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Elizabeth Duncan Porter
Birth: 1750
Lancaster County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Apr. 11, 1845
Kansas City
Jackson County
Missouri, USA

Elizabeth, who led a most unforgettable life, is the great-great-great-great-grandmother of my husband, Dennis Brown.

Following is a manuscript of Elizabeth's life compiled by Gil Bergman after many years of research (copyright @ 2008), which he has kindly given me permission to add to her memorial. It contains a brief outline, which depicts his travels & often tedious research, providing the most accurate account to date. Mr. Bergman is a great-great-great-great-grandson of Elizabeth & her husband, Samuel Porter. He is a member of the Ruddell and Martin Stations Historical Association and the Union Cemetery Historical Society. He has ascribed and accurately proclaimed the title of Elizabeth as "Pioneer Mother."

He gave permission to Vanessa (White) Harbrucker (5th great granddaughter of Elizabeth), to recite his biographical sketch of Elizabeth's life at a marker dedication ceremony held by the Daughters of the American Revolution on May 24, 2008, at the historic Union Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo. The plaque, honoring Elizabeth as a Revolutionary War Patriot, is permanently affixed to the large family Tombstone.

His account follows:

"The Life of Elizabeth Duncan Porter by Gil Bergman

Elizabeth Duncan was born in 1750 in eastern Sadsbury Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She was the fifth of six known children of Thomas and Elizabeth Alexander Duncan. Elizabeth's parents had immigrated from from Scotland by way of Ireland in 1737.

Elizabeth's father died when she was only 10 years old. By 1769 the Duncan family had moved west of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the frontier of southwest Virginia to the Elk Garden, near the present-day Lebanon in Russell county.

In 1772 or 1773 Elizabeth met and married Samuel Porter, one of the earliest settlers in the Castle's Woods region near the Clinch River. The couple resided on Samuel's original homestead he had made claim to in 1770. Elizabeth and Samuel immediately started a family. By 1778 they had two children and were planning for more.

In early 1779 the couple was persuaded by Elizabeth's brother to move to the fertile meadows of central Kentucky. Elizabeth's sister's family had already agreed. That spring after the men planted their crops, they headed for Kentucky with several other men from the area. The group followed Boone's Road through Cumberland Gap, then proceeded north to Stoner Creek, located 25 miles north of Boonesborough (just west of present-day Paris). There a small fort named Martin's station stood. The men stayed at the fort while they ventured into the countryside scouting possible homestead sites. Samuel found a site nearby in the bottoms of Miller's Creek to his liking.

Samuel returned to Castle's Woods shortly thereafter. After harvesting his crops that fall, he brought Elizabeth and the children back to Kentucky. They probably resided at Martin's Station the winter of 1779 - 1780.

In the spring of 1780, Samuel was kept busy clearing land, planting crops and building a cabin at the homestead site. Elizabeth helped out, but most of her time was spent cooking and caring for the two children. Everything considered, Elizabeth must have thought the future looked bright. Her optimism would be shattered in June.

On the afternoon of June 24th the area settlers fled to Martin's Station after it was learned that a large contingent of Indians had attacked another station six miles away. Two days later the inhabitants of Martin's Station found themselves surrounded by 130 British soldiers with several cannon, and over 1,000 Indians. A demand was made for the fort to surrender. The fort's militia company, which included Samuel, could muster only 25 guns. With little chance at repelling an attack, Martin's Station was forced to capitulate. Elizabeth and her family were among 129 persons taken prisoner.

The goal of the British raid into Kentucky was to destroy as many of the encroaching settlements as possible. The numerous Indian tribes were happy to assist. The raid was commanded by Captain Henry Bird of the King's 8th Foot. While the raid has received little ink in the annals of history, it is important to note that Martin's Station, and nearby Ruddell's Station, which had been captured two days earlier, were the only forts to ever be captured in the history of Kentucky.

In addition to Elizabeth's immediate family being captured, her 67-year-old mother and the families of her brother and sister would be taken prisoner.

