How To Live on a Professor's Salary
Published in Alma Mater VIII 1958-1959
By Helen L. D. Richardson
The personal account books of William Porter, Professor of Latin and Mathematics at Beloit College from 1853 to 1906, recently came to the College Archives. From them Mrs. Richardson, widow of Professor Robert K. Richardson, for many years the Historian of the College, has drawn this interesting account of "budgeting" one hundred years ago in a Middle Western college community. The Porter home still stands across College Street from the College Chapel.
THE meticulousness ascribed to William Porter in the shining of his shoes and the brushing of his clothes appears more significantly in the accounts he kept in a succession of five calf-, leather-, and buckram-bound books, recently recovered from the store room of the house he built in 1855, at 735 College Street. In these, Professor Porter set down every penny expended and every dollar of income. The books date from 1843, when he left Lee, Massachusetts, to go south in search of health, through his coming to Beloit in 1852 with $77.15 in cash, to his death in 1917, within three months of his ninety-eighth birthday. From March, 1912, the entries are in his daughter's hand. The accounts are a marvel of system and faithfulness and a revelation of the life of a faculty family throughout more than half a century.
The items are put down in very fine handwriting, with the amounts expended entered in the first column after the items and the income in an outer column. Often more than one item will be written on a line with a small individual figure for each. At the bottom of the page each column is added, the difference appearing clearly. When the two sums come very close, if the difference is in his favor, he will carry up "Cash on hand $10.65," as on December 3, 1853. If it is against him, he will carry up the sum of each column, and the reader turns the leaf in anxiety, hoping for redemption on the next page.
On the probable date of his becoming engaged to Ellen Gertrude Chapin, youngest sister of President A. L. Chapin, William Porter, who had been boarding with the Chapins, paid his host $7.25 for "board in full." He was rooming at Joseph McQuigg's in the red brick house half a block south of the president's, now the home of the George Careys. Two months later, he is paying board to Professor Emerson at the same rate, $7.25 a month. Was his eating at the same table with his betrothed considered a little indelicate? There may, of course, have been other reasons.
The ring for their marriage and a fine thimble, gold perhaps from the price, Porter bought in Chicago in April, in the break between terms. On that trip he must have met Ellen's mother, then at the home of her sister, Jane Farr. He also had his daguerreotype taken.
When they married, he already had an eleven-year habit at the accounts. Ellen had little to do with them. Often he gave her money, making no other specification as to its object. Evidently he did not require to know what she spent it for. Ellen had a little money of her own and must sometimes have lent to William for small necessities. Several times there occurs the notation: "Pd. Nelly advanced."
NEVER before have we had so clear a picture of the paying of faculty salaries, the size of the installments and the frequency of the payments. Both the size and the frequency reflect the fortunes of the struggling college. If it had money, they were paid; if it did not have, they could not be. In the year 1854-55, for instance, when the professors' salaries had been raised from $600 to $800, Professor Porter received nothing until December 20, but then $160 at once. February 14, he was paid $10 and before the end of the day $40 more. There was nothing further until March 26, when he was given $15. April 4 and 24 brought $100 each, but he waited until July 12, nearly commencement time, for the remaining $376.50. This amount must have been very welcome, for he was building his house.
The next year, 1855-56, up to December 19, the College had paid Porter nothing. On that date it gave him $25, and $16 more before Christmas. That year the figures set down were as small as $6.05 and $11.50. When they were so small as that, one suspects his possibly having asked for an advance of that amount. The $11.50 was paid immediately (January 27, 1856) to Dr. Taggart, who had attended the birth of his son on October 16.
