John Porter Sr.
Anthony Toomer
Charlotte Cheeseborough
(Abt 1782-1810)
Colonel John Porter Jr.
Esther Ann Toomer
Rev. Anthony Toomer Porter


Family Links

1. Susan Magdalene Atkinson

Rev. Anthony Toomer Porter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • Born: 31 Jan 1828, Georgetown, Georgetown, SC 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11
  • Christened: 16 Nov 1828, Georgetown: Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, Georgetown, SC 11
  • Marriage (1): Susan Magdalene Atkinson on 16 Dec 1852 in Georgetown, Georgetown, SC
  • Died: 30 Mar 1902, Charleston, Charleston, SC at age 74 3 5 8
  • Buried: 2 Apr 1902, Georgetown: Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, Georgetown, SC 3 5

  Burial Notes:

Blessed are the Dead which die in the Lord From Henceforth: Yea saith the spirit , that they rest from their Labors; and their works do follow them.

Rector Church of the Holy Communion Charleston, SC from Jan 8, 1854 to Jan 8, 1898 Founder of the Holy Communion Church Institute, Charleston, SC., Dec 9, 1867 Name changed to Porter Military Academy Jan 28, 1886

  Noted events in his life were:

1. Residence: Age: 22 in 1850 in Prince George Winyaw, Georgetown, SC. 4

2. Occupation: Founder of Porter Military Academy in 1867 in Charleston, Charleston, SC. On October 25, 1867, while in Magnolia Cemetery, mourning the death of one of his sons, Anthony Toomer Porter, rector of Holy Communion Church, became convinced that he should start a school. Many of his son's friends could no longer attend school, as their families had been impoverished by the war. By December of that year, Porter had founded the Holy Communion Church Institute, using church facilities.

In 1879 the old Federal Arsenal on Ashley Avenue, a block from the church, was put up for sale. Porter went to Washington and secured the help of President Hayes to convince Congress to lease the property to the school for $1.00 a year.

Adapting the military buildings to school use, it was fitting that the school became known as Porter Military Academy. Both boarding school and day school, students came from towns and farms throughout the Low Country, and eventually from upper South Carolina, other states, and even other countries. From its beginning, the school accepted students from all faiths. It was and is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, but is owned by its Board of Trustees, with the Bishop as an ex officio member. One of the primary goals of the school was, and is, character development, summarized in the motto on the PMA crest: WATCH: words, action, thoughts, character, and habits.

Porter developed a broad curriculum, ranging from Greek to woodworking to athletics. The school day began with bugle call, breakfast, and chapel. Facilities ranged from a dormitory, an infirmary, library, classroom buildings, rifle range, tennis courts, a parade ground, and the notorious "bull ring" where detention students were made to march. Porter had one of the first high school football teams, one of which in a 1913 scrimmage held the Citadel to a 0 to 0 score.

Eventually clear ownership of the campus was given to the school, which cleared the way for the sale of the property to an expanding Medical University. A gift of the present property made possible the building of the present school at Albemarle Point. In 1964 Porter Military Academy, Gaud School and Watt School merged under Headmaster Berkeley Grimball, and in l965 the school year began at Porter-Gaud School at its present location.

3. Evidence: The Porter Military Academy is now on the National Register of Historic Places, Dec 1867, Charleston, Charleston, SC. 12 From the application to add the buildings to the National Register...

The Federal Arsenal buildings originally constructed on the corner of Thomas (now Ashley) and Bee Streets served the U.S. government until 1860 when the arsenal became one of the first properties seized by South Carolina militia. The arsenal, first occupied in November 1860, just before South Carolina's secession, remained under guard by both Federal and South Carolina troops until December 30, 1860, after the state had seceded from the Union. The arsenal remained in Confederate possession until Charleston fell in 1865, its steam-powered workshops serving as a munitions foundry and weapons factory where thousands of cartridges for the Confederacy were produced daily. The need for larger and heavier ordnance resulted in the construction of a new building for that purpose in 1862 for rifling, banding, and rebanding cannon, while the building on the northeast corner (now known as St. Luke's Chapel) served as a shed for the manufacture of caissons and gun carriages for field artillery.

The arsenal building was little used after the war, and its threatened abandonment sparked the interest of the Rev. Anthony Toomer Porter, founder of the Holy Communion Church Institute (later called Porter Military Academy). Porter, a rice planter until he decided his destiny would most appropriately be fulfilled by entering the ministry, sought to bring order out of the confusion and chaos which prevailed in the South following the Civil War. It was in mourning the death of his eldest son, John Toomer Porter, that Dr. Porter and his wife determined to open a school to educate young boys left orphaned or destitute by the war. In the preface to his autobiography Led On! Step by Step, Porter writes:

"The schools existing before the war had been swept away. The mere youth, the seed corn, as Mrs. Jefferson Davis called them, had been taken into the army and for four years they had not been to school -- those who had survived. In addition many children were orphaned and destitute."

