Pulaski County

Biography - John Porterfield

JOHN FRANKLIN PORTERFIELD. All the years of the life of this esteemed citizen of Carbondale since he left school have been devoted to railroad work, and he has risen step by step in the service, as he demonstrated his fitness for advancement, from the humble position of messenger to that of superintendent of one of the busiest and most important divisions of the road with which he is connected. His several promotions have not come to him, however, as gratuities, or through favoritism or influence. He has earned them, one after another by fidelity to duty, capacity in his work and loyal devotion to the interests of his employers, with due regard for the welfare of the public.

Mr. Porterfield is a native of Pulaski county, Illinois, where his life began on February 23, 1871. He is a son of Benjamin F. and Sarah Margaret (Hunter) Porterfield. The father was a manufacturer of lumber and prominent in the business. He died in 1907. The mother is still living, and has her home in Chicago. While they were able to provide the ordinary comforts of life for themselves and their offspring, they did not find the way to furnishing their son John with opportunity for advanced scholastic training. And it is doubtful if he would have availed himself of it if they had. For from his boyhood he was eager to do something for himself, and make his own way in the world. He obtained a district school education and then entered the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad Company as a messenger at Pulaski in his native county. After serving the road for a time in this capacity he became its telegraph operator and later its agent at Pulaski. He was next chief clerk to a succession of superintendents at Cairo, New Orleans, Chicago and La Salle. He completed his apprenticeship in this department of the service with credit to himself and benefit to the road and its patrons, and was made trainmaster for a period sufficiently long to prepare him for higher duties and more important responsibilities.

He served as division superintendent at Vicksburg, Mississippi, New Orleans, Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee; in 1910 was transferred to the St. Louis division, of which he has been superintendent ever since, with headquarters in Carbondale and with a large and active territory to supervise in his particular line of very important work.

On January 27, 1892, Mr. Porterfield was married to Miss Cora Stewart, of Pulaski. They have one child, their son Robert Rowley, who is a student at St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. The father is a prominent member of the Association of Railroad Superintendents and chairman of the transportation committee of the St. Louis lines in that organization. In fraternal circles he is a Freemason of the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine holding his membership in these branches of the order in Memphis, Tennessee. His religious affiliation is with the Presbyterian church. He is zealous in his support of all commendable undertakings for the progress and improvement of Carbondale and Jackson county, the substantial welfare of their people, and all agencies for good at work among them. He and his wife are welcome additions to every good social circle, and are universally regarded as among the most estimable and worthy citizens of the county.

Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 3, page 1279

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