In 1856-57, the same salary was paid in only five installments. Though the first payment was not made until December 24, which circumstance must have caused the faculty distinct inconvenience, there was a greater regularity. The College was approaching its tenth anniversary and was on a slightly more even keel. It advanced its professors' salaries from $800 to $1000. But in the autumn Porter was receiving, from the president, $10, $25, and $50, a circumstance that makes one wonder whether President Chapin, out of his own means, was tiding his faculty along. Dr. Horatio N. Brinsmade, minister of the First Congregational Church and a friend of Porter's in the East, who with Professor Bushnell helped to found the associate professorship of mathematics to which Porter was chosen in 1854, and who later founded the Brinsmade Professorship of Latin, contributed $20 to Porter's salary on October 26. By November 20, the payments were coming from Leander D. Gregory, the new treasurer of the College; and before the end of June, the full thousand was made up.
The thousand continued to be the salary of a professor until 1864-65, when William Porter received $1284. In 1865-66, the salary was $1400, and in 1866-67, $1500. Except for the year 1868-69, when it was again $1400, it remained at that rather high figure for those days to 1900, when Professor Porter went on half time. Even the year 1873-74, which he spent abroad, he was given the avails of his endowed professorship.
The point that stands out to one trying to interpret the life of a professor is the irregularity of the payments. This continued until 1893. A faculty wife of those days says that E. B. Kilbourn's administration in the treasurer's office was what brought regularity.
More interesting than the yearly amounts is what the payments were used for. On February 20, 1856, Porter received of the College $67.44 and on that very day paid that amount for wood. On April 16, 1858, he received "on Salary" $70, on the same day paying President Chapin $50 he had borrowed, with $.87 interest, and making his first payment of $20 on a subscription for Rockford Female Seminary. Similarly, in 1864: "Nov. 17, Rec'd of College on Sal $41." "Pd. for coal $41."
ON additional means of support for a faculty member who was an ordained minister lay in supplying pulpits. From 1853, in the spring after he arrived in Beloit, to 1893, when he was seventy-three years old, William Porter was called to substitute for preachers in the local churches and in those of Roscoe, Rockford, Freeport, Janesville, Madison, Delavan, Milwaukee, (Lake) Geneva, and Chicago, and when he went east on visits, in Lee, his home in Massachusetts, and Unionville, that of his brother Quincy.
The account books record a hundred such engagements that brought him a total of $1140. His largest stipends, $30 and $40, came from his own church, the First Congregational, but we do not know for how many Sundays. Janesville, Madison, and Racine, to which last place he was many times called back, gave him usually $15; Milwaukee or Chicago $20 or $25. This was not clear profit. The trips to Racine cost him from $2.20 to $4.35, that to Watertown, where he received $15, $1.65, and that to Freeport, where he got $10, $3.15. The journey, also, must have meant a rather arduous weekend.
IN the early days our faculty lived on an entirely cash economy. They borrowed from each other – Porter borrowing chiefly of President Chapin, his brother-in-law. They borrowed of certain townsmen: Dr. Brinsmade, a Mr. Danner, Miss Annah Dewey, who ran the dining club at North College (though after her retirement, the faculty were making up purses for her), and once, in 1873, Porter borrowed $200 from John Pfeffer, the college janitor, paying him back in a little over two years. If they borrowed for any length of time, even of their friends, they paid interest. They borrowed of the bank for thirty days; and upon occasion, later, when the College had it, they borrowed of the College. They settled their bills in part.
This would seem a precarious living. But they were all in the same boat and apparently so used to the precariousness as not to be frightened by their nearness to the brink of insolvency. If there were $50, William and Ellen would spend $20 for a trip to St. Paul, to visit her older sister.
One of the reasons for their equanimity was that there was money behind them in Porter's family in the East. It is obvious that without other means than his salary, William Porter could not have paid nearly $450 for his first three lots and over $2000 for his house. His father's death early in 1854 brought him a share in that estate sufficient to give him substantial aid, without which he would not have attempted to build. Indeed, money from the East helped out most of the faculty members as it did almost all pioneer enterprises. After the settlement of his father's estate, it continued to come to William Porter in loans and gifts from his sister Mary and her husband, Franklin Chamberlin, who had done very well as a lawyer and who had no children.
