Part I, Chapter IX
THE office of surveyor-general was one of great responsibility, and
extensive knowledge and great industry were necessary in order to properly
discharge the duties pertaining thereto. General Putnam had so successfully
and ably managed the department that there was great indignation felt upon his
removal from office.
After this he devoted his interest and energies to all that was best
and highest in the community that he had been so greatly instrumental in
founding. To education and the building of that kingdom whose prosperity was
always dear to him, he gave his labors and his prayers. Largely through his
influence the Muskingum academy was started in 1798. This was the first school
in which anything higher than the common English branches was taught in all
this Northwest territory, which is now so studded with colleges, academies and
In 1801 he was elected, by the territorial legislature, one of the
trustees of the Ohio University, the first college established in Ohio. He
manifested a warm interest in securing endowment and getting the college on a
Yet once again he was called to a public office and one of trust and
responsibility. In 1802, the citizens of Washington county elected him a
member of the convention called to form a constitution for the state, then
just admitted to the Union. He did good service therein in many ways,
especially in fighting against the introduction of slavery, which,
notwithstanding the prohibition in the ordinance of 1787, was kept out of the
state constitution only by a majority of one.
In 1807 he drafted a plan for a church, which still stands as a
monument of his skill and his interest in the advancement of the cause that,
through all his mature life, had been so dear to him. It is still used by the
Congregational society in Marietta as their place of worship. It was large and
imposing for the time, and General Putnam gave to it liberally of his means
and also his personal supervision while it was in process of erection. He also
participated in the formation of a Bible society and the establishment of a
Sabbath-school. The latter was a new thing then, and something of which he had
only heard, and success in getting one started was the source of great
pleasure and satisfaction to him.
And now, his public work was done, surrounded by his children and his
children’s children, with a thriving community to bear witness to his wisdom
and far-seeing philanthropy, honored, with the respect of all who knew him,
and cheered by the gratitude of those he had benefited, he waited in serene
old age for the summons to start again for a new and better country, where
life was ever fresh and peace eternal.
The companion with whom he had traveled the journey of life for more
than half a century was called before him. Mrs. Putnam died in 1820. His
maiden daughter, Elizabeth, devoted herself to his comfort, and did whatever
love and care, working together, could do to make the down grade easy and
pleasant to him.
At length the summons came. In 1824, when he was in his eighty-seventh
year, he was called to that better land for which he had been long getting
ready, where he would find a home prepared for him in a “house not made with
hands.” His remains were taken to “Mound Cemetery,” and there left to
return to dust. As was fitting, his ashes repose in the town whose foundation
he had been so greatly instrumental in laying. There, in the shadow of a
monument, erected by a forgotten race to chieftains of their own, who had,
perhaps, in their time, done deeds, worthy of remembrance, he sleeps his last
sleep. He left numerous descendants, who are generally God-fearing men and
women, useful citizens, and many of them active workers in the cause of
It is scarcely necessary to sum up the character of this man, whose
life has been thus imperfectly sketched. His work is his best epitaph and
eulogium. He was not brilliant, he was not quick, but he was richly endowed
with that best of gifts—good, sound, common sense, and he had, in unusual
degree, that prescience that enabled him to skillfully adapt means to ends, so
as thereby to accomplish what he wished. Always modest, he “leaned not to
his own understanding,” but constantly recognized his need of help from on
high. His judgment was sound, he was patient and had great power of endurance.
His integrity was never questioned; he was always found on the side of the
right, and no good cause was ever brought before him from which he willingly
His personal appearance was imposing. He was courtly in his manners,
after the old style of gentlemen, though oftentimes a little abrupt, after the
manner of the Putnams. Being a much experienced man, he was very interesting
as well as instructive in conversation. He had a large fund from which to
draw, for he had seen much of distinguished men, and of many important events
he could say, if he would, quorum magna pars fui.
A granite monument, recently erected by his grandson, Colonel W. R.
Putnam, marks the place of his rest. It has this inscription:
GEN. RUFUS PUTNAM.
A revolutionary officer and the leader of the colony which made the
first settlement in the Territory of the Northwest at Marietta,
April 7, 1788.
Born April 9, 1738.
Died May 4, 1824.
Persis Rice, wife of
Born November 19, 1737.
Died September 6, 1820.
“The memory of the just is Blessed.”
The children of General Rufus Putnam were: Ayres, born 1761, died 1762;
Elizabeth, born 1765, died 1830; Persis, born 1767, died; Susanna, born 1768, died 1840; Abigail, born 1770, died 1805; William Rufus,
born 177I, died 1855; Franklin, born 1774, died 1776; Edwin, born 1776, died
1843; Patty, born 1777, died 1842; and Catharine, born 1780, died 1808.
William Rufus married, in 1803, Jerusha Guitteau. Their son, William Rufus,
Jr., was born June 13, 1812. Edwin married Miss Safford and had five children,
three sons and two daughters. Susanna married Christopher Burlingame, and left
a large family of children. Abigail married
William Browning of Belpre. Persis married Perly Howe of Belpre. Martha
married Benjamin Tupper of Putnam. Catharine married Ebenezer Buckingham and
died leaving one son, General Catharinus Putnam Buckingham, now of Chicago,
queenly in name and beautiful for situation, has the honor of being the germinal
seed of which the outgrowth is five magnificent states —Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. These were all carved out of the Northwest
Territory, over which the ordinance of 1787 spread its aegis, on which was
inscribed in imperishable letters “There shall be neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude in the said territory,” and again, “Religion, morality
and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind,
schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” Obedience to
these requirements, uniting with other causes, has brought about such growth and
prosperity as the world had never seen till now.
Time, flying on
restless wing, will soon complete a cycle of one hundred years since the
beginning was made in the settlement of these states. The little mother invites
the children, who have scattered so widely and wrought such wonders in the way
of progress and wealth, to come home and rejoice with her over the
accomplishments of the century, and talk of the hopes that light up the future.
book has been prepared with reference to the coming event, The intent and
meaning of the celebration will be sought after. There will be a desire to lift
the veil that, to a greater or less extent, hides the heroic age of the west,
and learn to whom we owe the laying of the foundation upon which so magnificent
a structure has been built. If we cannot discharge an obligation, there is
comfort in being able to acknowledge it.
As it seemed desirable to make
each part of the work as complete in itself as might be, some repetition seemed
unavoidable. To lighten the tax on the patience of the reader, some variety was
secured by allowing the principal actor in the event, to tell his own story, in
the first part.
what was gathered from the journal and papers of General Putnam, the larger part
of the facts worded in the book are taken from the writings of Dr. S. P.
Hildreth. He is the ultimate source of much that is known of the heroic age of
the west. He was indefatigable in gathering up and putting upon record
information in regard to that period. He lived so near the time that he was
personally acquainted with the actors in the events which he narrates. A large
debt is due to him for telling us how much we owe and to whom the debt is due.
But for him, much that we are glad to learn would have been consigned to an
oblivion too obscure to be penetrated.
MARIETTA OHIO, June, 1886.
PART II - FIRST SETTLEMENT IN OHIO