FREDERICK W. PORTER

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 48-50

FREDERICK WILLIAM PORTER.  No kindlier citizen ever dwelt in Chicago, no truer Mason ever took his obligation, than the subject of this sketch, Frederick W. Porter.  Mr. Porter was born in the town of North Brookfield, Massachusetts, on the 12th day of May, 1836, being a child of Dr. Joshua and Martha Lee (Smith) Porter.  His grandfather was a noted practitioner of medicine in that region for close upon half a century.

Mr. Porter's education was obtained in the neighboring Leicester Academy.  He then went to Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the employ of F. M. Holmes, to learn the upholstery craft for a period of two years; thence to Boston, Massachusetts with Burnham, Scott & Company, manufacturers of gents' furnishings, as entry clerk for four years.  He then changed to the firm of Faxon, Elms & Company, of Boston, as bookkeeper for two years; then, in 1865, in poor health, came West; first to work on a farm in La Salle County, Illinois, for John Aylsworth, teaching school in the winter.  In 1866 he went with Franklin Dimmick, of Utica, Illinois, as a buyer of grain and produce.  In April, 1867, he went to Marseilles, Illinois, to work for Rhoderick Clark, an uncle of his present widow.

In August of the year last mentioned, Mr. Porter came to Chicago, as purchasing agent for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway, in charge of their supply department.  In the spring of 1870 he returned to Marseilles to work for Pierce, Clark & Sharp, contractors for the building of the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Railway.  In 1871 he returned to Chicago, to go with Kirby, Carpenter & Company, and in 1873 went with Palmer, Fuller & Company as bookkeeper.

Upon the death of his father in 1876, he went to the old eastern home to live with his mother as her comforter for a year; then in the spring of 1877 returned to the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway as General Bookkeeper, with which he remained up to the time of his untimely death.   In 1886, as a reward for faithful and very devoted and able services, he was made General Auditor of the system, in the conspicuous discharge of which duties he continued to the very day of his death.

Mr. Porter was one of the most prominent local Masons, of which fraternity he was a chief ornament and delight.  He first entered Cement Lodge, No. 304, Utica, Illinois, May 18, 1867; in 1868 he affiliated with Waubansia Lodge No. 160, of Chicago, in which year he was exalted in Wiley M. Egan Chapter No. 126, R. A. M., Chicago.  In 1878 he was Royal and Select Master of Fairview Council No. 161, R. & S. M.; in 1879, W. M. of Waubansia Lodge; and in 1881, Secretary of the same until 1885; in 1888, created a life member of the same; in 1891, an honorary member of Normal Park No. 797; in 1892, G. E. P. & S. of Van Rensselaer Lodge of Perfection; a member of the Chicago Council, P. of J.; Knight of Gourgas Chapter, R. C; S. P. of the R. S., O. Con.  In 1893, K. T. in Englewood Commandery No. 59, and W. P. of Normal Park Chapter No. 211, O. E. S.  In 1894, N. M. S., Medinah Temple.

Mr. Porter died very suddenly at the Grand Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, of heart disease, overcome by the joyous excitement of a Masonic function which he had gone there to attend, September 27, 1894.  His funeral was held at his residence, No. 7117 Wentworth Avenue, Englewood, under Masonic auspices, honored by a most magnificent casket at their hands, and with a profusion of beautiful flowers it is rarely one's lot to look upon, even in this age of grand floral display.  He was a member of Prof. W. F. Black's Central Church of Christ, near the corner of Indiana and Thirty-seventh Streets, whose pastor officiated very feelingly at the funeral; and then they bore the noble man's remains to Oakwood Cemetery.

A fine specimen of physical manhood, his mental gifts were in all ways worthy of emulation.  His chief virtue was his quiet giving–"The greatest of these is charity."  He gave to every body who asked and needed his aid.  Since his death numberless instances of such kind have arisen to notice, but he always did it in a quiet manner.  Indeed, it was this admirable trait of common brotherhood (more laudable if lived up to by all) which operated to prevent his leaving as good provision as would otherwise have been the case for his family, which he loved with a devotion not easy to make known in words.