WE of today are surprised to learn from the cash books how large a share of Porter's slender income was paid for help. Always there was a "hired girl," the succession of whose names – Joanna, Olga, Nora, Sophia, Frieda, Alfhild – in some degree reflected the waves of immigration into Wisconsin. In 1855, the Porters could hire them for $1.50 a week, which soon became $8 a month, then a straight $2 a week. In 1889, the wage went up to $2.50, new girls still being started at $2. But in the early 1900's, the rate was $3, except for an occasional beginner. By the end of 1906, a few long-staying ones were claiming $4. When the accounts end, in 1917, Mary Porter was paying Anna $5.
Besides the hiring of a girl for kitchen work and cleaning, the washing was much of the time sent out or women were brought in to do it. For several decades Mrs. Ousley received $1 or thereabouts. For years a Mrs. Green was also paid small amounts for mending.
Out of the house, not only the ploughing of the garden and cleaning of the cistern were hired, but the mowing of the lawn, the digging of potatoes, "garden work," including both planting and cultivating, and the endless sawing of wood. Both townmen and students were available as labor, students seeming Porter is preference at the sawbuck, probably because he wished to help them with their college expenses. Such later-notable alumni as Peter Hendrickson, Wilfrid Rowell, and Merlin Ennis, and later Lloyd Maurer and Lloyd Heth labored and earned in the Porter woodshed.
With William Porter, who had been a consumptive and was said to have only one lung, there was a physical reason for his not exerting himself. Yet what one knows of the other faculty members corroborates the idea that at least heavy manual labor would have been considered beneath professorial dignity.
Beloit's faculty members were gentle people, some of them from families of position and means. They brought their standards with them from the East. Hiring their labor done, building large substantial houses and keeping them up carefully, spending enough on clothes to be welldressed, buying books and subscribing to magazines, pledging their support to churches and to missionary and educational causes were a part of the pattern of their lives.
PUBLIC libraries, even college libraries, until late in the nineteenth century, were not developed to a point where a reading man could depend upon them. One of Porter's first purchases in Beloit was a book on Water Cure and Barnes (the Reverend A. S. Barnes' Scriptural Views of Slavery, 1846?) $3.25, and a month later, before he had yet been paid anything on salary, he bought the new Uncle Tom's Cabin for $1.50 and a book on philosophy and one on calculus for $5. Current books, books for his later teaching of Latin, even the successive volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica were to be found in the Porter home, together with local and eastern newspapers, a variety of church and missionary magazines, several magazines for the children, Scribner's, the Atlantic, and the Review of Reviews. Porter was an excellent patron of Wright and Newcomb's, the local bookstore.
IT is pleasant to see William Porter, through the mirror of the account books, taking part in the local life of his time. In the summer of 1855, he subscribed his dollar, with all the other Congregational ministers of Wisconsin, to erect the monument in Oakwood Cemetery to Stephen Peet, pioneer minister, agent for the Home Missionary Society, and chief founder of Beloit College. On May 18, 1859, he bought two tickets at $1 for the Bushnell House Festival, arranged by the ladies of the city to aid the Bushnell House, built five years before by Professor J. J. Bushnell, for which it had been difficult to find a good manager. The festival did not keep Professor Bushnell from having to resign from the College for a few years to run it himself, but it made the town more conscious of their unusually good hostelry.
William Porter was a frequent attendant at the "Monthly Concerts," held in Beloit from the early forties on to the end of the century to raise money at $.25 a ticket for the cause of foreign missions. He and his family went to the "sociables" at the Congregational Church, paying even surprisingly late only $.10 for supper.
Porter paid his $.70 to go to the Home Contests of the college orators, or $1 in 1897, when the State Contest was held in Beloit. On November 22, 1876, he paid $5 for "Tickets – gymnasium and Archaean." He was at the moment some dollars in the red and was not to receive another payment of salary for nearly a month. This was the time of agitation for a gymnasium, toward which, in July, two years before, he had subscribed $25.
