James' parents, John and Lydia Ann Porter, died en route because of cholera. Milton Dailey said that he and his wife Sarah cared for the orphaned child, James Christopher Burns, brought him to Lehi, Utah, and put him in the care of his grandparents, James Porter and his wife. Further research is needed to determine the name of the company the two families traveled with.
Jame is listed on the 1850 Utah census with his grandparents James and Elizabeth Porter. His name is listed as "James B."