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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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CAPT. J. W. PORTER, iron-manufacturer, Sewickley. Robert and Isabella (Wilson) Porter, the grandparents of Capt. Porter, were sturdy Scotch farmers, whose ancestors had fought for religious liberty. James Porter, the father of Capt. Porter, was born May 9, 1797, in Forfarshire, Scotland, and immigrated to America in 1837. In New York city he was one of the contractors and builders of the Astor House and the City Hall. In 1837 he came to Sewickley, Pa., where he was a farmer and horticulturist till old age demanded lighter toil, and he became a merchant, a vocation he has followed for over thirty years, being the oldest merchant in Western Pennsylvania. His many good traits of Scotch character have secured him a multitude of friends, who cheer the evening of his life. His wife, Helen (Grant), a native of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, was possessed of great force of character, having those rare qualities of head and heart that make influence for good far reaching; and her son, Capt. J. W. Porter, attributes much of his success in business to the teachings and precept of this noble woman. She died Feb. 24, 1888, aged eighty-eight years. Of her nine children, six reached maturity: Mrs. Ann F. Dickson, Capt. J. W. Porter, Capt. Robert Porter, Mrs. Margaret J. McClelland, David R. and Mary E. Porter.

Of these Capt. J. W. Porter, whose name heads this biographical memoir, is a native of New York city. He came to Allegheny county when he was eight years old, and at the age of twenty entered upon a successful career as river man. He began at the bottom of the ladder, and soon became clerk and then captain. His first boat was the J. W. Hailman. He has furrowed all the principal rivers in the Mississippi valley, and has led a stirring and eventful life, his knowledge of men and business being proverbial. He has been a successful man, and in the space of fifteen years of river life amassed a fortune. He was in the government employ in the civil war, carrying troops, ammunition, transport, etc. He was present at the battle of Pittsburgh Landing, capture of Fort Donelson, Belmont, Island No. 10 and other engagements. At one time he carried Gen. Buckner (the present governor of Kentucky), with his staff and two hundred rebel prisoners, from Fort Donelson, where they were captured, to Louisville, Ky., on their way to Fort Delaware, near Philadelphia. With his boat he ran many rebel batteries, and had many narrow escapes.

Since the war Capt. Porter has engaged extensively in the iron business, the firm being known as J. W. Porter & Co. The captain was married, in 1865, to Miss Martha L. Ebbert, who died Nov. 25, 1879, and this union was blessed with two sons, John E. and J. W., and two daughters, Mary Cre and Martha A. The sons are associated with him in business. It is but just to say of Capt. Porter that he is a self-made man in every respect, and has been the mainstay and support of his aged parents for many years. He has been identified with Allegheny county for half a century, and few of its business-men are better or more favorably known than he. He is a director of banks and insurance companies, and one of the executive managers of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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