JAMES E. PORTER. - The many positions of public trust that have been held by Mr. Porter within a residence of more than a quarter of a century in Kansas City, Kansas, well indicate his sterling character and the popular estimate placed upon him in the community. The last preferment of official order that has been his is that of mayor of Kansas City, to which office he was elected in April, 1910, for a term of one year, and his business like and progressive administration gained to him unequivocal commendation upon the part of the citizens of the thriving metropolis of Wyandotte county. He was re-elected to the position of chief executive of the municipal government in April, 1911, and his record in this and all other positions in which he has served the public will stand to his lasting credit.
James Edgar Porter was born on a farm in Cass county, Missouri, on the 23rd of August, 1857, and is a son of James W. and Susan (Phelps) Porter, whose marriage was solemnized in that state, to which the father moved from his native state of Tennessee when a young man, there forming the acquaintance of his future wife, who was born in Kentucky, both being representatives of stanch old southern families. James W. Porter continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits in Cass county, Missouri, until the time of the Civil war, when conditions became such as to lead to his removal to Independence, Jackson county, that state, where he followed various lines of business enterprise and where he continued to reside until 1885, when he came to Kansas City, Kansas, where he lived retired until his death, in 1888, at the age of seventy-eight years; his loved and devoted wife survived him and passed the closing years of her life in the home of her son James E., of this sketch, where she died in 1905, at the venerable age of eighty-two years. This worthy couple became the parents of five sons and four daughters, and the future mayor of Kansas City was the youngest of the number.
James E. Porter attended the public schools at Independence, Missouri, until he had attained to the age of fifteen years, and thus it may be noted that the major part of his education has been received under the guidance of the wise headmaster, experience. Upon leaving school he found a due quota of adventure and hard work in the occupation of herding or "running" cattle, to which he devoted his attention for four years, in Kansas and Iowa. He then returned to Independence, Missouri, where he was in the employ of a lumberman for a time and his experience in this connection led him to make his first independent business venture - that of buying and shipping walnut logs. Thereafter he showed the versatility of his makeup by acting for a time as foreman of a gang of men engaged in railroad construction, and in 1885 he came to Kansas City, where he engaged in the selling of cigars and tobacco for a local concern. In November of the same year he became a patrolman in the city police department, and eighteen months later he was promoted to the position of police sergeant, an incumbency which he retained until March, 1889, when he was advanced to the office of captain. He served in this capacity, with marked acceptability, until 1891, save for a brief interim when the office was then declared vacant, but he was soon called upon to resume the office. On the 1st of May, 1901, Mr. Porter was elected street commissioner of Kansas City, and he showed marked zeal and judgment in handling the work of his department, including the cleaning and repairing of the streets after the flood of 1903. He retired from this position in the year last mentioned and thereafter was in the employ of the Wyandotte Coal & Lime Company until 1906, when he was again called to public service, by his election to the office of sheriff of Wyandotte county. He assumed the duties of the shrievalty in January, 1907, and retired from office in January, 1909, after a vigorous and effective administration. In April, 1910, he was accorded a special mark of popular esteem, in that he was then elected mayor of his home city and re-elected, and his policies in the directing of municipal affairs fully justified the popular choice.
In politics Mr. Porter has ever been found aligned as a stalwart supporter of the cause of the Democratic party, and he has been an influential factor in its local affairs in Kansas City and Wyandotte county. In the Masonic fraternity he has not only attained to the chivalric degrees of the York Rite, in which he is affiliated with the Kansas City Commandery of Knights Templars, but he has also received the thirty-second degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, besides which he is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. Both he and his wife are members of the Baptist church and both are popular figures in connection with the social activities of the city in which they have so long maintained their home.
In the year 1887 Mr. Porter was united in marriage to Miss Fannie L. Booth, daughter of the late Charles L. Booth, of Jackson county, Missouri, and of the children of this union only one is living, Martha Evelyn.
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