Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

JOSEPH and SARAH (McLAIN) PORTER AND THEIR DESCENDANTS:

A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

by Jim Porter

_______________________________________________



The earliest known Porter ancestor in our family was Joseph Porter. Little is known about his early life. Even the names of his parents and siblings are unknown.

Joseph Porter was possibly born in Georgia about 1798. There is family talk that his family may have moved to Mississippi sometime between the time of his birth and 1812. Joseph probably married about 1817 for a daughter, Polly, was born to him about 1818. By 1820 he was living in Hempstead County, Arkansas. There, he was listed on the 1820 Reconstructed Census and tax lists of the 1820s. In August 1820 and again on March 11, 1828 he was on a jury panel. In March 1824, Joseph Porter was suing James Byrneside in Hempstead County.

He married his second wife Mrs. Sarah (McLain) Rush on June 24, 1830. Sarah was born about 1808 in Kentucky and was the daughter of John and Mary McLain who migrated from Kentucky to Hempstead County, Arkansas about 1820. In 1827 Sarah McLain married Joseph Rush and had a son named William Perry Rush. Joseph and Sarah McLain Rush divorced in 1829.

Immediately after Joseph Porter's second marriage, he and his new wife, Sarah, along with Joseph's daughter, Polly, Sarah's son, William Perry Rush, Sarah's sister Elizabeth McLain and brother Matthew Tolbert McLain moved to the Mexican Province of Texas where Joseph registered as a colonist in Wavell's Red River Colony on July 13, 1830. In Texas, his daughter Brunetta Catherine Porter was born about 1835.

Wavell's Red River Colony never came into its own, and many of the colonists moved on. Joseph and his family returned to Hempstead County, Arkansas before his son Thomas was born about 1836.

In the 1840 Census, 3 males under five years of age are listed. Comparing that census with the 1850 census, it would seem that at least one and possibly two of the male children listed in the 1840 census had died before the 1850 census was taken.

Joseph's first wife is unknown and what happened to his first child, Polly, is also unknown. However, she may have married a man named Thomas Smith in Mills County, Texas in 1835. There is no mention of her in any Hempstead Co., AR records. The name of "Polly" was probably a nickname. Her real name may have been Mary. At that time "Polly" was a common nickname for Mary.

In the 1830 Miller County, Arkansas census, there was listed a Julia Porter with three children, two boys and one girl all under the age of five. It is not known how Julia Porter was related to Joseph, but some relationship is indicated by the Letters of Administration for Julia in 1834.

Julia or Juliann Porter had been living in Lovely County, Arkansas in 1828. Lovely Co., AR The government was returning land to the Native Americans and all white settlers were being offered land elsewhere. Julia took the offer and moved to Miller County by 1830. She acquired her land in what is now Howard County, Arkansas in December 1830. By the end of 1834, Julia died, and Joseph Porter was the administrator of her estate. The letters of administration do not mention how Julia and Joseph may have been related, nor do they mention the children. No trace of her three children have been found in any other records.

I do not believe Julia Porter was a former wife of Joseph. However, she may have been a sister-in-law. New information regarding Julia Porter may be found soon (Dec 2001). This page will be updated if that information can be proven. Update: Dec 12, 2001 -- The names of Julia's two sons my have been Richard Porter and Nathaniel Porter. Richard Porter is living in Lamar Co., TX in the household of his guardian John Roberts in 1850. This census record indicates Richard was born in "C.N." (Cherokee Nation?) This information provided by Doris Smith Norman.

Joseph Porter acquired land in Hempstead Co., AR in 1837 (40 acres) and again in 1843 (120 acres). His last child Mary R. Porter was born about 1848. Joseph was not listed in the Hempstead Co., AR census of 1850. Only his wife and children were listed. He apparently died sometime between 1848 and the census enumeration of 1850. Sarah McLain Porter died sometime between 1860 and 1870. No grave markers have been found for either Joseph or Sarah Porter.

