|A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana|
Lawrenceburg - Founded 1802
By Duane Hall, May 21, 2013
1. Lawrenceburg Marker
Birthplace of two Indiana Governors. Albert Gallatin Porter, eighteenth Governor (1881-1885), born here April 20, 1824, died Indianapolis, May 3, 1897; and Winfield Taylor Durbin, twenty-fourth Governor (1901-1905), born here May 4, 1847, died Anderson, December 18, 1928.
Erected 1976 by Dearborn County Bicentennial Committee.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Spirit of 76, America's Bicentennial Celebration marker series.
Location 39° 5.762' N, 84° 51.481' W.
Marker is in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in Dearborn County.
Marker is at the intersection of Green Boulevard (U.S. 50) and Park Street, on the right when traveling east on Green Boulevard.
Marker is located in Lawrenceburg Newton Park fronting Green Blvd (US50).
Marker is in this post office area:
Lawrenceburg IN 47025, United States of America.
Brief History by the Author
Albert Gallatin Porter (April 20, 1824 – May 3, 1897)
The son of Thomas and Myra Tousey Porter, Albert is native to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. The family farm's location on the banks of the Ohio River made it possible for Porter to earn his college money by tending his father's ferry. He attended Hanover College in Madison until his funds ran out. An uncle offered to pay his tuition if he attended a Methodist College, thus he attended and graduated from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. After completing college, he returned to Lawrenceburg to study law. A Democrat, he served as the private secretary to Governor James Whitcomb. Porter would marry Whitcomb's daughter, Minerva, on November 20, 1846. The couple would have five children.
During the time he served as the governor's secretary, Porter also worked as the reporter for the Indiana Supreme Court, writing for the Indianapolis Journal. The political chaos after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 allowed the expansion of slavery into United States territories. During the dissention in the Democratic Party between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions, the pro-slavery people won. The party expunged many anti-slavery members, Porter among them. He joined the new Republican Party, gaining election to the United States House of Representatives in 1858 and 1860.
After his term expired in 1862, Porter returned to private life, working as a lawyer. President Rutherford P. Hayes appointed him as comptroller of the United States Treasury in 1877, a position he held until 1880.
The Republicans nominated him for governor in 1880, a post he won by a narrow margin. During his two terms, Porter was instrumental in establishing hospitals for the insane, the State Board of Health and introducing a drainage program for marshlands and the Great Kankakee Swamp in northwestern Indiana. This program added hundreds of agricultural acres to the state. He also advocated women's suffrage and helped institutive stricter mining regulations, which helped improve the working conditions for miners.
Out of Office
Porter remained active after his term expired, serving as a delegate to the 1888 Republican National Convention. As delegate, he delivered a speech nominating his old law partner and friend, Benjamin Harrison, for President. Harrison won and named Porter as Minister to Italy in 1889. He held this position until he resigned in 1892. He returned to Indianapolis and began collecting material for a History of Indiana. He died before finishing the task. The work remains unpublished. His remains are interred in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Winfield Taylor Durbin (May 4, 1847 – December 18, 1928)
The son of William S. and Eliza Ann Sparks, Winfield was native to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. The family moved to New Philadelphia, Indiana in Washington County while he was young. His father opened a tannery business, which Winfield worked in while a boy. When the Civil War broke out, Winfield and his brothers enlisted in the 16th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in 1862. The Army rejected him because of an arm injury he had recently suffered. Durban later enlisted in the 139th Regiment Indiana Infantry, which mustered in on June 5, 1864. Durban helped raise a company for the regiment, which went on to the Siege of Vicksburg and duty in Arkansas.
After the War
Durban returned to Indiana after a brief stint attending a small college in St. Louis, Missouri. For a short time, he worked as the bookkeeper for a dry goods store in Indianapolis. After migrating to Anderson, he met and married Bertha McCullough, with whom he would have two children. He worked for his father in law at the Citizens' Bank in Anderson. During this time the Gas Boom occurred. He and his father-in-law founded several small businesses, which allowed him to accumulate a modest amount of wealth. During this time, he became active politically, gaining election to the State Republican Central Committee.
The Spanish American War broke out in 1898. Governor James Mount appointed Durbin as colonel in command of the 161st Regiment Indiana Infantry. The recruits of this regiment came mainly from Hammond, Mount Vernon, Shelbyville, Madison, Jeffersonville, Richmond, New Castle, Rushville, Monticello, Columbus, Michigan City and Lawrenceburg. It mustered in on July 15, 1898. The regiment was part of the Havana occupation during the war. The occupation lasted for three months. The regiment mustered out on April 30, 1899, after which Durbin returned to Indianapolis.
The Republican Party nominated Durbin for governor in 1900. Durbin won the election, becoming the seventh and last Civil War veteran to serve as Indiana governor. During his term, a major embezzlement scheme at Indiana University surfaced. He threatened to move the university away from Bloomington if university officials did not clear it up. He advocated election reform and set up juvenile courts for young offenders. The growth of the use of automobiles led him to realize the importance of Indiana's central position in the United States. He began advocating for improved roads and highways in the state. He also used firm measures to end the vigilante white cap groups that operated throughout the state. This virtually ended the lawless lynchings that plagued Indiana previously.
Durbin would run again for governor in 1912, but lose his bid. He remained active in politics and pursued his Anderson business interests. He passed away on December 18, 1928 in Anderson. He is interred in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.