Porter continues the tradition of Idaho’s oldest family business

Mike Porter of Franklin takes a break from planting recently. Porter might farm the oldest family business in the state of Idaho.

Mike Porter, 40, of Franklin, Idaho could own the oldest family business in the state of Idaho. Porter is the grandson of Robert and Henrietta Haworth of Franklin who owned 700 acres until the day they were killed in an automobile accident in February of 2017.

The Franklin gristmill photo was taken after the business closed before it was taken down. The mill is not far from the current Porter home on the banks of the Cub River.

Patricia Hoffman, management assistant of the Idaho Historical Society, confirmed the Haworth Farm was established in 1861 by James Haworth. She also confirmed that it was Robert and Henrietta were owners before Porter.

There have been articles published in Idaho and Utah claiming the Joyce ranch is the oldest ranch and family-owned business in Idaho. However, they were established in 1865. So unless someone proves differently, the Haworth Farm is the oldest family business in the Gem State.

Porter is the sixth generation of the family to own the business. Because his grandfather had only girls (seven of them) there were no Haworths to carry on the name. Porter showed the most interest in the farm. Porter had worked with his grandfather on the farm as long as he can remember.

“When I was going to high school, I would come home and help my grandfather on the farm,” Porter said. “When I got off of my mission, I helped him on the farm.”

He helped on the farm even while he was working at West Motor Company in Preston.

It’s not that the sisters didn’t know how to work on the farm; all seven worked hard along with their father when they had the dairy.

The Haworth family has some real history in Idaho. James Haworth came to the United States from Darwin, England as a strong-willed 18-year-old. He had an acute sense of right and wrong, said Robert Haworth in an interview before his death.

The Haworth house early on in Franklin History. It has since been destroyed by fire. There is a brick house built over the top of the old foundation.

“James came to chase the American Dream and he went to work in a factory in Massachusetts where he learned of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. ”He drove a team of oxen carting milling equipment from St. Louis, Missouri with Aaron Thatcher. They built a flour mill in Logan, where James worked.”

Along the trip west he met a couple of sister converts. As the story goes, the six-footer got off the wagon so the sisters could ride. One married and moved to Salt Lake City; the other, Harriet, moved to Hyrum and became a school teacher. James courted Harriet and they were married and lived in Logan.

Brigham Young asked James if he would move his family to Franklin, Idaho and build a flour mill for the Saints in Franklin.

That meant going back to St. Louis and bringing back a turbine wheel and securing some grinding stone from Utah granite.

In 1863, the first flour mill in Idaho was built by James Haworth and John Goslind. Most of the early settlers had a hand in building the mill. Two of the mill stones can be found in front of the ZCMI building in Franklin.

The mill sat in the meadow bottoms near the Cub River, northeast of Franklin City. James’ large home was feet from the mill, and he could hear the mill and know if it wasn’t working the way it should.

The mill closed because of a disagreement. Someone wanted to buy a share of the mill, and some of the shareholders wanted to let him, and some didn’t. So they closed the mill.

On July 24, 1907, James left for home after a meeting with church officials, but never made it home. He was found dead with a bullet hole in his head, his horse grazing nearby. No one was ever convicted of the crime.

The farm was passed down through the Haworth line until Robert took the reins in 1953. In 1986, Haworth was inducted into the Idaho Dairy Hall of Fame. The next year he closed the dairy and concentrated on hay and grain.

Porter added some cows and continues to grow grain and hay. He said it’s an honor to carry on the legacy of the Haworth Farm.

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