The education of his own children would be something we would expect to find William Porter paying out money for. When his older son started to school at nearly seven, there were term bills of from $1.25 to $3 for "Willie's tuition," probably at a privately kept school since the payments were made to Miss Smith, Miss Field, or Miss Simmons. While Willie was in the preparatory department of Beloit College, his term tuition fees were either $8.50 or $9.50. While the second son, Frank, was a "prep," 1874-76, the tuition was up to $9 and $12. Meanwhile Porter was having to pay larger fees of from $5 to $6 for little May at Miss Simmons' private school.
During Frank's Freshman and Sophomore years at Beloit College, his father was paying $16, $13.50, and $12.50; $16, $13, and $13 tuition for the three terms a year.
In October of 1880, Mary Quincy, the Porter's only daughter, began to have music lessons from Miss Rosetta Rosenblatt, $5 worth every two months. In 1886, Mary graduated from high school, where, to judge by the books bought for her, she had studied algebra, physiology, chemistry, astronomy, and geology, and used tennis shoes. Then she was sent to Wellesley College, where she studied for the year 1886-87, and later for one other, 1889-90. There the tuition seems to have been about $100 a semester and the board about $50. As a gift on departure the second year William Porter gave his daughter an expense book, costing $1.90.
IN the finely written pages of the accounts are recorded the purchase of articles we seldom use now: court plaster, stove blacking, lamp chimneys and wicks and kerosene, paper for carpet lining, carpets, tallow, salt peter, slippery elm, arnica, copperas, izing glass, camphor gum, celery compound, and a pounding barrel. The first "boughten" loaf of bread came into the house in July of 1882. The first purchase of toilet paper is recorded on December 3, 1894. Listerine appears in the same decade.
Prices, of course, went up. The Thanksgiving turkey of 1858 cost $.75, that of 1904 $2.15, raised by one of their former "hired girls." A chicken from the same farm was still only $.55. A hair cut cost $.10 on April 13 of 1855, but $.15 by June 5 of the same year. It went to $.20 in 1864, staying at that price until 1866, when it rose to the $.25 that it remained for the rest of Porter's life.
Staples the Porters bought in quantity. Such items as sugar, coffee, tea, rice, occasionally raisins, and later canned goods, they got of the brother-in-law wholesaler, James Farr. But even outside the orders from Farr, they bought in quantity: $9.50 worth of brown sugar at one time (1856), on the same date tea for $8.50. All through the accounts they seem to have been great tea drinkers. McQuigg sold them $5 worth of honey at one time (1858); they paid $10 and $15 at a time for apples; or he would write down "Flour $13.15." This was doubtless the practice they had been used to in the East, and one in the end economical.
In 1859, Professor Porter bought a cow for $25. This investment saved them milk and butter bills, but he must pay for bran and straw and pasturage, and he must pay Willie McQuigg or others for milking. The cow was got rid of in 1864, for $15 in cash and $10 on order, which was soon paid. In the early 1860's, a few items suggest the ownership of a horse, which becomes unmistakable in 1864 with horse-shoeing, mending of saddles, the buying of a whip, and the cost of hay. Such expenses peter off, but there is some possibility that the horse was kept as late as 1871.
When Frank was a boy in the Academy, he raised hens, his father advancing the money for feed, and then paying Frank for eggs, as on March 31, 1875, "Frank eggs $1.80" and July 28, "Frank eggs in full $5."
