(Submitted by Sandy Day & Charles Green)
In 2001, Wintersville residents William and Mary Rhinehart were on vacation in Tennessee. They visited a Civil War museum in Chattanooga and while browsing saw a display that told about four brothers from Ohio that were in the Civil War. After taking a closer look they saw that these four brothers were from their hometown of Wintersville, Jefferson County, Ohio. They took photos of this display that included minie balls, a knapsack and several letters written by one of the boys to his mother, Mariah Porter. Mariah and her husband lived in Wintersville. The boys’ names: William, Joseph, James and George Porter. William and James were in the 40th OVI. George and Joseph were in the 98th OVI. James “Tobe” Porter died at Andersonville of dysentery Sept 7, 1864. William “Will” Porter died at Andersonville of the same disease Nov. 15, 1864. Joseph and George survived the war. Joseph died in 1904 and is buried in the Union Cemetery in Steubenville. After the war, Joseph became a carpenter. George served as Sheriff of Jefferson County from 1897 until his death. His son, Harry was appointed Sheriff when George died. A C&P train in Toronto struck George and killed him.
Bill and Mary later contacted the person who presented the collection to the museum and who actually owned the collection, Mr. Robert Thomas of Chickamauga, Georgia.
More recently, Mr. Thomas contacted Sandy Day of Schiappa Library in Steubenville and mentioned he would be happy to send her a CD with the original letters. He also stated that he had typewritten copies of 23 letters that he could give her as well. He shared that he had 4 minie balls and a Civil War button that was found where James and William were taken prisoners during the battle on Sept 22, 1863. These boys were then sent to the infamous Andersonville Prison where they later died.
Since the Schiappa library is not an archive, it was decided to donate the minie balls, button, CD of letters and the typed copies to the Jefferson County Historical Association which is an archive. The museum has a Civil War room where these items will be on display and were donated in December of 2003, which marked the 140th anniversary of the Porter boys’ capture.
Charles Green has since put the letters into a book that can be easily accessed. The Civil War room display includes some of the following; portrait of Charles Blackburn, last Civil War veteran to die in the county; a portrait of the McCooks’; an American Flag that graced the casket of J.C. Bowers, who was the last Civil War Veteran to die in the city and a picture of the 1897 celebration which honored our veterans. You can contact the Jefferson County Historical Association at 740-283-1133 for more information about this display as well as others.
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