LaPorte, Alonzo

Alonzo M. Laport

Alonzo M. Laport, farmer, residing on sec. 11, Paw Paw Township, and owner of 780 acres of land, was born at Sackett’s Harbor, Jefferson Co., N.Y., April 27, 1827. He is a son of Narcis and Minerva (Gardner) Laport, of French descent on the father’s side. His mother traces her descent from the English pilgrims who crossed the ocean in the Mayflower.

Mr. Laport emigrated to this State with his parents in 1838. They came by way of the lakes, arriving in Chicago in June of that year. From the latter place they moved to Sugar Grove, Kane Co., where they remained until 1845, and in March of that year came to this county and located in Paw Paw Township, on the same section on which Mr. Laport at present resides. The country at that time was so sparsely settled and markets so remote that money was scarce and hard to procure. Splitting rails at 50 cents a hundred, or cutting cord wood at 25 cents a cord, was accepted as a generous remuneration by many hungry applicants.

Young Laport, in hopes of finding a better remuneration for his labors, went to Racine, Wis., but found work scarce in that neighborhood and, to satisfy a hungry appetite, was compelled to go to work chopping wood at thirty seven and a half cents a cord, and board himself. Not being able to more than make his board at those figures, he moved on to Milwaukee. He soon after returned to Paw Paw, better contented with a prairie country for a home.

Mr. Laport enlisted in Co. I, First Regt. IL Vol. Inf., in 1848, to serve in the Mexican War. He served in Mexico under Gen. Price, and was honorably discharged in October of the same year. He then returned to Paw Paw, and in April, 1850, he started overland for California. Arriving in that State, he spent three years in mining and returned to Paw Paw in 1853, and again engaged in farming and has continuously followed that vocation until the present time.

The marriage of Mr. Laport to Miss Thirsa A. Hyde occurred Nov. 22, 1855. She is a daughter of James and Ruth (Corbin) Hyde, and was born in Brazier Township, Franklin Co., N.Y., Nov. 2, 1838. They have six children, four girls and two boys, whose record is as follows: Eva H. was born Nov. 4, 1856, and is the wife of Wm. Edwards, resident of West Paw Paw, Lee County. Thirsa L., born Sept. 28, 1858, is the wife of Wm. Nesbitt, a resident of Paw Paw Township. Frank A.L., was born Nov. 5, 1860; Maggie E., Oct. 12, 1862; Lucia M., March 3, 1866; James H., July 11, 1873.

Mr. Laport, by industry and good management, has accumulated a competency. His push and pluck, together with his good judgment, has accomplished a determination formed in early years; and, looking back over the trials of the past and comparing them with the present, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he and his good help- mate overcame adversity, and today enjoy the fruits of honest, energetic endeavor. He and his wife (for Mr. Laport is one who believes in attributing to the good wife her share in the honors won) have accumulated a large property. He has one of the largest and best stocked farms in DeKalb Co., with good residence and outbuildings, and today they sit by the fireside of content surrounded with plenty.

Mr. L., politically, has voted with the Republican Party ever since its organization in 1856. He has never sought an office, but accepted the office of Road Commissioner and held the same four terms.

A Pioneer History

The death of Alonzo M. LaPorte on Friday last from kidney trouble removed from our midst one of the very few remaining old settlers of DeKalb Co., and one of its largest farmers. At one time last autumn, Mr. LaPorte was stricken and for a long time, he wavered between life and death, but his iron constitution built up from years of the open air life of the pioneer, pulled him through and it was thought by the family that many years of health would remain to him. But a sudden return of the old malady struck him down last week, from which even his rugged constitution could not rally him. Alonzo LaPorte was born at Sackett’s Harbor, New York, April 27, 1827. His father, Narcisse LaPorte, was the son of Pierre LaPorte, who trapped through the Rock River country for the American Fur Company until about the year 1810, when he returned to milder pursuits at Kingston (old Fort Frontenac), Ontario, and there died. His mother, Minera Gardner, descended in a direct line from a passenger of the Mayflower.

The LaPorte family came to Chicago by way of the lakes in June, 1838. From Chicago the old stage road to St. Charles was taken, and at the latter place, when told that good claims were to be had on the Blackberry Creek, further down the Fox River, a wagon was hired and the family was driven to what was known as Sugar Grove or Blackberry, one of the most important relay stations, on the old Galen -Dixon Ferry Chicago stage route. Important though it was, it was composed of but one house, the tavern kept by Robert Atkinson, who subsequently removed to Freeport and there died, one of its most beloved citizens.

Adjoining the Atkinson claim, Narisse LaPorte made his claim and there he remained until March, 1845, when the family moved over into Paw Paw Township and settled upon the land which Mr. LaPorte owned at the time of his death. Real money was an almost unknown quantity in those days, and young Alonzo made frequent excursions into neighboring places to make the few dollars which became the foundation for the subsequent LaPorte fortune. Those excursions included Racine and Milwaukee, Wis., the mines at Galena and the then lucrative employment of freighter and stage driver from Galena along the old stage route to Chicago. The last one proved the most fortunate one of his life. At Ottawa, he strayed into the office of the recruiting officer of the United States whose introductory words were, “Well, now, it occurs to me that you’d make a first class soldier. Are you handy with the pen?” Almost mechanically, young LaPorte raised his right hand and was sworn into the United States service to go to the war then declared with Mexico, and not to be handy with the pen at all.

He was under age, but trifles like that were little regarded those days. From Ottawa to Alton, his company “I” of the First Regiment, was marched from which point it continued to Santa Fe. Upon his discharge, LaPorte with about twenty others, employed an agent to go direct to Washington to secure his bounty land warrant. That master stroke brought the warrants in a surprisingly short time, and with his, LaPorte located the quarter section immediately west of Ross’s Grove, still owned by his daughter, Mrs. Nisbet. From that quarter section, he continued to add until the farm had grown to 1200 acres of the best land in DeKalb Co.

In 1850, Mr. LaPorte went to California with the Argonauts where he spent three years in successful mining operations. From the date of his return to Paw Paw he never tentured into any business enterprises but farming and in Paw Paw he remained until a recent date, when he retired, and removed over into the village of Paw Paw, in Lee Co., where he died.

On November 22, 1855, he was married to Thirza A. Hyde, who died some years ago. Six children were born to them, four girls and two boys, all living but one daughter, Maggie E.,: Eva H. Edwards of Dixon, Thirza L. Nisbet, Frank A., Lucia M. and James H., all residents of Paw Paw. Mr. LaPorte was the oldest of a family of eleven children, five of whom survive, one of them, Mrs. Forsythe of Pasadena, Calif., being the mother of Frank E. Stevens of Sycamore. The funeral was held at the residence on Sunday afternoon.