Page County, Iowa History 1909 Biographicals

(transcribed by Pat O'Dell:



John F.M. Porter, a highly respected farmer of Grant township, whose modern and progressive methods are evidenced in the well kept appearance of his place on section 9, was born in Cabell county, West Virginia, on the 20th of January, 1832. His parents were John and Jane (Burns) Porter, who were likewise natives of Cabell county, West Virginia, where they lived until about 1838 and then removed to Ohio, where they spent two years. In 1840 they became residents of Tippecanoe county, Indiana, [page 279]

where the death of the father occurred.   The mother afterward became the wife of Thomas Coon and with him removed to Cass county, Iowa, in 1853, their last days being spent in that locality.
John F. M. Porter was a lad of only nine summers when his father died and at that early age he began to provide for his own support by working for neighboring farmers. His educational opportunities were neces-arily curtailed as it was imperative that he provide for his own support. His father, however, had been a school teacher for years and had sown the seeds of learning in the youthful mind of his son, who, ambitious to improve his knowledge, has largely utilized his leisure hours in reading and study, in this way he has acquired broad, general learning, and in the school of experience has also mastered many of the difficult lessons of life.
Mr. Porter continued to work as a farm hand until he had attained his majority and soon afterward he made arrangements for having a home of his own by renting land and providing a companion and helpmate for life's journey in his marriage, which was celebrated on the 29th of January, 1852, the lady of his choice being Miss Sarah Jane Jordan, a native of Tippecanoe county, Indiana. For two years thereafter Mr. Porter engaged in the cultivation of rented land and then sought a home in Iowa, making his way west of the Mississippi in company with his wife and two children. They settled in Cass county and Mr. Porter invested his earnings in a farm of two hundred acres. He also secured credit and purchased five yoke of oxen, with which he intended to break prairie, hoping by his earnings in that way to make the additional payment upon his land. However, it developed that those for whom he intended to break the sod had no money with which to pay him, so that the following year he sold his land and brought his cattle to Page county. He took up his abode in Grant town­ship, where at different times he purchased various tracts of land, securing some from the government and other tracts from individuals. He also bought land from the county which he secured on long time payments. In this way, through his various investments, he became the owner of over a thousand acres. He has continuously resided in Grant township and is today one of its oldest residents, having witnessed its development from pioneer times to the present. As the years have passed he has placed his farms under cultivation and his success has been assured by reason of the fact that the land is naturally rich and arable and because he is diligent, persevering and energetic in all of his business affairs.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Porter was blessed with five children, of whom four are yet living, namely: Julia C, the wife of George Maxwell. of Grant township; John C, also of Grant township; William, who resides in Essex, Page county; and Thomas, of Pierce township. The wife and and mother died February 26, 1886, after they had traveled life's journey together for more than a third of a century.
In his political views Mr. Porter was originally a whig and on the dissolution of that party he joined the ranks of the new republican party, which he has continued to support. He has been a very successful man, having accumulated a fortune, but in recent years has divided his property among [page 280] his children and others, retaining only a sufficient amount ot give him a comfortable income, for he has desired that his children should have the benefit of the property while he is yet living. While he has reached the age of seventy-seven years, he is yet a well preserved man, and his record is one which wins for him in the evening of life the veneration and respect which should ever be accorded to those of advanced years.

photo of John Porter and Sarah Jordan from Rita Holmes:

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Thomas G. H. Porter, who owns a valuable farm on section Pierce township, is numbered among the native sons of Page county, Iowa, his birth occurring in Grant township on the 2d of April, 1867. He is a son of John F. M. and Sarah Jane (Jordan) Porter, the former a native of Cabell county, West Virginia, and the latter of Tippecanoe county, Indiana. The father, who was born on the 20th of January, 1832, was one of the extensive and well known landowners of Page county, where .he still makes his home, being one of the oldest residents of this county. He has now reached the seventy-seventh milestone on life's journey and is still preserved. Extended mention of him is made on another page of volume. Our subject is one of a family of five children, the others Julia C, the wife of George Maxwell, of Grant township; John C, Grant township; William, who resides in Essex, Page county; and one has passed away.
Thomas G. H. Porter was reared on the home farm and acquired education in the common schools, receiving good training in the various branches of English learning.   He remained at home, assisting his father until he had almost attained his majority, when he removed to the farm which he now resides, consisting of two hundred and forty acres on section 32, Pierce township, which had been deeded to him by his father in 1885.

[page 415] It is an excellent piece of property, naturally rich and fertile, and upon the place Mr Porter has introduced all of the modern conveniences and accessories that go to make up a model farm of the twentieth century. The fields are highly cultivated and each autumn return golden harvests which are a source of gratifying remuneration. For a period of several years, however, Mr Porter rented his farm though he continued to live thereon, but is now engaged in its operation.

For a few years after his removal to his present place Mr Porter resided upon his farm alone, and then, on the 1st of June, 1894, he chose as a companion and helpmeet Miss Jessie Porter, of Wamic, Oregon, whose acquaintance he had made while on one of his trips to that state. Unto this union have been born two children, Dewey D. and Dora E. Mr Porter has also taken into his home three children of his wife's sister, whoe guardian he has been appointed, namely: Cyril, Wesley and Fount Goff, and he has but recently returned Oregon with four children of another sister of his wife.

Republican in his politics, Mr Porter gives stalwart allegiance to that party, doing all in his power to further its influence in the community, although he is not a politician in the sense of office seeking. He is serving his third term as a member of the school board, the cause of education finding in him a warm champion, and he gives his influence to all matters which have for their object the improvement, progress and upbuilding of the community. Having spent his entire life in Page county, he has gained an extensive circle of friends, and that he is most liked and respected where best known is indicative of the fact that his salient characteristics are such as have won the honor, esteem and good will of his fellowmen, while the prosperity which he today enjoys ranks him among the substantial and successful agriculturists of Pierce township.