John S Porter


JOHN S. PORTER, attorney at law of Kittanning, one of the representative lawyers of Armstrong county, PA., is a native of the Keystone State, having been born on a farm in Wayne township, Armstrong county, April 28, 1875, son of William D. and Martha J. (Steele) Porter, great-great-grandson of Rev. Samuel Porter, great-grandson of William Porter and grandson of Samuel H. Porter.

(1) Rev. Samuel Porter was one of the pioneer and leading clergyman of the Presbyterian church in the early history of western Pennsylvania. He was born in Ireland on June 11, 1760, and came to America about the close of the Revolutionary war, in the year 1783. For a time he located in Franklin county, Pa., and then moved on to the western part of the State, where at Congruity Church, in Westmoreland county, he spent the greater part of his active ministry, until his death in the year 1825. He was a man of letters and distinguished ability, a number of his writings and sermons being collected and published in book form by the Presbyterian Historical Society in the year 1853. He left to survive him two sons: John and William.

(II) William Porter, son of Rev. Samuel Porter, born in Westmoreland county, Pa., while yet a struggling farmer moved to Cowanshannock township, in Armstrong county. He lived there for a number of years on a farm he purchased, near Rural Valley, and became a prominent citizen of the community. He was active in church work, being a devoted number of the Presbyterian Church until his death. Nine children were born to him, five daughters and four sons, the eldest of the sons being Samuel H.

(III) Samuel H. Porter, son of William Porter, was born in Cowanshannock township and lived there during his early life. He worked on his father's farm until old enough to make his own way, after which he met and married Nancy Calhoun, a daughter of the late John Calhoun, of Wayne township. Shortly thereafter he purchased a farm from Gen. Robert Orr, near that of his wife's people in Wayne township, where he lived until his death, in 1885. He was an earnest member and worker in the Concord Presbyterian Church, being a member of the session for many years. He was a man of rare literary ability, and a most influential and highly esteemed citizen of the community. Four children were born to him: John T. and Mary C., both of whom died in early life; Eliza J., wife of Robert McQuilkin, of Dayton, PA., and William D.

(IV) William D. Porter like his father was a farmer and was born in Wayne township, where he lived. In 1862 he enlisted from Armstrong county for service in the Civil war, in Company K, 155th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Entering the service as a private he was promoted to the rank of sergeant during his term and was mustered out with the company in 1865, at the close of the war. He saw much active service and hard fighting participating in all of the engagements of his regiment from Antietam to Appomattox. Returning home, Mr. Porter resumed his duties as a private citizen, which his army experiences had interrupted, and became a well known and highly respected man of the county. Through his own untiring efforts he acquired a very liberal education, and became known as a man of high literary attainments and oratorical ability. In the compilation of the history of Company K of his regiment, he assisted Maj. D. P. Marshall and Capt. John A. Cline in the preparation of the work, which was widely circulated in the several counties from which the regiment had been recruited. Mr. Porter, from early life, was an active member of the Concord Presbyterian Church, and for many years prior to his death, in the year 1896, was closely identified with the Sunday school work in the community. In 1865 he was united in marriage with Martha Jane Steele, a daughter of the late John Steele. Their three children were as follows: Ira L., who resides on the old homestead in Wayne township; Mary L., wife of Walter G. Boyd, of North Buffalo township; and John S.

(V) John S. Porter attended public school and the Glade Run and Kittanning Academies, meantime teaching several terms of school. He then entered Franklin College at New Athens, Ohio, from which institution he was graduated in 1898, and afterward took a post-graduate course to fit himself further for the work of teaching, which profession he followed for some time after his graduation. From 1901 to 1903 Mr. Porter was deputy register and recorder, and during this period read law with the firm of Carmalt & Strong, of Brookville, Pa., being admitted to the bar of Armstrong county April 1, 1904, in which year he established himself in the practice of his profession at Kittanning. Mr. Porter is recognized as one of the progressive citizens of the county, being interested in all problems tending to promote the best interests of the community and its people, and especially being an ardent advocate in the cause of education and the betterment of the public schools. He has been secretary of the Applewold school board and also an officer of the County School Directors' Association for some years. As a public speaker, his services have been much in demand, in political campaigns and on other public, occasions, he having the faculty of being both instructive and entertaining in his work. For some years Mr. Porter has been a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, and he is now a member of the board of trustees of the First Presbyterian Church of Kittanning. Proud of his father's record as a soldier in the Civil war, he is active in the organization of the Sons of Veterans and is prominently identified with other fraternal societies. In 1906 Mr. Porter was married to Gertrude M. Kerr, a daughter of Joel Kerr, of Foxburg, Pennsylvania.

