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The Historical Society of Prattsburgh

Robert Porter (1773-1847)

Robert Porter was born in Farmington, Connecticut October 6, 1773, the son of Noah and Mary (Lewis) Porter. Honorable Robert Porter graduated from Yale in 1795. He subsequently spent two years in studying theology under the tuition of Rev Charles Bachus of Somers, Connecticut and then was licensed to preach. He spent four years preaching in various congregations in Connecticut and performed two tours of missionary service under appointments from the Missionary Society of Connecticut. In 1801, he became principal of Hamilton Academy –now Hamilton College-at Clinton, N.Y. During his four year residence at Clinton, in addition to his duties as preceptor, he almost preached constantly in vacant charges.

On November 28, 1799, he married Roxana Root of Litchfield, Connecticut. In the spring of 1806, Rev Porter moved with his family to Prattsburgh. The site of the present village was then an almost unbroken wilderness. His family consisted of one daughter, Belinda and a son William. Edward, Robert, Thomas and Mary were born in Prattsburgh. Unfortunately Thomas died as an infant. His original homestead consisted of 35 acres of which he donated land for Porter Street because there were so many families coming to Prattsburgh that needed building lots which he was able to sell them.

Rev. Porter’s biggest dream was to have an academy here in Prattsburgh. He had a big influence on the Young Men’s Lyceum to raise $2,000 to build the building and another $3,000-$4,000 to support it. Rev. Porter became their largest subscriber because he felt that it was important for young men to learn to speak in public. He also sold the land where Franklin Academy stands, with the stipulation it is to always be used for school purposes. Along with this he sold the land for the Presbyterian Church and the green where children will be able to play with the stipulations that a permanent building would never be built on it.

He decided to build his home on what we call North Main Street. Because his house was the first painted house in town it was called Lily of the Valley. Some years later this house was moved to it present location and the house that is now there was built by Mr. Dean. This route was once the stagecoach and main mail route to Geneva from Bath. Two of his sons, Edward and William also built a house on this street.

For many years he was Justice of Peace and he believed that laws were made to be enforced and he was a terror to evil doers. The town records show that he has from time to time filled the most responsible offices of the town. In 1814 he was placed upon the bench as associate judge.

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