The children of Joseph and Sarah McLain Porter were Brunetta Catherine, born about 1835 in Texas; Thomas W., born about 1836 in Arkansas; Matthew Tolbert, born January 26, 1841 in Arkansas; Elijah V., born about 1841 in Arkansas; Sarah A., born about 1844 in Arkansas; Joseph, born about 1846 in Arkansas; and Mary R., born about 1848 in Arkansas.

It would seem that at least one other child may have been born and died between the move to Texas in July of 1830 and the birth of Brunetta Catherine five years later. Five years between the time of the marriage and the birth of their first child seems a long time.

Brunetta Catherine Porter was born in 1835 in Texas. She married George W. Andrews on September 11, 1851 in Hempstead Co. AR. The couple disappeared from the records after this marriage and nothing is known about them after that date.

Thomas Porter was born about 1836 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Not much is known about him except that he married Carolyn McCanlies on November 27, 1856 in Hempstead Co., AR. Thomas and Carolyn had one child, a son, named William Porter born about 1858. Thomas enlisted in the Confederate Army: Co. H; 17th Ark Inf., Hempstead Rifles No. 2. He died on April 6, 1862. The circumstances of this death are not known at this time. Carolyn, his widow, later married Ely Smith and the family may have left Hempstead County and moved to Texas. No trace of William Porter, the son, has been found. However, there was a William M. Porter living in Silver Cliff, Custer County, Colorado in 1880 to 1885. This William was born in Arkansas, and according to the 1880 census, he was born in 1856. It is not known if this man in Colorado was William, son of Thomas Porter.

The next child born to Joseph and Sarah McLain was Matthew Tolbert Porter. I will not write about him at this place but after the other siblings have been spoken of.

Elijah V. Porter was born about 1841 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. He is listed on the 1850 and 1860 census records. He was a soldier in the Confederate States Army: Co. E. 20th Ark Inf. He was buried at Soldiers Rest in the Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee on May 15, 1862. No record of a marriage has been found for him.

Sarah "Susan" A. Porter was born about 1844 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. She married Samuel Harrison Reeves on August 20, 1857 in Hempstead County. This family moved to Dunklin County, Missouri about 1869. Samuel and Sarah probably died before 1880. Their children were Mary A., Nancy Catherine, Henry M., and William T. Reeves. Nancy Catherine married Charles M. Holtzhouser about 1879 or 1880. Six known children were born from this marriage: Nora, Edgar, Ollie, Clarence, and Adolphus. Charles M. Holtzhouser died before 1900. Nancy married second to Alonzo Brandon on April 9, 1903 in Dunklin County, Missouri. To this marriage Curtis and Ruth were born.

Joseph Porter was born about 1846. He enlisted in Co. K, 20th Arkansas Infantry during the Civil War. Nothing more is know about him.

Mary R. Porter was born about 1848 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. She married Benjamin F. Blanchard on August 22, 1865. This couple also disappeared soon after their marriage and nothing more is known about them.


Now to Matthew Tolbert Porter who was born on January 26, 1841. This date is from his tombstone. Indeed, there is some evidence which indicates he may have been born in 1838 or 1839. Matthew was raised in Hempstead County Arkansas and was called "Teague" by his family and friends. He learned the leather trades and was a shoemaker and a saddle maker. He was said to be able to run like a deer. In about 1970, one of our Billingsley cousins sent a letter to Wilma Faye Porter Green saying that Matthew Tolbert Porter held the world record for the 100 yard dash, but as luck would have it, the records of that feat were destroyed in a fire. For the race, Matthew made his own shoes.

Matthew married before 1860 to a woman named Elizabeth. They had one daughter named Eliza who was born about 1860. Matthew was a saddle maker and kept leaving his saddles lying around the house and on the bed. Elizabeth complained once too often and Matthew up and left her. It is not known whether they ever divorced or not. Nor is it known whether Elizabeth ever remarried. Their daughter Eliza is said to have run a service station or a small market in either Blevins or Delight, Arkansas. A marriage rcord has been found in Hempstead Co., AR which shows J. H. Sutton and Eliza C. Porter married on Feb. 27, 1881. This may be the same Eliza who was the daughter of Matthew T. Porter and his first wife.

