LEVI PORTSER. A list of Greensburg's respected citizens would be incomplete without the name of Levi Portser, whose grandfather, Christian Portser, came across the sea from Germany as a young man and became a farmer in York county. Later he moved to Westmoreland, settling in Hempfield township on what is now the Sherey farm. He afterward sold this property and removed to Delmont, having purchased a farm just outside of the town, where he lived during the remainder of his life.
Joshua Portser, son of Christian Portser, was born in York county, and learned the trade of blacksmith in Greensburg. After finishing his apprenticeship he opened a shop in Delmont which he subsequently moved to the salt works, returning later to Delmont, where he conducted a shop until 1833. He then bought a farm of one hundred and six acres in Hempfield Township, four miles north of Greensburg, where he resided during the remainder of his life. In politics he was first a Whig and later a Republican. He was member of the Lutheran church. Mr. Portser married Elizabeth Marts. of Franklin township, and their nine children six are living : Mary, widow of Simon Row ; William, who lives on the homestead ; Levi, of whom later ; Matilda, wife of Jacob Mainhart, of Pittsburg ; James D., of Manor Station ; and Sarah, wife of James Orr, of Greensburg. Mr. Portser, the father of the family, died in 1874, at the age of seventy-one.
Levi Portser, son of Joshua and Elizabeth (Martz) Portser, was born January 29, 1837, in Hempfield township, and received his education in the common schools. At Twenty years of age he apprenticed himself to the trade of plasterer, which has since formed the main business of his life, although he has engaged to some extent in contraction and building. He learned his trade in Greensburg, and since 1857 that town has been his home, his part in the building and growth of the place having been no inconsiderable one. From 1893 to 1898 he owned valuable coal lands in Mellan and Franklin townships, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and at the present time is the possessor of coal lands in Virginia which he is developing with the expectations of beginning shipments this spring. In 1903 he built the handsome modern residence in East Greensburg which he now occupies. Mr. Portser served part of an unexpired term as burgess of East Greensburg, being appointed to finish the unserved time of Dr. George Culbertson. He is now president of the school board. He has taken all the Masonic degrees up to that of Knight Templar, and is one of the oldest members in Greensburg in point of membership, having joined in 1863. He is a Democrat in politics. During the; Civil war he was among the three months men sent out in 1863. January 5, 1870, Mr. Portser married Isabella, daughter of Robert and Caroline Cochran, then residents of Indiana county, Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Portser were the parents of six children : Robert K., now an attorney in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who served in the Spanish-American war, in the Philippines ; Iden M., a Greensburg physician ; Carrie B., wife of Joseph W. Steel, of Greensburg ; Bessie V., resides with her father ; Wallace W., who graduated from Bucknel University, and is now employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, with an engineering corps ; Edwina M., deceased. Mrs. Portser died December 5, 1903.
Source Pages 41 & 42 History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906
Transcribed June 9, 1999 by Marilynn Wienke for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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