aunt Sarah referenced is likely the sister of Elizabeth Bovee, Sarah Bovee Decker Ingraham.  Sarah married Michael Decker's brother Jacob P. Decker, then remarried after his death.  - Lonnie]


(below was handwritten)


Pierrepont Manor Jefferson County NY


November  (15?)

My dear sister and

brother I take the

Earliest opportunity

of acknowledgeing the receipt

of your letter wich I received

with pleasure finding me and


my family well and hope these

few lines will find you

the same   I was well pleased to

hear you was coming out hear 

now donít fail to come   rite when

you will be to the manor and we

will meet you their    I shall be

dis pointed if you donít come


?rachel makes great ?recovery on


her mother ?comeing.  Angeline


I should think mother might


come and make a good long visit 


I am drying ?Applies    I have got


14 bushel and a half dride to day

we have got up five bushel    I shall

dry from 20 to 25 bushel    it is

ten o clock and foster is to bed


(left margin=) tell aunt sarah to be sure

(last line on page=) and come



and you must excuse poor riting

for I am verry tiard and sleepy now   be


sure and come    I am going to ? richland


to stay a week    rachel and Cornelia


is a going to And we want you

to come as soon as you can to go

with us   Cornelia says I must tell

you she enjoys herself first rate


and would enjoy herself better if


you was hear   we are looking for


Angeline ?hoic and William


Henry    they rote that they was

comeing last month but they

have not come yet  I hope you will


not dissapoint us   rite  just as soon


as you get this without fail    

I must close for this time 

give my respects to all my

friends    tell lodema I have

riten to her three times since

I got a letter from her    next time


I shall rite to her ?man and then


I believe I shall get an ansswer. 


bring your ?man likeness for me 


tell ?dena to send me her ?man   (niece Denie b. 1860?)

then when you go home she shall

have ours.  tell mother to come and

live with ?me   she might jest as


(in right margin=) well as to ?keep house     from Mary E ?F  to A E K



 (in left margin=) tell wesley to rite to me.  I donít know where to direct to him.

Letter 6

(Updated Transcription 1/31/2011)

Scan 6, envelope & letter


Envelope appears dated xEC (Dec.) x1, 1862, stamped Washington DC, and is addressed to Miss Angeline E. Decker, So. Berne, Albany, NY


Although letter is not dated and appears to reference ďthis fallĒ,  itís possible the envelope date is correct for the mailing of this letter.


Letter handwritten by Minard to Angeline on preprinted service stationary.


Capitol, U.S.

Co.  K20    Regt ______ Volunteers, Camp Upton Hill Wadworth


below is handwritten


Minard Decker to his sister Angeline

Esther Decker   my dear sister I now take

my pen in hand to in form you how

and where I am   I am in virginnia a

five hundred and fifty miles from you 

I thought you had heard that news by L. H. Decker

Decker (TWICE) letters Because he said he had sent

Letters home to you or I should have

written to you Before This Time

excuse This writing bad writing (TWICE) and

Bad spelling Because my hand ant (AINíT)

XXX yet    I have been sick ten weeks 

I am in the hospital yet and donít

and donít (TWICE) know how much longer

 I had the tyfoid fever and a hard time

of it when I got so that I went out doors

and I caut a hevy cold and then it went through

with me for some time   But now I have

Cronic plurasy in my side    But I am

getting Better and go out doors in

good weather  the weather

is fine and pleasant   the ground has

just Been Covered with shnow and

that is all    I have been in the

City of washington and was there two

Weeks   it is a fine place as can be


In America and then we cross the

patomac river on the ?main Bridge

in the state of virginnia   I donít see

nothing But soldiers for miles a

round the country   it is a site to see them 

My uniform is as good as new

and I have a new suit in of close

I think that uncle sam does well By

me    to suit of close in in (TWICE) four month 

I have letters from home every week 

my wife and Children are well

and do ing well at present   I like

it well in the army   we expect to

have a fight in a few day with

the rebels and I hope that I shall

to hve get well so that can have a hand

in that ?pie.  I Bougth the other day

a box of paper and drawed a gold locket

worth two dollars and if you will come

and see ?us this ?fall you shall have it 

it is very nice   I hope these few lines

will find you enjoying the same

Blesing and we will see ?carefree


If I live we will return in a

In short time to new york    we

are york state malitia and By

law they canít keep us But three

month and ten day out of the

state    my Dear sister since

I left new york I have Been

in five diferent states New jersey

pennsylvania Dellaware and

marryland and the Distric of columbia

and virginnia   I want you to

write as soon as you get this

letter    I wrote a letter to Wes Decker

ant (?AINíT) got no answer yet   donít you

forget your Brother and he will

not forget you    you will hear from

me soon    I have had three months pay

and my wife has got thirty dollars

of it    I give ten dollars a month 

I am getting tired out and I must

Come to a ?close   Remember the

locket so good buy.