WE CAN see in the account books also the more intimate expenses of the Porter home. William married Ellen Chapin on July 13, 1854. Their trip east that he might show her to his relatives in Unionville, Norwich, Springfield, and Hadley, included en route, Niagara Falls, and at the end New York City, where she had taught in a private school before coming to Beloit. They had not long been at home when her mother died, and September 21 he put down: "Mourning goods for Ellen $30.95." William's first anniversary present for Ellen was a $6 work box. The second anniversary he seems to have forgotten, but two days later bought a fine umbrella, to judge by the price, and a vase. Or was he simply paying for them late? He was at the moment some $30 ahead of the game. An umbrella was one of his favorite presents. On July 3, 1890, he bought a nice one, in prospect of the anniversary? and at Christmas, 1893, gave one to May. Through the years he paid for ever so many more.
The sixth anniversary was celebrated by hiring a carriage for a drive to Rockford ($2.50). For the anniversary of 1874, William bought Ellen an album; in 1883, a Bible; in 1884, a tea plate. At Christmas he was likely to give the children books. But the thought of a gift for his wife or daughter usually took him to the shop of Howard the jeweller. In 1883, he must have given both his wife and daughter rings for Christmas, and in 1886, parasols and a purse, and in that year also a shell pin for Ellen.
Almost every summer, usually in June or July but occasionally in May or August, there is a noticeably large payment for ice cream. At least once this treat fell on the Fourth of July, and in 1865, 1879, and 1882 on July 13, the wedding anniversary, in the first of which years they must have served ice cream to quite a gathering, for the bill was $12. One such purchase proves to be for a party the Porters gave to college Seniors. And one occurrence of ice cream and cake in the winter marked William Porter's eightieth birthday, January 10, 1900.
There were usually a few cents, at least, spent for candies at Christmas and occasionally at other times. After about 1888, there are infrequent treats of oysters, pineapples, bananas, and oranges, but oranges had appeared once as early as 1858.
With the approach of the fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1904, one can see the entertainment of relatives from away in the buying of "steak and sweetbreads" and "roast lamb and tongue." The refreshments for the afternoon reception or supper for relatives, or both, were catered by Nelly Pfeffer, daughter of John, at a cost of $23.65. A ring for Ellen was bought of jeweller Howard. But William hadn't had a haircut in ever so long, unless in his excitement he forgot to put it down! A week after the event, he remembered to record that on the 13th they had "Rec'd in gold from friends $170."
BEFORE William Porter knew that he was going to live his life in Beloit, he made an exploratory trip west as he left the College in April of 1853. He set out through Rockford for Galena, Dubuque, Davenport, and down the river through Muscatine to St. Louis, then to Springfield, Illinois, Bloomington, Chicago, and so east.
On his return in August to the assistant professorship just established by Professor Bushnell and Dr. Brinsmade, he stocked up with books in Chicago – more than $15 worth, he went to the panorama ($.35), and he made a trip out to Batavia and back.
New Englanders that they were, the Porters would wish to return when possible to the land of their forebears. That they went as often as they did, averaging not much over two years' interval between trips for one or both of them, would seem impossible on their income, except that the fare to New England was not much over $20. In 1859, Porter went to and from the East for $70. In 1861, he handed Ellen $107 for her trip. In 1867, taking the little ones, though Frank was so young as probably not to pay a fare, Porter put down the expenses for the four of them as $137.20. In 1885, Ellen and May, travelling about New England somewhat more, spent $175.85.
Porter's trip with Mrs. Porter in 1889, on the occasion of his fiftieth reunion at Williams College, with a side trip to Hartford, cost the two of them $32.15, including a new travelling bag and $3.50 of "extra insurance."
Several times gifts received from one or another relative while they were in the East or soon after their return helped largely in defraying the expenses of the journey, as in 1860: "Rec'd of Frank $85 of Mother $25," or in 1862, "Rec'd Quincy, Mary, and Susan $80." Or in 1867, "Rec'd of Frank and Mary $200." These gifts, besides the low fares, made travelling the easier.
