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William Leaton Porter
born: in Fulton County, New York, on August 30, 1864

Frances Ophilia Pierce
born: December 5, 1873 in Oconto County, Wisconsin

1. Lyman Pierce Porter

born December 31, 1893 in Cook County, Illinois

2. Frances Mildred Porter (Ryder)
born: July 31, 1897 in Ontonagon, Michigan

Not shown in this photo:
3. Ethlyn Leaton Porter
born: April 21, 1897 in Oconto County, Wisconsin.

This haunting photo of two precious young children, taken in the Lee Studio in Oconto County, Wisconsin, turned up at a shop in Vancouver, Washington. Their mother had carefully written the date, their names and ages on the back.  Who were their families and what was their history?

The photograph was taken February 29, 1896 at the long established Lee Studio in city of Oconto. The child on the left is Lyman Pierce Porter, age 2 years and 2 months. His sister, Frances Mildred Porter, age 7 months, sits on the right. Working from only that information, documents, censuses, vital and cemetery records create a whole montage of family histories. 

Parents of these two were William Leaton Porter and Frances Ophelia Pierce. They were married October 12, 1891 in Oconto County. At that time William was age age 24 and Frances age 17.  The bride was the only child of long time Oconto County lumber businessman and merchant  Lyman M. Pierce and his wife Ophelia Patterson.  

First born, Lyman P. Porter was born in Cook County, Illinois,  December 31, 1893. Frances M. Porter was born July 31, 1895 in Ontonagon County, Michigan. A third child was born to William and Frances. Ethlyn Leaton Porter arrived April 21, 1897, but passed away on July 12, 1897 in Oconto. 

In 1900, the family was living in the North Ward, city of Oconto and paternal grandmother, widow Mary Gulick Porter, was also in the household. There were no other  related Pierce and Porter family members there. Head of the household, William Porter, age 34 years, worked as an electrician. 

By 1910 the William Porter family had traveled to and settled in the city of Oakland, Alameda County, California where William worked as a draftsman in a sawmill. Home for the family of four was at 1701  48th Avenue.  The children's grandmother Mary Porter was not living with them there. The two young Porters were in school.

Children In The Photograph

Lyman Pierce Porter

On June 5, 1917, a 23 year old Lyman Pierce Porter filled out his World War I Draft Card.  He was described by  the registrar as being tall and slender with blue eyes and light hair. Lyman's occupation was "Railroad Draftsman" at the Flood Building S. F., Room 1178, of the Southern Pacific Company. He was single and living at 618 Morgana Avenue in Piedmont, California.

  March 23, 1918, in San Francisco, California, Lyman P. Porter married Velma S. Gardner.  He was age 24 years and his bride, born April 4, 1897 in Siskiyou, California, was age 20.  The couple was living at 2596 Hopkins Street in Alameda, California by 1920 where Lyman was a draftsman in a shipyard. Their neighbors came from all the the U.S. 

Lyman and Velma moved to Chicago, Illinois, where the lived in ti 442 block of Sake Street in the 37th ward.  He worked as a mechanical draftsman. Velma passed away in September 1963. They had no children.

Frances Mildred Porter

 November 7, 1918, in Piedmont, Oakland, California, just over 7 months after her brother Lyman's wedding, Frances Mildred0 Porter, age 22 married George W. Ryder, age 29.

Young Frances Mildred, also found on records as Mildred P. Ryder,  and her husband George W. were living with her parents, William and Frances Porter at 618 Morgana  Avenue in Alameda, California in 1920. The same city as her brother Lyman and his wife Velma Porter.  Father William was a mechanical draftsman in a canning machine manufacturer and George was a bank clerk. It was a booming time of great growth for that area of the nation, which was cashing in on the long growing season for fruits and vegetables that local farms produced.

The Ryder couple had moved to Chicago, Illinois, by 1930 where George worked as a clerk at the telephone company. Frances' parents lived next door and brother Lyman had also moved to Chicago by that time. Frances Mildred Porter Ryder passed away June 7, 1997, in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. They had two children.

Parents' Lives

William Leaton Porter was born in Fulton County, New York, on August 30, 1864, during the U.S. Civil War. His parents were Elias Kinnicutt Porter and Mary Ann Gulick. Williams father, Elias, was age 55 when he was born. William started out as a farmer on the family land, located in 1880 at  "Mayfield 1st Electric District", Fulton County, New York. He became an electrician early in the technology. This brought him the opportunity to travel, working under contract in cities as they went to electrification.  

William had two brothers and one sister, all born in Fulton County, New York; George Wilber Porter April 3, 1849, Mary Amelia Porter November 17, 1855 (she died April 27, 1861 in Gloverville, New York),  Selden Sherwin Porter May 27, 1862.   George Porter married, moved first to Michigan and then to Rhinelander, Wisconsin. They had 6 children.  He died there in 1921.  Selden Porter also moved to Michigan where he died in Leroy, Osceola County, in 1880. He was single. William Porter's father, Elias Kinnicutt Porter had been born November 19, 1808 and died in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York on October 1, 1885, just short of his 77th birthday. William's mother, Mary Ann Gulick had been born April 22, 1826 in Lockport, New York. She passed away after 1910, possibly in Michigan or California.    

