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PORTER, SOPHIA SUTTENFIELD

PORTER, SOPHIA SUTTENFIELD (1815–1897). Sophia Porter, North Texas pioneer, was born on December 3, 1815, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the second child of William and Laura (Taylor) Suttenfield (or Suttonfield). Little is known of her childhood, but many stories exist about her adult life and her four marriages. In 1833 she married Jesse Augustine Aughinbaugh (or Auginbaugh), a druggist and teacher. In 1835 the couple arrived in Nacogdoches, where she said Aughinbaugh deserted her. As a participant in the Runaway Scrape, Sophia claimed to have arrived at the battle of San Jacinto and to have nursed Sam Houston there. Holland Coffee, a member of the House of Representatives and an Indian trader, successfully lobbied the Texas Congress to pass a bill granting Sophia Aughinbaugh a divorce from her missing husband, and on January 19, 1839, she and Coffee were married at Independence in Washington County. From there the couple traveled over 600 miles to Coffee's Station on the Red River in Grayson County. There they developed Glen Eden Plantation and the town of Preston until Coffee was killed in 1846. In December 1847 Sophia married Maj. George N. Butt (or Butts), who helped her run Glen Eden until he was killed in 1863. Butt reportedly was ambushed by a member of William C. Quantrill's gang. The sobriquet "Confederate Paul Revere" was given Sophia during the Civil War, when she is said to have ridden her mount across the Red River to warn Col. James G. Bourland and his men that Union troops were at her plantation. The story continues that Mrs. Butt supplied the enemy with enough wine that they remained unaware of her departure. One account claims she locked the inebriated men in her wine cellar while she rode off. Other variants say either that Bourland escaped the Unionists or that he came to Glen Eden and captured them. On August 2, 1865, Sophia Butt married Judge James Porter, and they lived together at Glen Eden until his death in 1886. Sophia joined the Methodist church in Sherman in 1869. She had no children, but she raised two of Holland Coffee's nieces. She died on August 27, 1897, and was buried near Glen Eden. When the area was to be inundated to form Lake Texoma, her home was dismantled with the intention that it be reassembled as a museum of Grayson County history, but the wood was mistakenly burned.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Holland Coffee Papers, Sherman Public Library, Sherman, Texas. Mary Daggett Lake, "Glen Eden, Red River Valley Landmark," Southern Home and Garden, March 1936. Graham Landrum and Allen Smith, Grayson County (Fort Worth, 1960; 2d ed., Fort Worth: Historical Publishers, 1967). Sherrie McLeRoy, Mistress of Glen Eden: The Life and Times of Texas Pioneer Sophia Porter (Sherman, Texas: White Stone, 1990). Audy J. and Glenna P. Middlebrooks, "Holland Coffee of Red River," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (October 1965). Glenna Parker Middlebrooks, "Sophia Coffee, History's Firefly," True West, October 1973. Sophia Porter Papers, Sherman Public Library, Sherman, Texas.

Morris L. Britton

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Morris L. Britton, "PORTER, SOPHIA SUTTENFIELD," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo18), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.