William Napoleon Porter, lawyer, soldier, and legislator, was born in Vernon, Tennessee in 1815, the son of Thomas and Jane (Brown) Porter. He married Mary Ann Haskell in Paris, Tennessee, in April 1835, and the following year moved to Tenaha in the Shelby District of Texas. The couple had three children. By 1840 Porter was living in the Red River District, and when Bowie County was formed in December of that year, he was elected to represent the new county at the Sixth Congress in the House of Representatives. He was a member of the Tarrant expedition and signed a report of its activities as acting brigadier inspector. Following his term in the House of Representatives, Porter returned to the Red River District, where he entered a law partnership with W. G. Crump. Porter appeared as an attorney in Clarksville when the district court met there in October 1842, but no further references to his activities in Texas have been located. By the spring of 1846, he was living in Memphis, Tennessee, where he helped raise and was elected captain of the Eagle Guards, a mounted volunteer company that joined Zachary Taylor's army in the fall of 1846 as part of the Third Tennessee Cavalry regiment. His unit marched from Memphis to Matamoros, a distance of 1,400 miles. Soon after arriving in Mexico, Porter resigned his command of Co. G due to continued ill health and was returning to Memphis, Tennessee, when he died in New Orleans at the St. Charles Hotel on November 26, 1846. He was buried at the Morris Cemetery with Masonic Rites and later reinterred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Clarksville Northern Standard, October 22, 1842, December 24, 1845, June 17, September 5, 1846, February 20, 1847. A History of the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, Vol. 1, by John McLeod Keating; Vol. 2, by O. F. Vedder (Syracuse, New York: Mason, 1888). Telegraph and Texas Register, September 22, 1838, July 27, 1842). Texas Sentinel, July 15, 1841. Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Cecil Harper, Jr.
Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell,
“Porter, William Napoleon,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 5, 2022