A Journey to Ohio – Part 1

In early September of 1790, Persis Rice Putnam and her children left their comfortable home in Rutland, Massachusetts to accompany husband and father Rufus Putnam to a newly established settlement in what was then the Northwest Territory of the United States of America.

The Putnam home in Rutland, Massachusetts (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, MASS,14-RUT,1-1. )

When Rufus Putnam had first set out for Ohio in the winter of 1787, Persis had remained in Rutland to manage their house and farm, along with seven of their children. [1] Just before Rufus left, their daughter Susanna (age 21) had married Christopher Burlingame, with Rufus himself performing the ceremony. By the time of the 1790 journey, Susanna and Christopher had two young daughters. Consequently, the members of the Putnam family who traveled to Ohio with Rufus and Persis included not only their six daughters and two sons, but also a son-in-law and two young granddaughters.

The Putnam family was accompanied on their journey by Lydia Stone and five of her children, two young men from Rutland, and two hired teamsters. [1] The possessions the group was able to bring were limited to what could fit into three ox-driven wagons, each approximately 4 feet wide and 16 feet long. In addition, they had a two-horse carriage, a saddle horse, and a few head of cattle. This party was better provisioned than many of the pioneers who made their way to Ohio in those early days. They also had the benefit of Rufus Putnam’s familiarity with the route, which allowed him to make advance arrangements for lodging or shelter at points the group was able to reach on all but two nights of their travels. Even so, as will be explained in A Journey to Ohio – Part 2, the trip was a strenuous undertaking.


[1] The seven children still living at home in 1787 were: Elizabeth (age 22), Persis (age 20), Abigail (age 17), William Rufus (age 16), Edwin (age 11), Patty (age 10), and Catharine (age 7).

[2] The children of Lydia Stone were Sardine, Matilda, Lydia, Israel, Augustus, Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, and Polly Buckley. The two young men from Rutland were Samuel Bridge and Charles Mills. The hired teamsters were William Brauning and Samuel Porter.

 

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