Shortly after the Civil War began, Matthew Tolbert Porter enlisted in Co. B, 4th Ark. Infantry on August 17, 1861 in Lawrence County, Missouri. He was discharged the following October due to illness. There is evidence to suggest that he enlisted in Co. K, 4th Ark Cavalry in 1863

After the war, Matthew Porter was never the same. According to his daughter-in-law, Mary Susie Wingfield Porter, he lost much of his strength which he never recovered.

On December 15, 1868, Matthew Tolbert Porter married Mary Susan "Julie" Stockton who was born on September 14, 1851 in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. She was the daughter of Elijah Winchester Stockton and Martha Jane Gracey. The Stockton family moved from Mississippi to Hempstead County, Arkansas shortly after the end of the Civil War. They settled near what is now known as Nubbin Hill in Nevada County, Arkansas. Nevada County was established in 1871 from parts of Hempstead, Columbia, and Ouachita Counties. Elijah Winchester Stockton was a farmer and was said to have donated five acres of land to the establishment of Providence Cemetery in Nevada County. Elijah and Martha Stockton were buried in Providence Cemetery where their tombstones were recently discovered by Dudley Stockton and surveyed by Jerry and Jeanie McKelvy.

Matthew Tolbert Porter died on November 30, 1897 and is buried at Nubbin Hill (Missionary Grove) Cemetery next to his wife Mary Susan Stockton Porter who died on May 23, 1926.

Matthew and Mary Susan Porter had nine children: Richard Elijah, Sarah Jane, Mary Rachel, Mathew Tolbert*, Delia "Dealie", Henry Lara, Albert Lee, and Major. The name and birth date of one of their children is unknown. He or she probably died in infancy.

Richard Elijah Porter was born on October 12, 1869 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. He first married Gertrude McCargo. She was not his first love however. Richard was in love Lucy A. Garman. They fell in love, though her parents broke them up. They each married someone else. Lucy married a man named Andrew Rickett and had two children, Andy Rickett and Hemmie Rickett. Richard Porter married Gertrude McCargo on December 27, 1891 and had one son named Carl Radford Porter who was born about 1893 and died in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Rickett died and Richard's wife Gertrude died, then Richard and Lucy married. They had 3 children, William Arnold born in 1907, Pearline, and Pauline who were twins and born August 12, 1910. Lucy was born about 1870 and died May 15, 1975 in Glendale, California at age 105. Richard Elijah Porter died August 20, 1912 and is buried at Providence Cemetery in Nevada County, Arkansas.


Sarah Jane Porter was born November 29, 1872 in Nevada County, Arkansas. She married John Calvin Billingsley, son of John Billingsley and Millie Cornelius. Sarah and John had three children: Alva, born September 14, 1895 in Nevada County and died June 1981 in Texas; Dolphus, born in 1889 and married Ida Cosby about 1912; and Andrew Lee, born 1887 in Arkansas. Sarah Jane Porter Billingsley died July 16, 1904 and is buried in Nubbin Hill (Missionary Grove) Cemetery in Nevada County, Arkansas.

Mary Rachel Porter was born May 22, 1874 in Nevada County, Arkansas. She married first Ernest Arthur Billingsley, Sr. on August 2, 1889 in Nevada County. Ernest Billingsley was the son of William and Sarah (Pollock) Billingsley. Ernest Arthur and Mary Porter Billingsley had four children: Stella, born June 1891; Floy, born September 1894; Rosey, born March 1897; and Ernest Arthur, Jr., born November 1898. Mary's second husband was Joseph Jackson "Jack" Rowe whom she married about 1903. They had six children: Samuel R., born in 1904; Charles Austin, born in 1907; Myrtle, born in 1908; Martha Faye, born in 1909; Ethel May, born in 1911; and Pauline, born in 1915. Mary Rachel Porter Billingsley Rowe died on June 19, 1962 and is buried in Nubbin Hill (Missionary Grove) Cemetery in Nevada Co., AR.

