Monday, December 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 54 Weeks: Week 5: Tracy Darrow Porter

*I had to change from "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" to "52 Ancestors in 54 Weeks" because I fell off the wagon.

Tracy Darrow Porter, my 2nd great grandfather, was born on August 30, 1863, in Oregon (either Portland or Albany). He was the first child of Orville Tracy Porter (1838-1916), a newspaperman and later U.S. Marshall, District of Alaska, and Matilda Biddle (1846-1927), daughter of businessman B.R. Biddle.

Tracy was to spend most of his working life as a printer. At least as early as 1880, when he was 17, he was living away from home in Junction, Oregon, and working as a compositor.

Tracy registered to vote in Sacramento, California, on 11 Sep 1886.  After this point his trail goes cold for a while.  Sometime between 1886 and 1895 Tracy apparently got work down in the South.  I do not know the circumstances and would like to figure out at some point what prompted him to go to Mississippi.  Whatever the cause, though, family information indicates Tracy married Caroline "Carrie" Celestine Avery, daughter of John Warren Avery and Celestine Herrod (daughter of Barnabas Herrod and Susan Grubb), about 1895 in Mississippi and the following year their first child was born in Lyons, Coahoma, Mississippi (basically in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area).  I haven't found records with that information, but I have found Tracy on an 1896 tax record in Lyons:
["Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951," index and images, FamilySearch (,212018101 : accessed 22 Jul 2014), Coahoma, County tax rolls 1896-1898, Box 3915, image 134 of 548; citing Government Records, Jackson.]

Tracy's father-in-law John Warren Avery died about 1899, and by the 1900 Federal Census Tracy and his growing family had moved with his widowed mother-in-law, Celestine, to Meridian, Lauderdale, Mississippi.
[Year: 1900; Census Place: Meridian Ward 3, Lauderdale, Mississippi; Roll: 815; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0018; FHL microfilm: 1240815]
He lived in Mississippi until at least April 1904.  His daughter Violet was born in Louisiana somewhere in April 1906.  Then by August 1907 he started showing up in the Biloxi/Gulfport newspapers.  According to the Daily Herald in Biloxi, Tracy (or T.D.) was part of a typographical union in August 1907, and later became president of the Typographical Union of America in Biloxi/Gulfport by 16 Oct 1909.  He was generally referred as T.D. Porter during the period he spent in Gulfport.

1910 Federal Census reveals Tracy with his family in Mississippi City (which is now part of the greater Gulfport area).  His brother-in-law, Henry Clifton Avery, a boilermaker, was also nearby.  Curiously, Tracy was listed as a house painter.
[Year: 1910; Census Place: Mississippi, Harrison, Mississippi; Roll: T624_741; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1374754]
It's never easy being a businessman.  Tracy declared bankruptcy by December 1912:
Bankruptcy Petition
A petition in bankruptcy was filed this morning in the United States district court by T. D. Porter, a printer of Gulfport, through his attorneys, Rushing & Guice.  His assets are scheduled at $200, exemption claimed, and his liabilities at $363.
Biloxi Local News Paragraphs of Interest
Date: Wednesday, December 4, 1912   Paper: Gulfport Daily Herald (Gulfport, MS)   Volume: IV   Issue: 53   Page: 8 (from
But by August 1914 he filed a charter for a printing company.
Tracy was found a few more times in the local newspapers, as a jury member, and as a member of the Home guard (in April 1917).

Sometime before the 1920 Federal Census Tracy, his family, and his mother-in-law Celestine had moved to Shreveport, Louisiana.  Perhaps they had lived there before, since daughter Violet had been born in Louisiana:
[Year: 1920; Census Place: Shreveport Precinct 13, Caddo, Louisiana; Roll: T625_608; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 70; Image: 1072]
Sometime during 1920 they all moved to Dallas, Texas, as they are first found in the Dallas city directory in 1920:
["Porter Tracy D printer Texas Trade Review r 1008 Marion" from Publication Title: City Directories for Dallas, Texas State: Texas City: Dallas Year: 1920 Publisher: John F Worley Directory Co Page Number: 1140]
Tracy and Carrie appeared together in the city directory in Dallas until 1925, when she was listed as "Mrs. Carrie Porter, canvasser," and Tracy was nowhere to be found.  I suspect they divorced (or at least separated) sometime between 1923-1925, I have to see if I can find such a record.

He showed up in the 1927 Gulfport, Mississippi, city director as the the foreman of the Gulfport Printing Company:
[TD Porter in Gulfport about 1927, from Gulfport, Mississippi, City Directory, 1927]
By 1930 he had moved to Cheneyville, Rapides, Louisiana:
[Tracy D Porter in Cheneyville, from Year: 1930; Census Place: Cheneyville, Rapides, Louisiana; Roll: 816; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0020; Image: 687.0; FHL microfilm: 2340551]

In 1940 he was living in Placerville, El Dorado, California, and stated that he had been in Fresno, California, in 1935 (I can't find him in the Fresno city directory in that time, however):
[Tracy D. Porter in Placerville, from Year: 1940; Census Place: Placerville, El Dorado, California; Roll: T627_199; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 9-13]
I found an unexpected record for Tracy and his daughters Annie Sue and Letta Estella.  According to the Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 1943, Tracy and Sue wrote the lyrics to a song called "Down South Pacific Way", some guy named Harry J. Edwards wrote the music, and Letta submitted the work:
Down South Pacific way; w Sue Porter & T. D. Porter, m Harry J. Edwards. © 1 . Sept. 20, 1943; E unp. 347484; Letta Estella Turnbull, Dallas 34457
Since Tracy's father Orville Porter had published his poems about Alaska in the work "Poems on "Alaska, the land of the midnight sun," I guess it shouldn't surprise me that Tracy had a literary bent.  I have not seen the actual work, but I am assuming it was written in support of the American military fighting in the Pacific theater during World War II.

By 1944 Tracy had apparently made a circle back to Sacramento, where he was listed in the voter's registration.  He was listed as a retired Democrat:
[Tracy D. Porter, retired, in Sacramento, California, 1944, from State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library.]
I'm not sure what Tracy was doing in Sacramento.  He did not appear to have any family in the area.  When he died the following year on April 14, 1945, he was buried in the Sacramento County Cemetery (see the attached .PDF file at bottom)(also more here on the cemetery), which was for indigent burials.  It seems sad that he died alone and was buried in a pauper's grave by the coroner.  I'm guessing he was found dead.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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