The Porter Farm Homestead
Before it was divided and subdivided, developed and redeveloped, this 365-acre area of Kansas City centered around 27th and Troost was known as the Porter Farm. The Rev. James Porter family acquired the land in 1834, establishing a large plantation there and growing a variety of fruits. Five generations of the Porter family lived in the original and subsequent iterations of farmhouse near what is now 28th and Tracy Avenue.
The Rev. James Porter left Franklin, Tennessee in 1834, with a dream – he wanted a place in the wilderness where he could carve out space for his family and propagate his faith. Like many eastern and southern men who flocked to areas in and around what is now Kansas City, he was encouraged by liberal and inexpensive land grants by the United States government.
Rev. Porter bought the large tract of land by patent from the United States, which had acquired it from France as part of the Louisiana purchase. This land seemed perfect to Porter, “who wanted to form his own little colony in Western Missouri. 1 He set out with his wife, Jane Thomas Porter, son Jesse LaGrande Porter, his mother Elizabeth Porter, and 40 slaves to make a new start in what would become Kansas City.
The Porter Plantation
The Porters, or more likely their slaves, built a five-room log home (later enlarged) between 27th and 28th east of Tracy facing north. It was constructed of black walnut logs and black walnut weather boarding. To the rear of the home were the slave cabins.
The plantation had a natural water supply, a spring at the southeast corner of 28th and Paseo. The ground north of 20th Street was heavily timbered, and the Porters had an orchard that stretched from Troost to Forest between 27th and 28th Streets. Between 27th to 28th from Harrison to Holmes, now Hillcrest addition, was a pasture. The Porter farm’s hay field was south of the pasture and west of Troost and there was a corn field to the east. The Porters put their family burial grounds on the future site of the Troost Avenue Methodist Church at 2534 Troost. (Lucy Porter would later give the land to the church).
The Porter Family
James Porter was the first Methodist preacher in Kansas City. He preached in a wide circuit that included Independence, Warrensburg and Lone Jack, and also at the Westport home of William Chick.
His mother, Elizabeth, had achieved some fame before the family moved to Kansas City. She was held prisoner for a year during the Revolutionary War by the British at Fort Niagara after a long march across the wilderness from Franklin, Tennessee.
His wife, Janes Thomas Porter, was described when she died as “a hardy individual of the true pioneer spirit” who made least two trips back to Tennessee with only her maid and a coachman.