The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 1, Pages 3-4.


Porter Family Has Given Many Notable Men To the Nation, Record Discloses
Won His Greatest Fame Against British Off Coast of Chile In War of 1812

Written Especially for The VIDETTE-MESSENGER

"One of the greatest 'Fathers of the American Navy', Commodore Porter had in him the makings of a famous pirate. In an earlier day he did for his country what the romantic Count Luckner did during the recent war; with a lone ship he swept the oceans, destroyed enemy shipping, captured prizes right and left, and made his name a by-word and terror both to the Mediterranean pirates and to the British." (From a clipping on inside of book) Commodore David Porter by Archibald Douglas Turnbull.

Among the earliest colonists to come to New England were John Porter and his family, who settled in Massachusetts about the time of the granting of the Massachusetts Bay Charter. Early records in England trace his descent from a certain William de la Porte (also called William de la Grande), a Norman Knight, who came to England with William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in 1066. The name of Porter originated when Henry I (1100-1135) appointed William's son, Ralph, Grand Porteur of his household. The family record refers to "William Porter, sergeant-at-arms to Henry VII, and Engymon Porter, groom of the bedchamber to King Charles I, from whom he obtained a grant of land, called Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, England. Van Dyke, the famous artist, thought so much of Engymon's handsome appearance that he painted several pictures of him, which are still in the Museum in London. They are considered by experts as one of that artist's finest pieces of work. In 1590 at Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, John Porter was born, the first Porter to migrate to America.

Porter's family has given many notable men to American, among them the following: Noah Porter, D. D., noted scholar and one time president of Yale; President U. S. Grant; Admiral David Dixon Porter; General Andrew Porter of the Revolution; David Rittenhouse Porter, Governor of Pennsylvania, and Commodore David Porter, in honor of whom Porter County, Indiana, was named.

The great emigration of European people which took place at first in England, and then elsewhere, had for its basic cause the love of freedom. Only seven years after the Pilgrims had sailed on the Mayflower, John Porter and the entire family sailed from England and arrived at Dorchester, Massachusetts, May 30, 1627. "They remained in Dorchester until the summer of 1635, when they joined friends and made the first companies who penetrated the wilderness and formed the settlements of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield on the Connecticut River." Thus we see that the Porter family displayed a courageous spirit traditional to the Anglo Saxon race. The death of John Porter came in the year of 1648.

The record of Alexander, son of Daniel and Mindwell Alexander Porter, the third generation of the Porter family in America, is very distinct. He was born either May 7, 1723, or May 5, 1725 or 1727. The bitter feeling against England was beginning to create unity among the people of America. Alexander Porter was an advocate of freedom. He was present at the Boston Tea Party. With the assistance of his wife, he moulded bullets from the arms of a leaden stature of King George III, which was formerly erected in New York City, but was pulled down by citizens and dragged through the streets, part of it being sent to Boston. These bullets were used in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Both David and Samuel Porter, son of Alexander, fought in the Revolutionary War. David Porter, who at various periods of the war commanded two American warships, "Delight of Maryland" and "Aurora of Massachusetts," destroyed much British commerce in his locality. Samuel died in a prison ship called the Jersey. So great was their service to our country that General Washington promoted both of them to the captaincy in the navy.

Commodore Porter's father, Captain David Porter, continued his active and eminent service as a sea captain in the American navy and did much to encourage young Porter to enter seamanship as a profession. "His father was an officer in our navy during the Revolutionary War and distinguished himself on various occasions by his activity, enterprise and daring spirit." The younger Porter inherited one noble virtue from his father, patriotism in the greatest sense of the word. At this period the usual custom among the well-to-do was to send their children to foreign countries to obtain an education. But, since the Porter family lived modestly in Boston, it was not David's good fortune to enjoy such an academic training.

Young Porter's mother furnished Porter with both a practical education and a very thorough religious background, which he never never forgot and which gave him courage to carry out his plans in later life. She did this for a period of ten years, but both the father and mother were frightened because of the youth's health which was in a perilous state. "His constitution was naturally delicate and his frame fragile, and much anxiety was felt by his parents lest he should never attain manhood; but such was the strength of his spirit that he passed through fits of sickness that would have carried off many stronger boys. His interests were greatly aroused when his father came home from sea and related exciting incidents from his experience, 'Little David would sit for hours and listen and kindle at these marvelous tales, while his father, perceiving his own love of enterprise springing up in the bosom of the lad, took means to cherish it, and to inspire him with a passion for the sea."

