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Plumas County








            One of the ablest and most successful physicians and surgeons of Plumas County is Dr. John Decker, of Portola, who has built up a large practice, covering a wide range of surrounding country, and stands deservedly high in the ranks of his profession.  He was born in Saginaw, Michigan, on the 5th of August, 1876, and is a son of Franklin and Elizabeth (Hamilton) Decker, the former of German parentage, while the latter was of Scotch-Irish and English stock.  Franklin Decker was a carpenter by trade and developed and carried on a successful business as a builder.  He died in Michigan when his son John was but one and a half years old.  The widowed mother eventually accompanied her son to California and her death occurred in San Francisco several years ago.  Dr. Decker has a sister, Mrs. Maggie Ross, of Caldwell, Idaho.

            John Decker was reared at home, remaining in his native city until twenty-one years of age, during which time he learned the art of telegraphy, by means of a telegraph instrument in his home.  In about 1895 he went to Pocatello, Idaho, where, being a telegrapher, he entered the employ of the Oregon Short Line.  He held positions at various places on that line until 1900, when he resigned and, going to San Francisco, entered the Cooper Medical College, now a part of Stanford University, from which he was graduated.  He served one year as interne in the San Francisco County hospital, after which he entered upon the practice of his profession in Goldfield, Nevada, that being during the gold rush of 1905.  The Western Pacific Railroad was then grading its road into California and Dr. Decker was engaged as the physician and surgeon for the construction crews along the line of that road.  In 1906 he came to Beckwith, California, at which time the present site of Portola was covered with timber, being only a logging camp.  He accompanied the grading crew to this place, but continued to live at Beckwith, which was at first the only town in this vicinity, so that Dr. Decker is justly numbered among the pioneers of this locality.  At that time the “Logging Road” was not yet completed and tunneling at Chilcoot and Spring Garden was going on.  When the Western Pacific road was completed to Portola, this became a division point, and as Portola grew Beckwith declined.  Dr. Decker remained at Beckwith until 1922, when he came to Portola, where he enjoys a large and important practice, some of his calls necessitating rides from fifty to one hundred miles.  The Doctor has taken over the hospital formerly owned by the Feather River Lumber Company and now has splendid equipment for the care of all medical and surgical cases requiring hospital treatment.  A fine operating room, with all up-to-date conveniences, with two trained nurses in constant attendance, private rooms and general wards, as well as a special maternity ward, make this institution one of great importance to the community which it serves. Persons injured in the Feather River mill and in plants of the Clover Valley Lumber Company and the Clover Valley Ice Company are brought to this hospital and properly cared for.  The Doctor is examiner for all companies dealing in industrial insurance and is the physician in compensation cases.  During the World War he was examiner for the government, giving a medical examination to all recruits going from this section of the country.  He volunteered his services during the War and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Medical Corps, serving as such until honorably discharged after the signing of the Armistice.  He gives his entire time and attention to his practice, which extends throughout the eastern part of Plumas County.  The Doctor is a man of fine personal presence, is cool-headed under all conditions and has gained a reputation as one of the ablest and most skillful surgeons in the Sacramento Valley.  Because of this as well as for his kindly and courteous manner, he is popular with all classes.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 371-372. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.



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