But just who were Sarah Jane Porter's parents? Various bits of information available indicated that William Porter, Sr., a large landowner in Hinds County, and Louisa Anastacia Porter were her parents, but it was not until I reviewed a copy of William Porter's will and the will of his wife, Gracy Porter, that I could validate this relationship as fact.
Gracy's will, probated in Hinds County court in November 1855, indicates that Gracy and William had at least two children together, Edward Turner Porter, and Sarah Jane (Porter) Ragland. Also, both wills provided evidence that Gracy had been married before her marriage to William Porter. Probated during the October 1834 term of Hinds County Court, William Porter's will includes bequests to his step-sons, William H. Lawson, Isaac Lawson, and John S. Lawson, and to a step-daughter, Mary Ann D. Lawson. Since William's son, William Porter, Jr., was named administrator of his father's estate, and a daughter, Julia Ann Chrisler, received a bequest in his will but not in that of his wife, it seems likely the two were children from a previous marriage. Although Sarah Ann Porter, about four years old at the time of her father's death, was not identified by name in her father's will, William's reference to his "minor children," must have included Sarah and her brother, Edward Turner Porter.
Witnessed by Richard C. Drone, C. H. Gibbs, and George W. Gibbs, Gracy's will was probated during the November 1855 term of Hinds County Court. In her will, Gracy provided for a son, Edward Turner Porter and a daughter, Sarah Jane Ragland. The fact that Sarah Jane Ragland is named in her mother's will, probated in 1855, indicates that Sarah's own death must have occurred between that year and 1860, when Robert W. Ragland was shown as a widower on the U. S. Census recorded that same year. Gracy's will also included a provision for ".....children by (her) first husband," identified in the document as John Smith Lawson, William H. Lawson, Isaac Lawson, and Marian D. Stovall.
An examination of the Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866, reveals that Gracy Porter, a 56 year old female born in Virginia, was living in Hinds County, Mississippi in 1850. The head of the household was Gracy's son, E. (Edward) Turner Porter, a twenty-two year old farmer, and his 18-year old wife, Ann.
According to notes included on a listing of those buried in the Fortner/Porter Cemetery on the Hinds County MSGenWeb site, William Porter, the son of Landlot Porter and Winnie Porter, was born in 1779 and died on September 9, 1834. He and Gracy were married on January 29, 1826 in Franklin County, Mississippi. Also included in the notes is information that Gracy Porter, whose death occurred on September 30, 1855, was born about 1792/94 in Virginia and was first married to James L. Lawson.
Next: Porter Family's Beginnings in Mississippi
MSGenWeb Site (Hinds County, MS), Wills, Estates, and Probate, and Cemeteries, accessed online on November 23, 2010
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Accessed online on November 23, 2010.
Ancestry.com. Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA; Ancestry.com Operations Inc. 2007. Original data: Mississippi State and Territorial Censuses, 1792-1866. Microfilm V229. 3 rolls. Heritage Quest. Accessed online on November 23, 2010.