Biography of The Hon. Wilber F. Porter


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Porter, Hon. Wilber F.- The history of the State and of the bar of Jefferson county, could not be truthfully written without giving Mr. Porter a prominent place in its pages. Born of humble parents, in Herkimer county, N. Y. June 22, 1832, at the age of six years moved with his parents to Jefferson county, where he attended the common schools, finishing his education in the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary and the Fulton Academy. After havipg taught school in his county two winters, he began the study of law. Mr. Porter's ambition had been from boyhood to obtain a classical education, but was unable to secure the means necessary to attend college, a fact which he has always regretted. It might be mentioned that it was the desire of his parents' hearts that he should equip himself for the ministry, but his aspirations were of a legal character, so while still teaching he began reading law with Laban H. Ainsworth of Cape Vincent. Shortly after he came to Watertown and continued his studies in the office of Bagley & Wright; in 1857 he was admitted to the bar and at once opened an office in Cape Vincent, where he successfully practiced until the spring of 1860, when he returned to Watertown, entering the office of Bagley & Wright, where he remained ten years. He then opened an office alone, but in 1870 formed a copartnership with Edmund B. Wynn which continued to 1877; he then formed a new copartnership with ex-Judge Walts, which existed until 1883, when Mr. Porter's son, Charles G., entered the firm under the name of Porter, Waits & Porter; in January, 1897, Judge Waits withdrew, and the style of the firm became Porter & Porter. The strict integrity, the legal acumen, and the domestic purity of Mr. Porter's life have been duly recognized by his fellow citizens, and many honors, both political and social, have been conferred upon him. His first political office was that of trustee of the Second ward of the then village of 'Watertown. While Mr. Porter has been a consistent lifelong Democrat, this ward had a natural Republican majority of about seventy-five, which Mr. Porter's popularity overcame. He was afterwards five times elected mayor of the city of Watertown and so popular had his administration become that he was on one occasion nominated by both political parties and elected without an opponent. In 1896 he was nominated by the Democratic party for governor of the State and while he was defeated, his personal popularity was shown by the strong vote he polled in many Republican strongholds. Mr. Porter was appointed a member of the Court of Claims by Governor Flower, which position he has held for the past six years. Mrs. Porter died August 6, 1892, leaving one son, Charles G., born September 10, 1861. Mr. Porter is a prominent Mason.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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