Biography of Samuel Morse Porter

Samuel Morse Porter. The career of Samuel Morse Porter is largely identified with the history of Caney, and no record of either man or community would be complete without full mention of both. A resident of this locality since 1881, and of the city itself since 1896, he has seen the little town grow and develop to substantial proportions, and may take a proprietor’s pride in this advancement, for it has been a part of his life work. With his own hands he has aided in the building up of what promises to be an important center of commercial and industrial activity; his faith in it has been strong from the first. Mr. Porter is one of the best known business men of Caney, where he has large moneyed interests. At the age of sixty-seven years he is stronger in mind than most men of fifty, and intensely acute and active in all the cares of business life. The success which he has achieved as lawyer, legislator, railroad builder and financier should be a spur to the ambition of every boy in the country.

Mr. Porter was born at Metamora, Lapeer County, Michigan, December 14, 1849, and is a son of Moses Green and Maria M. (Morse) Porter. His paternal grandfather was Moses Porter, a native of near Bristol, England, whence he emigrated to America prior to the Revolutionary war, settling in Ontario County, New York. He participated in the winning of American independence, serving seven years in the patriot army, during six years of which time he was on the staff of Gen. George Washington, and when the struggle was closed returned to his Ontario County farm and lived in peace until his death.

Moses Green Porter was born in 1819 on his father’s farm in Ontario County, New York, was there reared and educated, and as a young man removed to Metamora, Michigan, where he was married. Shortly after the birth of his son, Samuel M., he went to Oakland County, Michigan, where he settled as a pioneer on a new farm, and after clearing it from the timber engaged in agricultural pursuits. He met his death in a runaway accident at Walled Lake, in 1884. Mr. Porter was one of the strong men of his day and locality. First a whig and later a republican, he took an active part in political affairs, and at various times held local offices, among them those of supervisor and justice of the peace. He was a devout member of the Baptist Church, of which he was a deacon for many years, and belonged to the Union League and to several clubs which had their inception in the feeling that arose on issues identified with the Civil war. Mr. Porter married Maria M. Morse, who was born in 1818, in Cortland County, New York, and who died at Walled Lake, Michigan, in 1890. Their children were as follows: John Albert, who is engaged in farming at Wixon, Oakland County, Michigan; Samuel Morse, of this review; Edward W., who is a prominent practicing attorney of Bay City, Michigan; and Sarah, who is the wife of Homer Chapman and resides on the old home farm in Oakland County, Michigan.

Samuel Morse Porter attended the district school in the vicinity of his home in Oakland County, Michigan, and, after graduation from the Northville Union High School, enrolled as a student at Hillsdale College, where he pursued an academic course for two years. In the meantime, to add to his income, he had spent three winters in teaching in the country schools. He was graduated from the law school of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in the class of 1874, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Laws, under the late President James B. Angell, who died in 1916. At the time of his graduation, Mr. Porter commenced practicing law at Saginaw, Michigan, and continued to be so engaged there until 1881, when, recognizing the possibilities and opportunities of the West, he made his way to four miles east of Caney, then in Indian Territory, and settled on a new farm. This he developed into a handsome and valuable property, and in the meantime he practiced his profession in his community, handling many cases of importance among the early white settlers here. In 1896 Mr. Porter came to Caney to establish his permanent residence, and here his name has since been identified with many of the most important enterprises which the city has known.

Mr. Porter is associated in business with a number of large corporations, being counsel for a number of gas, oil and glass and brick industries. He maintains well-appointed offices in the Porter Building, which he erected, owns a fine modern brick residence on Fourth Avenue, has three business blocks and a number of city lots on that thoroughfare, and is the owner of a farm of 182 acres 2½ miles east of Caney, another property of 142 acres 1½ miles further east, and eighty acres of good land seven miles northeast of Claney.

As a promoter and builder of railroads Mr. Porter has done much for Caney and the surrounding country. He is president of the Kansas & Oklahoma Southern Railway Company, now in course of construction, which will open up new country in Oklahoma to the south and southwest of Caney; and, assisted by Jacob H. Bartles, for whom Bartlesville, Oklahoma, was named, built the Bartlesville branch of the Santa Fe Railroad, running from Havana to Tulsa. He was also president of the Caney Glass Company, vice president of the Caney Gas Company and of the Caney Gas, Oil and Mining Company, and was formerly president of the Caney Brick Company.

A republican in politics, Mr. Porter’s first official position was that of city attorney of Caney. In 1908 he was elected a member of the Kansas State Senate, and in that body demonstrated the possession of great legislative ability. He was chairman of the oil and gas committee and a member of the judiciary and other important committees, and at all times was very active in behalf of the interests of his constituents. He introduced state refinery legislation and other important bills, but the work which showed to the fullest extent his abilities was that connected with railroad legislation, this including the two-cent fare bill and the general supervision of railroads. This latter, which was the real start of the public utilities control of railroads, has been called the best bill the State of Kansas ever had passed, and as one of the framers of the law Mr. Porter is entitled to the gratitude of the public.

Mr. Porter is a member of the Presbyterian Church and has been generous in his support of its movements. In the line of his profession he belongs to the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Kansas State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He is a leading Odd Fellow and Pythian Knight, and stands high in Masonry, being a member of Caney Lodge No. 324, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Caney Chapter No. 90, Royal Arch Masons, both of Caney, and St. Bernard’s Commandery No. 10, Knights Templar, at Independence.

In 1874, at Walled Lake, Michigan, Mr. Porter was united in marriage with Miss Susie Hoyt, a daughter of the late Dr. J. M. Hoyt, a physician of that place; now deceased. Mrs. Porter died at Walled Lake in 1878, leaving two children: May, who married E. C. Johns, of Detroit, Michigan, a farmer who is also connected with the United States postal service; and Grace, who married J. W. Dodge, owner of the Dodge Electrical Company, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1884, at Caney, Kansas, Mr. Porter married Miss Elthea Smith, daughter of the late David H. Smith, who at the time of his death was a retired farmer of Caney. Mrs. Porter is the executrix of her father’s estate and is the owner of a business block and several residence properties at Caney. Mr. and Mrs. Porter have had the following children: George F., a graduate of Missouri University Medical College, and now a practicing physician and surgeon of Caney; Margaret, a graduate of Caney High School, and formerly the wife of J. T. Jaynes; Lucinda, who is the wife of H. V. Bolinger, assistant cashier of the Home National Bank of Caney.



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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