As he neared the age of sixteen, his father took him along on several voyages to teach him the art of navigation, but primarily to improve the youth's health. His father was surprised to see how quickly the youth grasped the laws of the seas. Upon arriving back in port, the father told his son that he had taught him all the "tricks of the trade" and it was up to him to acquire the rest by experience.

Our merchant fleet was not left in peace, and even after the Revolutionary War, since privateering, especially against pirates, continued. On one of these voyages the elder Porter again took David along, against the wishes of his mother, who thought the child was too weak to stand the hardships of such strenuous journeys. However, the father wanted to retain in him the urge for the sea, and insisted that he accompany him. After leaving the Port of Boston on the Eliza, the Port of Jeremie, West Indies, was reached, and luckily for the British none of their merchant ships was sighted. However, after occupying the port but one night a British warship docked near the Eliza and a scrimmage ensued. "While at the Port of Jeremie a pressgang endeavored to board the vessel in search for men; they were bravely repelled with the loss of several killed and wounded on both sides - one man was shot down close by the side of young Porter. This affair excited considerable attention at the time." Captain Porter was given much praise for the protection of the flag.

Young Porter in the course of his second voyage served as mate of a ship, and in this service he tasted bitterly the lashing treatment of the British.

Twice he became "impressed." He swore vengeance against the British for this illegal imprisonment, even if it should cost him his own life. Finally when he did escape from the prison ship, he was almost penniless. He was obliged to work for his passage home in the winter season - his clothing was in rags. "In this forlorn condition he had to perform duty on a cold stormy coast, where every spray was converted instantaneously into a sheet of ice. The voyage was very rough but again his courageous spirit stood by him. After he had arrived home and had scarcely recuperated, he asked admission into the navy as a midshipman.

On receiving entrance in the navy, he immediately joined the frigate Constellation with Commodore Truxton in command. At this period our relation with France was at the breaking point. In fact, when an American vessel would meet a French vessel, the two would start battle. In the battle between the French warship, Insurgent, and the American Constellation, Porter did worthy service and was highly praised for his conduct. "Want of friends alone prevented his promotion at the time." Shortly after, however, Porter received his rank of lieutenant, because a new commodore was appointed to the Constellation, Commodore Barron. Commodore Talbot, in command of the Experiment, gave Porter the command of the Amphitrite, a small pilot prize schooner. Not long after he had his new command, a French vessel was sighted. With great skill and valor he defeated the French privateer. Not one of his crew was killed, but the vessel was badly damaged. His commodore landed him for this success. His action in the West Indies was greatly appreciated by his country, and when he arrived home, he heard of a new danger to the American merchant fleet. The Mediterranean Pirates were capturing our ships and holding them for ransom.

On his return to Boston he thought, and rightfully so, that now that the United States had won the war, he could "ship" on an American vessel. It was not long until the menace in the Mediterranean became acute. In fact, several of our ships were captured and were to be held until America should pay the required ransom. Rather than submit to such humility, it was decided by Congress, at the suggestion of President Jefferson, to send over several warships to teach the pirates a few lessons. Therefore, the Philadelphia was fitted out along with several other smaller ships for this venture. Porter joyfully "signed up" on the schooner, Enterprise, as a lieutenant. On this cruise they met a vastly larger pirate force, and through brilliant marksmanship the Americans utterly defeated the Tripolitan Corsair, killing many of their crew, while the ship enterprise and its men received very little injury. The captain of the Enterprise entrusted Porter to command several small ships to invade a pirate stronghold and to destroy cargoes, which were being transferred to pirate ships. "On one occasion he commanded an expedition of boats sent to destroy some vessels laden with wheat, at anchor of Old Tripoli; his service was promptly and effectually performed." While the battle was at its height, Porter received a musketball through his left thigh.

He recovered quickly from his wound, and was transferred to the Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge in command.

