Chapter XLIII
History of Porter Township 

The twelfth, township was Porter, organized in 1840. It was taken from Perry township, and named for David R. Porter, then governor of Pennsylvania. This township occupies the southwestern corner of Jefferson county. Pine River flows in a deep valley along its northern edge. It is bounded on the north by Ringgold township; on the east is Perry; on the south, Indiana county, and on the west Armstrong county. The surface is much diversified by hill and valley. The valleys narrow, with only small streams flowing through them, are straight, and usually have gentle slopes which admit of easy and profitable cultivation. The uplands are more in the nature of an elevated plain, overspread by a thin covering of Lower Barren rocks. The Lower Productive Coal Measures are in "the valleys, by which distribution of the strata the proportion of upland surface to valley is approximately shown by the geological survey.

The drainage is all into Mahoning Creek, which here flows a few miles south of the Jefferson county line in Indiana county. A narrow divide, along the crest of which runs one of the principal wagon roads of the township, crosses from west to east, dividing the township in that direction nearly in. half. South of it the waters run direct into the Mahoning, whereas north of it, they go first into Pine Run, and afterwards into the Mahoning, at Eddyville, in Armstrong county.

Geology -  Excellent coal is found in Porter township, both the Upper and Lower Freeport coals, averaging over four feet in thickness. The coal is even and regular. In 1886 a vein of coal, said to be nine feet thick was discovered on the farm of J.C. Neal. The vein which was being worked, was about four feet thick at the entrance, but it gradually grew in height until it reached five feet, and then, by a fall of slate from the roof, it was found that there was another vein immediately above, four feet thick. The two veins are separated by only a thin seam of slate, so that it is practically a single vein nine feet in thickness.

The Kittanning middle coal has also been worked on the R. Adams farm, where it was found to be three feet thick. The Kittanning lower coal, though present in the township, has not been investigated.

Limestone in abundance is found in the township. The stratum is from four to six inches thick, of good stone, compact, brittle and fossiliferous. It has long been quarried, having been opened on the Travis and McClelland farms when the old Phoenix furnace, at Milton, in Armstrong county, was in blast. The farmers in Porter, as in nearly all the other townships of the county, have no excuse for not using lime freely for fertilizing.

Early Settlers. -  The first settlement was made in Porter township by James McClelland, in 1803; Benjamin Irons came in 1804 or 1805; David Hamilton, in 1806 or 1808. These all settled in the southwestern part of the township. After them came Elijah Ickes, in 1814 or 1815; Michael Lantz and William Smith about 1815. The first person born in the township was Robert Hamilton.

The first grave- yard was started in 1843, and Stephen Londen was one of the first buried there. Another grave- yard was made at the Fairview schoolhouse. The first church organization was by the Methodist society in 1838, and the first church was built in 1843. The history of the churches has already been given.

Sunday Schools. -  The first Sunday- school was started in 1844, with Thomas Stockdill superintendent. There are now two schools in Porter. The Zion Methodist Episcopal Sunday. school has about ninety scholars; T.T. Adams superintendent in. 1887, and James Stockdill assistant superintendent.

The Union Sunday- school, held at the Fairview school- house, had in 1887, thirty scholars; George Bish, superintendent.

Present Business. -  There is one post- office in the township called Porter, and the store of J.H. Elkins, started in 1883, is located there. It is the only store in the township. There is also one blacksmith shop, that of Jacob Lettie, located at the same place. The first blacksmith shop was started in 1840 by George Travis, and another in 1845 by John Silvis. There has never been a hotel in the township.

Rebellion Record. -  Like all other sections of the county, Porter promptly responded to the call for troops to assist in putting down the Rebellion. Among those who enlisted were T.B. Adams, Daniel Barnett, John Chapman, Levi Ellenberger, Samuel Brumbaugh, J. Wesley McDonald and D.C. McGregor, of the Seventy- eight Pennsylvania Regiment; G.B. Shranger and Philip Shranger, of the One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania, and Henry Chapman, Daniel Bish, P. Davis, Jacob Howard, Elisha Gahagen, S.M. McDonald, Daniel Timblin, Ephraim Adams, of other organizations. The record of these men will be found in the history of their regiments given in a previous chapter. There was no bounty paid to volunteers by Porter.

