Highland News Leader

Michael Deck served in the Revolution, then helped build forts on the frontier before settling near Highland

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

Sedelia Mueller was the daughter of David Weder, and she wrote a story about Michael Deck for her family, so future generations would know of him, what he meat to the area, and to the country.

Her niece, Jean Tabor (Mrs. Don) Oestringer, photocopied Sedela’s information and brought it to the Highland Home Museum in early 2017. I will also be using the information of Sedelia’s granddaughter, Anne Mueller Cicero of St. Jacob, for this week's column. You will find it in quotes, with other information added in parenthesis.

“Michael — , later called Deck, was born on Feb. 7, 1759, in Rockingham County, Virginia. Michael was just a lad of 16 when he enlisted in the Revolutionary War and served the remainder of the war.

"Michael was just a lad of 22 when the British general Lord Cornwallis, who was in command of the British forces, surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, ending the American struggle for Independence, called the Revolutionary War. Michael Deck witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis, and it is believed he was one of Washington’s body guards.

"After the Revolutionary War was over, Virginia claimed all the territory from her western border to the Mississippi River. Then Congress passed the ‘Northwest Ordinance,' which enacted and divided this region into districts, which after passing the territorial stage in the number of people living in the new state, would be admitted to statehood. Emigrants from the older states poured into this territory. The land was thus thrown wide open to settlement. This aroused the hostility of the Indians, who hunted in this region."

(The Northwest Ordinance had infuriated the Indians, with all the settlers, or squatters, building cabins, plowing the land and ruining their hunting grounds. The Indians were killing the settlers. Just six years after the Revolutionary War, Pvt. Michael Deck was called back to service to stop the Indian attacks. The militia was called back, and Deck’s group started at the south branch of the Potomac River, under the command of Col. Benjamin Harrison, headed for the Ohio River and Fort Pitt. Then, 25 miles later, they built Fort McIntosh. Then Fort Laurence was built about eight miles from the Indian town. Near Tuscarawba, the Indians fired on the militia, some of the regulars were killed and a lieutenant. Skirmishes continued for about six months, then Gen. McIntosh secured a treaty with the Indians. Deck and his milita were home by Christmas.)

“After the treaty of peace was signed with the Indians, emigrants again poured back into this territory and our region."

(These people were called "squatters," as the land could not be bought at that time, since the land was being surveyed, and Illinois was not a state. The squatters would build a log cabin and live there, do some primitive farming and hunting.)

“It was rich country, with lots of everything, berries, bee trees for honey, wild turkeys, pigeons, pheasants, prairie chicken, ducks and geese, plus other wild game."

(The McIntosh treaty was ignored by other tribes, and the Indians began attacking again. In our area, the Kickapoo Indians killed Elijah Cox in 1811, just north of Pocahontas, and took his sister hostage. Several days later, on Wood River, near Wood River, Ill., the Indians killed a Mr. Price. During the summer of 1814, near Journey’s Fort on Silver Creek, the wife of Jesse Bailes was killed by Indians. This information is from John Reynolds' book, ‘My Own Times,’ page 85.)

“The four Deck brothers, Felix, Michael, Henry and Joseph, came from Virginia, with their father and their families to Illinois in 1825."

(Erwin Weder’s information says the Weders came to Marine Township in Spring of 1829. An early problem for early genealogists was the fact that the Decks changed their names from Deuch to Deck, just after they left Virginia. The area they settled, at that time, was called, Looking Glass Prairie. The area is east of Troy and east of Silver Creek, which is in Jarvis Township. Little Silver Creek is the eastern creek in Looking Glass Prairie. The Decks settled just west of Little Silver Creek, in the smaller area they called, Deck’s Prairie. It is in Marine Township.)

Michael and Susanne (or Susannah) Monger Deck had 11 children: George (who served in the War of 1812), Henry, Christine, Felix, Elizabeth, Margaret, Michael Jr., Jacob, Nicholas, Joseph and Anna. Pvt. Michael Deck was Michael Deck Jr.’s father. Henrietta Deck, a granddaughter, married Andrew Weder. (Sedelia Weder Mueller's) father, David Weder, was a son of Henrietta and was a great-grandson."

(So that makes Sedelia a great-great-granddaughter. Sedelia Weder Mueller was Lawrence "Larry" Mueller's mother, so Anne Mueller Cicero of St. Jacob is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Pvt. Michael Deck of the Revolutionary War.)

Michael Deck’s Revolutionary War service and family information is in the binder that Anne Mueller Cicero has written and will also be in the War Veterans Cabinet at the Highland Home Museum. Do you have any relative, friend, or your own information that should be in the War Veterans Cabinet? Now is the time, as we hope to have the dedication of this cabinet in early July.

Thanks to all who have given information for these Deck columns.