Corvallis City Engineer From 1909 to 1949
Fred J. Porter was the great-grandson of Benton County pioneer, Johnson Mulkey.
In the winter of 1845, Mulkey filed a land claim for 640 acres along Oak Creek, on the north side of Baldy Mountain. This was only a few months after Joseph Conant Avery, the first known settler, filed his land claim at the confluence of the Willamette and Mary's Rivers. Both men were busy constructing log cabins during the winter and spring of 1846. When Mulkey's cabin was finished, he returned to Missouri to bring out his wife and seven children. In October of 1847, Mulkey, captain of his wagon train, brought his wagons through to the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington. Here, Mulkey's people rested before proceeding to the Willamette Valley. Just a month later, on November 29, 1847, the Whitman family and their guests at the mission were killed in an Indian attack.
This house was built in 1887 by Samuel T. Jefferys, a lawyer and Benton County's Representative to the Oregon Legislature. When Jeffreys decided to move to Alaska, his home was sold to Flora and Johnson Mulkey Porter. Fred Porter moved into his house with his parents.
Fred Porter did not live here only during his childhood; he later returned to this house with his wife, Ida Eberting Porter, and the first of their two sons. During their tenure,
the automobile ramp to the basement at the southwest corner of the house was built. Fred Porter was an early auto enthusiast. Mrs. Porter recalls with delight the red Buick which Fred drove while he was courting her in 1917.
During his forty years as Corvallis City Engineer, Fred Porter saw the city grow from a population of 4,552 to 16,207. Public transportation changed from riverboats and trains to autos and trucks. Paved streets, water supply, and sewerage disposal became expected city services. Porter's work as city engineer was vital to the expansion of this city. He was an unassuming person who avoided publicity, but his professional expertise was a basic ingredient for the orderly development of Corvallis.