Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's Your Day Thursday John President Porter: 1818-1895

John President Porter is the second son, 4th child of Sanford Porter and Nancy Aretta Warriner. He is my 2nd Great Grandfather.

In reading John Presidents story, written by his granddaughter, I begin to wonder if the DNA thing means we inherit more than our physical traits but others too. I see much in John Presidents story that I relate to.

On October 5, 1843 John President married Nancy Rich at the home of her brother Charles C Rich in Lee County, Iowa. This is where my great grandfather, their first child Joseph Rich Porter was born.

JP, he is sometime referred to, was in Winter Quarters in 1847 where so many died of illness and lack of food. Another 2nd great grandfather, Elisha Cragun died there; along with a daughter. In this year they joined 132 others in the Charles C Rich company to cross the plains to Utah. He was 29 years old.

They left Winter Quarters on June 14, 1847. It was only five days into their journey that Charles C Rich journals that they encountered three Indians which fired on them, painfully wounding brother Weatherby who died the next morning. Others died later from Indian attacks.

Soon they joined with other companies and divided into groups with Captains of hundreds and fifties. These were hard times for the pioneers, they often had disagreements and short tempers. Their journals have many stories of disputes which ended in asking for others to forgive them. Often their animals bolted, sometimes injuring them. Their cattle were at times stolen and killed by the Indians. Their wagons often broke down. They often encountered large herds of buffalo. In one instance two angry bulls came charging into their camp. One nearby company lost 50 head of cattle and their party sent help to find these cattle. The Indian encounters weren't always bad; in late July they came across about 100 Indian men of the Ogallala tribe. They invited them to eat with them and showed off their cannon by allowing them to fire it off. Later these returned with an additional 200 to trade with them and see the cannon. One thing they traded for was robes made out of buffalo skin. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley October 7th. Many died on the way, some just the day before they entered the valley.

Soon after arriving in Utah John family went to what is now Centerville. They had always understood that the bottom land lying close to the river was more fertile and with this though in mind took up land down near the lake. Being near the Great Salt Lake was not the case and the farming was poor.

During the gold rush JP went to California and to pan for gold and returned with a large some of money and a bag of gold nuggets, which enabled him to provide comfortably for his large family.

The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, we severely persecuted, murdered, and plundered for their religious beliefs. Immigrating west to the Utah Territory was an exodus to live their lives in peace, free from persecution. One of his children wrote in his journal: "Something that was indelibly impressed on my mind as a young child, was that the government was sending an army of men with guns to kill every Mormon. Everybody was talking about it, but mother said that they would not be able to do that. Then I remember Brigham Young told all of the people the army was getting close. They called out all of the spare men and boys, one Eli Kilbourn who I knew, to go to Echo Canyon and help build up a defense so they could hurl down rocks  on one sided and bombard the other. It seemed to me from what they said, that Brigham would do anything, no matter how many men came. The next spring as I remember, father had just planted his crops when word came from Brigham Young that the army was coming, and for everyone to get ready at once to move south, and leave their buildings ready for the match. A few men were to be left to burn them at a given signal." He goes on to write about the events of moving south.

Several of the Porter family founded Porterville, west over the mountains from Centerville. It is a beautiful valley. I have seen what I believe are the homes that John President Porter built in both Centerville and Porterville. I hope to return and verify I have them correct before posting photos. They are very tasteful in design.

It seems that John President was able to sustain a good living from his farms and orchards in Centerville and Porterville. He raised crops, peaches, and cane. The made enough molasses to supply their needs of sweetening through the winter. He also kept several hives of bees near his homes. He also raised beef and pork for their own needs.

The gold success lived in his heart. There is a hillside area in Porterville they called Hardscrabble. As soon as his sons were able to take over the farming work John focused on the hills looking to mine the valuable oars he believed were there. He spent every cent he could spare from the family income trying to uncover the rich veins that were always only a few feet away.

Quoting his granddaughter "This continued as long as John President lived. The last work he ever did was in the mines. A deep shaft had been sunk in on one of the Hardscrabble mountains and from all indications, as grandfather understood them, a rich vein of gold was just out of sight. He was all excited and promised his wife and daughters gold buttons for their coats that winter.

One morning when he returned to work, he found several feet of water in the bottom of the shaft. They tried to bail it out but it ran in faster that they could bail. A pumping system was badly needed, but was too expensive to be considered unless they could be sure the gold was there. Grandfather decided to drive a pipe deep into the shaft, believing that when the pipe was drawn out, enough ore would be clinging to it to convince his doubting family, that the gold was there. The pipe was driven in, but when they attempted to bring it out, it broke off a few inches under the ground. Grandfather gave up. He sank down on the ground and said, "This is the end."

They took him home in the old lumber wagon, over the rocky, bumpy road, a tired broken old man, and tucked him into his good old feather bed. When he arose the next morning, the family saw a white stricken face. They put him into bed again. He was suffering with a severe ailment and needed expert medical care and hospitalization which, of course, was impossible. Ten days later he passed away, May 28, 1895 at the age of seventy-seven. And the gold in the old shaft is still "just a little way away.

John President was a leader in making roads, building school houses and canals. He was a school trustee and on the water commission for many years. The chart below shows over 200 deceased descendants. I am honored to be one of the many living descendents. I am not so anxious to meet him, but will at the same time be glad to, and hope to have some one on one time with him.

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