Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


The Hon. Warren R. Porter, former lieutenant governor of the state of California, chairman of the board of directors of the Pajaro Valley National Bank of Watsonville and of the Pajaro Valley Savings Bank of that city, president of the Sisquoc Investment Company, a member of the directorate of the Anglo-California Trust Company of San Francisco and in other ways actively and prominently identified with the financial interests of this section of the state, formerly and for years president of the two Watsonville banks above mentioned and for years one of the most influential promoters of the interests of that city, is a native son of California and has been a resident of this state all his life. Mr. Porter was born in the city of Santa Cruz on March 30, 1861, and is a son of John T. and Fannie (Cummings) Porter, concerning whom further mention is made elsewhere in this work. The late John T. Porter, organizer of the Bank of Watsonville and for years one of the leading citizens of that place, active in all promotion work there, was in his generation one of the most influential figures in the general financial and commercial life of this section of the state to the time of his passing a quarter of a century ago.

Reared at Santa Cruz and Watsonville, Warren R. Porter received his early education in the public schools of those cities, supplementing this by attendance at private schools, and then entering St. Augustine Military College, from which he was graduated in 1880, when nineteen years of age. Upon leaving college Mr. Porter became employed as a bookkeeper and teller in the Bank of Watsonville, of which his father was one of the organizers in 1874. During the course of his studies it had been his ambition to prepare for the practice of the medical profession, this inclination having been stimulated not only by his father's earnest approval of such a course but by the fact that there had been eminent physicians in former generations of his family, but after thoughtful deliberation and an analysis of all the circumstances then pointing his way he decided upon a commercial course and thus started as bookkeeper with a view to learning the details of the banking business. In 1884 Mr. Porter left the bank to enter the office of the Loma Prieta Lumber Company, the headquarters of which concern was then at Watsonville, and after serving for two years as a bookkeeper was, in 1886, made secretary of the company. When the main offices of the company was moved to Loma Prieta he went there and it was not long until he was promoted to assistant manager and secretary of the company, thus continuing until 1901. In the meantime, in 1888, Mr. Porter had become one of the incorporators and a member of the board of directors of the Pajaro Valley National Bank at Watsonville and following the death of his father in 1900 was elected president of that institution as well as president of the Pajaro Valley Savings Bank, which administrative positions he continued to occupy until his retirement in 1922 when he was made chairman of the board of these two sound financial institutions. Following his father's death Mr. Porter also was called on to assume other heavy responsibilities in connection with the estate, these including not only banking and other financial concerns, but farming, stock-raising and other activities in which the elder Porter had for so long been interested, and in these capacities he soon became recognized as one of the leading figures in the financial life and business growth of this section.

In the meantime, while developing his various financial interests, Mr. Porter also became known as one of the leading factors in the civic life of the state and a figure to be reckoned with in the ranks of the republican party of California. From the days, of his boyhood he had been interested in political affairs and gradually reached a position of local leadership in his party, while later he became the acknowledged republican leader of the sixth congressional district, then comprised of the counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles. As a matter of general historical information, he maintained this leadership until his retirement from active politics following the expiration of his term of service as lieutenant governor of the state in 1911. In 1899 Mr. Porter was appointed by Governor Gage to a place on the state prison board and in 1907 was again appointed to that position, altogether serving in that capacity for nine years or until his resignation, during the incumbency of Governor Johnson's first term, he at that time being out of political agreement with the governor. In 1900 Mr. Porter was one of the republican presidential electors from the state of California and an alternate delegate to the national convention of his party, held that year in Philadelphia, wilich nominated William McKinley for the presidency. In 1906 he was elected lieutenant governor of the state and in that important official capacity served the full four-year term from 1907 to 1911, during the administration of Governor James Norris Gillett. It will be recalled that during that incumbency Governor Gillett was absent from the state for a period of about one year and during that time Mr. Porter thus served as acting governor. Upon the completion of his term of office Mr. Porter retired from "active" politics and has since taken little practical part in party activities, though his counsel is still regarded as of value in republican circles. It has been said of his participation in the civic- affairs of California that when he finally did retire from politics he took with him "the love and confidence of his friends and associates and the wholesome respect of his enemies."

Upon his retirement from the office of lieutenant governor Mr. Porter established his home at Berkeley and there continued to reside until his return to Watsonville in 1922, meantime maintaining an office at San Francisco where he gave direction to his varied financial and other interests, these including not only his executive control of the two banks at Watsonville but banking and other interests in different parts of the state. As noted above, Mr. Porter is now chairman of the boards of directors of the two financial institutions at Watsonville with which he has for so many years been connected. He also is the president of the Sisquoc Investment Company and is a member of the directorate of the Anglo-California Trust Company of San Francisco. Mr. Porter is one of the charter members of the local parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West at Watsonville and is a past president of that influential organization. He is a Knight Templar Mason and a noble of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He is also affiliated with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and holds membership in the Pacific, Union Club and the Press Club at San Francisco and the Sutter Club at Sacramento.

On August 23, 1893, at Berkeley, California, Warren R. Porter was united in marriage to Miss Mary Eaton, daughter of the Rev. G. A. Eaton, who then was the rector of St. Mark's Episcopal church at Berkeley, and to this union were born four children, namely: John E. Porter, concerning whom further mention is made elsewhere in this work; Warren R. Porter, who died at the age of fourteen months; Mary F., wife of Edward F. Steen of Watsonville, and Thomas B. Porter, also of Watsonville.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.