In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village

A Legacy of Woods and Waters

The Porter Family

Text By: Strong School 7th and 8th Graders, 2011-2012

Produce Exchange
Produce Exchange

Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

The Porter family has been an important part of Strong's history. Ezekiel and Eunice Hitchcock Porter had many children: Thurza, Jeremy, Eunice, Alexander, Elias, Augusta, Ezekiel, Sarah, and Catherine. Mr. Porter was a very good craftsman. As a farmer and merchant, he also helped the community in many ways. He operated a Produce Exchange in the village and built the first bridge that crossed the Sandy River. The bridge was made of wood and lasted 11 years before being washed away.

Jeremy Porter home
Jeremy Porter home

Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

When gold was discovered in California in the late 1840s, Ezekiel Porter wanted to keep his family in Strong and built three houses for his sons on Main Street.

Jeremy Porter's house was built in the area where the gas pumps at White Elephant are located today. That home later became the Hotel Strong. Jeremy also built a mill, called Porter’s Mill, which made excelsior and other wood products.

Alexander Porter home
Alexander Porter home

Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

Alexander's home was built on the knoll just north of the Sandy River. His home is now known as the Copper Horse Inn. He operated a grist mill and lumber mill.

Elias's home was built across from the Veterans’ Monument. He was a livestock broker.

Thurza Porter married Lemuel Crosby, and their daughter Cornelia was nicknamed “Fly Rod” Crosby, because of her love of fishing. One month before her second birthday, her father died of consumption. When she was 13, her brother also died of consumption at age 23.


"Fly Rod" Crosby

Item Contributed by
Maine State Museum

If one family member died of consumption, usually more family members caught it. To stay healthy, she was advised to spend most of her time outdoors. She did not mind because she loved the outdoors. She was able to afford going to college because of an inheritance received from her father and her aunt.

She received her first fly rod as a gift from Charles Wheeler. It was made out of bamboo and weighed five ounces. In 1895, she went to an outdoor exhibition. When she arrived home she wrote a magazine column and reported that the exhibition had been a success. Fly Rod wrote her weekly columns about hunting and fishing. In the Maine Woods, Forest and Stream, The American Angler, Rod and Gun, and The American Sportsman magazines carried her articles about Maine outdoor recreation. Sporting camps around Maine loved to have Fly Rod come and visit. She was great publicity! The sporting camps would give her free food and free lodging. Did you know that Fly Rod even had a specially-designed skirt? Buttons were sewn on the inside of her skirts so that she could more easily roll them up; this made getting in and out of a canoe easier.

One day, when she was getting off the train, she caught her skirt and was dragged quite a distance. Her leg was seriously injured, and she endured a lot of pain for the rest of her life. In 1946, Fly Rod died at the age of 93. She was buried with her mother’s family in the Porter lot in the Strong Village Cemetery.

Lt. James Porter
Lt. James Porter

Jeremy and Rachel Hunter Porter's son, James Ezekiel, was born in 1846. He went to Strong schools and to Bates College (called the Maine State Seminary until 1863) from 1862–1863. He attended Norwich University in Vermont from 1863-1864. He was appointed to West Point and graduated in 1869 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US 7th Cavalry Regiment. In 1872, Porter became a 1st lieutenant and fought in Indian warfare on the American Plains.

On June 25, 1876, at age 29, he died at the battle of “Little Big Horn” in Montana under the command of William Armstrong Custer. Approximately 265 American soldiers died in this battle. At least 136 Indians died and dozens more were wounded. His father traveled to the Western Plains to recover his son’s body, but the body was never found. James's parents are buried in Strong, and an inscription memorializing him can be found at their grave marker.