Chronology of Porter's Life
1792 Born May 1 in West Boxford, Massachusetts
1801 Moved with his family to Flintstown, Mass (Baldwin, Maine)
1804 Living with his family in Pleasant Mountain Gore, (Bridgton, Maine).
Entered Fryeburg Academy, where he remained for six months
1807 Shoemaker's apprentice in West Boxford
1807-10 Playing fife and fiddle in Portland, Maine
1812 Private in the West Boxford Parish Company where he was sent to guard the
Atlantic seaboard in Portland during the War of 1812
1813 In Denmark, Maine, painting sleighs and drums, playing drum, teaching
drumming and drum painting.
1814 Private and musician in three Portland companies of the state militia.
1815 October 16, married Eunice Twombly of Portland.
Evidence suggests Porter began painting portraits roughly around this time.
1816 Moved to New Haven, Connecticut. Opened a dance school
1817-19 Trading voyage to the Northwest Coast and Hawaii (unconfirmed)
1819 Painting portraits in Boston
1819-22 Traveling along the East Coast on foot painting portraits
1820 Alexandria, Virginia made a camera obscura to facilitate portrait painting
1823 Traveling through New England with nephew Jonathan D. Poor painting
mural landscapes and portraits. Porter continued to paint murals on and
off until 1845.
1825-26 Published four editions of: A Select Collection of Valuable and
Curious Arts, and Interesting Experiments in Concord, New Hampshire.
1833 Constructed first model of his airship in Bristol, Connecticut.
1836 Developed a revolving rifle and sold the designs to Samuel Colt for $100.
1841-42 Publishing and editing the New York Mechanic in New York
(changed to the American Mechanic in 1842 and published in Boston).
1845 Founded Scientific American in New York. Porter then sold the magazine to
Orson Desaix Munn and Alfred Ely Beach after 10 months. He stayed on
as editor for another 18 months. He would continue to submit articles to
the publication for the rest of his life.
1847 Constructed and publicly exhibited a small working model of his airship
in New York and Boston. He also Founded and edited Scientific Mechanic,
which was published in New York and Washington, D.C.
1848 Wife Eunice Twombly Porter, died in Billerica, MA
1849 Residing in New York. Marries his second wife, Emma Tallman Edgar of
Roxbury, Massachusetts in Brooklyn, New York. Published
Aerial Navigation in Washington, D.C.
1850-60 Maintained legal residence in Washington, D.C.
1851 Petitioned Senate for appropriation to extend experiments in practical
aviation. Organized a stock company, the Aerial Navigation Company, to
promote his airship, and shortly thereafter began construction of a full-sized
machine which was never successfully completed.
1852 Published Essential Truth in Washington, D.C.
1853 Exhibited a twenty-two foot working model of his airship at Carusi's Hall
1861-84 Residing in various parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, working
on his inventions.
1884 Visited son, Frank Rufus, in West Haven, CT, and died there August 13th.
Buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, West Haven, Connecticut.
Chronology from Rufus Porter Rediscovered, 1980, by Jean Lipman, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., New York, NY
A detail of the over mantle painting in the Nathan Church House.
Advertisement for his Aerial Locomotive and his stock Company
Porter aged 80, one of the surviving images of Porter