A Career of a Lifetime

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when someone could start a career after high school and stay with that career until retirement. I say that because I’m in my mid-40s and am going on Career Change #3 due to rapidly changing technology. Career longevity just isn’t as easy to attain or as respected today.

Clearly that wasn’t the case for my maternal 2nd great-granduncle, Samuel Porterfield. He was a farmer in Shiawassee County, Michigan, when he married his first wife, Abbie Niver, in 1887. He and Abbie had a daughter soon after, but unfortunately Abbie passed away in 1895.

By the time Samuel remarried in 1896, he was a minister in Elsie, Michigan. From there, his family transferred between several Free Methodist churches around the Lansing area, and even back to Sanilac County where he had been born in 1866. He was appointed briefly to a church in Flint, but seemd to stick mostly to small towns. I know today pastors have little say in which church they are sent, but I’m not sure how it worked then.

Going through the records of the larger Porterfield clan, it’s clear the family expected his nieces and nephews to be married by him. He married my great-grandparents, Fred Wilson and Minnie Porterfield, in 1906 even though he lived three counties away at the time.

The Flint Daily Journal (Flint, Michigan), 28 Aug 1916, p 9, col 1

In 1935 he was the pastor at a church in Macomb County, Michigan. But by 1940, the reverend was retired and living in Clinton County where I believe he began his career. He died just four years later at the age of 78.

Rev Samuel Porterfield and Mrs. Bina Porterfield, circa 1930

That’s over 40 years of serving various communities from the age of about 22 to 69. I can’t imagine having the same job for that long. I admire his dedication and how he clearly knew what he wanted to do from a young age.