Robert Porter is (eighth) in direct descent from Richard Porter, who with others came over from Weymouth , England , in 1635, and settled at Weymouth , Mass. In the years 1648, 1654, 1663, and 1668 grants of land were made to Richard Porter. He was continually in office as selectman, constable, and upon committees; was a member of the original church, “Brother Richard Porter” often occurs on the old records. The name of his wife was probably Ruth, and he was doubtless married after arriving in this country. He died between Dec. 25, 1688 , the date of his will, and March 6, 1689 , the date of the inventory of his estate. The commencement of this will is quaint, and worthy a place in this history. "I, Richard Porter, of Weymouth, in New England, being­ apprehensive of my near approaching departure out of this world, and being, through the mercy of God of a short memory and disposing mind; trusting in the mercy of God through ye Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life: Do make this my last will & testament.” The line from Richard to Robert, of whom we write, is Richard (1), John (2), Samuel (3), Samuel (4), Joseph (5), Robert (6), Robert (7), Robert (8).  John Porter (2) is mentioned in the Porter genealogy as one of the most enterprising men of his time. He had many land grants, and was a large purchaser of lands in ancient Bridgewater . In 1693 he built the first saw-mill in what is now South Abington, at “Little Comfort,” and was a useful, honored citizen, holding all the various town offices at different times. Joseph (5), born June 10, 1730 , lived in Bridgewater and Stoughton , moving from Bridgewater to Stoughton in 1777. He and his wife were admitted to the North Bridgewater Church , of which his uncle, John Porter, was the minister in 1780. He was a lieutenant in the militia in the time of the Revolutionary war. Robert Porter (6), son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Burrill) Porter, born in Bridgewater, March 30, 1762, was a farmer, and resided in Stoughton ; married Elizabeth Gay, June 5, 1794 ; he had several children, among them Robert (7). Mr. Porter was an active, energetic man, was captain of militia, and served his day and generation well. He died Aug. 18, 1835 . We come now to Robert, father of the present ROBERT PORTER (7). He was born in Stoughton , Dec. 19, 1798 ; married first, Fannie B., daughter of Uriah Capen, of Stoughton , Aug. 20, 1822 ; second, Eunice Freeman, of Orleans , June 24, 1832 ; third, Mrs. Caroline P. Ames, of Milton , June 5, 1875 . His children numbered thirteen, Robert being the oldest. He died Nov. 9, 1876 , aged seventy-eight. He was a farmer and large real-estate owner, and for more than fifty years owned and lived upon the land where the town hall now stands. He laid out and built Porter and Canton Streets as far as the Catholic Church, also School Street from Pearl to same point, thence westerly over his land nearly to Water Street . He also extended Canton Street to the line between him and his son Robert (8), being nearly a mile in the whole, selling the lots to the first builders and dwellers thereon. He was a “road-builder” from his early days, having built the road through Ames ’ Pond about 1830, also the road through the old mill-pond at the head of the present Brockton reservoir, in 1838. In the latter he had a partner, Mr. Samuel Capen. His trade was that of stone-masonry, and he used to say that he “had stoned wells enough to measure three miles.” He got out hardwood timber, and inaugurated the wood and lumber business now carried on by his son Robert. He held several town offices, such as collector, constable, etc., was at one time deacon of the Universalist Church , but afterwards connected himself with the Congregationalists.

ROBERT PORTER (8) was born in Stoughton , on the Uriah Capen (his grandfather's) place on Pleasant Street, Dec. 6, 1823 , married Mary Holmes Drake, daughter of Luther Drake and Catherine (Pope) Holmes, his wife, Nov. 16, 1848 . Mrs. Porter was born in Sandwich . Their children are Mary Emma (1), died young; Mary Emma (2), born Dec. 26, 1850 , died Dec. 25, 1877 ; Theresa Jane, born March 17, 1853 ; Robert D., born July 29, 1855 ; Ellis B., born April 28, 1860; and A. St. John Chambré, born Sept. 27, 1867.

