Harlan Porter(son of Alex, son of Andrew J. Porter)July 25, 1981Track 3

Interview with J. C. Porter

 

Apparently I was asking Harlan his opinion of the story that Eva Owens told me about her grandma Belle (when she was 9 years old) living with Andrew Porter and daughter Nancy Jane Porter just after Belleís mom (Andrewís daughter) Sena Porter Brown died in 1885Ö

 

JC:They drug Andrew Porterís mom on a sled from Robertson County, KY, she was a blind woman.I never heard anyone else say that.It did not add up.It sounded kind of weird.They said she smoked a pipe.Your aunt Sena died in 1885, three years before your grandpa Andrew Porter died.She (Eva Owens) said that her grandma, Belle came to live with Andrew.And also living there at that time was Andrew Porterís mom, an old blind lady, and Andrewís daughter Nancy Jane, who never married.She is in the records, but no one else has ever mentioned her.She would be right next to Levi.And she said they all lived there, and that old woman would smoke a pipe.She would sit in front of the fireplace and smoke a pipe.She said it was Andrewís mom.

Harlan:I never did hear that.

JC:You would think that you would have heard that.

Harlan:I would have thought that my dad (Alex Porter, son of Andrew J. Porter) would have said something about that.Iíd say it would be true about the pipe.Iím not sure which one it was but, it might have been grandma (Lucy Cornett Porter) that smoked a pipe.I believe, I might have that wrong, but I believe that grandma did smoke a pipe.

JC:Is that right?
Harlan:I believe thatís right.I never did hear him (Alex) say she was blind. I donít think she was.

JC:Maybe that is somehow your grandma she is speaking of that was smoking the pipe.That adds up.†† Maybe since she was sickly, they did bring her back from Robertson County on a sled.

Harlan:Ya, they might have done it.

Harlan:She (Lucy Cornett Porter) was sickly quite a while.I believe she had been sick for several years.I wouldnít be too sure about that, but I believe that is right.

Harlan:My dad (Alex) talked like he would have always liked to go back to the old homeplace in Grayson County, Virginia.

JC:Did he ever make it back?

Harlan:Never did.That was a long ways then you know.

JC:How did they come up here from there?

Harlan:If he has told me, I donít remember.

JC:Did he say anything about them ever going through Ohio when they came here?

Harlan:No.

JC:He never said anything about that then?

JC:Your cousin Ed, Leviís boy, where was he born at?Could he have been born in Ohio?

Harlan:I wouldnít know.He always lived right over there at the place where he died.Ever since I can remember.What are you doing there?

JC:Iím recording.

JC:Letís see, your aunt Mary Dwelly has a daughter in law living who is 83 or 84 I think.

Harlan:What was her husbandís name?

JC:Jess.

Harlan:Jessie.

JC:She told me that Mary Dwelly told her the Porterís came through Ohio when they came from Virginia to Kentucky.

Harlan:They could have done it.I donít remember ever hearing my dad say.

JC:Did you ever hear of a Jerry Porter?(This question was in regards to the 1870 Elliott County, KY census where Leviís name looked like Jerry)

Harlan:I donít think so.

JC:Same age as your Uncle Levi.

Harlan:Donít think I ever heard of him.

Harlan:Did you ever get time to talk to that Patrol?Iím not to well acquainted with him.Everyone says he is nice, and if a Patrol can be called nice, heís got to be a pretty nice fellow.

JC:Must be.Heís a patrolman huh?Whatís his name, do you know?

Harlan:I forgot.

JC:I might go over and look him up next time I am down.

Harlan:You just get over here to Elliottsville, Hogstown, and stop there at anyone of these stores, and I am satisfied, he trades at the Supper? Store.I am satisfied they could tell you just how to get to his place.Now he married Willie Caudillís daughter.

JC:And he is related to you?

Harlan:See, he is the Dowdy outfit.Heís a Dowdy.See, I talked to his father.He said we was relation.He said weíre kin son, pretty close too.He told me who his mother was.He tracked it right on back, I knew he was telling it right.She was his 2nd wife.He had half brothers.

JC:Was their name King?

Harlan:No Dowdy.

JC:I mean his half brothers.I think that woman was married twice.1st to a King, then to a Dowdy.

Harlan:I didnít know about that.Anyway, he was married twice.These other boys was older than him.

JC:Ya, I might go over and talk to him next time.

JC:So your dad (Alex) never got into that table walking?

Harlan:He didnít believe it.Oh he knew there was something to it.He says it is the wrong spirit.

JC:Did John (Porter, son of Andrew) ever get involved in that?

Harlan:I donít think Uncle John had anything to do with that.I donít think Uncle Steve did either.Uncle Levi might have.I wouldnít be surprised if he did, but I donít know that he did.

JC:What did the rest of them think about Levi doing all that stuff?

Harlan: Oh they just made fun of it.They didnít go for it at all.

JC:Did they condemn him, or just joke about it?

Harlan:I think they condemned him about it.

JC:Did they?

Harlan:My dad didnít believe a bit of it in the world.You know back yonder, well they might have it yet, in Huntington (West Virginia), they had a Medium there that you could go talk to the dead.

JC:They did?

Harlan:Ya. Uncle John (Porter, son of Andrew) lived right up here in the holler, where I moved from. He (John) went to talk to grandpa (Andrew) Porter after he died.He come down over there, Tom Gooden had a store, right where that little house is.He told him, ďIím going to talk to you today Tom.ĒHe went over there, and he said that grandpa (Andrew) told him where he was at when he preached the last sermon he ever heard him preach.

JC:He did?

Harlan:Ya.Even, now I think this is right, I think he told him the text he used.

JC:Is that right?

