From A Biographical
History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 346
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
William H. Porter
William H Porter was born in Pella, Marion county, Iowa, in October, 1855, his parents being Joseph and Mary (Cheesman) Porter, the former a native of Delaware and the latter of Indiana, in which state they were married. The paternal grandfather, Joseph Porter, was of Scotch-Irish descent and his wife was a relative of Henry Clay Dean, of world-wide reputation. The grandfather died in Delaware and Joseph Porter left his native state after he had attained to early manhood and traveled on foot to Indiana, where he secured work as a farm hand and thus entered upon an independent business career. He had no money save that which he earned through his own labor. He purchased a horse, which was almost his only possession at the time of his marriage, then rented land and began farming on a small scale, following agricultural pursuits in the Hoosier state for two years, when he started for Iowa, taking with him his family and all of his earthly possessions. He was one of the first settlers of Marion county, where he entered land from the government. After making some improvements upon it he sold that property and erected the first grist and saw mill in Marion county, the products of which he had to haul to market, selling the goods mostly in Burlington. Subsequently he traded his mill property for a large tract of land, on which a few improvements had been made, but they were of very poor character. With resolute will he began work and soon transformed the field into a good farm, thereon spending his remaining days. He was an excellent financier, was diligent, progressive and enterprising and thus won success. He became an extensive land owner and one of the most prosperous and prominent men of the county. In his youth he was deprived of all advantages. His education was practically acquired under the direction of his wife after they were married, but by reading, study and observation, he became a well informed man and capable of conducting many branches of business. His political support was given the Democracy, but he reserved the right to vote for any man whom he preferred at local elections. He filled many township and county offices and was also chosen to represent his county in the state legislature, where he served with honor and credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. A leading member of the Methodist Episcopal church, he also took an active part in Sunday-school work and did everything in his power to promote the moral advancement of the people among whom he lived. The poor and needy ever found in him a friend and he was always willing to give of his time and means to assist others. His many excellent qualities made him widely and favorably known and he commanded the uniform confidence and respect of all by reason of his sterling integrity and honor. He was a man above the average height, of an athletic build and when young he worked very hard. He possessed natural mechanical ability and was a millwright by trade. In later years his attention was given exclusively to his farm work, and his enterprise and diligence won for him a competence that enabled him to surround his family with all of the necessities and many of the luxuries of life. He had an able assistant in his wife, who was a most estimable lady. His death occurred August 8, 1882, and Mrs. Porter died May 11, 1901, having reached the ripe old age of eighty-two years. Her parents were Scotch Irish and were early settlers of Indiana, where her father was a prominent farmer. After the death of her husband Mrs. Porter became the wife of J H Woody, also from Indiana. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Porter were born eleven children: John, who died in childhood; James, of Iowa; Mrs. Elizabeth Millison; George, who died at the age of twelve years; Marion, of Iowa; Mrs. Nancy Wray; William, of this review; Charles, who is living in the Hawkeye state; Mary, deceased; Frank, a twin brother of Mary and now a farmer of Iowa; and Katy, deceased wife of Joe Kelly.
William Porter was born and reared in Iowa, and he remained in his parents' home until twenty-five years of age. He was trained to the work of the farm in its various departments and in the schools of the neighborhood he mastered some of the branches of English learning. In 1881 he was united in marriage to Miss Clara Bitting, who was born in Indiana, although the wedding was celebrated in Iowa. The lady was a daughter of Lewis and Hannah (Redman) Bitting, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania and were of German descent. The father was a farmer and mechanic and removed to the Hawkeye state where he departed this life. They were member of thes Presbyterian church and in that faith reared their family of six children, namely: Joseph; Mrs. Porter; Charles, of Iowa; Alvin; Emma, the wife of T Baker; and Mary. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Porter was born a daughter, Bertha, on the 28th of November, 1881. The wife and mother died April 5, 1883. She was an earnest Christian woman, devoted to the interests of her family, and her loss was deeply felt. Subsequently Mr. Porter was again married, his second union being with Miss Martha J Miller, who was born at Pella, Iowa, April 17, 1859, her parents being J H and Martha (Liter) Miller, both of whom were natives of Illinois. Their marriage was celebrated in Marion county, Iowa. Her paternal grandfather, Isaac Miller, represented a family of Pennsylvania German lineage. He married Jane Smith, a sister of Job Smith, of Lyons, Kansas. The father of Mrs. Porter was a successful farmer and is now living retired at Truro, Iowa, yet owning the old family homestead in that state. He formerly supported the Democracy, but is now an advocate of the Populist party, and was chairman of his township organization for that party for some time. He is a very prominent and successful farmer and a man of sterling integrity and honor. His wife died at the age of thirty-two years, leaving four children, namely: John L; Martha J, now Mrs. Porter; Sarah C, the wife of W Zimmerman; and Mary J, the wife of S Miller. After the death of the first wife the father wedded Miss Mary Millard, and had five children: Cora, now the wife of E Bennett; Lora, who married E Atkinson; Frank, who is operating the home farm; Anna, the wife of F Knott; and William, of Rice county. The parents are members of the Methodist church. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Porter has been blessed with two children - Bessie, who died in infancy; and Clarence, born June 18, 1888.
After his first marriage Mr. Porter rented a farm and thus made a start in life. Subsequently he purchased a small tract of land, which he afterward sold and then bought another farm. Prior to his marriage he had engaged in operating a threshing machine, but subsequently to that event he devoted his time exclusively to farming. After the death of his wife he rented his farm and made a tour of the west, going to Colorado, where he spent a few months. Subsequently returning to Pella, Iowa, he there engaged in merchandising for a short period. In 1885, he was again married, and then sold his Iowa property, after which he came to Kansas, locating in Rice county, where he first purchased the quarter section of land upon which he yet resides. It was improved with a small house, but the place was in poor condition, yet his marked determination and energy, however, enabled him to readily take up and carry on the work and in a short space of time he was enabled to pay off the indebtedness upon the place and add many substantial improvements. Not afraid of work, he took contracts for various kinds of labor, and his marked diligence, determination and enterprise thus enabled him to alter his surroundings and conditions and to conquer an adverse fate. In the course of time he stocked his farm with good grades of cattle, horses and hogs, and in addition carried on general farming, harvesting good crops. He has always had good corn crops, and in later years he has purchased corn and other products, gaining a good financial return from the investments. As his financial resources have increased he has added to his landed possessions until he now has eight hundred and ninety acres, all under a high state of cultivation, the place being located four miles northeast of Lyons. He is a very energetic, determined man, and his resolute will has enabled him to conquer all difficulties and obstacles. He is an excellent judge of property and of stock, buys cattle in bunches and always has a bunch of cattle for sale. His fellow townsmen recognize his business ability and reliable judgment and feel that in trade transactions he is ever straightforward and just. His place is improved with a good two-story residence, a large barn and splendid outbuildings. There is also an orchard and grove and all of the attractive features found upon a model farm of the twentieth century are here seen. By hard work and honest dealing he has become one of the most prosperous agriculturists of the community, and in his business career he has ever followed the honorable precepts laid down by his father, thus sustaining an irreproachable character. In politics he is a Democrat and has filled many township offices, at the present time acting as township treasurer of Harrison township. Both he and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church.