Farms. -  There are now one hundred and twenty- five farms in the township, among the best being those of Thomas B. Adams, of 204 acres, first improved by A. Timblin in 1840; Richard Adams, of 160 acres, first improved in 1814 by R. Adams; T.T. Adams, of 130 acres, first improved in 1839 by Thomas Adams; George Bish, 98 acres, improved by E. Coleman; William Bahme, 80 acres; William Doak, 169 acres, first improved by L. Yeager; T.K. Drummond, 142 acres, first improved by David Hamilton in 1815; John Elkins, 196 acres; Thomas Elder, 168 acres; Thomas Gahagen, 167 acres; John Y. Gahagen, 145 acres; James Kennedy, 161 acres; Allen Keisey, J.E. Lantz, 140 acres, first improved by William Smith in 1815, then owned by John Lantz about 1830; D.C. McGregor, 215 acres, improved by H. Coon; Daniel McGregor, 205 acres; William McHenry, 111 acres, improved by George Travis; Charles Miller, 81 acres: S.M. McDonald, 138 acres; Joseph McClelland’s heirs, 178 acres, first improved by J. McClelland, Sr., in 1806; Hugh Neal, 86 acres, improved by Michael Lantz in 1815; Reuben Rhineard, 96 acres, first improved by James McClelland in 1803; Jacob Snyder, 166 acres; Frederick Stear, 128 acres; James Stockdill, first improved by Thomas Stockdill about 1840; J.A. Timblin, 88 acres, first improved by George Yeager in 1830; Johnston Welchons, 123 acres, first improved by George Timblin and William Wearer.

Considerable attention is paid to the raising of graded stock, principally Holstein cattle and Southdown sheep.

Fruit is largely cultivated, especially apples and peaches, it being one of the best peach growing sections in the county.

Elections. -  At an election held in Porter township in 1840, the following persons were elected:

Justice of the peace, John Robinson; constable, John Hice; supervisors, Conrad Nolf, George Miller; auditors, John McAninch, John Robinson, William Ferguson, William McAninch; judge of election, William Fosters; inspectors of election, Daniel McGregor, Robert E. Kennedy.

At an election held Feburary 15, 1887, the following persons were elected to fill the various offices:

Constable, J.A. Timblin; supervisors, James Kennedy, Samuel Kroh; assessor, William Snyder; school directors, T.T. Adams, William Weaver; judge of election, William Postlewait; inspectors, A.M. Gahagan, R.F. Neville; auditor, G.C. Gahagan; poor overseer, James Kennedy; collector, J.A. Timblin. The justices of the peace are S.M. McDonald and T.B. Adam. The members of the school board previously elected are J.H. Elkins, D.C. McGregor, S.M. McDonald and C.K. Gahagan.

Taxables and Population. -  The number of taxables in Porter township in 1842 were 192; in 1849, 176; in 1856, 86; in 1863, 99; in 1870, 142; in 1880, 191; in 1886, 198.

The census report gives the population in 1840 as 977; 1850, 728; 1860, 516; 1870, 525; 1880, 669.

The decrease in the population and taxables of Porter was owing to Ringgold being taken from it in 1848, and another portion being attached to the same township in 1855.

Assessments and Valuations of Property. -  According to the triennial assessment of 1866, the number of acres of seated land in Porter township, 9,658; valuation, $33,726; average value per acre, $3.49. Number of horses, 142; valuation, $2,739; average value, $19.28. Number of cows, 201; valuation, $1,573; average value, $7.83. Occupations, 48; valuation, $760; average value, $15.83. Total valuation subject to county tax, $38,819. Money at interest, $9,829.

School Statistics. -  The number of schools in Porter township, according to the report of 1886 was 4; average number of months taught, 5; number of male teachers, 3; females, 1 ; average salary, $26; number of male scholars, 103; females, 80; average number attending school, 117; per cent of attendance, 75; cost per month, 57 cents; number of mills levied for school purposes, 11. Total amount of tax levied for school purposes, $585.55.

Source:  Page(s) 576-579, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project (

Jefferson County Genealogy Project Notice:

These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the History of Jefferson County Index

Return to the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

(c) Jefferson County Genealogy Project