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Tall Decorah (abt. 1842 - bef. 1910)

Tall "Moses, Paul, John" Decorah aka DeCora
Born about in Wisconsin Territory, United Statesmap [uncertain]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
[children unknown]
Died before before about age 68 in Wisconsin, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 10 Nov 2020
This page has been accessed 203 times.
Tall was Ho-Chunk.




Tall was born about 1842. His parents are unknown.


The 1905 census gives his Hocąk name as Hay-Nuck-Si-Ratch-Kaw, which is probably for Xēnąkserecka, "The Tall Mountain", from , "hill, mountain"; nąk, "to be in a neutral or sitting position"; sérec, "long, tall"; and -ka, a definite article suffix used in personal names. As a Decora, we know that he was a member of the Thunderbird Clan, although his name doesn't make explicit reference to anything obvious about Thunderbirds, unless it is a reference to the tall cliffs at the western edge of the world where the Thunders nest. Whether it is a clan or a nickname, it may well be the source of his epithet "Tall".

The 1905 Wisconsin State census gives his name as "Moses" with the same family names as were recorded for Tall Decora in the 1905 Indian census.

A Social Security claim by his daughter Grace Whitegull, gives his first name as "Paul".

His daughter Stella's marriage record gives his name as "John DeCora".

Clearly, Tall Decora wished to obscure his name or identity and went to great lengths to use pseudonyms to further this end.

Marriage and Children

He was married to Mary Snowball, 21 years his junior. Their children are listed in the 1905 census:

Anglo Name Clan Name Birth Order Name Dates
Grace Whitegull Wīhą́gā (Second Daughter) 31 December 1888 - 15 June 1963
Joseph Hųkįsgaga (White-haired Chief) 1892 - 14 January 1923
John Kerejųsepsgaga (White Blackhawk) Ną̄ǧíga (Fourth Son) 1896 -
Stella Buchanan Wiragošgewįga (Star Woman) Aksigáxųnųga (Fifth Daughter) 1898 -
Frank 1902 -
Carrie Oct. 1904 -

Frank and Carrie have disappeared by the 1910 census, and may be presumed to have died in the interim.

Others of the Same Name

David Decora, born in 1840 and therefore of the same generation, was also known as "Tall". In addition, there is a Tall Decorra who was the son of Old Grey-Headed Decorra, and who was born in 1811.

This alias Moses Decorah should not be confused with the Moses Decorah (1855-1929) married to two women named "Kate" one of whom also used the name "Mary".


He passed away before 1910, as the census of that year lists his wife as a widow. The 1905 census is the last in which he is found.


  • 1905 Indian census; Roll: M595_671; Line: 9. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • 1905 Wisconsin State Census. Wisconsin Historical Society; Madison, Wisconsin; Township or Location: Manchester. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.Wisconsin. Wisconsin State Census, 1905. Microfilm, 44 reels. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • 1910 Indian census; Roll: M595_671; Line: 9; Agency: Wittenberg. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • Iowa Marriage Records, 1880–1951. Textual Records. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37. Microfilm. Record Group 048. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. Sioux City, Iowa, 7 August 1919, p. 299.
  • Paul Decora in the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.

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D  >  Decorah  >  Tall Decorah

Categories: Ho-Chunk