Bioi-Pen Pictures

            Daniel J. Porter, of the firm of D. J. Porter & Son, No. 83 South First Street, San Jose, was born in Stony Brook Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1828.  In 1833 his parents removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father died in 1839, leaving a large family of children.  From that time it may be said he battled his own way in life, first finding a home in Central Ohio, with a tanner, and later on a farm.  There he had the advantages usual in the West at that time, of three months’ schooling each year, which indeed was his only opportunity of education.  At the age of eighteen years he engaged as an apprentice to the wagon-maker’s trade.  In 1850 he removed to Rahway, New Jersey, where he completed learning his trade in the carriage shop of his half-brother, S.C. Tooker.  In 1851 he went to Louisville, Kentucky, where he worked at his trade for several months, returning in January, 1852, to Cincinnati, where he remained until April, when he started across the plains, undecided as to whether he would go to Oregon or California.  At the Big Sandy Creek, Utah Territory, the party took a vote to determine whether they would take the road to Oregon or to California.  The vote was in favor of the latter road.  They came through Johnson’s cut-off, passing Hangtown (now Placerville) about August 20, 1852.   His party arrived at Sacramento, where they rested a few days and then sold their outfit and disbanded.

            Through the representations of a Mormon, they met at Sacramento Mr. Porter, and one of his party came on to Santa Clara Valley, leaving his brother David in Sacramento.  He arrived in San Jose September 1, 1852, and at once went to work at his trade of wagon-making.  In November he and H. J. Haskell, who came across the plains with him, opened a shop for themselves.  They bought the property where Mr. Porter’s office now is, and conducted their business until 1867.  In that year they built the block now on that site called the “Gray Eagle Building,” in which Mr. Porter has owned an interest since that time.  He conducted a livery stable in the building until 1869, when he sold it and entered into the insurance business, adding the real-estate business to it a few years afterward.  Mr. Porter has an orchard of five acres on the Alum Rock road four miles from San Jose, planted to French prunes, just coming into bearing.  He was a member of the City Council for six years (1862-68), having been elected three times.  He made special efforts to save the reservations to the city now embodied in Alum Rock Park, the Normal School site, and the site of the City Hall.  There had been a determined effort on the part of individuals to get illegal possession of these lands, and only by determined opposition by the City Council were they prevented from so doing—thus saving to the people of San Jose these valuable properties.  Without this fight the city would have received less than $250 for the Alum Rock reservation, which is now worth fully $50,000.

            Mr. Porter was married in 1855 to Miss Caroline McKee, a native of Connecticut.  Seven children were born to this marriage, of whom five died in infancy or early childhood.  Two are now living:  Daniel A., engaged in business with his father, and Adelia, still residing at her father’s home.  He is a member of Friendship Lodge, No. 210, F. & A. M., San Jose, and of Garden City Lodge, No. 142, I. O. O. F.  He is a Republican and believes in the fullest protection to American industries, and in protecting American labor by prohibiting the free importation of pauper labor.  He has been actively interested in the development of the interests of San Jose on the best and broadest basis.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 375
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight