Several censuses give Mary's age to imply that she was born in 1855. However, this is a fiction, since the 1910 census, in which she makes this claim, also says that Mary and Sam Decorra were married for 45 years, which would make her 10 years old on her wedding day. Given the 1847 birth date found in most other censuses, she would have been married in 1865 at age 18. Other censuses in which she is paired with her husband Sam or her daughters Fannie and Emma, consistently give her birth date as 1847. Her grave stone records a birth date of 1841 (Find a Grave), however, this may be due to confusing the numeral "7" with "1", which it resembles in cursive writing.
The 1905 census shows that her Hocąk name was HoPatchAWinKah, which is for Hōpajᵋwįga, from hō, "voice"; pac, "woods, grove, forest"; -wį-, a feminine gender infix; -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. So her name means, "Voice of the Forest", which would be suitable for almost any clan, and was likely a nickname.
Other earlier and later censuses give her name as Ho Jay Cha Win Kah. This is for Hōjēcawįga, "She Wears a Skirt of Fish," presumably a Fish Clan name. It is from hō, "fish"; jē, "to wear as a skirt"; ca, "to wear"; -wį-, a feminine gender infix; -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names.
Her birth order name is given as Uk Se Ka Nee Kah, which is for Aksī́ganįka, probably meaning "Fifth Daughter", since Aksī́ganįka can be analyzed as Aksī́ga, "Third Daughter"; nįk, "little"; and -ka, "the". The nįk is synonymous with xų́nų, both of which mean, "little, small, young". So this tells us that she was the fifth daughter of the Little John family.
Her daughter Emma said, “My mother was Mary Sam Decorah. You see, my father’s name was Sam, so mother was called Mary Sam. My man’s name was John, so I am called Emma John Decorah.” (CT 10a)
Her daughter Emma recalled,
"Oh yes, my mother used to plant squaw corn, the kind with the pretty
purple and pink grains mixed with the yellow ones. It is sweet corn.
And we used to have Indian potatoes. The potatoes grew on a long root
like a string of big beads. We used to bake them in the ashes and they
were good, VERY good!
My mother used to ride her little black pony to Madison and tie him to
the hitching posts in the old market place.” Here Emma lapsed into
Winnebago language in a conversation with her cousin. Then she
continued: “The pony’s name was ‘Cinch Hawajo Ca’ [Sį̄čawajoga], which
Kay says means ‘a black horse running fast with its tail streaming out
behind.’ My mother and my father were both good riders."
She died at the Tomah Indian School Agency, Tomah, Monroe County, Wisconsin on 4 December 1929 of "general debilitation and old age." (Death census) However, her presumed grave at Mauston records a death date of 2 December 1929, It may be that the death date of 4 December is actually her burial date. (Find a Grave)
1905 Indian census; Roll: M595_671; Line: 5. 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.
1910 Federal census for Packwaukee, Marquette, Wisconsin; Roll: T624_1713; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0153; FHL microfilm: 1375726. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
1910 Indian census; Roll: M595_671; Line: 6; 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.
1919 Indian census; Roll: M595_168; Page: 12; Line: 16; Agency: Grand Rapids. 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 Department of Public Health; Des Moines, Iowa; Series Title: Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–1937; Record Type: Marriage. Volume: 7 (Scott County Thru Worth County). Iowa Department of Public Health. 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.
Find a Grave, database and images (accessed 17 September 2020), memorial page for Mary Decorah (1841–2 Dec 1929), Find a Grave Memorial no. 186593622, citing Mauston-Oakwood Cemetery, Mauston, Juneau County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Bob (contributor 47155955) .
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