Author Topic: David Porter - His Rifle 090621-3  (Read 10651 times)

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David Porter - His Rifle 090621-3
« on: June 26, 2009, 03:33:55 PM »
" David R Porter's long rifle" His Gun
David R Porter was ironmaster and Governor of Pennsylvania from
1839-1945. He is best remembered for his solution to Pennsylvania
economic crisis of the time and his work in the iron ore field (
ultimately unsuccessful financially). Born In Norristown,PA in 1788. As
a legislator he represented Huntingdon, Co. He was a Jacksonian Democrat
who narrowly defeated Whig Governor Ritner.

History Added 05/08/15:

Brookville’s Accidental Resident

There is a monument at the Old Brookville Cemetery that is clearly visible from Pickering Street.  Although the marker was vandalized at some time the applied marble face still clearly identifies the grave occupant as “Hon. Robert Porter of Philadelphia who died suddenly in this place June 28th 1842: in the 75th year of his age.”  The monument also states that “He was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and was President Judge of the third district of Pennsylvania 20 years.”

Robert Porter has been interred among pioneers of Jefferson County for the past 173 years.  Who was he?  The most interesting parts of the inscription on his stone are his age at death and that he was an officer in the Revolutionary War.  Having died in 1842 at age 75 means that he was born in 1767.  The last battle of the Revolutionary War was in 1781 when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.  Lieutenant Porter would have been 14 years old.  Quite young for an officer, but evidence supports his status.

There have been several applications to the Sons of the American Revolution by descendants of Robert and his father, Andrew Porter.  These were done in the early 20th century and mainly use historical magazine articles and Pennsylvania Archives records as reference material. From these and a couple of other sources we can put together a snapshot of his life and some interesting facts about his family.
Robert’s father, Andrew Porter (1743-1813) was Principal of an English and Mathematical School in Philadelphia from 1767 until 1776 when he was appointed Captain of Marines aboard the frigate, Effingham.  Afterwards, at his request, he was transferred to Artillery. He was promoted to Major, then Colonel of the 4th or PA Regiment of Artillery.  After the war he was promoted to Major General of the second division of the PA militia. 

He was appointed as one of the Commissioners from PA to take part in establishing the boundary between Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Pennsylvania and Ohio.  He set out with a group and their surveying instruments in May of 1784.  He kept a journal of his travels and, in 1786, he was surveying the border from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. “Capt.” Robert Porter is mentioned several times in his father’s journal and is, no doubt, his son, Robert.  In 1809, Andrew was appointed by Governor Snyder to the position of Surveyor General of Pennsylvania, a position he held until his death.  He is buried at Harrisburg, PA.  Andrew was married twice. His first wife, Robert’s mother, was Elizabeth McDowell who died in 1773.  Andrew’s second marriage was to Elizabeth Parker in 1777.

Robert Porter, born Jan. 10, 1768, was the eldest son of Andrew and his first wife, Elizabeth McDowell.  He served as a Lieutenant in his father’s artillery company.  Robert entered service as a cadet in January 1779 (age 11).  He was commissioned as First Lieutenant of PA Artillery in July 1781 and Second Lieutenant in January 1783 under Col. Thomas Preston. After the war Robert studied law and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in May, 1789. He practiced in that city until appointed president-judge of the third District by Governor Snyder in 1809. 

Robert married Sarah Williams in June 1796.  He is shown as living in Reading, PA in the 1810 Census with one female age 26-44, and in the 1820 Census as having one female age 45+ in the household.  No female over age 30 is shown in the 1830 Census, so it appears that his wife had died by then.  Census records showing the names and ages of household members didn’t start until 1850 so earlier records aren’t very helpful as to who was living with whom.  The History of Berks County in Pennsylvania shows him living in Reading, Pa after his retirement.

Robert continued in his position of President-Judge until his resignation in 1831. He doesn’t appear to have held any political office after that time, perhaps continuing his legal career until retirement sometime before his death at Brookville in 1842.  Details of that event are recorded in Kate Scott’s History of Jefferson County:

 “Judge Porter stopped at the Red Lion Hotel one evening, on his way from the east and requested, on retiring for the night, to be called in time for the stage in the morning.  Not answering the repeated calls in the morning, the proprietor of the hotel went to his room, and on trying to enter found that while the door was unlocked, it would not open.  Forcing it back the venerable stranger was found lying dead against it.  He had risen, dressed and was, perhaps about to descend to proceed on his journey when he was stricken down by disease of the heart.  He was interred in the old grave-yard, and his friends subsequently placed the monument…. To his memory.”

Several of Robert’s siblings and half siblings were quite notable.  His sister, Elizabeth Rittenhouse Porter (1769-1850) married Major Robert Parker.  Their daughter, Elizabeth, was born in  Lexington, KY in 1794 and married a Robert S. Todd (lots of Roberts here).   Their daughter, Mary was born in Lexington in 1818.

Mary Todd, Robert Porter’s great-niece, married Abraham Lincoln in 1842.

Robert’s half-brother, David Rittenhouse Porter (1788-1867) was the ninth governor of Pennsylvania, serving from 1839 to 1845.

Half-brother George Byron Porter (1791-1834) was appointed governor of the Territory of Michigan by President Jackson in 1831, serving until his death in 1834.

Half-brother James Madison Porter (1793-1862) was appointed Secretary of War by President Tyler.  He served as interim secretary for about one year.  He was not confirmed by the Senate due to political opposition to Tyler’s administration. He was later the first president of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

 Although it’s impressive to have a member of such a prominent Pennsylvania family rest with our pioneers we wish Robert’s visit to Brookville had ended on a happier note.

© 2015
Eric Armstrong
Brookville, PA

« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 03:29:23 AM by Dennis Glazener »
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.