Child of Cabarrus has heart for horses

Lib Porter is a living treasure of Cabarrus County history.

She has seen Concord and its surrounding areas grow and prosper over six decades. Her maternal ancestors are linked to Cabarrus County's history.

Lib's great-great-grandfather, William Henry Orchard and his wife, Elizabeth, emigrated from England to settle in Cabarrus County in 1853. At 28, Orchard engaged in mining gold and discovered and became owner of the Phoenix Mine, not far from Reed Gold Mine.

Orchard and his wife lived out their lives in Cabarrus County and established a legacy for their descendants. They are buried in the church cemetery near the Bost Mill. The couple's granddaughter, Amanda Pearl Boger, married Parks Moore Lafferty, for whom Parks Lafferty Road is named.

Amanda Pearl Boger and Parks Moore Lafferty were Lib Porter's grandparents. Porter's mother, Elizabeth Orchard Lafferty, was the oldest of five children and married Robert Quintin Lowe Jr. They had one daughter, Lib, who was born in Atlanta in 1937.

In the fall of 1941, the family moved home to Concord. They settled into a large brick home on Union Street in downtown. A few months later, Porter's father died after a heart attack. Elizabeth soldiered on by housing teachers. When Porter was 6 years old, tragedy struck again when her mother's back was broken. She spent several weeks in the hospital. Porter's grandparents, Amanda and Parks Lafferty, stepped in to take care of her.

Porter's grandfather inspired a great love for horses in her young heart, which has lasted throughout her life. "Granddaddy Lafferty always kept six to seven horses," she said. When she was 5, he bought her a pony; when she was 7, he bought her first horse, Queen.

"We kept the horse in town. No one else, except me and my friend Carolyn Collins had horses on Union Street," said Porter. The young girls used this to their advantage. A business woman at the age of 6, the pair sold horse rides to other children. "We would sell rides for a nickel or a dime. We would make enough money to go to all four movies at the Cabarrus movie theater," she said. "With a quarter, we would pay nine cents to get in, five cents for a bag of popcorn, a Coke for five cents, a candy bar for five cents and we would have a penny left for a piece of bubblegum."

The Paramount also offered exciting entertainment for the young girls. "The Paramount was where all the cowboys would come and perform. We would head over there after the movies. We saw many cowboys including Al 'Lash' Larue, Rocky Lane, Gene Autry and Little Beaver.

"We would come around the back and see the cowboys. One time, Sunset Carson asked us to show him the town. Our curfew was before dark. We rode Sunset Carson around town, but we were late when we got back and were in bad trouble," she said.

While the movies and the cowboys were wonderful entertainment for the young Porter, nothing had the draw of the joy of horseback riding. Porter went to Coltrane-Webb Elementary School, which let out earlier than her friend's school, Clare Harris School.

"I would get out of school, saddle up my horse, go to Carolyn's house and saddle up her horse. I would meet her at her school when she was let out, ready to ride," she said.

Porter won her first horse show at the age of 7 in Webb Field behind the old Concord High School. She won the show based on horsemanship on her grandfather's horse. Since then, Porter has competed and won in dozens of horseshows.

While nurturing her love for horses, Porter worked in a clinical lab at Cabarrus Hospital. She worked in the lab for 13 years. Porter had two children, Amy and Erskine.

She also worked several years in her husband's drug store, Porter Drug Co., in downtown Concord. Her husband, Earnest, worked in the store since 1967. His father and uncle started it in 1920. The Porters ran the drug store with their neighbors in mind. One year, they came to the store four times on Christmas to fill prescriptions.

Lib and Earnest Porter have 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They live in the house they designed and built in Cabarrus County.