Rev. Henry Axtell Porter was born August 17, 1858, in St. Louis, Mo., but claims hereditary rights in Ovid, where his grandfather, Rev. Stephen Porter, was among the early pastors of the Presbyterian Church, and where his father, Rev. J. Jermain Porter, D. D., was born. His boyhood was passed in Watertown, N. Y., to which his father's family removed in 1864.Here, on June 1, 1873, he was received to full communion in the First Presbyterian Church, of which his father was pastor. In 1874 he completed his preparatory course in the public schools, as valedictorian of his class, and entered Hamilton College, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, and from which he was graduated with honor and literary oration in 1878. He then took charge of the classical department in Gleason Academy, Chicago, for a year, after which he was for four years instructor in Greek in the Collegiate School of New York City. At the same time he pursued his studies in Union Theological Seminary, from which he was graduated in May, 1883. During these four years he also engaged in practical Christian work, first, as a city missionary in the slums of East New York then, for a short time, as a home missionary in Evans Mills, N. Y., and afterward, for about a year, as stated sup-ply of the Presbyterian Church of Avondale, N. J.
In 1883, having previously been licensed by the Geneva Presbytery to preach the gospel, he was ordained by the Presbytery of Nassau, and in-stalled as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, L. I., one of the oldest churches in the United States. It was then at a low ebb, but during this pastorate was greatly increased in strength. Mr. Porter was married on the 18th of October, 1883, to Miss Emily Rockwell Holt, only daughter of the late W. K. Holt, of Hartford, Conn. They have three little daughters.