Alexander Decker – Storekeeper of Blackwood

The History of Blackwood – Street names – ‘Decker Street’   

Compiled by Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical Society.  July 2018  ©

Decker Street runs off the Simmons Reef Road – the 2nd street on the left.

Alexander Decker was listed in the Post Office directories of 1868-1869 for Mount Blackwood, as a Storekeeper.  He is also listed in the 1870, 1884/85, and 1888/89 directories.   A photo of the General Store in Martin Street opposite the Blackwood Hotel shows the name Alex Decker on a board out the front of the building.

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Photo of Martin Street Blackwood with Blackwood Hotel on right and opposite is the General Store with the name of Alex Decker in front of roof.   Courtesy Barry Thurgood.

According to contact with some relatives of Alex Decker, he was a Loyalist and granted land in Nova Scotia, in North British America after the American War of Independence – mercenaries in 1780’s.  The family were descendant from the German Deckers, and he came by the United States and arrived in Australia from Nova Scotia age 21 yrs in 1844.

Alex Decker and the family owned several properties in Blackwood at one time. Other family information was Alex Decker was a butcher and storekeeper. Alex Decker also lived at Castlemaine.  Alexander Decker’s father was Joseph Decker, and his mother was Henrietta Meirs.

The first wife of Alex Decker was Rose Macken – married prior to 1852 and had 5 children. Rose Decker (nee Macken) died 1862 age 31 yrs with parent’s names unknown. Rose was born in Armadale in 1831. (Digger records)

Alex Decker married a second time to Caroline Sargent/Sargeant on 22nd June 1865 and most of his children had Sargent  as a 2nd name –  being his wife’s maiden name.   Alex and Caroline Sargent/Sargeant had 12 children born at Blackwood.  With Alex Decker’s first 5 children to Rose Macken/Mackin and then 12 children to Caroline Sargent/Sargeant this made a total of 17 children born to Alex Decker..!!   He must have had to keep adding bedrooms onto his house..!!  There was a Frederick Sargent listed as having died at Red Hill in Blackwood in 1866.  His tombstone in the Blackwood cemetery reads ‘Frederick Sargent of Berkshire, England died July 31 1866, age 63 years.’  According to a descendant, Frederick Sargent was a storekeeper of Red Hill, Blackwood.  He left six surviving children, Caroline (who married Alex Decker), Frederick James, William, Margaret, Valentine and Edward Hollyer.

The Digger records list Frederick Sargent as born in London in 1803 with father Frederick Sargent and mother Elizabeth Hollyer. Also a Mrs Sargent living in Blackwood in the Post Office Directories in 1868/69 /1870.

Alex Decker was a butcher in Blackwood then a butcher in Malvern, and their house was named Laradoc, which was the original name of the Lerderderg River.  He is listed on 26th March 1898 as living in Malvern and later St Kilda – a colonist for 54 years.   Alex Decker had a gold mine at Blackwood – a record shows the Art Union mine with the Manager as Alex Decker with a lease at Union Reef.

Alexander Decker died at Malvern in 1898 age 75 yrs with father listed as Joseph Decker and mother Henrietta Meirs.  This made Alex Decker born in 1823.  Alex Decker’s wife, Caroline Decker died on the 6th January 1919. There is a Decker listed as buried in the Blackwood cemetery in R.C. section M – 49 but no name or details, and no headstone.  There are 3 Decker children listed as having died at Blackwood between 1868 – 1875.

In the Bacchus Marsh Express paper of 2 August 1879 a Police report from the Blackwood Court stated – “Police charged Ah Tong, Ah Hing, Ah Hoe, and Hong King of having in their possession stolen fat. &e. Mrs. Decker, sworn: I am carrying on the business of a butcher, &c., on Blackwood: On Friday last 1 had cattle slaughtered at the yard. My husband killed at the yard, for me. On the following morning we found that 201b. of beef had been cut out of the Carcase; all the fat and tongue were taken away from the yard. Alexander Decker, sworn: I killed a very fat cow at the slaughter-yard on Friday last for my wife. I left the beef at the yard after slaughtering. The tongue and fat were also left there on a hook. On the following morning when I went to the yard I found all the roast beef cut off the ribs from the hind-quarter to below the shoulder-blade. The tongue and all the fat were gone-about 501b. I fastened all up safely when I left the yard, and put a padlock on. On the following morning a thick board was partly prized off, and a hole cut in same large enough to admit of bolt being removed. The meat was of a high colour through being driven from Ballarat; there was a piece of brisket fat among the rest. I am nearly positive from the appearance of the fat, meat, any part of tongue produced, that it is part of the same I lost. I know the prisoners. I did not sell them any portion of the meat now in court. Senior-constable Young, sworn: On Saturday last I received information that meat and fat had been stolen from Decker’s yard. On Sunday I visited one or two Chinese huts, also the hut occupied by the four prisoners. Saw one of them cutting up some of the meat. I suspected it was part of the stolen meat. I asked him where he got it from. He could not give a satisfactory answer. I immediately procured a search warrant, and searched their premises. I found the meat, part of tongue, and fat now produced; the fat was partly rendered, and in a boiler under one of their bunks; also some portion of the meat tied up in old bags. When I took them to the lock-up three of the prisoners said “Ah Hing, be took him.” Ah Pack, the interpreter, sworn, stated that he interpreted to the prisoners when they were taken to the lock-up that if they had purchased the meat from any person they must get him to attend the Court as evidence for them. Mr. Decker, to the Bench: I consider the damage done, with what was taken, was fully £3. The prisoners, in defence, made some very contradictory statements about purchasing the meat from some Englishman for 5s., but could not say from whom, or where he lived. Verdict:-Two months in Melbourne Jail, with hard labour, or a fine of £2 10s. each. ©

Researched by Margot Hitchcock from her forthcoming book ‘The History and Pioneers of Blackwood’, hopefully to be published soon.  Other books published by Margot Hitchcock – “Aspects of Early Blackwood”, Some History of Simmons Reef, Blackwood”and “The Billy Pincombe Tragedy”. See – www.blackwoodpublishing.com

For help with information on Blackwood ancestors contact Margot Hitchcock – email – margothitchcock@bigpond.com