The Porters went occasionally to Minnesota, where Ellen's older sister Elizabeth, was married to pioneer minister Richard Hall. In July of 1858, their expenses up and back were $59.37. They carried "Lizzie" $.88 worth of whalebone, which she had perhaps not been able to procure in St. Paul. Ellen went up more often than the two of them. She took little May there as William started for the greatest trip of his life that to Europe in 1873-74. William Jr. was that year in the East, apprenticed to the paper-making industry. Frank, only fourteen, went to his Aunt Jane Farr in Chicago, and for the year worked as an errand boy in A. C. McClurg's bookstore.
The European trip, from July of 1873 to April of 1874, was William Porter's farthest venture from Beloit. He took his way through Ireland, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, travelling intermittently with his beloved sister Mary and her husband. His account of it is in a series of letters to his "Dearest Nelly," signed "Your own William." Just before his start, with $225 borrowed against his next year's salary, he paid his local creditors, bought his ticket for the East and Ellen's for Minnesota, gave her $65 and had $71.40 left in his pocket.
The account does not resume again until the next July, when he is paid all at once the $1500 of his endowed professorship. Out of that, he repays the College the $225, with between two and three per cent interest, and again resumes the payment of life insurance, pew rent, a subscription to the chapel of the church, grocery bills, and the cost of a new carpet. The largest item set down that July was $503.11 for "Nelly's board, etc. in –," doubtless Chicago, where she and the younger children had stayed all winter. One suspects that the whole trip from Hartford abroad was paid for by Frank and Mary Chamberlin. In fact, William must also have borrowed of Frank while they were there; on May 18,1875, he makes a repayment to Frank Chamberlin of $100 "due on London purchases."
THE variety and total amount of Professor Porter's contributions to institutions and causes are remarkable. Like other faculty members brought up in the Puritan churches of New England, he was educated to supporting churches and missions; and education "at the West" was the very cause for which he lived.
Certain of the payments "on salary" were turned back immediately toward the support of the College, as on January 3, 1859: "Rec'd of College $25" "Paid Sub to Col. 1st instal $25." Apparently earlier on the same day he had received $43.66 from the College, and he had been ahead $48.73 at the top of the page. So that was one of the better moments. He paid his city taxes of $28.66, bought the cow for $25, paid Mr. Stoddard in full for butter (they were lavish in their use of butter, and this was just after Christmas), bought Willie, at the time more than three, a sled for $1, discharged a number of small bills: meat $.55, syrup $.30, subscribed for the Congregational Herald for $2, and having received $16 from one of the young cousins for board, was $25 ahead at the bottom of the page.
The subscription to the College, of which that $25 was the first installment, was evidently for $100, and was fulfilled in June, 1860. The next January he records: "Int on Col Sub in full $8.15." At the same time he pledged $100 to Rockford Female Seminary, which he paid, $20 at a time from April, 1858, to May, 1861, and in October of 1859, he made a payment of $15 to Beloit Seminary, the school in which Ellen Chapin taught the year before he married her.
Of subscriptions to the College, Porter paid after this date $50, with $7 interest, on December 19, 1866, $25 in July of 1879, and July of 1880, and during 1885-86, the last year of Chapin's presidency, $175. Thereafter the faculty seems not to have been so much called upon to donate to their own institution, though as late as July, 1908, Porter paid $50 as a subscription to the college endowment.
Nor was the professor deaf to the claims of education outside his own institution. Through the church he gave annually to Ashland Academy, and at least once apiece to Tougaloo and Talladega. To the "educational Society," not further specified and hard to identify, he was a constant contributor, giving at least $10 a year.
One would expect to find church support in William Porter's accounts. They called it "pew rent," and it ran from $5.50 a quarter in the early years of his membership to $10 and more after the First Congregational Church had its larger building to support. Paying pew rent did not keep William Porter from putting small contributions in the plate every Sunday.
