PORTER, WILLIAM, the subject of this sketch, was born in the County Tyrone, Ireland, on the 3d day of April, 1807. His father's name was Patrick, and his mother's, Elizabeth Porter. In the family were six children, viz.: Eliza, William, Robert, John, Sarah, and Jane. The father died while the children were still young, the care of the family thereafter devolving upon the widowed mother.
In the year 1829 William Porter emigrated to this country, and lived for four years in Lycoming county. He then came to Clearfield county and settled on the ridges, in the south part of Lawrence township. Subsequently, the mother and other children came to this country and made this county their home.
William Porter first turned his attentions to lumbering, and, through his business life, this was his chief occupation, although at different times he has engaged in other enterprises. We find him first employed on Clearfield Creek, near the site of the old bridge, where he, with others (Boone and Long), built a mill and commenced manufacturing lumber for the market. This business relation was continued until 1837, when, through the treachery of his partners, the business failed of success. He then made a contract for the construction of a part of the Snow Shoe turnpike, one section of which he built entire, and completed another that had been partially built by other parties. About this time he met with a serious accident, by which his leg was injured, and from this cause was unable to work for about one year. During this time he was employed in teaching school; first at the old Thompson school-house, and afterwards at the Reed school-house, both in Lawrence township. He also held at the same time some lumbering interests, but could not give it his personal attention. Mr. Porter, as a teacher, proved efficient, and soon had charge of the Wolf Run school, on the river below the county seat; still later, in 1844, he was advanced to the position of teacher in the academy at Clearfield. In this same year he purchased a farm in Lawrence township, but did not move there until the following spring. In the fall of 1847 he again started into lumbering by stocking, during the following winter, the Lick Run mills; but another accident soon befell him, by which his leg was broken, and he was again incapacitated for work. He soon afterward started a boarding-house at Bald Hills, the center of an extensive lumbering region in Girard township. In the fall of 1848 he returned to his farm and remained there about two years.
In the year 1850 Mr. Porter became the Democratic nominee for the office of prothonotary of the county, to which office he was elected. He then moved to Clearfield, where he purchased, from Josiah W. Smith, esq., the property at the corner of Second and Walnut streets, and where he has ever since resided.
In such public offices as he has been chosen to fill, Mr. Porter always proved faithful and efficient. Upon the expiration of his first term he was re-elected, serving in all six years. In 1858 he was elected justice of the peace, and held that office twenty consecutive years. Besides these he has held various other offices of the borough and county. In political affairs Mr. Porter has always taken an interest in the success of Democratic principles, but has been by no means radical in his support of that party.
Notwithstanding the losses suffered by him through the acts of his partners, and despite the personal injuries received by accident, necessitating frequent changes in occupation, Mr. Porter's business life has been successful, and enabled his to accumulate a comfortable fortune. Honesty and integrity have characterized his every act; his patient toil, prudent investments, and exemplary habits have been rewarded.
Many years ago he became a member of the Presbyterian Church, and of his means has made generous contributions to that society and other worthy institutions. William Porter never married.
Source: Pages 697-698, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed August 1999 by Richard L. McKee for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/~clearfield/)
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