He joined the ship in the year 1808 at Gibralter. After a short cruise, it was decided to bomb Tripoli, the main stronghold of the pirates. While close to that port, an enemy was sighted, and all hands were called to loosen all sail. "The land was just observed, when a sail was descried making for the harbor with a pleasant easterly breeze. After an ineffectual pursuit of several leagues. Captain Bainbridge had just given orders to hale off when the ship grounded." The crew tried every device known to free her, shifting supplies, guns, and trying to push her off by the use of its whale boats, but everything failed. In the meantime the Mediterranean Pirates, who were watching the entire proceedings, immediately organized a small army taking captive the entire ill-faced crew. It is to their credit and also to a high tide that the crippled Philadelphia was released, and pulling her into harbor the ravaging pirates repaired the ship for their own future use.

The crew of the Philadelphia and its captain were imprisoned in a dungeon and given little to eat. Fortunately for Porter, he was allowed to take various books to prison. "A reasonable supply of books served to beguile the hours of imprisonment and enabled him to turn them to advantage. He closely applied himself to the study of ancient and modern history, biograph, the French language; and drawing, in which art, to a seaman i so useful he made himself a considerable proficient." By means of diagrams the construction of small, clever warships, he taught many of his juniors battle maneuvers. "By these means captivity was robbed of its heaviest evils, that dull monotony that wearies the spirits, and that mental inactivity that engenders melancholy and hypochondria."

To the credit of Lieutenant Porter an incident must be told of how he really showed his daring, bravery and courage, while imprisoned. A passage-way was being built leading to different parts of the castle, and American sailors were being employed to in its construction. This passage was in close proximity to where the officers were imprisoned. Someone made a hole into the prisoners wall which was used to send messages back and forth to keep up a conversation with the seamen. Soon, however, the information was overheard and immediately carried to the Bashaw. The Bashaw was enraged, when he heard of the plot to escape, and swore that every captive should be executed. The crew and the captain were asked rapid and final questions, leading to the question of who started the tunnel? After this question was asked, Porter stepped forward and said, "I alone am responsible." He was then taken to the Bashaw, and much to the surprise to everyone he was not punished. The probably reason being his show of intense bravery.

When at length hostilities ceased, Porter and his crew were released. He was given permission, after a court martial acquitted him concerning the capture of the Philadelphia, to visit the ruins of Leptis Magna, an ancient Roman Colony. Porter and some of his friends passed through the ruins, Porter was so deeply impressed that he drew some of the ancient buildings because of their artistic value. After his brief sojourn among the relics of Old Rome, he was immediately placed in command of the brig, Enterprise, by Commodore Rogers, and soon after was ordered by him to proceed to Tripoli.

While the Enterprise was an anchor at Malta, Captain Porter overheard insulting remarks by a British sailor against American officers while he was close to the ship. Porter ordered the man seized and flogged. This incident enraged the British Governor and he ordered the ship Enterprise not to leave without his permission. "No sooner was Captain Porter informed of it, than he got his vessel ready for action, with the avowed determination of firing upon the town, if attacked, sailed between the batteries and departed unmolested.

No pirate vessels were sighted, and in a short time Gibralter was reached. While near the harbor, twelve Spanish gunboats began firing upon the American ship. However, the direct firing of American gunners made the Spanish warships flee for safety. A few English ships were in the harbor, but they did not attack Porter - "It was, therefore, a matter of notoriety and spoken of in terms of highest applause." On orders he set sail for New York, and in 1806 he was promoted to Master Commandant, and later to captain in July, 1812.

Thus far Commodore David Porter had not the urge for romance, but one Spring day, shortly after he arrived from the Mediterranean, he received an invitation from a friend to visit a certain William Anderson, who was an important business man, especially in the importing and exporting trade. His quest, however, was for information concerning the then proposed Embargo laws, which when passed, he was appointed by the government to help carry out. the door opened gently, and there stood a beautiful young lady. For the first time Porter became conscious of a trill ever before encountered. Upon the sight of this awe-inspiring lass, Porter's love instincts were aroused.

He wrote to his friend and told him how deeply he had fallen in love with Anderson's daughter, and that he would appreciate, if he would use his influence once again in securing for him another invitation to this residence. His friend obliged, and soon Porter marched proudly to Anderson's home. He knocked on the door, and when the door was opened the gentle girl was not there. In her stead appeared her brother, with a stubborn face. Although Porter was not motioned to come in, he resolutely marched in. He asked to see William Anderson about a matter secret to himself. "Then sire," you have come on a fool's errand, my father can not see you and you can not marry my sister or be connected with my family." Commodore Porter with his customary wit and courage answered, "Sir you are meddling in a matter that does not concern you. I came here to see about marrying your sister. I did not come here to marry you and d__n if you don't leave this room I'll throw you out of the window." With this Thomas Anderson scurried off, rushing into his father's room and announced the entrance of Commodore Porter. Within a week Porter was successful in his quest, and from the start the marriage proved to be both happy and successful.

