In 1929, Susan Malvina Porter of Cooksville wrote a remembrance—or a “sketch,” as she called it— of her Grandmother, Amey Pitman Potter Porter (1789-1871). Susan recited her story as part of a family reunion or part of the many popular annual “Old Settlers Picnics” held in the village. And she may have used the Cooksville Cemetery as a backdrop for her story.
|Susan Porter (1859-1939)
Susan Porter (1859-1939) was
the daughter of William Micaiah Porter (1818-1891), one of the three Porter
brothers born to Amey in Massachusetts. All three brothers eventually settled
in and near Cooksville. William had traveled to South America (his diary of that
trip is in the Cooksville Archives) and came to Cooksville in 1849, but soon
joined the Gold Rush to California. He
Susan was a life-long teacher
in various southern Wisconsin communities. She wrote this brief story about her
Grandmother, which provides glimpses of early life in the Wisconsin frontier
settlement established by the Porters in 1846 on land they had purchased from
the famous Senator Daniel Webster. The Porters named their newly-platted village
“Waucoma,” which they located next to John and Daniel Cook’s earlier Village of
Cooksville platted in 1842.
Here is Susan’s hand-written story
from 1929, titled “Amey Pitman Potter Porter.”
|Amey Porter's D.A.R. plaque in the Cooksville Cemetery
Our Grandmother, Amey Pitman Potter Porter, was the oldest daughter of Capt. Wm. Potter in a family of eight. She had great beauty and intelligence. After she returned from Boarding School, she had many suitors who sought her in marriage. The successful wooer was Dr. Isaac Porter, at that time a student in Brown University, Providence. He took his degree from Brown in 1808 and received his medical degree from Dartmouth College in 1814.
Our Grandmother, Amey
Pitman Potter Porter, was married to Dr. Isaac Porter in 1817. They established
a home at Charlton, Mass., fifty miles from Boston. Four children were born to
them: William, Joseph, Phebe Rebecca, and Isaac.
William Micaiah Porter (1818-1891), son of Amey.: Susan Porter's father
|Joseph K.P. Porter (1819-1907) son of Amey, and wife Ann Eliza Porter
|Isaac Gallup Porter (1827-1899), son of Amey, and his wife, Anna (1827-1866)
Dr. Porter was especially skilled in surgery and much of his practice was in Boston. Our Grandmother was proud of her able husband, but she longed for more of his companionship in their home. She always encouraged her sons to take up the independent life of a farmer.
The Middle West was
beckoning. Wisconsin had a fair name.
This very spot on which
the Cemetery is located is a part of the area taken up by Daniel Webster in
1837. He planned to have his sons establish an estate here. They were not of
that mind. In 1842, he sold the land to his friend and physician, Dr. John
Porter, brother of Dr. Isaac Porter. He had six sons whom he expected to place
upon this area. The Golden West lured them, and they settled in California.
The sons of Dr. Isaac and
Amey Pitman Potter Porter bought these fair acres and reared their families
here. But to go back to Massachusetts: The whole family decided to migrate to
Wisconsin. Dr. Porter was detained by business.
And now a crushing blow
fell upon our Grandmother. As Dr. Isaac Porter was voyaging to Wisconsin, a
case of Asiatic cholera developed on the boat. He volunteered to care for the
When he reached Porter,
Wis., he fell ill. As he rested on his bed the day of his arrival at Porter, he
looked over the broad fields of golden grain and said to his son, “William, if
it should be that I have but a few days to live, I am thankful I am here to see
this rich and beautiful land.” In three days he had passed to the other shore—a
victim of Asiatic cholera.
But this was not the only
sorrow that came to our Grandmother. In three weeks her only daughter, Phebe
Rebecca—dearly beloved and lovely in mind and heart—was stricken with the same
dread disease, Asiatic cholera, and died.
|Phebe Porter (1824-1854)
She used to sit by the
fireside in her black silk dress and white lace cap and kerchief and cheer and
advise her sons as they met the difficulties of pioneer life.
Grandmother was over fond
of her grandchildren and because she thought we were so dear and good, we tried
Blessing and being blessed, Grandmother
finally said good-bye to us and passed to the house not made with hands.”
|Amey Porter's tombstone, Cooksville Cemetery
So concludes Susan Porter’s story of her Grandmother, which she apparently recited at an event in the old Waucoma Cemetery (now the Cooksville Cemetery) where many of the Porter family members are buried.
|Susan Porter at home in Cooksville, 1938
More such stories of the early village settlers written by relatives would be nice to have. Even now, stories of more recent or present-day people living in or near Cooksville in the Town of Porter would be welcome additions to the Archives, for future generations to read and enjoy.
* * *