Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 402-06.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Ernest Frederick William Porath

Ernest Frederick William Porath is one of the self-made men of Buena Vista county, where he has resided continuously since 1871.  He has been a resident of America since 1868, and as the years have passed he has achieved a measure of success that now makes him owner of four hundred and eighty acres of valuable farming land.  His home is situated on section 15, Newell township, and his place is a productive one, indicating in its well improved appearance the untiring care and cultivation of the owner.  Mr. Porath was born in Pomen Province, in the Kingdom of Prussia, February 18, 1837.  His parents were Michael and Charlotte (Kell) Porath, both of whom are natives of Germany, where the father died about 1863 at the age of fifty-six years.  His wife survived him until 1872 and passed away at the age of sixty-two years.  Both were Lutherans in religious faith, and the father served for three years in the regular army.  The mother was a daughter of Michael Kell, who lived to an advanced age.  He married a Miss Born, who died in middle age.  They had a large family, including Charlotte, Caroline, Minnie, Fredericka and several others.  The children of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Porath were nine in number, four sons and five daughters, of whom six are now living:  Ernest Frederick William; August, who is living in Varina, Iowa; Charley, whose home is in Newell township; Minnie, who is the widow of Charley Schumann and resides with her brother August ; Carrie Fredericka, the wife of Christopher Nitzke, of Storm Lake; and Hannah, the widow of William Degner, of Coon township.


Mr. Porath, whose name introduces this record, was reared in Prussia and acquired a common school education.  He there worked at day's labor, but thinking to find better business advantages in the new world, he sailed for America in 1868, landing at New York city in April.  From that point he went to Milwaukee, where he had some relatives living.  He worked on the railroads for two years, and in 1871 came to Buena Vista county, securing employment in the Stephens' Hotel in Newell, where he continued for four and a half years.  Carefully saving his earnings, his industry and economy at length enabled him to purchase eighty acres in Newell township, constituting a part of his present farm, but since that time he has extended the boundaries of his home place until it now comprises four hundred and eighty acres of finely improved land.  For the first eighty acres he paid six dollars and seventy-five cents per acre and for the last eighty acres he gave twelve dollars and seventy-five cents per acre.  This land he would not sell today for less than one hundred dollars per acre.  He has carefully tilled the fields, made the land rich and productive and be annually gathers therefrom good harvests, so that his yearly income is a gratifying one.


On the 18th of January, 1880, Mr. Porath was married to Gustave Johnson, daughter of Ole and Mary (Olson) Johnson.  Mrs. Porath was born in Sweden, February 18, 1854.  Her parents were likewise natives of that country.  Coming to America in 1867 they settled near Fort Dodge.  The father died in 1885, at the age of seventy years, while the mother survived him until 1905, passing away at the age of eighty-one years.  They were the parents of thirteen children, of whom five are now living:  Mary; Sophia, the wife of Olaf Ovren, of Marathon, Iowa; Gustana, now Mrs. Porath; Charles, who is located in Albert City, Iowa; and Martin, also in Albert City.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Porath have been born eleven children:  William F., Ella, Edwar [sic], Charles, Emil, John, Alexander, Anna, Amelia, Harry and Frederick.  The parents are Lutherans in religious faith, and Mr. Porath gives his political .support to the republican party.  He certainly deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, for he came to America empty handed and without knowledge of the language of the country.  He soon adapted himself to the manners and customs of the American people, showed that he was diligent and determined, and as the years have gone by, through the care and perseverance which he has manifested in his business affairs, he has gained a place among the substantial residents of this community.