|Albert Gallatin Porter|
Albert Brown Porter began his studies at Stevens Institute in 1879 at the age of 15. He completed his B.S. in physics at Purdue University in 1884 and then taught for seven years at Richmond High School before beginning graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. In 1894, he became Professor of Physics and Department Chair at Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago where he remained for 9 years. In 1903, Porter resigned from Armour Institute of Technology to establish "The Scientific Shop", a commercial enterprise for manufacture of precision physical instruments, in particular optical instruments.
|Armour Institute of Technology - Chicago, Illinois|
The 1900 US Census finds Therese and Albert Porter living at 1232 Forest Avenue in beautiful Evanston, Illinois:
|1232 Forest Avenue, Evanston, Illinois|
|1024 Lake Shore Boulevard, Evanston, Illinois|
The Richmond (Indiana) Item - April 17, 1909
As per his previous arrangements, Albert Porter's body was brought back to Indiana. On April 19, 1909 he was buried in the Porter family plot (Section 14, Lot 92) in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis:
Therese Porter must have been a believer in the old adage "A 'Lady' only has her name in the newspaper three times: When she is born, when she marries, and when she dies." After her husband's death, Therese Porter's name was not in the newspapers until just before she died. We can, however check up on her by looking at the US Census.
Not surprisingly, Therese Porter is still living in the same place for the 1920 US Census: 1024 Lake Shore Boulevard in Evanston. However this time she is living alone. She told the census taker that she was 45 (she was 50) and a widow. She could both read and write English and she had no occupation.
No changes for Therese Porter in the 1930 US Census. She gives her age as 55 (she was 60) and a widow. She owned the house at 1024 Lake Shore Boulevard and she assigned a value of $52,500 to her home. No surprise - she does own a radio.
In the 1940 US Census, Therese Porter is still living alone, and still living in the house at 1024 Lake Shore Boulevard. She now gives the home's value as $50,000, $2,500 less than in 1930 - but there had been a depression after all. If Therese Porter was affected by the Great Depression of the 1930s it was only with a nudge. She said she was 69 years-old (she was 70), that she owned the house and that she had had education post-college. And it was not a surprise that she told the census taker that she had been living in the same house in 1935.
What was Therese Porter like during this period? One of her neighbors, attorney George Haight, who said he had a "casual speaking acquaintance" with Therese Porter said, "She was intelligent, highly educated and well read. She could converse with alacrity on the topics of the day."
But not too long after this, her neighbors began to notice some changes. It was reported that she let the house run down and weeds grew high in both the front of her house and in the yard. She broke off any contact she had with distant relatives, and started sending out for meals, having them delivered to her home by taxicab. Although she had many neighborhood acquaintances who regarded her with respect, she was said to have preferred birds and dogs to human company. She was quoted as saying that "Animals protect you. They don't talk back. They are the only true friends man has." She was often seen walking through the neighborhood in the company of two large dogs.
It was later reported that in addition to the dogs, her house contained as many as 22 cats, although newspaper accounts at the time do not mention any cats - only a succession of dogs.
All winter she put out food for the birds and vast flocks of them remained in her neighborhood through the snows. After her death it was discovered that she had purchased the best of clothes but much of it lay unused in her home while she went around in shoes with worn-out soles and dresses long outdated.
George Haight was convinced that Mrs. Porter's eccentricities were not due to any mental disorder. Haight did say however, that Therese Porter often expressed a wish to die, accompanied by a fear of dying alone.
In March of 1953 Therese Porter was hospitalized for three days after she fell in her home. While she was in the hospital the Evanston Police removed her valuables for her own protection from tomato baskets and hat boxes in the empty house.
Later that same year, as she realized that her days were short, she moved to the farm home near Palatine of Harry Sall, a chauffeur who had befriended her.
|Therese Porter's house circa 1950. Note the overgrown yard and the torn screen on the second floor window.|
On Saturday, September 12, 1953 Therese Porter called Sall and his wife into the room she occupied, asking Mrs. Sall to hold her in her arms. A few minutes later she died.
Immediately after her death, her remains were taken to the Hebblethwaite Funeral Home at 1567 Maple in Evanston where they waited for someone to appear with authority to order a funeral service.
When word spread of the death of Mrs. Porter, the Evanston Police Department posted a round-the-clock guard at the house to prevent theft or vandalism. They also reported that they were holding a package of Mrs. Porter's securities worth $239,647 at that time. The securities has been found scattered throughout the home. This may have been the same securities that the police reported finding in March of 1953 when Mrs. Porter had been hospitalized after a fall in her home.
Once the death had been announced, attorney Franklyn Bliss, Snyder, Jr. and the Northern Trust Company reported that their records indicated that Therese Porter had prepared a will, but they were unable to produce a copy.
To move things along, Public Administrator Thomas D. Nash was named administrator of the estate, and he made the necessary arrangements for Mrs. Porter's funeral.
Here is Therese Study Porter's Death Notice from the Chicago Tribune of September 17, 1953:
Therese Porter was buried next to her husband in the Porter family plot at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis:
Her particular resting place is unmarked.
Now the fun began as a search was raised for her will, and relatives came out of the woodwork to place a claim against the sizable estate.
For weeks throughout the Fall of 1953, the public was titillated on an almost daily basis with tales of the gathering of the assets and the hunt for a will of Mrs. Porter.
On September 16, 1953 the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that the day before an intensive search was launched for the missing will and any assets that the house on Lake Shore Boulevard could contain. Investigators were unable to locate a will, but the Tribune reported that after a two hour search they removed $3,700 in uncashed dividend checks stashed in a small candy box. The group sent to examine Therese Porter's home included Attorney Thomas Fitzpatrick, John Damisch chief inheritance tax examiner, Lt. Hubert Kelsh Evanston Detective Chief, Jack Rubens public administrator's investigator and State Treasurer Elmer J. Hoffman.
Hopes were raised about a possible will when at the end of September a black notebook was turned in to Evanston Police. It has been found "near the house of Therese Porter" by an Evanston schoolgirl. An unsigned section from 1912 titled "My Will" said that Mrs. Porter wanted Richard Study (her brother) to inherit her property if she died without a formal will. Other possible heirs were listed by police said most of the names were illegible.
The mystery was solved when on October 29, 1953 newspapers reported that Therese Porter's will had been found:
|1024 Lake Shore Boulevard, Evanston, Illinois|
|Therese Study Porter and one of her Scotties|