*To forestall any confusion in the next few passages, Matthew Tolbert Porter's son was also named Mathew Tolbert Porter, the only difference being the spelling of the name Mat(t)hew. The elder is spelled with two t's and the younger is spelled with one t. However, it should be noted that both men's names have been spelled with either one or two t's on various documents.

Mathew Tolbert Porter (the younger) was born on April 20, 1879 in Nevada County, Arkansas and died on March 3, 1947 in El Paso, Texas. Mathew was a blacksmith and worked for the railroad. He lived part of his life in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in that capacity. Three of his children were born in Pine Bluff, but the others were born in Nevada County.

On January 5, 1902, Mathew T. Porter married Annie B. Cooper, daughter of Jonathan Cooper, an immigrant from England. Her mother was Emma J. born in Mississippi. The marriage of Mathew to Annie was very short lived. After several weeks or at the most several months, Annie left Mathew and returned home to her parents. Mathew went after her, but her father said that if Annie did not want to return to her husband, she did not have to. No children were issued from this marriage.

Mathew T. Porter's second wife was Mary Susie Wingfield who was the daughter of James Washington Wingfield and Malinda Caroline Cornelius. Mary Susie was born February 10, 1889 in Nevada County Arkansas. The Wingfields, Porters, and Stocktons all lived in the neighborhood of Nubbin Hill a few miles outside of Prescott, Arkansas. James Washington Wingfield so admired the Stockton family that he named his daughter, Mary Susie, after the name of one of the daughters of Elijah Winchester Stockton. Her name was Mary Susan Stockton who would later become the mother-in-law of Mary Susie Wingfield. Mary Susan Stockton was the mother of Mathew Tolbert Porter. Many years later in El Paso, Texas Mathew Tolbert Porter and his wife Mary Susie had an argument and he threatened to divorce her. She said, "Go ahead." So he did and regretted it till the day he died. They never lived together after the divorce but their love for each other never diminished.

Mathew and Mary Susie (Wingfield) Porter had seven children: Tolbert Edgar, Robert Neal, Willie Richmond, Marguerite (Maggie) Jewell, Jessie Lee, Watson T., and Wilma Faye.


Tolbert Edgar Porter was the son of Mathew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susie Wingfield Porter and was born on August 27, 1906 in Nevada County, Arkansas. Tolbert Edgar married Palestine Coree Hill on January 31, 1931 in Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas. Palestine Coree Hill was born on October 6, 1909 and was the daughter of Asa Bertrand Hill and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Daye Duncan.

Tolbert Edgar Porter was a lumberman by trade and served as the foreman several lumber mills in Dallas, Texas and Sheridan, Arkansas. Tolbert Edgar and Palestine Porter had four children: Duncan Edgar, Mathew Bertrand, Talbot Neal, and Elizabeth Daye. Tolbert Edgar Porter died on June 17, 1978 in Saline County, Arkansas. Palestine Hill Porter died on December 25, 1994 in Saline County Arkansas. Both are buried at Orion Cemetery in Grant County, Arkansas.

Robert Neal Porter was the second son of Mathew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susie Wingfield Porter and was born on February 25, 1908 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. He married Minnie Mae Belle Hill on December 7, 1936. She was born on October 27, 1912 in Grant County, Arkansas and was the daughter of Asa Bertrand Hill and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Daye Duncan. Minnie Mae Belle was also a sister of Palestine Coree Hill who married Tolbert Edgar Porter. Robert Neal Porter was a businessman in El Paso, Texas. He owned and operated several hotels, restaurants, barbershops, and a construction firm. He and Minnie Mae Belle had four sons: Robert Hiram, Jimmy Neal, Albert Leo, and an infant son who lived only one day. Robert Neal Porter died on February 28, 1954 in El Paso, Texas. Minnie Mae Belle Porter died on February 14, 1989 in El Paso, Texas. Both are buried in Restlawn Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.

