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Hormels visited all kinds of different Austins

At one time I had a brother living in Austin, Texas — the weird Austin.  My parents found it amusing that their children were both living in Austin, just 1000+ miles apart.

In the late 1890’s George Hormel’s mother, Susanna, had a similar situation.  Her son, brother and father all lived in Austin, but in this case the other Austin was in Illinois.  Ludwig Decker, who had left Germany with his family including his wife, four sons and one daughter, settled in America in 1852.  He carried on the work of butcher in Buffalo, New York, then moved to Austin, Illinoi, for the five years preceding his death on July 8, 1899.  He had been living with his son, Jacob Decker, George Hormel’s beloved uncle who had taught him the meat packing business.

Excerpt from the obituary:

“One of the most beautiful and fitting funeral services ever conducted in Austin [Illinois] was that of the late Ludwig Decker, on Monday afternoon, from the residence of the son and grandchildren, corner Park Avenue and Superior Street.

The funeral was a private one–only the members and immediate friends of the family of the deceased being present.  At two o’clock, the services were commenced.  Two young ladies — the Misses White of Central Avenue–rendered two very beautiful vocal selections entitled, “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “One Step Nearer Home.”  Mr. W. H. Hormel, of Austin, Minn., a grandson of the deceased, delivered a very able and appropriate oration.

It is very unusual for a grandson to preach the sermon of the grandfather; also for the pallbearers all to be grandsons, but such was the case at the Decker funeral.  The six pallbearers were Harry, Jay and Ralph Decker (sons of J. E. Decker), Mr. E. Dunlap, (son-in-law of J. E. Decker) and Rev. W. H. Hormel and Geo. A. Hormel of Austin, Minn.”

In Illinois, Austin is one of seventy-seven officially designated community areas in Chicago having been annexed by the city in 1899. It is located on the city’s West Side, and currently has a population of just under 100,000.  In the late 1800s it was a fashionable and vibrant area made up of middle to upper class Germans and Scandinavians.  The Jacob Decker family, including the elder Ludwig, would have fit right in to Austin … Illinois.

P.S. Soon after Ludwig’s death, Jacob Decker moved his family to Mason City, Iowa, after purchasing the meatpacking business in that community.  He wasn’t in Austin anymore, but he was close.

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