Dr. Porter declared that his educational mission for the state of South Carolina was, in his own words, "to save for the Church and the country at large the representative families of the State." Porter's Holy Communion Church Institute opened in December 1867.

By 1879, Dr. Porter sought additional buildings for use by his school, and through the aid of General William Tecumseh Sherman acquired the old United States Arsenal buildings. Sherman strongly endorsed Dr. Porter's proposal, not only because of the practicality, but also because of the General's affection for the minister. Such affection grew out of Porter's wartime acquaintance with a Union officer, Lt. John A. McQueen, who assisted the minister in securing a safe haven from the pillaging and destruction of Sherman's troops on more than one occasion. Responding to Porter's amazement and thanks, McQueen stated: "I do not wonder that you have the worst opinion of every member of this army but we are not all like this-- there are some gentlemen and Christians among them yet. God help them if it was not so, for surely such a mob as this has been would be swallowed up by your army in a few days."4 Porter repaid McQueen's act of generosity by saving the Union officer's life later in the war, and receiving commendation from General Sherman for doing so. Dr. Porter's aim to convert the former Federal Arsenal in Charleston for educational purposes, therefore, received a warm and hearty approval from Sherman, who suggested to the minister that an Act of Congress would ensure that the property remain in the possession of the school. With Sherman's assistance, a joint resolution was passed in Congress on December 19, 1879, which transferred the Charleston Arsenal to the trustees of the Holy Communion Church Institute, provided the property be used for educational purposes. Formal possession of the site by Dr. Porter took place on January 8, 1880, at which time the school was relocated to the premises.

Within the first years of possession by the Holy Communion Church Institute, the large artillery shed from the arsenal building was reformed into the school's chapel. A Gothic roof replaced the shed's earlier one, the height of the walls was increased four feet, and stained glass windows were inserted into the structure. These changes were made around 1883 to create a chapel for use by the school for weekday services. Holten Bell, a member of a prominent African-American family in Charleston and a post-war contractor, designed, and with his crew executed, the alterations. The building was known as St. Timothy's Chapel and became one of the most used of any Episcopal church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

When the Porter Military Academy merged in 1964 with the Gaud School for Boys and the Watt School, the newly formed Porter-Gaud School moved to Albemarle Point, and the Medical University of South Carolina purchased the Porter Military Academy campus in the same year. MUSC preserved St.
Timothy's Chapel, but renamed it for St. Luke, the patron saint of the healing arts. Dedicated as the Chapel of St. Luke on April 17, 1966, the structure is now used as a nondenominational assembly hall for convocations, academic ceremonies, musical programs, and religious services such as weddings and funerals. The outline of the large rounded arches which gave access to the federal arsenal artillery shed are, however, still easily visible from both sides of the building.

4. Residence: Age: 40 in 1870 in Charleston Ward 8, Charleston, SC. 6

5. Evidence: Rev. Porter is pictured on the St. Luke’s Chapel web page here:

6. Residence: Age: 72 Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Father in 1900 in Charleston Ward 8, Charleston, SC. 9

7. Civil: Age: 61, on 21 Jun 1889, in Charleston, Charleston, SC. 7

8. Residence: Age: 52 Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Self in 1880 in Charleston, Charleston, SC. 10

9. Occupation: Episcopal Rector of the Church of the Holy Communion from 8 Jan 1854 to 8 Jan 1898 in Charleston, Charleston, SC. 3

10. Census in 1850 in Charleston, Charleston, SC. 13 The 1850 census recorded A. Toomer Porter, 22, living with his mother, Esther Ann Porter, 47. Both were born in South Carolina.

11. Book: Autobiography of Anthony Toomer Porter. The complete book is online at ., 1898. 14
Another incident in my early life seemed to give the colored people of the South a claim on my life service. My life indeed was actually saved by a negro who risked his own for my safety. I felt I had incurred a debt which I was bound, and afterwards endeavored, to repay. The facts are as follows: During the summer of 1839 I was taken in a small sail boat, by a party of young men, to fish on the banks between North and South Islands. In a sudden squall, the boat was capsized, and I was to all appearances drowned. I remember the side of the boat I was sitting on, gradually sunk into the water, as the boat turned over, but remember no more, until I found myself in the arms of a colored man, being carried from the beach to our house. When I came to consciousness he told me it was all right, not to be scared, that I was safe. We learned some time after that all the occupants of the boat got on the bottom, except myself. When this colored man missed me, he exclaimed, "O my God, where Miss Porter child?" Where? Under the deep water being swept out to sea. Just then one of my little hands was seen stretched above the water. The colored man swam off from the boat, dived down, and came up with me in his arms, unconscious of course. I was held by him in his arms on the bottom of the boat until the party was rescued by some of the fishermen in other boats.

12. Book: Autobiography of Anthony Toomer Porter., 1898. 15
IN the spring of 1842, my mother took my second sister to Bordentown, to place her at school at Madam Murat's. My sister Eliza she brought home in the fall. During this fall a great trial came to us. I was too young to know how it came about, but it was evident that the mismanagement which caused it could not be laid to my mother's charge. It came to light that the house which my father had built, and where all his children were born, the house which my mother supposed had been left secure to her, was, with all the silver and furniture, obliged to be sold, so that she was to be stripped of the last penny.

