Maj. William Young Porter
December 7, 1829  -  November 17, 1899
Swannanoa Township, Buncombe County, North Carolina

by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner

I listened to my mother remember her young years, living in the heart of the family on the Swannanoa River's North Fork in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  She remembered the family talk of  Uncle Will Porter, and how he made a gift of his farm at Swannanoa to his niece Rachel Jane Stepp and her husband Marcus Maloney Jones, my great-grandparents.

The Family Photographs

Many family photographs were left to my mother Bonnie Jones Eubank by her Aunt Frances B. Whisenhunt, several of which were not identified.  Aunt Frances kept an ornate album of photographs of the Jones, Porter, Stepp families, and many friends. This photograph of William Y. Porter (right, below) was one of those in Aunt Frances's album which was not identified.

So what a pleasure it was recently to discover another descendant of this ancestral Porter family of Buncombe, who owned a similar photograph of William to the one in Mrs. Whisenhunt's album taken in the same photo sitting.   Uncle Will Porter had been only a name, an abstract place in my mind.  But now, he was this handsome and thoughtful gentleman looking back at me.

I very much appreciate the photographs of 
William Y. Porter and Sarah Hemphill Porter (left,below) which were included on by a descendant of the family of William's brother, John H. Porter.  John was two years older than William, born on January 13, 1828. He and Sarah Malinda Hemphill  were married on September 16, 1856, in  
McDowell County, North Carolina. They had two sons, William Y. Porter, born December 9, 1857, who died on October 9, 1922.  Another son, Thomas Porter, was born  in December, 1859.  A child who died in infancy in 1861 is listed among the burials in the Patton Cemetery.  John died in Buncombe County on April 18, 1862.  He is buried in the Patton Meeting House Cemetery (Patton Cemetery).
Photo of Sarah Hemphill Porter shared by the Porter Family, descendants of John H. Porter.



Alexander Porter and Jane Young Porter

William Y., John H., and their six sisters
were born at the family home and farm at Swannanoa. Jane was a daughter of John Young and  Rosannah Hemphill and granddaughter of Capt. Thomas Hemphill of old Burke County, who commanded a company of Patriots from Burke County, North Carolina, in the Battle of King's Mountain in October, 1780, under the command of Maj. Joseph McDowell and Maj. George Wilfong.  Capt. Thomas Hemphill is buried in McDowell County, Old Siloam Cemetery.  A very nice memorial and biography is presented at

The Porter family was prominent and prosperous in the Swannanoa Valley.  William's sister was Isabella Anna Porter Stepp, whose husband Joshua P. Stepp, according to my research of documents available,  died at Richmond, Virginia, of typhoid fever on August 27-29, 1862.   Joshua's parents were Joseph Stepp and Rachael Waters Stepp, who built the Stepp House on upper North Fork in the 1820/1830's.

In 1859 William bought the Alexander Porter farm
Maj. Porter's farm and dwelling had been for years his family's farm, where he and his siblings had been born and grew up.  A deed recorded at the Buncombe County Courthouse proves William bought his father's house and 150 acres of  land in 1859.

On March 22, 1859, an indenture was agreed to between Alexander Porter, grantor, and W. Y. Porter, grantee, for a sum in hand paid by the said W. Y. Porter of $2,000.00. . . for a certain piece or parcel of land  lying on the north of Swannanoa River, including the dwelling house of said A. Porter . . . containing 150 acres more or less . . . on the bank of said river at the end of the conditional line made by J. H. and W.Y. Porter . . . at the same reserving a lifetime Estate for said house for himself the said Alexander Porter and his wife Jane Porter.     


The deed is transcribed below in the original text - Deed Book 26, pages 619, 620 - Date filed Jan. 1, 1860:

This indenture made the 22nd day of March, 1859 between
Alexander Porter
of the county of Buncombe and State of North Carolina of the first part, and W. Y. Porter of the said county and State of the second part, Witnesseth that the said Alexander Porter for and in consideration of the sum of Two-thousand Dollars to him in hand paid by the said W. Y. Porter the receipt whereof is hereby fully acknowledged hath this day bargained sold and conveyed and by these presents doth convey to the said W. Y. Porter his heirs and assigns a certain piece or parcel of land lying on the North of Swannanoa River including the dwelling house of said A. Porterbeginning on a  ? oak on the northwest bank of the North Fork of Swannanoa River and runs down the meanders of said river 190 poles more or less to a small Poplar on the bank of said River at the end of the conditional line made between J. H. and W. Y. Porter, thence North 19 degrees West with said conditional line 257 poles to a small black oak in the forks of a branch; then North 60 degrees East 57 poles to a Pine on a small flat Ridge; then South 40 degrees East 242 poles to the beginning containing 150 acres more or less, Together with all  woods, waters, mines, and minerals, and the said A. Porter doth bind himself, his heirs, executors and administrators to warrant and forever defend
 ___ (p620) the assigned Premises with every appertenance thereunto belonging or in anywise thereto pertaining clear and free from himself his heirs and assigns or the lawful claim unto the said W. Y. Porter his heirs and assigns forever at the same reservlife time Estate for said house for himself the said Alexander Porter and his wife Jane Porter.
   In testimony whereof he has this day present set his hand and affixed his seal.                              
Alexander Porter (seal)

