Florence Lander Porter
MRS. FLORENCE LANDER PORTER.—A highly-esteemed early resident of Turlock who has not only seen the town grow to a city, hut with her lamented husband, also one of the long-honored citizens here, helped in the building, is Florence Lander Porter, who first came to California in the late '60s. She was born near Cassville, Grant County, Wis., on March 23, 1841, the daughter of Isaac Chrisman Lander, a native of Kentucky, who was reared there, and who later removed to Grant County., Wis., where he followed the trade of wheelwright. In those early days he also spent several seasons in the pineries of Wisconsin, assisting in logging and lumbering. Her mother. before her marriage. was Thurza Ann Ray, a native of Kentucky who came, in her girlhood, with her father, Capt. Richard Ray, to Galena, Ill., the town so historic through its association with General Grant, and later removed to Cassville, Grant County, Wis. He served in the Black Hawk Indian War as captain of a company. Mrs. Porter was the fourth eldest child, and was reared and educated in Wisconsin, attending the public schools in Grant County, and the Mazomanie schools in Dane County.
Stephen V. Porter was born in Mammacating,. Sullivan County, N. Y., the son of John Porter, who brought the family to Dane County, Wis., where he was a successful dairy farmer. He had received a good training in the local schools in Wisconsin, and when he became a farmer, he operated in the most intelligent manner and enjoyed proportionate success.
Mr. and Mrs. Porter were married on February 28, 1867, and the following year they came out to California, by way of Panama, on the old Constitution from New York to Aspinwall, and then journeying to San Francisco on the Henry Chancery, came to Turlock, where they leased 600 acres of John Mitchell's farm and went in for the raising of grain. They went through many hardships, when for many seasons there was a total loss of crops. Before the railroad was built to Turlock, the Turlock post office was in Mr. and Mrs. Porter's farm house, one mile north of what is now Main and Lander streets; her brother, Clarke Lander, was the first postmaster in the Turlock post office kept there in their house, and Mr. Porter was assistant postmaster, and carried the mail from Paradise to their house ; and when the town started, the post office was brought into the town, and Clarke Lander was postmaster until he died in 1876 then Mrs. Porter's father, Isaac C. Lander, was appointed postmaster, and held that office until he died in 1883, when his son Charles succeeded him. The first religious services ever held in what is now Turlock was held in Mrs. Porter's home by a Baptist missionary, and the place became a civic and religious center in those pioneer days. In 1871 the Porters moved to near the present site of Newman, where they farmed for nearly three rears; but having raised only one good crop in that time, they returned to Turlock.
Mr. Porter finally entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Railway as an engineer, and held that position from 1876 until M2, or over thirty-six years at various places on the road, and then he resigned on account of his health and retired on a pension. In the meantime, at Turlock. they had bought two acres of land at the corner of West Plain and Lander streets, and there they built two houses. Mr. and Mrs. Porter gave the site for the First Methodist Episcopal Church at that same corner, and a church was built at a cost of about $6,000; but the congregation was small and the debt too large for them to pay, so the church building and the lot were sold to the Swedish Mission congregation. This gift by Mr. and Mrs. Porter must not be under estimated, because the lot in question is today one of the most valuable business sites in town.
Since Mr. Porter's death, Mrs. Porter has made her home in Turlock looking after her varied and important interests. She is a member of the Woman's Relief Corps and was a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Turlock, with which she has been associated since 1859, having joined that communion when she was eighteen years old. On March 23, 1921, the Ladies' Aid of the Methodist Church in Turlock gave Mrs. Porter a birthday party on her eightieth birthday, attended by sixty ladies, and she was presented with a beautiful electric lamp. An interesting feature was the poem written in her honor entitled "Eighty Years Young."
Source: History of Stanislaus County California with Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development From the Early Days to the Present by George H. Tinkham, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles California 1921.
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