I am very proud to be the fifth consecutive generation of lawyers in the Pors family. My ancestors made legal history in the state of Wisconsin going back to the Civil War, and I brought their tradition of integrity and public service to Seattle in 1987 after starting my career in Los Angeles. Growing up in Wisconsin in the 1960’s I had many other ideas about my future, from science to the arts, but the law was a magnet. It has shaped my outlook on life and been a rewarding profession.
My great-great grandfather, William Adolf Pors, was of Danish descent and immigrated to America in the late 1840s. After trying his hand at farming in Wisconsin, he went to New England to study law and was admitted to practice in 1853. He then returned to Wisconsin and opened his own law office in Port Washington, north of Milwaukee. After the breakout of the Civil War and President Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, all men between 18 and 45 were subject to the draft and William was appointed by the Wisconsin Governor as the Ozaukee County Draft Commissioner. There were strong reactions to the draft in this community of recent immigrants from Germany and Luxembourg, and William found himself in the middle of one of two infamous draft riots from the Civil War era, the other occurring in New York City. On the day chosen for the drawing of names, an angry mob stormed the courthouse and threw William down the steps, pelted him with stones and threatened his and his family’s lives. The riot was contained the following day by the state regiment, but William and his wife Ida found their home severely damaged and looted, including a knife thrust through baby Emil’s crib where he would have lain. Decades later, after clerking for the Secretary of Interior in Washington D.C. on intricate land title cases, William joined his son Emil’s law practice in Marshfield, Wisconsin, a railroad hub in Central Wisconsin with a Weyerhaeuser mill and soon to be famous medical center.
My great-grandfather Emil Charles Pors started a law practice in Marshfield in 1886 that later included four generations of the Pors family. At various times, Emil served as district attorney, city attorney, and county judge. Both of his twin sons became lawyers and my grandfather, Charles M. Pors, joined the Pors & Pors practice. Charles and Emil helped in the organization of the Marshfield Building and Loan Association and Charles served as its director, executive vice-president and counsel. In 1933, Charles was serving as the Wood County District Attorney when police officer Fred Beell, a former world champion wrestler, was murdered by two mobsters while responding to an attempted burglary of the Marshfield Brewery. Charles was heavily involved with the FBI and officials from three states in the investigation and conviction of the mobsters, and co-authored an article on the investigation that was published in True Detective Magazine. Round-the-clock guards were posted at his home during the trial.
My father, William Perron Pors, graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1955 and joined the Pors & Pors practice that year. He was active in the bar association and was instrumental in establishing a University of Wisconsin extension campus in Marshfield, which named its outstanding student award after him. Groundbreaking for the campus was held on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Bill accepted a position as corporate secretary of a savings and loan in Harvey, Illinois in 1964 and opened his own law practice there, but died of a heart attack in 1965 at the age of 39.
None of the previous generations of Pors lawyers were still alive when I attended law school and entered the bar in 1982, my grandfather having passed away in 1978 at the age of 86. My son Aleco is a 2013 graduate in computer science from Western Washington University and a game designer/reviewer, but who knows … one day the law bug could bite him, too.