During his short sojourn on land, Porter wrote articles on the type of navy essential for the protection of American commerce and for the safety of the country. It is true that our history books print vivid stories about our wonderful naval victories, but they fail to mention the "red tape" which our different commodores had to undergo before a ship would be fitted out. Porter fought throughout his life for men to be appointed in the navy who were really naval men - that is to say, those who made a life study of the needs of the navy, and would not appoint some one who had been living his entire life on a southern plantation. Instead of constructing a few large vessels and many smaller ones, it was Porter's claim that we could with but little trouble build at least thirty warships the size of the Constitution. This would have the advantage of inducing other larger nations, especially England, to pay their respects to the United States, and Porter further thought by this method the United States would become a world power. Following the Revolutionary War, the national government started to economize, which resulted in a very weak navy. Porter's claim was "The vital error, if not criminal neglect of the government is in not introducing the naval element into the Navy Department." At last the Navy Department woke up to the fact that American sailors were again being "impressed." It was now up to the navy alone to end this practice and it did.

Several expeditions were organized to stamp out British aggression, and in one of them Porter was chosen commodore. The Essex, the ship chosen for Porter, was built through funds raised publicly by the citizens of Salem, Massachusetts, and the surrounding region, for the purpose of driving off the so-called French menace. The funds available for refitting the Essex were limited. the armament brought on board was small, and no matter how much Porter protested, he did not receive larger guns. This incidently was a factor which bore heavily upon his defeat by the British warships, Phoebe and Cherub.

On the 3rd day of July, 1812, the Essex sailed from Sandy Hook on a cruise, and after an uneventful sea journey, the English sloop of war, Alert, was captured. In a short time the British vessel lowered her colors, and the captain and the crew taken on board the Essex. Upon capturing several further prizes, the scarcity of room on board the Essex made it necessary to convert the Alert into a caretal. On order from Captain Porter the captured ship was first to proceed to St. John's Newfoundland, and thence to New York. "She arrived safe, being the first ship of war taken from the enemy, and her flag the first British flag sent to the seat of government during the present war."

In refitting the ship for a larger cruise, Porter wrote the following letter to one of his friends: "In two or three days I will sail on a long, a very long cruise; our destination and intended movement I am not at liberty to divulge, perhaps a more important cruise was never undertaken by vessels of any other nation, and I have vanity to believe that my plan for the 'first campaign' produced it - it may be months before you hear of my arrival in the United States and if you hear at all I hope the accounts may not be unfavorable." On the 27th of October, 1812 Porter set sail from the Delaware, on instruction from Commodore Bainbridge to cruise around the West Indies and then gradually to sail down to the coast of Brazil, where different places of rendezvous had been arranged between them, the one important early victory was tht of the capture of the British ship Nocton, in which 50,000 dollars was taken and the Nocton ordered for New York. On hearing information that Commodore Bainbridge had captured the British warship, Java, and several other warships were in search of him, Porter headed southward to round the Horn.

The purpose of the cruise of the Essex was twofold: first, to destroy to the utmost British commerce, especially the whaling industry in the South Pacific ocean, and secondly to help infant American commerce, and to spread our sphere of influence in South America. British commerce was destroyed to the tune of 2,700,000 dollars and out flag raised over the main land of South American through Porter's energetic action.

Cruising southward early in 1813 he reached the first protected harbor in South American, (near Rio). Here the crew began the tiring task of recalking the ship. Porter was not here a week, when he heard of the good news that Commodore Cambridge had captured a whole convoy of British merchant ships, and now the time was opportune to round the Horn and destroy English commerce.