Harlan:That had Uncle John tore up a right smart bit.Well then he called up Tom Gooden.Tom was sitting right there, and Tomís wife was with him.Said he wanted to talk to Tom Gooden.They say he talked to him.He told him that Martha was dead. ††Told him a bunch of lies.And so he (John) lost faith in it.My dad said a lot of people went there and was going crazy talking to dead people.They was telling them a lot of things that was true.And they knew it was true.He said they just spent a lot of money.They would go right back and talk to them again.He said he told him a lot of truth about grandpa.Then he got talking to Tom, and him a hearing it.(laughing)

JC:He knew they were faking it then?

Harlan:He done caught him in a lie.

JC:You say John lived right up here in this house that you lived in?That log house up there?

Harlan:Ya. He gave that to his daughter Becky (Nickles).

JC:He did?

Harlan:Ya.He deeded it to Becky and her heirs.He was afraid Bob (Nickles, Rebeccaís husband) would sell it you know.

JC:He was?

Harlan:He thought they couldnít sell it, but Bob moved to Illinois, and he sold it.You take a place like that, if you make an affidavit that you need that place.Say your dad would deed you a place to you and your heirs.If you make that affidavit and swear that you need that money to raise and educate the children, the court will make you a deed.So I bought that off of Bob Nickels after his wife died, and the court made me a deed.Sold it at the courthouse door.

JC:Who did John buy that house from?

Harlan:Jesse Justice.

JC:Was he the one that built it?

Harlan:I guess he is.

JC:John bought it right from him?

Harlan:I think thatís right.

JC:Your grandpa never lived up there did he?

Harlan:I donít know where grandpa lived.

JC:Mae thought she knew where he (Andrew Porter) lived.Where did she say?Mae heard that he lived someplace where they had a dirt floor.Some log house with a dirt floor in it.

Harlan:Iím sure that dad said Jesse Justice built that house up there.Itís right smart over 100 years old.

JC:Seems like Mae said Andrewís house was right down here on your property someplace.Was there ever an old house down here?

Harlan:There was an old house back yonder in that holler.

JC:Could that have been it?

Harlan:It could have been.When I was young, there was part of an old log house still standing.It was close to where Dadís place came up on top of the hill.It was down in the holler there.They could build a house anywhere.Just have one horse to get out to the road here.Walk through the woods you know. Just as apt to build way off the road.

JC:They didnít have any good roads then anyway.

Harlan:They didnít have no good roads no way.

JC:Somebody was telling me that when Levi was in the war, he sneaked off and his commanding officer said, ďHey, where is your pass?ĒHe pulled his pistol out and said, ďThis is my pass.ĒDid you ever hear that?(Someone else said that Andrew Porter did this)

Harlan:I never did, but I wouldnít put nothing past him.

JC:Then Mrs. (Nona) Dwelly said that during the war, they were gone to war, and the soldiers came by their house.Their mom (Lucy Cornett Porter) was there, and your aunt Mary (Dwelly) was there, and they wanted something to eat.They showed them where the apples were buried in the back yard where they kept em.They went back there and she washed the apples off for them.Then one of the soldiers started to go in the house.His commanding officer told him not to go in there.They have been nice to them, so he wouldnít let him go in.

†† She also heard, your aunt (Mary Dwelly) told her, that when Levi got out of the army, he was about starved to death.He came home, and his mom could only feed him a little bit at a time.She was afraid it would kill him.I guess he was a prisoner of war for a time.

Harlan:He probably was.I know my dad said that Grandpa Porter always favored Uncle Levi above them all, because he took his place.

JC:Were you the one who said he (Levi) shot his neighborís pigs?

Harlan:No(laughing)

JC:Someone said that when he came home he killed the neighborís hogs.Then he found out they were really his dadís hogs.

Harlan:I guess he was a pretty bad actor?Heís got a lot of ancestors (he meant descendents) thatís not too good too.Joe Cross living down here said there were two stocks of these Porters.The Long Neck bunch, that was Uncle Leviís bunch.He didnít know how close kin we was.Then he said this other bunch was the short neck bunch. ††(laughing)

JC:Short neck bunch?

JC:What was Leviís wife like?Was she pretty mean too?

Harlan:They said she was a good mate for Uncle Levi.I did know where she came from.She was from away from here.I canít remember where.

JC:Was it someplace in Virginia?

Harlan:I wouldnít know.I just canít remember.I donít think she had any relation here close.Ya, they said she was a good mate to Uncle Levi.Aunt Bettie.Uncle Levi got down and froze his beard to the ground, he was drunk.

JC:He passed out?

Harlan:He passed out, and his beard froze to the ground.(laughing)I guess thatís really a fact.

JC:Did they have to cut it off?

Harlan:I donít know.(laughing) ††I just know that Iíve heard it said that his beard froze to the ground.

JC:Papaw (Everett, s/o Jasper, s/o Alex, s/o AJP) said something about a fireball rolling out of his house and busting on the ground.

Harlan:I donít know.Jas (Jasper) lived over there pretty close to Uncle Levi.

JC:He did?

Harlan:I expect that Everett was born over there.I donít know whether he was or not.Anyway, he lived over there.They said Everett was sitting out there, just a little fellow, on Sinking.Said Everett said, (singing) ďOh Sinking Hurry, oh God.Ē(laughing)

Harlan:Now Jas was another one.Everything was a joke with him from start to finish.All of his life.Told you about them going to burn his hat didnít I, when one of the kids was born.He said, ďOh donít burn that!Theyíve done burned Joe KeatonísJoe was the daddy to Challis ? you know.

JC:He (Jasper) must have been something else.

Harlan:He was a joke from start to finish.

JC:Were any of the others like that?

Harlan:He was the worst. ††(17:28)