Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sixth Child Mary Amanda Turpin – A Nebraska Pioneer

Robert Newton Turpin arrived in Nebraska in April 1878 and settled in what is now Rock County, Nebraska.  However one of his daughters, Mary Amanda Turpin Porter, arrived earlier!  Known as Amanda, she was born on 14 Oct 1855 while the Turpins were still in McLean County, Illinois.1 
Amanda was the sixth child.  According to the marriage records, she married 25 October 1871 in Greene County, Iowa “on consent of Mary's mother” to William Cassius Porter.2  The Porter had eight children:  Charles A. Porter, Josephine Amanda Porter Mahoney, Leona A. Porter Howard, Frederick A. Porter, Louisa I. Porter Converse, Mary E. Porter Holmes, William E. Porter, and Daniel O. Porter.3

Their first child Charles was born in Iowa.  Then the Porters moved to Nebraska, coming in a covered wagon.4  They filed a timber claim in Pierce County, Nebraska near Plainview.  Daughter Josie was born there.  (The 1880 census places Josie's birth in Iowa however her sister Mary Holmes and the 1930 census both claim a Nebraska birth for her.)
Two years of grasshoppers wiped out the family's efforts and spirits and the Porters returned to Iowa.  They live in Shelby County, Iowa and are found there in the 1880 census.5  The next three children were born in Iowa.
Porter Family in the 1880 Census of Shelby Couny, IA
And now Amanda’s father is living in Nebraska with his second family.  The Porters return for a second try, moving to Heartwell, Nebraska in Kearney County in June 1884. After the first arduous trip to Nebraska and the difficult life there, I can not imagine the fortitude it must have taken to try again.  And of course, there was more hardship after they arrived.  Amanda's daughter Mary Holmes tells about the typhoid fever that swept the U.S. in 1890 and took her father on August 27, 1890.  His death left Amanda Turpin Porter with eight children -- from 8 months to 17 years old -- to support by herself. 
 
And she did it!  Amanda Porter became a postmistress for the village.  She also was a nurse to all who could not make it town to see the doctor.  But this life was hard and Amanda died young, at the age of 56, and is buried in Heartwell. 
Amanda's story might be difficult to research since she lived in a new state, her husband died young leaving her a widow, and the family moved back and forth between Iowa and Nebraska.  However her descendents diligently kept records of the family including stories that record examples of some of the amazing events that Nebraska pioneers experienced.  We often think of men as our homesteaders and pioneers but Mary Amanda Turpin Porter was an excellent example of the early women who helped create the Nebraska we know today.

Endnotes:

1870 United States Federal Census. (Washington Township, Greene County, IA).

Greene County Iowa Early Marriages 1854-1880, transcribed by Mrs. Eldon Ross, Iowa Genealogical Society, Des Moines, IA.

“Death of Mrs. Mary A. Porter,” Mary Porter Obituary, newspaper unknown.

4 Mary E. Porter Holmes of Minden, Nebraska, descendent of Mary Amanda Turpin Porter.
5 1880 United States Federal Census. (Grove Township, Shelby County, IA).

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