Porter-Griffin House once home of Gov. Hendricks
Karen Schwartz, Special to The Corydon Democrat
The Porter-Griffin House, currently part of the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site listed as the Governor’s Headquarters, stands on Lot No. 31 at 126 E. Walnut St. The structure was built in 1817 by Davis Floyd and housed Gov. William A. Hendricks and his headquarters in the front west room during the Capital Period (1816-1825). Hendricks, Indiana’s third governor, who served from Dec. 5, 1822, to Feb. 12, 1825. Hendricks, of Madison, also served as secretary of Indiana’s Constitutional Convention in June of 1816.
The house was purchased by William Anderson Porter (1880-1884), a well-known lawyer, judge and staunch Whig leader who served several terms in the Indiana State Legislature and served as Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1849. He trained numerous young men who aspired to be attorneys and studied law under his supervision. William had come to Corydon in late fall of 1827 to serve as a teacher at the Harrison County Seminary. He married Elizabeth McClelland at Crawfordsville on Aug. 18, 1831.
The Judge Porter and Elizabeth had seven daughters: Mary Jane (1833-1859), Sara Elizabeth (1835-1856), Anna Dunlap Porter (1837-1856), Viola Porter (1840-1858), Aurelia Porter (1842-1919), who married Amzi W. Brewster, Helen (Tippy-Toes) Porter (1844-1940), who married Patrick Griffin, and Attia Porter (1847-1917), who married William Henry McKnight.
Between the years 1854 and 1859, four of these daughters ‘ Mary Jane, Sara, Anna and Viola ‘ all passed away from consumption (tuberculosis).
Elizabeth Porter McClelland passed away on June 17, 1872, and their sixth daughter, Helen, and her husband, Patrick Griffin, moved in to the big house to care for Judge Porter, who stayed in a room above the kitchen. Judge Porter passed away on Jan. 23, 1884, at the age of 84. Members of the Porter family were interred in the old part of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Corydon.
Patrick Griffin (1831-1917) and Helen Porter (1844-1940) were married in the Porter-Griffin home on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1871. They had seven children: Margaret P. (Mag) (1872-1934), Maurice (Sallie) (1873-1951), who married Charlotte Adeline Rupp, Mary Jane (Jen) (1874-1961), Olive ‘(Ol) (1876-1958), Annis (1879-1904), Helen (1881-1950), who married Mark B. O’Leary and moved to Chicago, and Daniel P. (D.P.) (1885-1975).
The Griffin family was active in civic and community affairs, including work with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Corydon Presbyterian Church, Harrison County Soil & Water Conversation and other groups. The Griffins spoke of important family locations as ‘The House’ (the Porter-Griffin House), ‘The Store’ (Griffin’s Dry Goods Store located in the heart of Commercial Row bounded on the north by Beaver Street and the south by Chestnut Street) and ‘The Office’ (Judge Porter’s Law Office, which has been reconstructed next to the Wright Interpretive Center ‘ the former Presbyterian Church ‘ along Walnut Street). The nicknames they familiarly used for each other are included after their name.
Maurice Griffin and Charlotte Adeline Rupp were married on July 21, 1909, and had three sons: Henry Patrick (born May 14, 1910), William Maurice Jr. (Tim) (born Sept. 10, 1912) and Frederick Porter Griffin (born April 7, 1915).
The youngest son, Fred, earned a business degree from Indiana University in 1939. He taught business classes at Corydon High School from 1942 to 1953 then worked in the Griffin family store. He married Eleanor Ashton (born Aug. 27, 1915) on July 4, 1954, and they had a son, Patrick Ashton Griffin (born June 8, 1955).
Fred Griffin was active in preserving and interpreting Harrison County Indiana history. The Harrison County Public Library’s Fred Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy, located at 117 W. Beaver St. in Corydon, is named in his honor. At the formal dedication ceremony of the Governor’s Headquarters on Oct. 12, 1979, Gov. Otis Bowen presented Fred Griffin with the Sagamore of the Wabash. He also received a second Sagamore award from Gov. Otis Bowen and a third from Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 1997. Fred Griffin passed away on Oct. 29, 2008, but his legacy lives on.
Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. As part of Indiana’s bicentennial, she has provided a monthly column ‘ focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County’s history ‘ that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. This is the last column. To contact Schwartz, call 812-736-2373 or 812-738-2828, send an email to [email protected] or send by regular mail to 5850 Devil’s Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.