Chapter 177

David Wilson's Family; the Porter, Coffey and Sitton Relationships

WOLVES, a howling hungry pack, pursued David Wilson and his bride across the Mississippi bottoms when they came from Lincoln county, Missouri, to found a home in what is now Pleasant Hill township, in Pike county, Illinois, in the early winter of 1834. Their first child, John D. Wilson, born near Pleasant Hill in 1835 and reared amid the hard conditions of the new country, related the story of his parents' coming as he had heard it from them. The bride of these experiences was Isaphena Collard, daughter of John and granddaughter of Joseph of the Revolution.

Wilson and his bride arrived on the Pike county side of the river in the midst of a great snow storm, which set in shortly after they left the older settlement in Missouri. On Christmas Day, soon after they had made their settlement, they partook of a wild turkey which the young husband brought down with his gun from his cabin doorstep.

First of the Wilson children, John D. Wilson, was born November 23, 1835. On reaching maturity, he became a farmer and located in Spring Creek township. On July 19, 1857 he married Nancy Turnbaugh, daughter of George and Nancy Turnbaugh, 1827 settlers at Stockland, whence they came from Lincoln county, Missouri. Nancy was born at Stockland February 25, 1836.

Nancy Turnbaugh's elder brother, Jacob Turnbaugh, married Abigail Collard, daughter of Joseph and cousin of Isaphena Collard. Jacob and Abigail were married July 2, 1837, and the house in Pleasant Hill, still standing, to which Jacob took his bride, was one of the first half dozen erected in the town of Fairfield (now Pleasant Hill). John N. Collard, son of Joseph, also married into the Turnbaugh family, his first wife being Rachel D. Turnbaugh.

George Turnbaugh, father of Mrs. John D. Wilson, was born in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1792; his wife in 1794. They were married there. In 1820 they emigrated to Lincoln county, Missouri, bringing with them their two sons, John and Jacob, who had been born in Kentucky, the latter on May 22, 1818. In the early spring of 1827 the family came to Illinois and located in what is now Pleasant Hill township in Pike county. Crossing the river at Clarksville, then a town of a dozen and a half log abodes, they drove their ox teams across the Mississippi bottoms to the vicinity of a wild spot known then as "Bear's Thicket," present site of Pleasant Hill. Following the crest of the bluffs a mile westward, they halted on what later became known as the Uncle Frank Donovan place, and there, with the help of Absalom McLean and Joe Gipson, two of his Missouri neighbors, George Turnbaugh began erecting a log cabin. This was in March, 1827. The Missouri emigration had begun on March 6, that year.

The Turnbaughs at the time of the Pike county settlement had six children, namely, John, Jacob, Jonathan, Lenallen, Sarah Ann and Joseph. Four more were born subsequent to the settlement, namely, Margaret Ann, who married a Tadlock; James W., who married, first, Sarah M. Lisle, and second, Ellen Ann Grotz; Locha (Lockey), who married Harvey Farthing; and Nancy, who married John D. Wilson.

George Turnbaugh, father of Nancy Wilson, died in 1859; his wife, Nancy, in 1865.

John D. Wilson died at Nebo January 10, 1897. His widow later married again, her second marriage being to a Houchens. She died July 15, 1914.

Second child of David Wilson and Isaphena Collard was Washington J. Wilson, born in Pleasant Hill township June 10, 1838. He died July 15, 1842.

Third of the children was Nancy E. Wilson, born near Pleasant Hill, July 23, 1840. She married James D. Porter in Pike county March 18, 1858, Justice Samuel H. Galloway officiating. She died December 28, 1874.

James D. Porter, husband of Nancy, belonged to the Porter family that was so intimately associated with the Sitton, Coffey, Lewis and Wilson families of early western settlement.

The Porters and Coffeys were two of Pike county's largest families in pioneer times. Porter Hill at the eastern edge of Newburg township (a short distance southwest of the village of Detroit) and Coffey Hill, north of Griggsville, were landmarks of early days. Here were the seats of families whose descendants are still numerous in the county.

The Pike county Porters are descendants of William Porter and Mary Bowen, who were the great great grandparents of the children of the late John David Porter, among whom are Marion Porter (secretary of the Pike County Farm Bureau), Agnes (wife of Postmaster A. B. Caughlan of Pittsfield), the Reverend Reese Porter, Miss Eunice of near Detroit, and Marguerite, who married Alonzo H. Sloan.

All of the Pike county Porters descend in direct line from that John Porter, descendant of William de la Grande, who was born in 1590 at Wraxhall Abbey in Kenilworth in the shire of Warwick, England, Another of the line was John Porter, founder of Windsor, Connecticut, issued from William le Grande, who came over with the Conqueror (Amer. Heraldica).

This John Porter's daughter, Mary Porter, married Samuel Grant, son of Matthew and Priscilla Grant, emigrants and ascendants of President Ulysses S. Grant. Samuel Grant and Mary Porter were ancestors of Eunice Grant, who married David Pomeroy, and was the grandmother of Dr. Daniel Pomeroy Porter, who married Lydia, daughter of Henry Gould of Rutland, Vermont, and his wife, Mary Hickok, who were parents of Eliza Marion Porter, who married Francis M. Gwin of the family to which belonged some of Pike county's early settlers. He was a native of Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born October 22, 1829. He served in the Mexican War under General Joseph Lane and was left as dead upon the battlefield at Monterey, but recovered and returned to the service, remaining until the end of the war. Being a minor at the time of service, a special act of Congress granted him land in Iowa (160 acres), signed by President Buchanan. Later he was appointed postmaster under Lincoln, holding that office until his death January 6, 1861.