Frances Ophilia Pierce was born December 5, 1873 in Oconto County, Wisconsin.  She passed away August 17, 1935 in Chicago Illinois. Frances O. was the only child of Lyman M. Pierce who had been born in Kenosha, Territory of Wisconsin and Ophelia Patterson Pierce, who had been born in New York and moved with her family to open a grocery at Oconto County, Wisconsin in the1850's. Their obituaries are below:

Oconto County Reporter
Feb. 28, 1896

Obituary Mention

Lyman L. Pierce

The funeral of Lyman Mitchell Pierce occurred in this city last Sunday, from the residence of his brother-in-law, E. F. Paramore, the services at the house conducted by Rev. George N. Mead of St. Mark’s Church and at the grave by Masonic order, of which deceased was a member. Death occurred at his home in Otonagon on Friday night, Feb. 21, of anthrax, or carbuncle, on the neck. He was ill for three weeks. The interment was in the Oconto cemetery, beside his wife, who died in 1887. The remains from Otonagon were accompanied by a deputation of brother Masons, among who was Past Master Parker, who so impressively conducted the ceremony at the cemetery.

Mr. Pierce was born in Kenosha, sixty two years ago the second day of this month, residing until he was 19 years of age. In 1851 he engaged with F. B. Gardner at Pensaukee to take charge of his camps in winter and in the capacity of sawyer in the mill during the running season at Pensaukee and Little Sturgeon Bay, continuing till the spring of ’58. On July 4, 1857, he married Miss Ophelia E. Patterson in Oconto, but one child blessing their union – now. Mrs. W. L. Porter, of Otonagon. Mr. Pierce built the house now owned by Charles Hall, in this city.

He was afterward identified with the mills of Oconto, logged for himself winters, and in 1871 he purchased the R. L. Hall planing and saw mill on the south side of the river. Three years later he sold out and built the first saw mill in Florence. After a time he returned to Oconto, and in ’89 took charge of a mill in Florida, but the following year came back and entered the employ of the Diamond Match company at Otonagon as mill foreman, which position he held up to the time of his death. Besides a Mason, he was a member of the Royal Arcanum and A. O. U. W.

Mr. and Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Dickinson – an intimate friend of the family – were present at the funeral, and many Oconto friends of deceased, and relatives, attended the last, sad parting.

Oconto County Reporter
Mar 5, 1887  

We regret to chronicle the death, on Monday last of Mrs. Ophelia Pierce, wife of our fellow townsman, Mr. L. M. Pierce. Deceased had been a sufferer for a long time, being afflicted with a cancer, which was the cause of her death. The deceased was 53 years of age at the time of her death, and having lived the greater portion of her life in this city, her circle of friends was large. She leaves a husband and one child, a daughter just entering upon womanhood. She is survived by her father, Mr. M.W. Patterson, a sister, Mrs. Dr. Paramore, of this city, and a brother  W.M. Patterson, Jr. of Denver, Colo.(Note Woodruff was the first name of W.M. Patterson. Her father M.W. Patterson was a long time dealer in general merchandise )

William and his wife Frances Pierce Porter, who married in Oconto County, Wisconsin, lived much of their marriage in California. Records indicate that this couple remained close, all their lives, with both their surviving children in the above photograph as they and both married children moved back to Chicago in the 1920's. Their son Lyman had been born there in 1893. William passed away in Chicago as died his wife Frances Mildred, who died on August 17, 1935.

Grandparents and Ancestry
Lyman M. Pierce
born: b Jan 1834 Kenosha, WI
died: 21 Feb 1896 21 Feb 1896
buried: Oconto Evergreen Cemetery 

Ophelia Patterson Pierce
Born: 1832 New York
died: 28 Feb 1887 age 52 years
buried: Oconto Evergreen Cemetery 


This branch of the Patterson Family was traced back to 1840 in Chenango, Boone County, New York.  

In 1850 the Patterson Family owned a grocery in Brownsville, Jefferson County, New York.  There were 6 members, all born in New York; head of the household M. W. (Mason Woodruff) age 42, Lucinda his wife age 32, Ophelia age 14, Decatur age 12, Frances age 10 and Woodruff Mason age 1 year.

During the 1856 the family moved to East ward in city of Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin where they opened a grocery.

Green Bay Gazette
June, 1868
Special Correspondent


A   Flourishing Village — Large Lumbering Interests -- Early Settlement -- 
Schools and Churches - Business Houses and Building -
Extensive Lumber Mills & c.