Minard Decker

Angeline Decker


Letter 7

(Updated 1/27/2011)


Letter 7

Letter is dated February the 6th and appears on army stationary and appears to have been written by Minard. 

 (below was hand written)

 Upton Hill Camp Wadsworth  Febuary the 6


My dear sister

I received your

letter the sixth of the present month

and was glad to hear from you

and the rest of the family that

you where all well and in good health

as for good health I have not got 

my health is poor and I donít know

when I shall be any better and

I dare not go home in this cold

weather for I could not stand it 

it rains all the time in these part 

if I was in york state I should freeze

 I have been writing home to day

But ?canít finish it yet for I was

waitting to get one from you

to let them know how you get along 

I am looking every day for a letter

from Mary Ett   I wrote her a letter

and it was two sheet and a half and

it was a good one   you may believe

I put in it all that I could think of

and more Besides   I bet it made her

laugh    but my ?hand is to thick to

day to write much for I have such

a bad cold that I cant write and the

tent is full of Boys and make so

much noize that my head is upside down

and donít think ?hard if I write a short

letter for I donít know what to tell

you   Lucius came last night and

read your letter and was glad

to hear you got his letter and

monney all safe for he was afraid

that you would not git it    he is

well and fat as a bear and likes the army

 in march whe get our pay again

the six or seventh   I think he will

send you more monney then   he may

as well help you as to spend it needless

for it must Be hard times out there

and nothing to do and no work to

be had for I know them parts and

if I hadnt went to war I should

 ?found hard times of it for last summer

work was scarce and none to be had

and only fifty cents a day   I never

work for that price be fore last

summer since I have live in ulster

county   But when this war ends

times will be better   I left my monney

in kingston bank ten dollars a month

for my family ?use and they can

live like pigs in a corn field and

wear good close if they take pains to

keep them well patch and mended

up    I left forty bushels of potatoes

and five tons of hay and a lot of corn

for I had a good garden as any other man

 Tell mother that she must not

 give up smoking ?yet (or, ďjustĒ) stick to it

 and run the risk of tobacco and

 pipes and if the fire goes out  ?thake (take?)

 match and lite it.  there is more than one way to the woods   I now I should like to see mother and all the rest of the family and sit down and take a smoke and I want william to ?be a good

 girl and go to school and learn

 his Book and be good to mother

and mind her   tell lodemy that

I wish her mutch Joy for one

year and then a Boy and then

name it after her Brother

m decker and then I kow (know) that

it would be hansome   tell deme

that I should like to see her   

I ant seen her in ten or eleven

 weeks ?an  ?ny when you get married

in vite me to the wedding and I will

come and ?fetch a ?cag of power and ride ?se imilton

 (ends abruptly, no signature)


Letter 8

(Updated Transcription 1/31/2011)

Scan 8, envelope and letter


Envelope is dated May 1, postmarked Sterling, and addressed to Miss Hattie Kniskern, Knox, Alb ?PO, NY


Letter was written by Wesley Decker to niece Hattie Kniskern and is clearly dated April 28th, 89 (1889).  This was 6 months prior to Hattieís Oct 1889 marriage to Charles Deitz.  Wesleyís referenced ďlast visitĒ to Hattieís pa (John Calvin Kniskern) was 9 months before the death of his sister and Hattieís mother, Angeline.


(below was handwritten)


Ogden April 28th   89


Dear niece

This day finds

me seated to drop a few lines

to you to let you no that I

am in the land of the living

and well with the exceptions

a bad cold   it is very nice

wether here and a verry busy

time seading (SEEDING?)   I would like

to drop in to see you all but

canít this summer   it was 20 years

ago last march that I was at your

house whare your pa now lives 

you was a small girl  how time

slips   it donít seem over five years   

hattie why donít you take a

run up and see me when you

go out to see brother will   

it ?haint but a little ways 

it takes only about thirty


hours ride.  I had a letter

from will   he said that

Eva was verry low  didnít think

that she would ever be any

better   I havenít herd a word

from my buoys since wone year ago this spring  arther wrote

to me & I answered it & that is

the last I have herd of them   arther was living in South Berne

 &  lucius was living in the town of Renssellaer ville   donít know whare

they are at present   wish you

would go to see the buoys when

you get time   would like to see your father and all the rest

of the folks   you think your father

is gitting old   I was 53 years the

23 third of last december & I donít

think that I am old  think

that I will live to be one hundred 

Excuse poor wrighting &

Bad spelling.


Canít think of any more at

present    Hoping these

few lines will find you

Well    Wright Soon   I

Ever Remain your Uncle



to Hattie Niskern


Direct as before

Sterling Arenac ?PO 




January 31, 2011