In such haste did Porter want to reach the South Pacific that he did not even consider waiting until summer, but sailed for the Horn in the dead of winter. The ship had favorable winds until it reached Terra Del Fuego, and then nature really loosed all of her fury. "The first of February brought an eclipse of the sun and with it, the 'heaviest blows and worst weather we have yet met.' At one point the ship was almost entirely around the Horn only to be pushed back again, and this time dangerously close to the rocks near the shore - foot by foot she drew toward deeper water as, virtually by main strength, they held a course to the northeastward. Laboring under that moment to burst her rudder-coat and let a flood of water into wardroom. Port was the place for her, to make needed repairs, but none was in sight. In the bosun's chairs and bowline, the hardiest hands for each part of the ship must weather and repair the rudder where it bang. Down hard lower, give her more, cried Porter." By faith and courage alone did Porter succeed in bringing his ship safely into the harbor of Valparaiso. After rounding the Horn, supplies were almost exhausted, including water. As soon as land was sighted they dropped anchor and rowed ashore. However, they were met by unfriendly natives, and actually had to fight in pitched battle before gathering supplies, and it was here too that the American flag was raised - the first time in history.

Porter in the space of a year had captured many of the British Whaling vessels in the South Pacific, and those that escaped sailed immediately for England to report the American menace. The first capture in the Pacific was that of a Peruvian privateer, which acted as an ally for the British. Twenty-four American prisoners were aboard this vessel, who were captured from American whaling ships. The ship's guns and all its ammunition were thrown over-board, and then the ship was allowed to proceed. Porter captured valuable food supplies from various whaling vessels, and hence the home government was spared the expense of sending supplies to him. "For some time the ship based on Galapagos Islands and within six months time captured twelve British whalers, one of which was converted into a naval vessel called the Essex Junior, and placed under command of Lieutenant John Downs." By this time several British warships were searching for Porter's Essex, but their several months exploration was in vain. "Porter heard of their coming and sailed to the Marquesas as a new base and on his way captured other English ships. He took possession of one of these islands on behalf of the United States, renaming it Madison Island, and there erected a fort and a village to which he gave the same name. Porter thus became the first imperialist of the American Navy." On the 12th of December, 1813 he sailed, leaving the fort protected by twenty-one men, for the coast of Chile. Several days of foggy weather prevented him from further pirateering, but when the fog lifted he decided to drop anchor in the harbor of Valparaiso.

The gentle hills of Valparaiso, Indiana, cannot be compared to the rugged hills of Valparaiso, Chile. The city lies on the outside of these barren hills which project into the Pacific and forms a rocky peninsula. The people for the most part, are a mixture of Spanish and Indian and bear the characteristics of a free-and-easy people. Southerly gales lash the harbor in tempestuous fury, making it unsafe for vessels to harbor there. This was not the safest place for Porter to anchor his ship. Yet, it was the only port that revealed some resemblance of civilization.

While being an occupant here, Porter desired to give the respectable people of the town a treat. He invited them to come aboard his ship as guests. Commodore Porter did not spare any expense, he ordered the ship fully decorated, and all was made spic and span. While the party was at its height, two strange vessels appeared at the entrance of the harbor, bearing the British flag. The guests hurried to shore on whale boats, Porter found the ships to be the British vessels, Cherub and Phoebe with Captain Hillyer in command. He knew that this meant a battle in which the Essex of the British vessels were to be destroyed. The entire battle was written up by Commodore David Porter, and the following description of this important encounter in his exact words:

"On the third of February I anchored in the bay of Valparaiso, exchanged salutes with the battery, went on shore to pay respects to the governor, and the next day received his visit under a salute.

On the evening of the seventh, I invited the officers of the government, their families, and the other respectable inhabitants to an entertainment on board the Essex."

While the crew and guests were having a merry time, two enemy ships hovered into sight and rapidly the guests embarked for shore and the crew prepared for battle, they did not have time to take down the trimming on board ship. The two captains met on shore and exchanged comments as to the neutrality of the port - Porter was for strict neutrality - Captain Hillyar replied, "You have paid so much respect to the neutrality of the Port, that I feel myself bound in honor to respect it." However, even at the present time it is doubtful that Hillyar kept his promise for the following events will prove just that.

"Both ships had picked crews, and were sent into the Pacific, for the express purpose of seeking the Essex, and were prepared with flags bearing the motto 'God and our Country British sailors' best rights, traitors offend both'. This was intended as a reply to my motto, 'Free trade and sailors rights'. The force of the Essex was forty-six guns, forty-two pound carronades, and six long twelves, and her crew, which had been much reduced by prizes, amounted only to a hundred and fifty-five men. In reply to their motto, I wrote at my mizzen - 'God, our country, and liberty; tyrants offend them'.

