The Civil war was a hard school for the training of youth and yet there were thousands of brave and noble hearted
American boys who gained in that great conflict lessons of endurance and perseverance which enabled them later
to attain positions of responsibility and honor. Of this number was Joseph Porter who for twelve years was
county clerk of Oneida county and one of its most respected citizens. He was born at Springfield, Massachusetts,
September 4, 1846, and died in Oneida county May 19, 1902, at the age of fifty six years. He was of French descent
and the family name was Dupont. The father moved to Utica, New York, when the subject of this review was in his
childhood. At ten years of age he lost both of his parents by death, but soon afterwards was given a home with
a kind hearted man, Daniel Porter, of Oriskany, by whom he was adopted.
The subject of this review gained his early education in the public schools and at the Bielby schoolhouse. Daniel
Porter was an earnest abolitionist and Joseph early became imbued with his ideas. As early as 1856 he and Isaac
Biethy assisted in the distribution of anti slavery literature among the farmers of Oneida county and even as a
boy he argued earnestly in behalf of freedom for the slaves. He made his first public speech in support of Lincoln
and liamlin, candidates for president and vice president of the United States, in 1860, when he was only fourteen
years of age. In September, 1861, at the age of fifteen, he and Daniel Porter, the only son of his benefactor,
enlisted in the Union army in Company E., Second New York Heavy Artillery, a command with which he continued for
three years. Daniel Porter was killed at the battle of Pittsburg Landing. Private Joseph Porter participated in
many of the most important engagements and movements of the war and was always to be found at the post of duty.
He received several wounds in the first attack on Petersburg, Virginia, June 16, 1864, but none proved serious.
At the expiration of his time of enlistment he was honorably discharged and returned to Oneida county.
Feeling the need of a more complete educational training than he had yet received, he entered Whitestown Seminary
where he remained two years. From 1867-68 he was connected with the general store of Luther Williams at Whitesboro.
In the meantime, however, he had decided to enter the profession of law and in 1869 came to Rome and began studying
under the preceptorship of Messrs. Fargo & Barnett. He was admitted to the bar of Oneida county in 1871, showing
an ability from the start that indicated special talents as a speaker and as an expounder of law. He soon attracted
a lucrative clientage. In 1872 he was chosen as clerk of the board of county supervisors and was reelected in 1882
and 1883. In 1893 he was elected as a member of the general assembly of the state from the old second district
and proved one of the most active and useful workers in that body. His record in the legislature is one of which
his friends were justly proud. In November, 1900, he was elected county clerk, a position in which he continued
during the remainder of his life.
On January 30, 1879, Mr. Porter was united in marriage to Miss Ida Knox of this city and three children were born
to their union, Winifred, Bessie and Bayard Dupont. In politics Mr. Porter never faltered in the support of the
republican party, a party with which he was identified from the time he cast his first ballot and whose principles
received his hearty assent. The old soldiers never possessed a better friend than Joseph Porter and no man in Oneida
county was ever more successful than he in securing pensions for the veterans of the Civil war. He was a valued
member of Skillin Post, No. 47, G. A. R., and served as commander of the post. He was also a member of Rome Council
No. 150, Royal Arcanum. Of a friendly, accommodating disposition, he always looked upon the bright side of life
and had a cheerful word and an encouraging smile for everyone he met. He saw good in everything and his whole life
was controlled by his hopeful temperament. He was a true soldier, a patriotic and useful citizen, a genuine friend
to his fellow beings in need and ever ready to make any sacrifice to promote the happiness of those he loved. Mrs.
Porter is still living and resides in the family home at No. 601 North James street, Rome.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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