The captives from Martin's Station joined the 250 prisoners who had survived a massacre at Ruddell's Station, and set out on a grueling, 350-mile, five-and-a-half-week march to the British stronghold at Detroit. An unknown number of captives died on the march from their wounds, starvation, exhaustion and illness. Several were killed outright by revenge seeing Indians. Still others simply disappeared with their Indian captors into the wilderness, never to be heard from again.

The mental anguish and physical demands on Elizabeth during the march were further exacerbated by her overall physical condition; she was pregnant. The first of the captives arrived at Detroit on August 4th. Remarkably, Elizabeth and her entire family arrived safely.

Elizabeth gave birth to her third child shortly after arriving at Detroit. Due to her condition, she was given a job as cook and laundress for two British officers for a meager daily ration for her and the children. Elizabeth was known to give her ration to her children. She also stole scraps from the British officers' table and smuggled food in a slop bucket to Samuel and other prisoners when she went to feed hogs kept in a pen next to the prison stockade. The King's hogs had the false reputation of being the best fed hogs in the British empire!

On arriving at Detroit, Samuel and many of the male prisoners had been held in the stockade at Fort Detroit. During the day they were marched to nearby Fort Lernoult to construct earthworks. Samuel subsequently went to work on a plantation on an island in the middle of the Detroit River (modern-day Belle Isle). Elizabeth and the children were allowed to join him there.

Elizabeth and her immediate family remained prisoners of the British at Detroit until September 1782. They were subsequently transferred east to For Niagara, then to Montreal and Quebec before finally reaching New York where Samuel was officially exchanged as a prisoner of war on November 6, 1782. Elizabeth's mother and brother's family were also freed at that time, but her sister's family remained in the hands of their Indian captors until July 1783.

Following their release, Elizabeth and Samuel made their way back to their old homestead in castle's Woods. There they were forced to start over with their lives. Elizabeth would give birth to four more children. She and Samuel would struggle for many years attempting to regain what they had lost in Kentucky.

Samuel died in 1820 and was buried on the farm in Castle's Woods. Elizabeth remained on the homestead until 1829 when she moved to Tennessee to be closer to several of her children. At the age of 82 she would accompany three of her sons on a 600-mile trip to Missouri where they would settle for the last time. She spent the remaining years of her life in Cass and Jackson Counties in Missouri.

Elizabeth died on April 11, 1845. She was buried on the plantation of her son, the Reverend James Porter. In 1885 her remains were moved to Union Cemetery in present-day Kansas City, Missouri.

Many tributes have been paid to Elizabeth Duncan Porter over the years. No greater honor will ever be bestowed on her than the title, "Pioneer Mother."

Biography added December 4, 2014
Family links: 
  Elizabeth Alexander Dunkin (1710 - 1814)
  Samuel Porter (1735 - 1820)
  John Porter (1784 - 1853)*
  Tabitha Porter Smyth (1785 - 1847)*
  James Porter (1786 - 1851)*
  Mary Jane Duncan McLaughlin (1740 - 1787)*
  John Thomas Dunkin (1743 - 1818)*
  Elizabeth Duncan Porter (1750 - 1845)
  Martha Duncan Litton (1756 - 1821)*
*Calculated relationship
Union Cemetery
Kansas City
Jackson County
Missouri, USA
Plot: Section C, Lot 36
Created by: Virginia Brown
Record added: Mar 30, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35351427
Elizabeth <i>Duncan</i> Porter
Added by: Virginia Brown
Elizabeth <i>Duncan</i> Porter
Added by: Virginia Brown
Elizabeth <i>Duncan</i> Porter
Added by: Virginia Brown
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For my 4th Great Grand Aunt. Peace.
- Bonnie Schermer
 Added: Aug. 22, 2015

- DebღBee
 Added: Feb. 14, 2015
Fifth great-grandaughter,
- Colleen Macdonald
 Added: Jan. 12, 2015
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This page is sponsored by: Virginia Brown

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