On getting their provisions on board, they went off port for the purpose of blockading me, where they cruised for nearly six weeks; during which time I endeavored to provoke a challenge, and frequently, but ineffectually to bring the Phoebe alone into action, first with both ships, and afterwards with my single ship with board on board. Captain Hillyar seemed to avoid a contest with me on nearly equal terms, and from his extreme prudence in keeping both his ships constantly within hail of each other, there were no hopes of any advantages to my country from a longer stay in port. I therefore determined to put to sea the first opportunity which should offer; and I was the more strongly induced to do so; as I had gained certain intelligence about the Tagus, a British warship, rated thirty-eight and sailed in pursuit of me. A rendezvous was appointed for the Essex Junior, and every arrangement made for sailing, and had intended to let them chase them off, to give the Essex Junior an opportunity of escaping. On the 28th of March, the day this determination was formed, the wind came to blow directly from the southward, when I parted my starboard cable and dragged my starboard anchor directly out to sea. But on rounding the point a heavy squall struck the ship and carried away her maintop-mast precipitating the men who were aloft into the sea, who were drowned. Both ships now gave chase to me, and I endeavored in my disabled state to regain the port." Porter had extreme difficulty in finding suitable anchorage and at last anchored directly seaward of a Chilean battery and within pistol shot of shore, and where he intended to repair damage done to his ship. "The enemy continued to approach, showing an evident intention of attacking us, regardless of neutrality of the place where I was anchored. The caution observed in their approach to the attack of the crippled Essex was truly ridiculous as was their display of their motto flags, and the number of jacks at their mast heads. I, with much expedition, as circumstances would allow, got my ship ready for action, and endeavored to get a spring on my cable, but had not succeeded when the enemy, at fifty-four minutes after three P. M. made the attack, the Phoebe placing herself under my stern, and the Cherub on my starboard bow. But the Cherub soon finding the situation a hot one, bore up and ran under my stern also, where both ships kept up a raking fire. I had got three long twelve pounders out at the stern posts which were worked with so much bravery and skill, that in half an hour we so disabled both as to compel them to haul off to repair damages. My ship had received many injuries, and several men had been killed and wounded - but my brave officers and men, notwithstanding the unfavorable circumstances under which we were brought into action and the powerful force opposed to us were no wise discouraged - all appeared determined to defend their ship to the last extremity, and to die in preference to a shameful surrender. (But it was not long before the British returned.) "The firing on both sides was now tremendous; I had let fall my fore-top sail and fore-sail, but want of tacks and sheets had rendered them almost useless to us. Yet we were unable for short time to close with the enemy; and although our decks were now strewed with dead and our cockpit filled with wounded, although our ship had been on fire several times, and was rendered a perfect wreck we still encouraged hope to save her from the circumstance of the Cherub being compelled to haul off."

The rest of the battle could very well have been called a massacre, and Porter saw that it was useless to carry on. At six o'clock in the evening he surrendered, March 29, 1814.

The British Captain treated Porter and his crew with respect and gave them liberties, and finally with the Essex Junior crew with British sailors she left Valparaiso for England, but after passing the New Jersey coastline Porter and part of his crew escaped in a whale boat.

His courageous defeat, and successful escape from the hands of the British brought honor rather than disfame to Porter. The people of the East, especially around New York, gave him an enthusiastic reception. He was the popular hero of the day. Having served his country well for many years, fostering American seamanship and American Independence, Porter desired retirement. Like many captains who after spending years of their life on the sea invest in farms far from the surrounding habitat that occupied most of their lives, he did likewise.

On his prize moneys received from various cruises he bought a very delightful farm in Virginia, "Meridian Hill," and for a number of years he spent in farming his land and raising a family. However, his farm was not a financial success, but he enjoyed it immensely. His home soon became famous of the many brilliant social affairs, and if one travels down in Virginia the old New England house and its surrounding orchard still reveal the peace and quiet that Commodore Porter's family must have enjoyed. In the year 1824 Spanish pirates were raiding our merchant vessels, and the navy needed some one who could quickly and effectively "clean house." This call went to Porter.

The navy gave him a few old ships, and as soon as he reached the Gulf he immediately showed the pirates the Yankee spirit of bravery. In the space of a few months he had captured nearly all the outlaw ships. On a small island in the West Indies an American seaman was being held prisoner. When Porter heard of this outrage, he set sail hurriedly and routed the entire pirate army on the island and rescued the American.