Mr. Porter had only the advantages of the common schools, and as be was early put to labor, his opportunities for education were very limited. When four years old, in the summer of 1828, be rode and drove horse to plow, continuing this for his father and others until his next younger brother was old enough to supersede him. When about eight years of age he began to accompany his father on his trips to Boston and drive team, and from that time to the present has been an active laborer in various departments of business. As soon as be was old enough to ride, he was set to ride horse in plowing out corn, and when nine years old “held plow and drove for himself.” He remained with his father on the farm and doing stone-mason work until be was twenty-one.

He established himself in business in 1845, by purchasing a timber lot in Easton , from which be removed the timber and wood and also made charcoal. He has dealt in wood and timber ever since, about forty years. He did everything that came in his way to make an honest day's work, drove team, stoned cellars, dug wells, laid stone walls, and has always been proficient. Among other things, selling and carting (with some aid in loading) fifty cords merchantable oak and chestnut wood four miles, on twelve and one half consecutive days, the loads, many of them, being divided between three and four purchasers. This was hauled on an eight-foot wagon, and one load of heavy oak contained nineteen and five-twelfths cord feet, and was so high that sometimes a hind wheel would rise upon the road. This was in 1847 or 1848, and when fifty years of age cut seven cords of pine wood in one day; at another time, one and three-eighths cords in seventy-four minutes, of which witnesses are now living. When thirteen years old be practiced tending windlass for well-digging, and lowered tubs of stone into wells for his father to lay. At one time, when near the bottom, the tub got the start, overbalancing him, as he weighed less than one hundred pounds, throwing him over the windlass. He shrunk from no productive employment, but never strove to make a dollar dishonestly. He purchased the place where be now lives June 15, 1852 . This was originally forty-five acres, and to this he has added by pur­chase until be now has in this place one hundred and two acres, and altogether about three hundred acres. When Mr. Porter purchased this place it was much run down, having scarcely a rod of good fence and a few “tumble-down" walls, and he could only cut three tons of English hay on the entire place. From this unpromising beginning, Mr. Porter, by expenditure of great time and labor, has changed it from a barren waste to a rich, productive farm. It has been said that “he who made two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, was a public benefactor." How much more applicable is this term to Mr. Porter. The farm was almost covered with wood, through which one could scarcely see a house. He cleared off the wood, extirpated the stumps, and laid out a private road across his farm, along which and the public highway be has set out fine shade-trees, being about a mile of distance. He has constructed hundreds of rods of drainage, open, stone, and tile. One drain, a rod in width. is over eighty rods; in length. Also stone walls of great beauty and solidity, and developed a charming scene of pastoral beauty from the primitive wilderness by his energy and taste. Mr. Porter is a model farmer, cuts more than sixty tons of fodder, follows no specialty, but engages in all departments of agriculture applicable to this section. He was the first to establish the coal business in Stoughton , which he has carried on for more than a quarter of a century. In this he disposes of from three to four thousand tons per annum. By the stringency of the panic times, in 1877, Mr. Porter was compelled to compromise with his creditors at sixty cents on the dollar. That his honesty and integrity was not impeached by this is evidenced by the fact that, immediately after settlement, his creditors offered to advance him funds to continue his business. In public and private life Mr. Porter takes a high moral and religious stand, and holds the' most advanced positions. His political life has had three stages, Free-Soil, Republican, and Prohibition. Having no aspiration for office, he has only accepted that of chairman of selectmen, one term (1854). He has, however, allowed his name to run in connection with senatorial and other offices on Prohibition tickets, merely as the representative of a principle, and enjoyed the satisfaction of running ahead of his ticket. He is an industrious, hard-working citizen, and enjoys the esteem of the community.

Source: D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men. (Philadelphia, Pa., J. W. Lewis & Co., 1884), pgs. 425-426.  

                                                                  Back to Main Page at