15 September 2010

PORTER Descent

"In the proliferation of Porters in colonial Connecticut, several large and unrelated families can be sorted out.  Significant among them are the descendants of John and Anna (White) Porter of Windsor; of Dr. Daniel, Thomas and Robert Porter, all of Farmington; and of Richard Porter of Weymouth, Massachusetts." 
This quotation is from The American Genealogist article 'Some Connecticut Descendants of Richard Porter of Weymouth, Massachusetts' by John A. Leppman [1].  Unfortunately, I am not a descendant of Richard but of Dr. Daniel, and there is not as much written about him.  It is, however, reassuring to see a published article in a reputable journal saying that these several PORTER families are unrelated.

On the other hand, my PORTERS were somewhat prominent and left many records in the Hartford, Connecticut area and later in New Haven. It becomes just a bit harder to separate them when they left Connecticut for Vermont in about 1797.  But, I am blessed with one of those probate documents that you read about in a journal and ask, 'Why didn't my ancestor's leave a record like that?'  !

Thomas Porter (husband of Abigail Bates) appeared 20 February 1799 at a probate court in Waterbury, Connecticut on behalf of his father Ashbel to settle the estate of his grandfather Thomas Porter [2].  Thomas, the grandson, and his father Ashbel are both specified as being 'of South Hero in the County of Chittenden State of Vermont.'  Finding one document that clearly lays out three generations in two states for this common surname settled many of my concerns about correctly connecting PORTERs!

Conclusions
Probate records can be wonderful finds, especially for common surnames in colonial New England.  Maybe someday I'll attempt to find Dr. Daniel's English origins, but I think that will take a lot of work and a lot of luck!

This line of descent is:
Dr. Daniel Porter (American immigrant prior to 1644) =  Mary
Dr. Daniel Porter  =  Deborah Holcomb
Capt. Thomas Porter  =  Mary Welton
Ashbel Porter  =  Hannah Norris
Thomas Porter  =  Abigail Bates
Homer Thomas Porter  =  Dolly Ann Bates
Celim Homer Porter  =  Clara Evelene Davison
L Willis Porter

SOURCES
[1] The American Genealogist, 1977, vol 53, p. 31.
[2] Waterbury, Connecticut: Register of Probate Records. FHL film #6,139; Item 2: Volume 3, 1799-1820, p. 118. (Note: there are many other Porter entries throughout this film.)

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