Death of The Kentucky Giant
Article taken from The Progressive Age
May 11, 1859


James D. Porter, well known as the "Kentucky Giant," though born at Portsmouth, Ohio, was found dead in his bed at his residence near Louisville, on Monday morning. 

He was 49 years of age, seven feet nine inches in height, and when in good health weighed 300 pounds.  The Democrat says, that for the first fourteen years of his life he was small for his age.  At seventeen he was apprenticed at coopering, and his remarkable growth commended.  It is stated that the most he ever grew in one week was one inch.  It was his habit while growing, to measure every Saturday night and his own testimony and that of his family and friends are evidence of this remarkable fact.

Mr. Porter soon got so tall that it was impossible to cooper barrels, and he was employed on hogsheads.  This however, became equally impossible, owning to his remarkable height, and he was compelled to abondon the business.  He then engaged in keeping and diving backs.  In the year 1836-37, he went east, and appeared on the stage in one or two places written especially for him.  He returned to Lewisville, and a few years later bought the coffee-house which he was keeping at the time of his death.

He was very highly esteemed by all who knew him, for his integrity.  In his domestic relations--he was never warried--he was all a parent could desire.

At the time that the Charles Dickens came to this country, there was a perfect furor to see "Boz."  As he passed through the canal at Louisville, he sent a messenger to Mr. Porter of course whose remarkable aportion he had heard of, intimating a wish to see him.  Mr. Porter replied to the messenger that if "Mr. Dickens wishes to see me more than I do to see him, he will come to me."  Mr. Dickens took the hint, and during the conversation Porter told the novelist that while he was growing up his mother had to sew a foot on his pantaloons every night. 

Mr. Porter's coffin is nine feet one inch in length, and two feet feet across the breast.


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Thursday 09/11/2003 2:28 PM