The Spanish government issued an announcement that it would award any person a bonus of several thousand dollars if he would make the West Indies safe for merchant vessels. Commodore Porter was eligible for this reward. Due to his success, a cheap politician claimed he overstepped his bounds, and because of that he was not entitled to the reward, but instead should be punished accordingly. An actual court martial was held, and the result, a sentence of six months of suspended service was pronounced upon Porter. Porter wrote letters accusing several members of the court of treachery, since they tried to oust him from the navy, and this consequently was one important reason for his sentence. This angered Porter to such a great extent that he resigned his rank in the American Navy and joined the Mexican Navy.

While down in Mexico, as an admiral of the Mexican Navy, which had two warships, and the two about ready to sink, his chief duties were to keep out of range of enemy bullets. He remained in Mexico for two years, and was to receive 12,000 dollars for his service. However, he was not payed and returned home broken in health and deeply in debt. "By this time his democratic friends who were in power in Washington had set about in various ways to vindicate his honor and reward him for his long service."

His humiliation was so great that he refused all government positions connected with the navy. Finally he was practically forced to accept the counsel-generalship to Turkey.

Having held this difficult post as Minister to Turkey for twelve years death overtook this great man. The importance of the passing of this "first father of the American Navy" was not at first fully realized by the people of the United States. The proof of this is found in the great newspaper, "Liberator" published by William Lloyd Garrison, only printed a short notice of our loss, and that in a space of three lines.

Commodore Porter was a real American, a man whose chief ambition was that of helping his country, to win a place of prominence among nations, and to cast off all economic servility forced upon us by other envious countries. His eventful life was fertile with successful enterprise and his seamanship illustrates great expediency and courage. He was illuminated further by his tireless endeavor to encourage his fellow citizens to promote for a better future America. For this purpose even death to him would be of no cost. His admirers remembered him by erecting a monument as his grave in woodland Cemetery in Philadelphia and enscribed on it the following brilliant patriotic epitaph:

        Commodore David Porter
        One of the most heroic sons of Pennsylvania
        Having long represented his country with Fidelity
        As Minister resident at Constantinople died at that city
        In the patriotic discharge of his duty.

        His Early Youth
        Was conspicuous for skill and gallantry
        In the Naval services of the United States
        When the American arms were exercised with Romantic Chivalry
        Before the Battlements of Tripoli
        He was on all occasions
        Among the Bravest of the Brave
        Zealous in the performance of every duty,
        Arden and resolute in the trying Hours of calamity
        Composed and steady in the blaze of victory.

        In the War of 1812
        His Merits were exhibited
        Not merely as an Intrepid commander
        But in exploring new fields of success and glory
        A career of brilliant good fortune
        Was crowned by an engagement
        Against superior force and fearful advantages
        Which history records as an event
        Among the most remarkable in naval warfare.

Peace at last had been obtained in America, first in the Revolutionary War - political, and in the War of 1812 - Economic. Therefore, the people who moved westward moved in safety, except for the Indian menace, and those early pioneers carried with them the tales of heroism of those two wars, and among the stories was of Porter's famous cruise in the ship Essex.

As Indiana offered an outlet to those migratory people, the settlers of this state not only became cognizant of the rich and fertile lands of this region, but also appreciate and kept in memory those ---?--- who made the settlement of such territory possible. the early settlers of Porter county were the first to follow in this wake and glorified further the honor of the noble Commodore David Porter by patriotically named a county and township in his respect - "1836 - the year 1836 forms an interesting epoch in our county history, it witnessed the birth of a new county. In January of this year our legislature deemed it expedient to separate from LaPorte county all lands lying north of the Kankakee and west of range ---?--- and called the new county Porter, in honor of Commodore David Porter of the United States Navy, who commanded the frigate Essex in the War of 1812-184 against Great Britain. As the county was named in honor of a commodore, it was fitting of course to remember the ship he commanded; hence the townships (Essex) name." However, after a few years, the township of Essex was combined with that of Morgan.

It should always be uppermost in the hearts of citizens of Porter county and following future generations to keep in memory that the heritage of this great county found its genesis in an individual who did much to establish the sovereignty of our United States.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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