Willie Richmond Porter was the third son of Mathew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susie Wingfield Porter and was born on May 15, 1910 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. He married Jewell Hogan. They had one daughter, Mary Jessie. Willie Richmond Porter was a farmer in West Helena, Arkansas. He died January 1, 1959 in Arkansas.

Marguerite (Maggie) Jewell Porter is the first daughter of Mathew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susie Wingfield Porter and was born on July 4, 1913 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. She so hated the name of Maggie that she had it legally changed to Marguerite after she became an adult. However, she always went by the name Jewell. She married first Howard Thomas Chisolm on September 19, 1937 in Dallas, Texas. Howard Chisolm was born on August 4, 1891. No children came from this marriage. Howard Chisolm died In November 1970 in Dallas, Texas. Jewell's second marriage was to Robert Lee Shulz on April 9, 1974 in Tucson, Arizona. They divorced May 23, 1983. There were no children from this marriage. Jewell now lives in Tyler, Texas.

Jessie Lee Porter was the second daughter of Mathew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susie Wingfield Porter and was born on July 11, 1920 in Nevada County, Arkansas. She married Noel Ardis Cummings. He is the son of Andrew Jackson Cummings and Lois Ruth Bolls. Noel Ardis and Jessie Lee Porter had three children: James Ardis, Peggy Marie, and Janis Kay. Noel was a farmer and Jessie Lee was a farmer's wife. She and her husband were well respected throughout the Prescott community. Jessie Lee Porter Cummings suffered several massive strokes and died on December 19, 1997 in Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas. She is buried at Midway Cemetery in Prescott, Arkansas.

An interesting footnote may be in order here. When Jessie Lee was born, her parents had decided to name her Annie Lee. A day or so later, Mathew suddenly remembered his first wife's name was Annie. He feared people might think he still carried a torch for Annie. He immediately told his wife that they could not name their new baby "Annie". The name was changed to Jessie.


Delia "Dealie" Porter was the daughter of Matthew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susan Stockton. She was born about 1881 and married Columbus Franklin Rowe on January 22, 1899 in Nevada County, Arkansas. Columbus Franklin Rowe was the son of Joseph Jackson Rowe and Nancy A. Hefflin. Columbus Franklin and Dealie Porter Rowe had eleven children: Dalton Jackson, Carl Edward, Albert Porter, Loyd J., Robert Franklin, Tony Thomas, Harlis, Willie Ann, Florence Julia, Margie Lou, and James Richard. Delia Porter Rowe died November 21, 1965 and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery, Clark County, Arkansas.

Henry Lara Porter, the son of Matthew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susan Stockton, was born in 1881 in Arkansas. He died on March 3, 1929 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. He married Leona Russell and they had five children: Russell; John Orville, born March 2, 1906 and died September 25, 1979; Doris; Dorothy; and Ruby who married Roland Meador. Shortly before Henry's death, Leona and Henry had an argument. Leona scratched Henry's face which became infected. Henry soon died of blood poisoning. Several of Henry's siblings never forgave Leona and rarely if ever spoke to her again.

Albert Lee Porter was the son of Matthew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susan Stockton and was born on March 23, 1886 in Arkansas and died in July 1967. He married Maggie Dillon. They lived in Stephenville, Texas where he had a barber/beauty shop. Albert and Maggie Porter had four children: Alberta, born in 1912 and died in 1996; Mildred, born in 1914; Charles and Margaret were twins and were born in 1920. Charles died in 1977

Major Porter was the son of Matthew Tolbert Porter and Mary Susan Stockton and was born on August 10, 1889 in Arkansas. He married Lena Dean. Major Porter worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas until he retired. He and Lena had eight children: Nell, Donald Ray, James "Buddy", Mary Bell, Nelia Faye, Jack, Ralph and Leonard Major.


Please e-mail to JPofTX@aol.com

This page was updated on April 13, 2002

Back to  My Arkansas Families Home Page

1999-2003 by Jim Porter