Biography of David M. Porter

David M. Porter. It was an exceedingly difficult thing to wring a livelihood from the prairies and virgin soil of Western Kansas forty years or more ago. Where a few succeeded many failed. The conditions were so adverse that failure was not entirely discreditable and all the more honor should be paid to those who persisted and finally won the golden fruits of success from adversity.

One of such men is Mr. David M. Porter of Beloit. Mr. Porter had no need to work in his declining years, since he could merely enjoy the fruits of his well earned competency.

His career in Kansas began in the month of August, 1871, when he came to this state from Iowa. He had lived in Iowa for a few years, working at his trade as a carpenter. His birth occurred in 1845, more than seventy years ago, in Clinton County, New York. He was reared and educated in his native state and learned there the trade of carpenter, which proved such an invaluable asset to him during his early years in Kansas.

On coming to Kansas Mr. Porter took up a homestead in Mitchell County. That old homestead he still owned. It is situated in Plum Creek township, and now represents a high state of cultivation and the best of improvements in which the modern Kansan takes pride.

Two years after coming to Kansas, in 1873, Mr. Porter married Miss Caroline Martin, daughter of William and Emeline Martin. To their marriage were born four children: Fred, Minnie B., Elmer and Carl.

His married life did not begin very auspiciously, since in 1874 that dread plague of grasshoppers descended upon Kansas fields and practically stripped them of all herbage and things green and necessary to the farmers’ subsistence. Hundreds of the homesteaders gave up entirely, became discouraged and went back East, from whence they had come. Mr. Porter made only a temporary truce with the enemy. Instead of abandoning his claim and retiring defeated from Kansas, he merely took a leave of absence for a couple of years and going back to Iowa found means of supporting his family by work at the carpenter’s trade. After the scourge of grasshoppers had passed by he returned in 1876 and applied himself with new energy and determination to the task of making a home and living out of a quarter section of land. Since then he had more than made good in this undertaking. It is true that he had the advantage of a number of the early settlers, since he was master of a mechanical trade, and when the country was new and the crops very light he could turn to carpentry as a source of living. Mechanics in the early days were quite scarce, and many of the settlers were quite willing to exchange cash or other valuable products for his services in the building line.

For a number of years Mr. Porter did an extensive business as a dealer in livestock besides general farming. With advancing years he more and more confined himself to general farming. In 1893 he removed to Beloit and bought 160 acres of land in a high state of cultivation close to that city. Since then the land, under his master hand, had responded with bounteous crops and had become one of the finest farms in that section of Mitchell County. His buildings are the best as to efficiency and also in architectural lines, and he enjoys all the comforts and conveniences of modern living. Besides his original place in Plum Creek Township and his Beloit farm he had another quarter section of land and also owned the building at Beloit occupied by the McDonald Furniture and Undertaking business.

David M. Porter was one of nine children born to James and Margaret Porter. Eight of these children reached maturity and three others, William, Margaret and Barbara, all now deceased, came out to Kansas. Mr. David Porter is a worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and in politics is an independent voter.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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