Mr. Porter was a Republican, very ardent, but not a politician.  He was also a member of the Hamilton Club at one time.  He had a penchant for collecting rare coins, and is reputed to have possessed one of the finest private numismatic collections in the city.

As a penman it would be hard to excell him, either in plain or fancy work.  His "Annual Auditor's Report," gotten out for the railway, was each time really a utilitarian piece of art.

Mr. Porter married, June 20, 1872, Miss Susie E. Ryall, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, but early came to the United States and obtained her education at Oberlin College, Ohio, where Mr. Porter first became acquainted with her.  He left one child, a daughter, Kathleen Eggleston Porter, who has the singular honor of being the first child born in Eggleston, which event happened upon the twenty-fourth day of January, 1887.   Mrs. Porter comes of a very distinguished Irish family, her father being George Ryall, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin.   He was the eldest son of John Ryall.  The family seat was in the neighborhood of the Irish Capital.

The Porter family is of very ancient and certain origin.  William the Conqueror had in his train a certain William de la Grande, whose son Ralph was Grande Porteur (gate-keeper) to his Majesty King Henry I. from A. D. 1120 to 1140.  From this fact originated the succeeding patronymic of "Porter," for at this early date there were no surnames among the people of the north of Europe.  The early Normans derived theirs from occupations, personal peculiarities or other individual distinctions.

The family coat-of-arms, which was very tastefully expressed on a stained-glass window of his Englewood home, is as follows:   Sable, three church bells argent, on a fess azure, charged with a fleur de lis; crest, a portcullis azure, chains or; motto, Vigilentia et Virtute.

The remarkably preserved line of descent of the family is as follows: Ralph Porter, Robert, Hugh, Hugh (of Markham, Nottinghamshire, England), Robert (of North Ellington, England), Stephen (of Ravensby-Hoo, Westmoreland, England), Richard (of Baynham Abbey, Sussex), Thomas (of Lyndhurst, Kent), Richard (of Mickletyon, Gloustershire), John (Sergeant-at-Arms to King Henry VIII.), Edward (of Aston, England; married Angelina Porter, of Spain, daughter of Giles), Endymion (of the Manor House of Aston Sub-Edge; a Gentleman of the Royal Bed Chamber; had a patent connected with the Customs of the port of London), Edmond, George, and John, all of the preceding fifteen generations being of English stock, concerning some members of whom there is preserved valuable data in the standard biographical and genealogical English work, "Lives of the Lords Strangeford."

John Porter, son of the last aforesaid, was born in Dorset, England, probably in 1596, and was a tanner by trade.  He came to Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1635, whence he removed to Salem (now Danvers) in 1644.  For valuable American data of this family, vide the "Porter Genealogy," by Hon. J. W. Porter, of Burlinton, Maine, published in 1878.

Samuel, of Wenham, Massachusetts, a mariner, married Hannah Dodge, of Beverly, Massachusetts, and died in 1660.

John, born  in Wenham in 1658, married Lydia Herrick, of Beverly, was a representative to the General Court, Town Moderator, etc.; a maltster and farmer.

Samuel, born in Wenham, February 17, 1681, married (1) Sarah Bradstreet, of Topsfield, a granddaughter of Governor Bradstreet; (2) Experience Batchelder, of Wenham.

Samuel, born in Wenham November 14, 1711, a housewright.

Samuel, born in Wenham (now Hamilton), Massachusetts, January 15, 1739, married Anna Patch, of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Joshua, 1782, of Wenham, Massachusetts.

Joshua, Jr., born in Wenham January 4, 1809, worked through Amherst College, and subsequently graduated from Bowdoin Medical College of Brunswick, Maine.  Married Martha Lee Smith, a daughter of Stephen and Abigail (Hooper, widow of James Hooper, Crafts) Smith, from whom sprung the Frederick W. Porter, subject of this sketch.

These twenty-four consecutive generations of male descendants is certainly a very unusual fact to find in our democratic country.

                                -- Submitted on 9/15/99 by Sherri Hessick ( slhessick@crosswinds.net )