The Calhouns, Mr. Porter's ancestors through his grandmother, Mrs. Nancy (Calhoun) Porter, trace their ancestry to Ireland, from which country James Calhoun, a native of County Donegal, came to America, settling in Lancaster county, Pa., prior to 1776, during the early part of the Revolutionary war. He enlisted for service on the Colonial side, and was wounded in one of the battles. After peace was declared he came to Indiana county, PA., and was one of the earliest school teachers in that county, where he remained only a few years, however, removing thence to Boggs township, Armstrong county. Here he passed the remainder of his life. He was a weaver by trade, but followed farming. By his first wife, Ellen (Templeton), he had two children, Samuel and William. After he death he married, for his second wife, Mrs. Mary Walker, mother of the celebrated spy, Col. Robert Walker, and by this union there were several children, one of whom was John. Her maiden name was Adams or Abrams.

Judge John Calhoun, son of James and Mary (Walker) Calhoun, was born Jan. 16, 1784, in Armstrong township, Indiana Co., Pa., and removed with his parents to Armstrong county when young, spending nearly all his life in Boggs and Wayne townships. He learned the trade of carpenter, but for many years was actively engaged in farming in Boggs and Wayne townships, having purchased a large tract of land near Dayton. On Aug. 30, 1811, he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a militia regiment, and on March 30, 1818, was appointed by Governor Snyder, captain of an Armstrong company. In party connection he was originally a Whig, later a Democrat, and he was always active in politics. For thirty years he served as justice of the peace in Plum Creek and Wayne townships, receiving his first appointment from Governor Wolf. In 1845, he was appointed by Governor Porter associate judge of Armstrong county to serve out the unexpired term of Judge Beatty, deceased, and afterward was reappointed by Governor Shunk. His services in this capacity, which began in 1840 and terminated in 1849, were highly creditable to himself and satisfactory to all concerned. In early life a Seceder in religious connection, Judge Calhoun became a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church, and one of the founders of both the Glade Run and Concord Presbyterian Churches, in each of which he held the office of elder. His death occurred when he was in his ninety-first year.

Judge Calhoun married Elizabeth Anthony, daughter of a German farmer of Indiana county, Jacob Anthony, whose wife's maiden name was Johnson. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony had three sons and three daughters. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Calhoun: Noah A., born Dec. 26, 1806, a farmer of Wayne township, died in 1889; William J., born July 22, 1809, a carpenter and farmer, was also of Wayne township, (his son James Robert died while a soldier, at Wheeling, V. Va.); Mary, born in 1812, married Thomas Ritchey, of Wayne township, and both are deceased; Nancy, born Sept. 18, 1814, was the wife of Samuel H. Porter; James Roberts, born March 25, 1817, in Wayne township, was a farmer there and afterward moved to Dayton, where he became a prominent citizen, serving as burgess (his son Ephraim A. was killed at the battle of the Wilderness); Sarah A., born Oct. 4, 1819, married James Calhoun, of Boggs township; Samuel S. N., born March 22 (or 23), 1823, in Wayne township, is deceased; Hon. John K., born Feb. 26, 1825, became a lawyer, served in 1856 and again in 1858 as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, in 1863 was captain of Company G, Emergency Men of Kittanning, and died when comparatively a young man. All this family were deceased in 1883 but Noah A., James R., and Samuel S. N. the mother died in September, 1828, and Judge Calhoun married for his second wife Catherine Marshall, by whom he had on child, Elizabeth, who married Robert Anthony, of Frostburg, Jefferson Co., Pennsylvania.

In Smith's history of Armstrong county, under Wayne township, we find: "The earliest purchase of land from the Holland Land Company, by George Beck, 145 acres, 52 perches, for $209, by deed dated Sept. 21, 1813, being part of the lands covered by Warrant No. 3,046, on which he erected many years ago a two story brick residence, being the first of the kind in this region. Noah A. Calhoun's deed for a portion of this land covered by that warrant is dated the next day, Sept. 22, 1813, 197 acres, 140 perches, consideration $247.35."

Also "The North American Land Company possessed of several large tracts of land in this township, covered by warrant dated Dec. 2, 1793. That company was organized in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 20, 1795, by written articles of agreement. It consisted of Robert Morris, the great financier of the Revolutionary struggle; John Nicholson, who was commissioned comptroller general of Pennsylvania, Nov. the 8th 1782, and escheater general Oct. 2, 1787, and James Greenleaf, and those who should become purchasers, owners and holders of shares in the company. At the meeting of the shareholders, held Dec. 31, 1807, Henry Pratt, John Ashley, John Vaughn, Robert Porter, John Miller, Jr., and James Greenleaf were constitutionally elected president, managers and secretary of the company. The earliest purchasers of the tract covered by warrant No. 4,578 were Andrew Walker, Noah A. Calhoun, May 1, 1840, John Calhoun and Samuel Porter, June 24th and the same day, for $1, five acres to Jacob Kammerdiener and Jacob B. Hetrich, trustees for the German Reformed Church."

Source: Pages 566-568, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed December 1998 by Connie Mateer for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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