Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Working on Wednesday: William Porter (1796-1868), Silversmith

My paternal grandmother Letta Estella Porter Warren's great grandfather was William Porter who was born in Vermont in 1796. His family moved to New Hampshire when he was about four years old and that's where he married Martha Shepard in 1818.

In about 1826 he and his family moved to Mexico, not the country on our southern border, but a village in Oswego County, New York, where he lived for the rest of his life.

For the first time, the 1840 U.S. Census "reported the number of persons in each household who engaged in mining; agriculture; commerce; manufactures and trades; navigation of the ocean; navigation of canals, lakes, and rivers; and learned professions and engineers." The entry for William Porter's household had two people who were employed in agriculture and none in any other category.

The 1850 U.S. Census is the first to list all the members of a household by name, a wonderful innovation for genealogists. In that census, William Porter's occupation was given as "Silver Smith" and the value of his real estate was $1,500 which would be worth almost $43,000 today.

[ 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.
Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

The next two census records we have for William (1855 N.Y. State and 1860 Federal) give his occupation as "Farmer" and  in the 1865 N.Y. State Census his occupation is listed  as "None." He died in 1868.

Was William Porter really a silversmith as he claimed in 1850? Unfortunately, we simply don't know for sure because no supporting evidence has been found. A history of Mexico published in 1895 doesn't mention the family at all.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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