Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

HENRY WEBB PORTER. The final causes which shape the fortunes of individual men and the destinies of states are often the same. They are usually remote and obscure; their influence wholly unexpected until declared by results. When they inspire men to the exercise of courage, self-denial, enterprise, industry and call into play the higher moral elements; lead men to risk all upon conviction, faith--such causes lead to the planting of great states, great nations, great peoples. That country is the greatest which produces the greatest and most manly men, and the intrinsic safety depends not so much upon methods and measures as upon that true manhood from whose deep sources all that is precious and permanent in life must at last proceed. Such a result may not be consciously contemplated by the individuals instrumental in the production of a country; pursuing each his personal good by exalted means, they work out this as a logical result; they have wrought on the lines of the greatest good. When the life of one such individual ends, we look back over the pathway he had trod and note its usefulness, its points worthy of emulation and perpetuation. What the late Henry Webb Porter, Successful attorney-at-law and self-made man of Springfield, did for his fellowman and the communities honored by his citizenship, in general might, in a manner, be told in words, but its far-reaching influences cannot be measured. He was in touch with the people, and from a sincere and deep felt interest in their welfare labored for all that would prove of public benefit until the busy and useful life was ended.

Mr. Porter was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, November 27, 1835. He was a son of William and Judith (Reeves) Porter, the father a native of New Jersey and the mother a native of Tennessee. They grew up in their respective localities and received limited educations in the schools of the early days. William Porter came to Tennessee when young in years and there married, and he devoted his active life to agricultural pursuits, at one time operating an extensive tobacco plantation. He removed with his family from Tennessee to Greene county, Missouri, in 1855, and bought a farm north of Springfield, securing same from the government, and this land he developed by hard work and lived on the place until 1864, then moved on a farm in Arkansas, where he spent the rest of his life. He became a prosperous farmer and influential man in his community. His death occurred on December 16, 1878. His family consisted of eleven sons, ten of whom grew to manhood, but only two of them are living at this writing; they were named as follows: Granville and Benjamin, twins, are deceased; Peter, deceased; Abner is living; William, deceased; Robert, deceased; Jesse is living; Henry W., our subject, and John, deceased, were twins; Felix, deceased; the youngest child died in infancy.

Henry W. Porter grew to manhood in Tennessee and he received a limited education in the public schools there and in Greene county, Missouri, having been twenty years of age when he removed here with the rest of the family. He spent his boyhood on his father's farm and assisted with the general work on the same. He studied at home, became a well-read man and, studying law, was admitted to the bar and practiced many years with much success. He was well versed in all phases of the law, and was a forceful and earnest pleader at the bar. He also took a great interest in political affairs, and was active and influential in the Democratic party. He held a number of public offices always with credit to himself and satisfaction to all concerned. He was an able and strong worker for the cause of temperance.

Mr. Porter removed with the family to Arkansas in 1864 and resided in that state until 1902, when he returned to Greene county, and lived in Springfield about four years, being then retired. His death occurred in Arkansas on March 5, 1914.

Mr. Porter was married in Greene county on March 17, 1865, to Matilda J. Bedell, who was born at Ebenezer, in the northeastern part of Greene county, February 2, 1837, and she grew to womanhood on the old Bedell farm near that village and received her education in the public schools there. This old homestead was entered from the government in 1830 by Mrs. Porter's mother, and the farm has never gone to owners outside the Bedell family. The Bedells are among the pioneer and well-known families of Greene county. Mrs. Porter is a daughter of David H. and Marina (Wallace) Bedell, both being born in North Carolina, where they grew up, attended the old-time schools and were married. They made the long overland journey from that state to Greene county, Missouri, in early pioneer days, and here endured the hardships and privations incident to all frontier people of those times. By hard work and close application, good management and economy, they became well established in due course of time, and spent the rest of their lives on their farm here, his death occurring shortly before the breaking out of the Civil war, and she died during the war. They were noted for their honesty and hospitality, and were well known to the pioneers here. The family of Henry W. Porter consisted of twelve children, five of whom are living at this writing, namely: Mahlon, Judith, Edward, John, are all deceased; Melissa lives at Springfield; Charles lives in Arkansas; Mira and Mary, twins, are deceased; Laura, deceased; Walter lives in Arkansas; Sadie lives in Virginia; Fannie lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mrs. Melissa Hulett, fifth child of our subject, was born on October 10, 1870, in Eveningshade, Arkansas, and there she grew to womanhood and received her education in the public and high schools. On December 27, 1893, she was married in Arkansas to Ezra Hulett. Soon thereafter they removed to Boonville, Missouri, where they continued to reside until 1902, when they located in Springfield, where they have since resided. Mr. Hulett was a cabinetmaker by trade, a highly skilled workman, and later he became a successful contractor. He was born on May 1, 1866, in Rocheport, Atchison county, Missouri. He was a son of Andrew and Anne (Clark) Hulett. Mr. Clark, father of Anne Clark, was a pioneer of Boonville, this state. The death of Ezra Hulett occurred on October 31, 1913. His family consisted of four children, namely: Lucile, born on October 24, 1894, is single and lives at home; Matilda, born on November 26, 1895, died January 18, 1898; Blanche, born on January 1, 1898; Mary, born on November 6, 1902.

Politically, Mr. Hulett was a Democrat. Fraternally, he belonged to the Modern Woodmen of America.

Mrs. Hulett and daughters are members of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal church, South, and she belongs to the auxiliary of the Young Women's Christian Association. She is active in church work and has a wide circle of friends. She owns a beautiful home on South Campbell street.


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