         Signed sealed and delivered in presence of
         J. L. Weaver, clk

State of North Carolina  [Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions
Buncombe County         [Jan. Term 1860

             The execution of this Deed was duly
executed in my presence and ordered to be registered.
                                           J. L. Weaver, clk


The 1860 Census shows a separate entry for  William Y. Porter, but he likely  lived with his parents at the homeplace through the years 1859 and 1860, until the war started in spring of 1861.   The war was in its ninth month when Alexander Porter died on December 28, 1861.   Jane Porter lived for another seven years, and died May 5, 1867.  Alexander and Jane are buried in the old  Patton Meeting House Cemetery, called also the Patton Cemetery. 

Maj. William Y. Porter's service to the Confederate Army  

By 1863, William was a Major (document above) in the 108th Regiment, North Carolina Militia. 

The 1870 Census, Buncombe County, Swannanoa, North Carolina
After the war William was at home on his farm near the farm of his sister-in-law, Sarah Hemphill Porter, the widow of his brother John.  On the 1870 census William is at Residence 118, living with two nephews : Andrew Hemphill and John Gilliam.   Sarah Porter lives at Res. 116 with her two sons, William Y. Porter and Thomas A. Porter.  The next farm to Maj. Porter is Residence 119, George C. Alexander, owner and proprietor of The Alexander Inn
, a stage coach stop and hotel.    

1870 U. S. Census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, William Y. Porter

William Porter deeds his farm to Rachel and  Marcus Maloney Jones.

By family arrangement or perhaps by Quit Claim deed (family Quit Claim deeds were not always recorded), Maj. Porter gave his farm on North Fork Road (now Lake Eden Road) to his niece Rachel Jane Stepp Jones and her husband Marcus M. Jones.   Maj. Porter's farm was in fact the old Alexander Porter farm where he and his siblings had grown up.  The farm and home were on the site of today's location of The Presbyterian Home for Children, Youth, and Families on Lake Eden Road.


This is the view from the present site of The Presbyterian Home for Children, Youth, and Families, which is located at the top of the sloping hill beyond the trees at left in the photo.  This magnificent view of the mountains across Swannanoa Valley is the same as it was for all the  families who lived at this place - the family of Alexander and Jane, William and his nephews, Rachel Jane and Marcus and their family.  My great aunt Frances Jones Whisenhunt, who was born at this site in 1889, always referred to her homeplace as being on the site of  The Mountain Orphanage, the old Presbyterian home for youth at this site during the early 20th Century.

The 1880 Census, Buncombe County, at Swannanoa
On the 1880 census Rachel Jane and Marcus Jones are living at this site, Res. 65 which is the farm where Maj. Porter lived in 1870.  Sarah Porter is living at Res. 60. 

The Upper North Fork Neighborhood on the 1880  Census

Maj. Porter's residence in 1880 was a mile or so from his farm where he lived in 1870.  He lived in 1880 in a residence next to his sister Isabella Stepp and her daughters "Lizzie" and Rose at Res. 112. on North Fork Road (Lake Eden Road).  Maj. Porter lived at Res. 116, and the next residence is that of Lewis Ingram, Res. 117.  Residence 116 is the log house and farm where Marcus and Rachel later lived with their four youngest children in the  early 1900's.

It is likely Maj. Porter had the log house built in 1873.  The house has undergone renovation through several generations, most recently by  the Rockmont Camp by whom it is now owned.

 Maj. Porter's sister Isabella died in 1903.  Maj. Porter died in 1899.  He is buried in the old Patton Cemetery at Swannanoa.


Tombstone of Maj. William Y. Porter, CSA
Patton Hill Cemetery, Swannanoa, NC



Wagner photo


The Lewis Ingram House 
My mother Bonnie was born in the Lewis Ingram house in 1907.  Bonnie's father Winfred Jones and mother Sarah Lenora (Nora) Foster boarded at that time with Dianna Ingram, who had inherited the home from her father.  My mother knew Dianna as "Miss Annie," an influential person for my mother in the first thirteen years of her life.

From the time she was four or five years old, my mother lived with her grandparents, Rachel Jane and Marcus Jones, and her father, Winfred Lee Jones,  and their youngest daughter, Frances Burroughs Jones in the home that Maj. Porter likely built in 1873, on a tract of land in close proximity to his sister Isabella Stepp's home and farm.   A year before her death in 1903, Isabella deeded this 32-acre tract of land to Rachel.


After Rachel Jane's death in January, 1919, and Aunt Frances's marriage to Daniel W. Whisenhunt in March 1920,  my mother Bonnie lived with Aunt Frances and Uncle Daniel in Andrews, North Carolina, until her marriage to William Eubank in 1928. 

Original Narrative, Research, and Website © Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2014