By Eilene Lyon
Please read Part 1 before proceeding.
The Second Clue
After the Jefferson Zane/Zinn fiasco, I set the Addison W. Porter problem aside…until I began reading through some documents from my research trip to Idaho in June. Yep, another clue about Porter turned up. How random is that?
Most of the research involved Elias D. Pierce’s memoir and the biography I’m working on. Pierce was Samuel Jones’s brother-in-law. And Samuel was Porter’s father-in-law, so this is all Jones-related stuff.
The clue was buried in a pile of correspondence from Charles W. Jones to another distant Jones cousin. Charley Jones lived in California much of his life, and Josephine Jones Porter was his first cousin. In one letter, he goes into some detail about most of the Sam Jones family, whom he knew personally.
This sentence jumped out at me: “The sister to Emma Getz, Josephine, married a Mr. Porter (a relative of former Gov. Porter of Indiana) who had 3 sons & a daughter whom I also know.”1
Given how the Jones family (Emma, anyway), co-opted the Zane name, and given how Charley Jones loved the notoriety of his “Uncle Pierce” and Pierce’s connection to California history (including some dubious stories Charley tells), I’m gonna take this declaration with a big grain of salt, right?
Another Semi-famous Relation?
Charley grew up in Indiana, so he certainly knew about Governor Porter. Did he make that connection, knowing Addison was from Indiana, or did he hear it from Addison or Josephine?
When someone uses the phrase “a relative of” I initially think first cousin. Maybe even second cousin or in-law. In this case, we have two people with the same last name.
How can I not at least check out this “Gov. Porter” guy? Shouldn’t take long to get a little bio on a politician. Wikipedia, coming up! With a few basic facts including birth date, death date, parents, and geographic locations, I turned to Ancestry.com as well.
Albert Gallatin Porter served as Indiana governor from 1881 to 1885 (feature image), and two terms in the U. S. Congress from 1859 to 1863. He was also in a law office partnership with Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd President.2 Biographers typically mention his older half-brother, Andrew Oliphant Porter, who was known as Oliphant or Olly.
Their father was Thomas Porter. Olly’s mother, Mercy Tousey, died not long after his birth. Thomas then married Miranda Tousey (not a sister, but possibly first cousin of Mercy). She is the mother of Thomas’s subsequent children, including Albert. Miranda had a brother, Omer Tousey, who is a key player in this tale.
Checking out the first-cousin hypothesis, I found that Thomas Porter had no brothers, only sisters. Albert Porter, therefore, had no Porter first cousins. Digging around various Ancestry trees, I couldn’t find any Porter second cousins, either. Could Addison have been Albert and Olly’s brother? Addison, born in 1832, was the right age to be Thomas and Miranda’s son.
The Porter Family
Thomas, originally from Pennsylvania, moved to Boone County, Kentucky, where he met his wives near Burlington, close to the Ohio River. He decided he preferred living on the Indiana side of the river at Lawrenceburg, and this is apparently where their children were born.
In the 1830 census, there are four children in the household in Lawrenceburg.3 In 1834, Miranda’s father, Moses Tousey, died and Thomas Porter decided to purchase his estate. Moses had a mercantile in Boone County at “Tousey Town”, a ferry service – and some slaves.4 The Porters moved across the river, back to Kentucky.
From a book on Dearborn County (Indiana), I learned that Omer and Lucinda Tousey had no children of their own. Their household in Lawrenceburg in 1840, however, has five free whites under age 20. Could these be their Porter nephews and nieces? One male in the household is the right age to be Addison.7 The 1850 census shows Ann Porter living with the Touseys, and she is indeed Olly and Albert’s younger sister.8
With no descendant’s and lots of money, I figured Omer’s will would be worth a look – and it was. Written in 1863, he names his wife first, of course, then immediately following are Olly, Albert, and Ann. Ann was apparently ill, because the will makes provision for the possibility she will pre-decease him, a premonition that came to pass. Though the will names many other relatives and employees, no more Porter children are mentioned.9
After Miranda died, Thomas Porter sold off his assets and his fortunes declined. The fact he died at the home of his sister made it seem unlikely he had anything left to bequeath.10 He died in 1854 and did not leave a will.
I began searching for a probate case and finally found one in the March 1856 term in Dearborn County. Omer Tousey was the administrator and the only significant asset was a U. S. pension in arrears for over $3,000. (Thomas served in the War of 1812.)
Here is Omer’s explanation of how this asset would be distributed: “No 1 In amount of arrearage of Pension Funds Recd from agent for paying Pensions from Madison January 9. 1855. And under pension Laws of United States payable to his…children Andrew O. Albert G. Ann F. & Pinkney J. Porter.”
Pinkney J. Porter! So there was another son in the family, still living in 1856.11
I added Pinkney to the family tree with an estimated birth year of 1830 +/- 5 years to search for records. Just a couple items appeared. Pinkney J. Porter of Indiana joined the U. S. Navy on March 8, 1848 and then resigned on June 4, 1849.12 The summer of 1849 – I’m thinking “gold rush.”
If Pinkney joined the Navy when he was 18, then my 1830 estimate for birth year is good. But a little too old to be Addison. Next, I did a newspaper search and turned up this absolute gem:
If Pinkney was 11 or 12 in 1844, then he was the same age as Addison. And clearly not a favorite of his Uncle Omer. What a precocious child! And notice that he has a fair complexion and blue eyes. Addison had light complexion and gray eyes at age 60.
Pinkney ends up being the black sheep of the Porter family. It turns out he joined the Navy at the age of 15 and quit by age 17. Did Pinkney* head to California and change his name?
Feature image: Albert G. Porter, Governor of Indiana (102.24 x 76.2 cm. – Oil on canvas), 1885, by Thomas Clement Steele. (Wikimedia Commons)
*Pinkney’s name was properly spelled “Pinckney” but frequently turns up without the “c.”
- Letter from Charles W. Jones to Leslie Johnson dated March 3, 1947. University of Idaho Special Collections MG 5384. ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_G._Porter ↩
- Thomas Porter. 1830; Census Place: Lawrenceburg, Dearborn, Indiana; Series: M19; Roll: 27; Page: 208; Family History Library Film: 0007716 – via Ancestry.com ↩
- History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana. Vol. 2. 1885. Weakley, Harriman & Co., Chicago, pp. 948-949. ↩
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87800896/miranda-porter ↩
- Thomas Porter. Year: 1840; Census Place: Boone, Kentucky; Roll: 104; Page: 263; Family History Library Film: 0007823 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Omer Tousey. Year: 1840; Census Place: Dearborn, Indiana; Roll: 77; Page: 63; Family History Library Film: 0007723 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Omer Tousey. Year: 1850; Census Place: Lawrenceburg, Dearborn, Indiana; Roll: M432_141; Page: 263B; Image: 101 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Omer Tousey. Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Wills and Probate Records, 1774-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. ↩
- History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana. Vol. 2, p. 875. ↩
- Indiana, Wills and Probate Records, 1798-1999, Dearborn, Complete Probate Record, Vol 4, 1856-1857, image 98, Ancestry.com. ↩
- Navy Department Library – Naval History and Heritage Command; Washington, D.C.; Navy Register: Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine; Year: 1849 (v.1), image 88, Ancestry.com. And: Navy Department Library – Naval History and Heritage Command; Washington, D.C.; Navy Register: Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine; Year: 1850 (v.1), image 113, Ancestry.com. ↩