MAJOR WILLIAM K. PORTER, a veteran of the late war, an officer who bravely earned his promotions, now a resident of Cazenovia, was born in Baltimore, Md., January 21, 1827. He is a son of the late Professor Nathaniel Porter, a native of Worcester, Mass., and grandson of Samuel Porter, a farmer who owned and occupied a large farm near that city. Nathaniel Porter was educated in the schools of Worcester and at Amherst College. His first work was teaching, which he gave up to be a clerk in a mercantile house in New York City.
Joining a church choir and being constant in attendance on divine service, he became converted, and was received into church membership. Applying himself to the study of theology, he became a preacher of the gospel. In 1825, on the opening of Cazenovia Seminary, he was engaged as its Principal. Ably discharging the duties of this office till the autumn of 1826, on account of ill-health he then resigned, and went to Baltimore as teacher of a select school, which position he held one year. The remainder of his brief life was devoted to ministerial labors. After a year at Morristown, N.J., he was called to Newark to take charge of a newly established church. He was very successful in his ministry, and added three hundred members to his church the first year. He preached in Newark and vicinity, and resided in that city till his death, August 17, 1831, at the early age of thirty years.
The maiden name of his wife was Laura Anna Kilborn. She was born in Cazenovia in July, 1807. Her father, Hon. Jesse Kilborn, was born in Litchfield, Conn., August 3, 1778. (See genealogy of the Kilborn family.) He married Abigail Ward, a native of the same town. In 1806 Mr. and Mrs. Kilborn emigrated from Connecticut to Madison County, making the journey by land. Cazenovia was then a very small place, and they were obliged to take lodgings in the basement of the Presbyterian church. They soon bought property on Sullivan Street, near the present site of the Green. Mr. Kilborn first engaged in the dry-goods business. At this time all merchandise was drawn by teams from Albany. Later for a number of years he was in the drug business. In 1821 he was commissioned Postmaster, which office he held nineteen years, or during the administrations of Monroe, Adams, Jackson, and Van Buren. In 1833 he was elected to the General Assembly. For many years he was Trustee and President of the Village Board. He died here May 14, 1842. His wife died in March, 1878. Their daughter, the widow of Rev. Nathaniel Porter, was married a second time to Rev. L. A. Eddy, a preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church. She spent her last years in Cazenovia, dying here in June, 1891.
The subject of this sketch was four and a half years old when his father died and his mother returned to Cazenovia. In addition to the educational advantages of this town, which he duly improved, he profited by a two years' course of study in select schools at Ridgefield and New Canaan. Leaving school at an early age, he began the business of life at Lockport as clerk in a wholesale drug store. Failing health led him to give up this position, and devote a year to farming, preparatory to passing a year in Genesee College at Lima. At the end of this time he bought a farm in Batavia, which he cultivated for seven years. Selling this place, he moved to Worcester, bought another farm, and engaged for four years in market gardening. His next move was to Owego, Tioga County, where he engaged in the wholesale boot and shoe trade until 1862. In July of that year he enlisted in Company C, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh New York Volunteer Infantry, and served with the Army of the Potomac till after the battle of Gettysburg, when the Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps were united to make a provisional corps, and sent to Tennessee to join General Hooker's army, and in due course of time to form a part of the Army of the Cumberland. He served until the close of the war. Among the important battles in which the regiment was engaged may be mentioned Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wahatchie, Ringgold (Ga.), battle of Lookout Mountain, known as "the battle above the clouds," and Missionary Ridge. It was with Sherman's command in his grand march from Chattanooga to Atlanta, participating in the battles en route and in the siege and capture of that city. The division to which he belonged was the first to march into Atlanta. Its course was from this city to Savannah, and thence, via the Carolinas and Richmond, to Washington and the Grand Review. He was discharged with his regiment in June, 1865, and returned home. He was mustered as Orderly Sergeant, and was made successively First and Second Lieutenant. After the battle of Gettysburg he was promoted to the captaincy of his company, and continued in command from that date. At the time of his discharge he was Brevet-Major. In the fall of 1865 he went to Owego, and engaged in the boot and shoe and leather findings business. His store being burned two years later, he left Owego, and accepted a position in the New York post-office, which he held seven years. He then returned to Cazenovia, where he has since resided.
Major Porter married in 1848 Agnes M. Greenland, of Brooklyn, N.Y., daughter of William and Sarah (Marshall) Greenland, natives of England. They have one son living, William N., a dentist of New York City. Mrs. Porter is a member of the Episcopal church. Major Porter belongs to Cazenovia Lodge, No. 616, A. F. & A. M.; and Knowlton Post, No. 160, Grand Army of the Republic. His life has been one of useful and varied activity. In the vigor of his early manhood a defender of the imperilled Union, he may be counted on in his declining years to be true to the principles of liberty and law, and to lend his influence to the cause that is just.
A portrait of Major Porter is presented in this connection, as being an interesting addition to his life history as narrated above.
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