JOHN PORTER, one of the most substantial and energetic business men of New Cumberland, W. Va., was born at Martin's Ferry, Ohio, August 7, 1838. His father, Moses Porter, was born in Ireland, and came to America when about fifteen years of age. He resided in Wheeling, W. Va., and at different places in Pennsylvania, and followed the business of manufacturing brick. In about 1836, he came to Hancock county, W. Va., and began the manufacture of fire-brick, which he continued until his death, in March, 1845. Mr. Porter's mother is still living, at New Cumberland. After the death of his father Mr. Porter made his home with his uncle, James Porter. He received his education in the common schools of Hancock county, and obtained the greater part of his instruction in the old time log school houses. He was married in 1869 to Carrie A. Mahan, who was born in this county, daughter of John L. and Barbara (Brenneman) Mahan, the former of whom was born in Baltimore, Md., September 17, 1814 and came to this county about the year 1830, and has since been one of the prominent citizens, and is a farmer by occupation. Mrs. Porter's mother is a granddaughter of Jacob Nessley, one of the earliest settlers of this section. Mr. and Mrs. Porter are the parents of six children, of whom Lea Virginia, Frederick G., James B. and Jacob Nessley are living, and John C. and William K. are dead. He and family are members of the Presbyterian church. Politically Mr. Porter is an ardent republican, but his extensive business interests have occupied his attention to such an extent that he has had but little time to devote to politics. Although Mr. Porter was left when young to make his own way in the world, he is now one of the leading manufacturers of the upper Ohio calley. His first work for himself was keel boating on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, carrying the products of the fire-clay industries of this section to western and southern markets. He soon became interested in the manufacture of fire-brick, and in 1859 became part owner of a fleet of keel boats, and as his business increased, the keel boats were replaced by tow boats, several of which he owned and operated for a number of years. Since 1881 Mr. Porter has devoted his entire attention to manufacturing. He is now sole owner of the Aetna, Eagle and Union Fire-brick works of this place, and is largely interested in the Sligo, Clifton and Enterprise Brick works, and the Black Horse Sewer-Pipe Terra Cotta works. Besides this he is the principal owner of the Chelsea Iron Stone China and Decorated Ware works, which was recently constructed, and cost more than $100,000. One year ago where this magnificient building now stands was a weed patch, and the rapidity with which this gigantic enterprise was completed and put into operation, illustrates the energy with which Mr. Porter goes into any enterprise. The entire building is constructed of fire-brick, over 1,500,000 having been used. For the foundation 2, 200 perches of stone were required. The lower walls are eighteen inches and the upper walls thirteen inches thick. Eight kilns sixteen and one-half feet in diameter and fifty feet high are completed. The power is furnished by a 130 horse power Corliss engine. The building contains eighteen different departments, in each of which different parts of the work is done. It covers a full acre of ground, contains 620 windows, and the ventilation is as nearly perfect as possible. Although the works have been in operation but a short time, they are turning out ware of a superior quality and everything indicates a prosperous future for the Chelsea China Company. Most men who succed as well in business as Mr. Porter has done are somewhat too conscious of the fact, but he is as modest and unassuming as he is energetic and successful and the greater part of the facts in this sketch were obtained from his neighbors and friends. The following from the Hancock county Independent shows the estimation in which he is held by those who know him best, and proves also that he is ever ready to do what he can for the good of his country: "The citizens of New Cumberland and the manufacturers along the river are indebted to John Porter more than any one else for the completion of the railroad to this place. His untiring energy and push have secured to the people the services of a road that would not have been built, to say the least, for some years to come. There were great discouragements in the way, but Mr. Porter, having determined to get the road, never looked back, and the New Cumberland branch is here today, a monument to his enterprise, perseverance, and untiring energy. Cumberland has reason to be proud that she has such a man to lead her out of the wilderness."
Copyright © 2006 Danice Ryan. All rights reserved.