John Dekle
Facts and Fancy
By: JimThurman

According to Dekle family history, John Leonard Dekle was born in Hanover, Germany to a Baron named Charles C. Deckel. It is known that he arrived in this country in before 1801, (note date of survey in deed elsewhere on this site). The family history gives varying dates for his arrival from as early as 1734 to the mid-1700's. He is said to have arrived at the port of Savannah with his brother Charles and his cousin Friedrich.

John was said to be associated with the Georgia colonies at Ebenezer, however, I have yet to find any absolute reference to him in any of the Colonial Records of Georgia. There are a few names mentioned in the records which are close such as Dechtle, Bechtel and Delegal, but none of these were named John L. Likewise, I have not found any ship passenger list with a John L. Dekle, nor a Charles or Friedrich.

Several assumptions can be made from known facts which may account for this lack of records. It is known that John was from Germany, so it is reasonable to assume that when he arrived in this country he spoke German. It is also known that he probably could not write since he signed the deed found on this site with his mark. Most of the Colonial Records of Georgia, as well as most of the ship passenger lists were written by English speaking scribes who were probably not very adept at understanding a German immigrant trying to tell them his name. Therefore, many names that do appear in such records are spelled several different ways in different records. Another problem is that many of the ship records only recorded the names of adult male passengers who were old enough (18) to take an oath of loyalty. Since one version of the family history says that he was seventeen when he arrived his name may not have been recorded.

After years of searching and letting my imagination work overtime to try to make a link to anything that sounded close, I have only come up with one record (the record page will take at least two minutes to load) which may be our man. On August 24, 1765 the ship Polly, Robert Porter, Master, arrived from Rotterdam via Cowes. Among the 211 passengers was one Joh. Leonard Devil. If this name is pronounced with a long "e", as in Dekle, it could very easily have been a misunderstanding of Dekle by the writer. There was also on this ship a Friederich Hippel, which is more of a stretch, but again, with an "i" pronounced like a long "e" it is still a possiblity. Imagine yourself as an English speaking person trying to listen to and transcribe the names of two hundred eleven Germans probably lined up and anxious to get away from the ship as fast as possible. This is the closest record I have found, however I am still not satisfied. What do you think?

There is one other item I have come across in my search that I have yet to fit into place. The Durden family history says that Mary Dekle, daughter of John, and whom we know was born in 1784, was born in Hanover, Germany. She married William Durden in 1801. If the Durden family history is correct in this fact, it is possible that either John came over much later than thought, or returned to Germany at some point where his daughter was born. I personally do not believe Mary was born in Germany. It is probably more likely that the fact that her father was, has been attributed to her.

It is known for certain that after 1801, John Leonard Dekle and his family lived along Reedy Creek in what is now Candler County Georgia. Originally, his records show up in Montgomery County, then in 1812 in Emanuel County and in 1914 the land became part of Candler County. John never moved, the County boundaries just changed around him. John is buried near the banks of Reedy Creek on the land he lived on in 1801, which is part of the Dekle farm in Candler County, Georgia. This farm has been in the Dekle family for at least 198 years. My mother and her brothers and sisters were born and grew up on the farm where John had lived, died and was buried almost 100 years before in January of 1828. John Dekle was my mother's Great-Great-Great Grandfather.

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