William Porter and Mary Bowen, immediate ancestors of the first Porters in Pike county, had the following sons: Joseph, William, David, Samuel, Stephen, John, Charles and Reese; daughters included Nancy McCutcheon, Elizabeth McCammel, Jane McClure, Mary Sharp and Lillie Wilson (Willson), the latter a sister-in-law of David Wilson.

The present Porter family in Pike county descends from David Porter, son of William Porter and Mary Bowen. David Porter was born in 1780 in Virginia, in which state his ancestors had large patent rights from the crown. He married Elizabeth Hopkins, a native of South Carolina. Following their marriage they located in Tennessee, and in Williamson county in that state their first child, James Porter, was born August 10, 1807. The mother died when James was nine days old.

David Porter, following the death of his wife, returned to the old home in Rockbridge county, Virginia. There he married again, his second wife being Nancy Culten, a native of Rockbridge county. David and his wife and young James then moved to Missouri Territory and settled on Big Creek, within the present limits of Lincoln county, Missouri. This was about the year 1810 (one record says 1809).

David Porter's son James, on reaching manhood, married Lydia K. Sitton, daughter of the Tennessee Sittons who played so large a part in the settlement of the Missouri-Illinois border in Lincoln county, Missouri, and Pike county, Illinois. Lydia was born near Nashville, Tennessee, a daughter of Lawrence B. and Rachel S. (Gibson) Sitton. Her father was born in 1785 in North Carolina; her mother in 1776 in South Carolina.

Lawrence B. Sitton and Rachel Gibson were married in Davidson county, Tennessee, and moved to Warren county, Missouri, in 1811, and to Big Creek, within present Lincoln county, in 1812. They moved later to a house a mile and three-quarters from Kennedy's Fort in Warren county, Missouri. This was during the Indian war. Mr. Sitton enlisted in Captain Callaway's company of Rangers and served 14 months. In 1816 he built a home near Auburn, Missouri, to which he moved the following year.

In Missouri, during the Indian outbreak incident to the War of 1812, David Porter joined the Rangers and at one time was stationed at Fort Cap au Gris, opposite the present West Point Ferry landing in Richwoods Precinct, Calhoun county. Here he was a comrade of that interesting border, John Johnson, another Tenesseean, whom David Porter had known in the south and who had settled on "the Point" below St. Charles in 1805.

Johnson's father had been killed by the Indians when he was a small boy and when he grew up he gave his life to avenging his parent's murder. For five years on the Missouri frontier he dressed as an Indian and never slept in a house. Although a frequent visitor at David Porter's, he refused to occupy a bed and slept in the open, wrapped in his blanket. Once while lying out on the prairie not far from the Porter house, he intercepted a band of border thieves who had planned to run off some of David Porter's stock.

Once, during the Indian war when the Missouri border settlers were collected in the forts and stockades, Johnson and Porter shared in an Indian exploit which cost the life of one of Black Hawk's braves. Something resembling the back of a buffalo above a distant log was observed from the fort in which the Rangers were stationed. Johnson, wise in the ways of the wily Indian, called Comrade Porter's attention to it, revealed to him his suspicions. Leaving the fort by diverging trails they managed to get in the rear of the pretended buffalo. Johnson reached a vantage point first and killed the Indian who was thus masquerading in an attempt to lure someone from the fort within the range of his gun.

In 1836 David Porter brought his family to Pike county, Illinois, and located near the present village of Detroit, close to the east edge of what is now Newburg township. In 1849, the year of the California gold rush, he started across the plains, accompanied by some of the Sittons, to dig gold. At Fort Hall, Idaho, July 16, 1849, he fell dead from an apoplectic attack. He was 69 years old, born during the Revolution, in 1780. He is buried on the plains, beside the great trail.

With David Porter on the western gold rush was his son-in-law, Samuel G. Sitton, who in Lincoln county, Missouri, on February 23, 1826, married David Porter's daughter, Rebecca (spelled Rebecky on the old Missouri marriage license record). The record recites that he was a lawful age and her father was present and gave his consent. Samuel G. Sitton was a son of Philip Sitton, who was a brother of Jesse Sitton, the pioneer minister at Detroit. Samuel G. Sitton's sister, Elizabeth (Betsy) Sitton, married James Wilson, brother of David.

Samuel G. Sitton sent back the news of David Porter's death, and also according to an administrator's receipt signed by John Lyster, sent back the money David Porter had on his person when he dropped dead, some $333. The Sittons then went on with their ox team, reaching the gold fields after a journey of five and a half months.

David Porter had six sons and four daughters. Ninth of the children and fifth of the sons was John Porter, pioneer Pike county farmer and school teacher, descendant of a long line of John Porters dating far back into English history. This John Porter was born in Lincoln county, Missouri, April 8, 1824 and was 12 years old when his parents removed to Section 24 in what is now Newburg township.

John Porter took charge of the home farm and looked after his mother when his father, David, started for the gold fields. His mother, who was Nancy Culten of Virginia, lived to the age of 82 years and nine months. She died January 8, 1867 and is buried at Blue River cemetery, south of Detroit. Her husband, David Porter, is buried far out on the gold trail to California, at old Fort Hall.

John Porter, at the time of the Mormon troubles at Nauvoo in 1845, enlisted at the call of Governor Ford and went to the scene of the trouble as an officer, serving as quartermaster through that troubled period. After the Mormon excitement had subsided he went into the mercantile business at Detroit in partnership with William H. Johnston.