There was nothing before us but to give up the town house, and live in the country in winter, and on the Island in the sum mer. My mother's support henceforth came out of the income allowed by the court for the expenses of my sisters and myself. It was a dreadful struggle and many an un happy day and evening did my mother and I pass together.

It was so hard to give up her home, bound to her by so many ties. Soon the house was advertised for sale, and we were waiting to be turned out of it. As we had a refuge on the plantation, no one had offered any help. On the evening before the sale, we had our usual family prayers and went to bed. I could not sleep from distress. The light had been put out, and I was lying in bed, when I heard the buzzing of a fly. I listened for some time, and it annoyed me so much that I got out of bed and lit the candle. Up on the ceiling I saw a large fly entangled in a spider's web, and the old spider at a little distance off, looking on, ready at the right moment to make his fatal attack. The poor fly, by his desperate efforts to get out, was only making things worse. My sympathy was excited; so getting on a chair and taking a stick, I managed to break the web and get the fly out. It shook itself vigorously, and flew off, while the spider beat a retreat and got beyond my reach. I went back to bed and began to think. If I was sorry for the fly, and let it out of its danger, would not God be sorry for the widow, and her fatherless children, who were all trying to be Christians, and would He not send somebody to let us out of the trap that a worse than spider had put us in? I fell asleep.

Next day I went to the place of auction, and heard our house put up for sate - I, a poor boy of fourteen years, with a weeping widowed mother at home. I heard someone say one thousand dollars - and the crier sang out, "One thousand dollars, one thousand dollars, one thousand dollars! Is no more offered for this valuable property? Once, twice, three times, - gone !"

The auctioneer asked who the purchaser was?

A. W. Dozier, my father's old law partner, then came forward, and said he was the purchaser. The big tears rolled down my cheeks. Then the furniture and the silver were put up. Oh, the agony of that hour! Someone bid ten dollars. I nearly fainted as it was all knocked down by this auctioneer.

As I turned to leave the place Mr. Dozier came up to me and taking me by the arm, said, " I have bought the house and furniture in your name. Come and sign a paper at my office."

I was only a child, but the incident of the spider and the fly recurred to my mind, and I told him of it. "God had not forgotten you," he replied; but I had to keep quiet, lest if it had got out that I was going to buy the property in, someone might have run it up. But nobody made a bid. I wish I had bid one hundred dollars; I could have got it at that, for everyone felt so much for your mother. Reading the agony on your face, no one would have bid a dollar against you."

He advanced the money, and I, a boy of fourteen, gave him my personal bond for one thousand dollars, insured and assigned. I paid the interest and insurance out of my income; the one thousand dollars in full a few days after coming of age.

Anthony married Susan Magdalene Atkinson, daughter of Jonah Murrell Atkinson and Susan Ann Steedman, on 16 Dec 1852 in Georgetown, Georgetown, SC. (Susan Magdalene Atkinson was born on 18 Sep 1829 in , , SC,10 16 died on 17 Jun 1891 in Charleston, Charleston, SC 8 16 and was buried on 18 Jun 1891 in Georgetown: Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, Georgetown, SC 16.)


1 Ancestry Family Trees (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.), Ancestry Family Tree.

2 Tupper-Jackson.

3 Billion Graves (,

4 1850 United States Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: Prince George Winyaw, Georgetown, South Carolina; Roll: M432_853; Page: 305A; Image: 39.

5 Find A Grave,

6 1870 United States Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Charleston Ward 8, Charleston, South Carolina; Roll: M593_1487; Page: 591A; Image: 533; Family History Library Film: 552986.

7, U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 ( Operations, Inc.), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 334.

8, South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1955 ( Operations Inc).

9 1900 United States Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Charleston Ward 8, Charleston, South Carolina; Roll: 1520; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0099; FHL microfilm: 1241520.

10 1880 United States Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina; Roll: 1222; Family History Film: 1255222; Page: 424D; Enumeration District: 072.

11 Porter, Anthony Toomer, Led on!: Step by step, scenes from clerical, military, educational, and plantation life in the South, 1828-1898 (G. P. Putnam's sons, 1898. 462 pages. Read online for free at Google Books : .), Page 6.

12 South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, National Register of Historic Places Application for Porter Military Academy.

13 1850 United States Census, A Toomer Porter, 1850.

14 Porter, Anthony Toomer, Led on!: Step by step, scenes from clerical, military, educational, and plantation life in the South, 1828-1898 (G. P. Putnam's sons, 1898. 462 pages. Read online for free at Google Books : .), Pages 12.

15 Porter, Anthony Toomer, Led on!: Step by step, scenes from clerical, military, educational, and plantation life in the South, 1828-1898 (G. P. Putnam's sons, 1898. 462 pages. Read online for free at Google Books : .), Page 18.

16 Find A Grave,

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