Beyond pew rent and the change for the plate, he gave many a special contribution to his Church: $175 with $9.59 in interest during the years of building, and $150 more while they were paying the debt, besides $50 given in the names of his wife and little sons. This much out of a salary of $1000 a year. His largest single contribution, $101, was made from a salary of $1500 in March, 1869, when the Church was contemplating an organ. In 1881, he gave $5 toward a church clock, and $1 for a pew cushion. In 1884, he paid a total of $56 on the church debt. On February 28, 1895, he gave $25 as a "subscription for Ch. tower," in 1898, $30 toward church repairs and $25 toward the new organ, besides his usual contributions for "church support" (formerly pew rent); and in 1908, $50 for the repair of the Chapel. Besides all this, Porter was a consistent supporter of the Sabbath School in small weekly contributions and in subscriptions to its library.
The sums mentioned do not take care of what we should call benevolences. A typical year's giving to such causes would be: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions $20; Home Missionary Society $20; American Missionary Association $20; Ministerial Relief $2; Congregational Church Building Society $3; Chicago Theological Seminary from $1 to $25; Seaman's Aid $1.
In local giving Porter was a faithful contributor to the Children's Aid Society of Wisconsin, of which Professor J. J. Blaisdell was a founder and first president. The Salvation Army, the Y.M.C.A., the Firemen's Ball, Soldiers' Aid, the Temperance Alliance, the Sabbath Rest Association, the local "African Church," the Anti-Saloon League, and the Woman's Relief Corps all claimed his support, as did Professor Burr in collecting "for relief" or Professor E. G. Smith for "a family in need" or "an overcoat for Mr. Child." Charity, for William Porter really began within his family. For years, from the time when his salary was only $800, a ten dollar bill went every once in a while to Aunt Debbie in Massachusetts. When Ellen's sister Lizzie visited them in the autumn of 1858 from Minnesota, he paid a $50 dentistry bill for her to Dr. Sherwood. Or again in December, 1894, the item: "Bro. Hall from Nellie and me $10."
THE change from stringency to financial ease is not to be attributed to any one cause, but more than to anything else that Porter himself did, it is to be put down to his buying land that he could later sell at a profit. In 1864, ten years after he had acquired the three lots on College Street, he bought lots directly behind his on Church Street, for $225. He borrowed the money from one Mary Johnson. At the moment he was in debt to Miss Dewey, Dr. Brinsmade, President Chapin, and his sister and brother-inlaw. The debt to Mary Johnson was at least partially discharged in 1867. In 1868, he again made a plunge in real estate, borrowing $200 of "A.L.C." and paying $150 of it toward the purchase of Lot 4, directly south of those just purchased on Church Street.
Land must have increased very swiftly in value as the streets to the east of the College were opened up. It would seem from the accounts that in selling these lots: to Mrs. Pratt, Charles Emerson, and to Professor Almon Burr, Porter realized outside what he paid for them, $2383.30. It is not certain, though probable, that a payment of $600 from "Mrs. Emerson," included in this, is for land. While he owned the lots, they provided a pasture for the horse he was housing for a time, and an extension of his garden. We have it on good authority that "Charlie Emerson built in Uncle Will's corn patch."
A very timely financial help had come earlier in his inheriting from the estate of "Aunt Curtis" $392 on May 8, 1875. He used $200 of it immediately to discharge his debt to John Pfeffer. In June, 1909, he received the first intallment, $300, of what must have been a trust fund set up for him by his sister Mary at her death. It yielded usually $400, sometimes as high as $600, twice a year. It is comfortable to think of the Professor who began life in the West on such slender means, having this as well as the retiring allowance from the College, which in 1911 was raised to $1000, to keep him and his daughter safe as the years went on, and to support the expenses of his last illness.
On November 10, 1863, William Porter took out life insurance, on which he paid amounts varying from $37.80 to $58.55 regularly each October 31. The year of his death, which occurred on October 28, 1917, he had paid the premium on October 9 so that he had paid in for fifty-five years. How much that yielded for his children the accounts, of course, do not reveal.