There are a number of stores which do the general business of the place and the county of which this village is the center. The larger of these do an annual business of from $25000 to $30,000. Thomas Milledge, who keeps a good general assortment, commenced business here twenty years ago—the oldest merchant in the place.  H. M. Royce has a business in the same line of about the same extent; both, do something in the line of jobbing.  W. L. Newton, M. W. Patterson, and Charles Hancomb are doing business of a considerable extent. There are nine stores of the above description.


History of Oconto County
George Hall

The first bridge across the Oconto River in Frenchtown was called the Patterson Bridge after Mr. Patterson who had a store at the southwest corner of the bridge. In later years this store became the Riverside Tavern, or the Bert and Milton Cain property, and then just the Riverside Tavern.

By 1860 the family was well established. Mason W., Lucinda his wife with children Frances and Woodruff were running the store. Son Decastur was a printer and living in a boarding house located in the West Ward of of the city. Daughter Ophelia had married Lyman Pierce July 4, 1857 and was living  in the city's West Ward. Frances Elizabeth Patterson married Edward F. Paramore August 19, 1860.  Mr. Patterson also opened a store in Gillett, Oconto County.


Oconto County Reporter
28 July 1888

Mr. M. W. Patterson

In this city, on Wednesday, July 26, 1888 of spinal-meningitis, Mr. M. W. Patterson, in the 84th year of his age. The deceased was a native of Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, where he resided until about fifty years of age, when, having lost the bulk of his means through endorsing paper for friends, he decided to try his fortune in the west, and in pursuance of this decision he arrived in this city thirty-two years ago, since which time he has conducted a mercantile business with varied success.

He never, however, experienced such a depression in his business that he was unable to pay every cent he owed - though about twelve years ago his earthly possessions were nearly all swept away by fire. In early youth he received injuries which rendered him a cripple for life, but his indomitable courage overcame his physical disabilities and enabled him to pursue successfully an active life and raise and educate a family of children. Integrity and independence were strong points in his character, and he not only commanded respect, but enjoyed the confidence and friendship of all who knew him. His illness was of only a few days duration, when he was summoned to lay down the active duties of life and enter into the rest eternal which his career of honesty and uprightness fully entitled him to. He leaves a wife and two children, Mrs. Dr. E. F. Paramore of this city, and a son, Mr. W. M. Patterson, of Los Angeles, Cal. The funeral took place from his late residence, Friday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, the services being performed by the Rev. Wm. Moyle of the M.E. church.


Evergreen Cemetery records list:

Decastur C. Patterson - Civil War soldier born in New York, died in Oconto August 20, 1866, age 28 years 2 months 10 days, "shot by E.F. Paramore", son of M.W. Patterson.

Lucinda M Patterson - wife of M.W., born in New York, died in Oconto April 28, 1864, age 48, consumption (tuberculosis).

M.W. Patterson (Mason Woodruff) - born in New York, died July 25, 1888 in Oconto, age 82 years, paralysis.

Porter  Family History Summary

Several researchers from this Porter family branch have traced the family back in Medieval England to Reginald De Port, born in the early 1300's.  The surname became Porter two generations later with John Porter in the later 1300's.  By 1430 William Porter was born in Markham, Nottinghamshire, and by 1500 the family was living in Trematon, Cornwell, England. Later generations of family homes in England were in Felstead, Little Baddow and London. King Henry VIII ruled from 1509 to 1547 at this time during the family's residence. Next to rule was 9 year old Edward VI, Henry's only legitimate son. Edward died shortly afterward in 1853. Half sister Queen Mary I was next to reign a short 5 years from 1853 to 1858 when she died of cancer. Queen Elizabeth I then reigned over England and the Porter family from 1558 to 1603.

The first member to immigrate to North America was John Porter, born in 1594 in Felsted, Essex, England, and died  April 22, 1648 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. Of his 12 known children, only the last three, were born in North America starting on July 19, 1640. The last child was born in England in the year 1637. This move to the "New World" took place for the Porter family during the reign of King Charles I.
Charles was one of the least popular or successful to ever sit on the throne, and the Porter family had left England just before the English Civil War (1642-1651).

Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island was home to the Porters in 1699.  New York State became the next stop by 1754, where the family farmed and experienced the American Revolution from England from 1776 to 1784, when the war finally ended for the United States of America. They are believed to have lived in Cortland, New York, before William Leaton Porter came to Oconto County, Wisconsin, in 1890 and married. 

Pierce  Family History Summary

The Pierce Family was first found in Wisconsin in 1850. Lyman was a 16 year old farmer, born in New York State according to the census, and living with 34 year old, New York State born, house carpenter Elijah B. Pierce. Also in the household were Canadian born Mary J Pierce age 26 and New York born Homen Pierce, age 5 years. Two houses away lived New York born farmer George W. Pierce, age 35 and Connecticut born Eunice Pierce, age 28. Adaline, 23, and Lucy French, age 22,  both Connecticut born, were also in that household.

By 1851 Lyman was working in Pensaukee, Oconto County.

Lyman M. Pierce, age 25, and his wife Ophelia Patterson Pierce, age 24, were living in the West ward of city of Oconto in 1860.