Sanford Porter, Pioneer, father of Nathan Tanner Porter

(Note:  This history was written by Edna Margaret Porter Hegsted, daughter of Aaron B. Porter Sr. and great-granddaughter of Sanford Porter.  Thanks to the Clements’ family site for providing this history to the extended family:   Sanford Porter and Nancy Warriner Porter are buried in the Porterville, UT, cemetery, south of Morgan, which is up Weber Canyon.  His old homesite is next to the river in Porterville, northwest of the highway bridge.  The cemetery can be reached by turning right at the Porterville Marker just south of the river, then immediately turn left up the hill for about ¼ mile and follow the signs.  The old church burned recently but can still be seen next to the road just past the cemetery turnoff. Roger Porter)

Sanford Porter, son of Nathan Porter and grandson of Timothy Porter, was born March 7, 1790, in Brimfield, Massachusetts. When he was four years old his father's family consisting of his father, mother Susannah (daughter of Thomas West, a Baptist minister) and three children moved to Vershire, Orange County, Vermont.

Sanford remained in this place working on his father's farm until 1811. He was now twenty-one years old and left home to set out for himself. He went to the state of New York locating in Holland, East County, where he took up land and farmed for one year. He then returned to his old home for a visit and married the sweetheart he had left there, Nancy Warriner, on New Year's Eve.

In the spring of the year 1812 Sanford enlisted in the service of his country in the war with Great Britain, leaving his bride of a few months in a little log home he had just finished. His eldest child, a son, Chauncy Warriner, was born while he was absent in his country's service. Later in the year a terrible disease broke out in the army camps. The doctors were powerless to cope with it and the soldiers died by the hundreds. Sanford contracted the disease but refused to go to the army hospital because he knew that no soldier with the plague, as they called the disease, ever came out of the hospital alive. At his request he was granted a furlough and started for his home only thirteen miles away. He was so ill he undoubtedly would have died on the way had it not been for an old Indian squaw who took him in and nursed him with herbs until he was better and able to go on his way.

Soon after the war was over, Sanford Porter, with many others left his farm in Era County and moved to Onida County, New York. He remained there until 1827 with the exception of the two years spent at his old hometown in Vermont; then this sturdy, restless frontiersman decided to move west. This time his objective was Illinois, five hundred miles away, going by boat down the Mahonan and Beaver Rivers, and then onto the Ohio River. He and his family, now consisting of his wife and seven children, were accompanied on this journey by a neighbor and his family. All their provisions were loaded on a flat boat they had made. The most thrilling experience of this journey was that of passing over the Beaver River Falls. Only the two pilots remained on the boat, and as the rest of the party watched from the shore, they thought all was lost as the tiny barge plunged over the falls and beneath the foaming waters, but it soon reappeared, right side up, with but little damage done.

The party landed at Evansville, Indiana, where Mr. Porter located and taught school until the spring of 1828 when he resumed his journey to Illinois. There he bought a farm near Pekin and later built a sawmill and found the lumber business more profitable than farming.

Sanford Porter was then not a church member though theology seemed to give him much concern. He derided this belief of the different sects and professed no belief in God, yet he was very much dissatisfied with his conclusions and was anxious for truth. While he was in this state of mind two Latter-day Saint missionaries called at his home and Sanford and his wife became convinced of the truth of the doctrine they taught and were baptized members of the church in July 1830. Anxious to be with the body of the church at their gathering place in Jackson County, Missouri, the Porter family, together with other families, disposed of their land and homes and set out in December, 1831. After a hazardous journey incident to traveling in winter, they arrived in Independence, Missouri March 1, 1832.

He obtained a farm of twenty acres of land, which he immediately improved and built upon. The next year he was driven from his home by the enemies of the church, and for the next fourteen years suffered the persecutions, mobbings, drivings and sufferings that the members of the church had to endure in those trying days.

The Porter family were with the main body of the church when they established themselves in the building up of Nauvoo and then were driven from there; endured the terrible winter of 1846 in Council Bluffs and left for Utah only two months after Brigham Young and his little band of trail breakers. Charles C. Rich was captain of the company in which they traveled. They left Council Bluffs June 15th and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley October 1, 1847.

The Porters first settled on Mill Creek, some four miles south of the fort that was being built as the beginning of Salt Lake City. They remained there until the fall of 1850 when they moved to a little settlement on Duell Creek, twelve miles north of Salt Lake City. He took up forty acres of what proved to be good farmland in the western portion of what is now the town of Centerville. When the Centerville ward was first organized he was made bishop, a position he held for several years. Then his pioneering spirit took him over the hills east of Centerville where he and the members of his family started a settlement that was named Porterville in his honor. This was his home for the remainder of his life.

He was the father of eleven children. His faithful wife who had helped and tenderly trained and inspired his children died May 2, 1865. Sanford passed to the great beyond February 7, 1873 at the age of eighty-three.