Rufus Putnam (1738) – West to Ohio

In the spring of 1788, a group of forty-eight men began to create a settlement that came to be known as Marietta, Ohio. Rufus Putnam was their leader. As Putnam wrote in his diary: [1]

Major Haffield White conducted the first party which Started from Danvers, First of December — the other party were appointed to randevoz at Hartford where I met them on the first day of January 1788. From Hartford I was under the necessity of going by New york, and this party moved forward, conducted by Col° Sproat —

January 24:  I joined the party at Lincolns Inn, neer the Sweetterret Creek, which was hard frosen but not sufficient to bear the waggon, & a whole day was spent in cuting a passage. — So great a quantity of Snow fell this day & the night following as quite blocked up the road, it was with, much difficulty we got the waggon as far as Coopers at the foot of Tuscarowas mountains (Now Strawsburgh) where we arrived the 29 — here we found that northing had crossed the mountains Sence the great Snow above mentioned, and that in the old Snow which was about 12 inches deep pack horses only had crossed these mountains — our only resourse now was to build Sleads and to harness our horses one before the other, & in this maner, with four Sleads, & the men Marching in front to break the tract we Set forward, and reached the yauhiogany the 14th of February where we found Major Whites party who arrived here the 23rd of January —

After reaching the Youghiogheny River,  the group stayed near a place known as Simeral’s Ferry while building boats, then set off when these were finished to make the remainder of their journey on rivers still swirling with ice. [2]

When Putnam set out for Ohio, he  left behind in Rutland, Massachusetts a family and a farm of 150 acres.  It would be several years before Putnam would travel back east to be reunited with his family and bring them to Ohio, which he would call home for the rest of his days.


[1] Putnam, R. (1903). The memoirs of Rufus Putnam and certain official papers and correspondence. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. pp. 103-104.  Access via Archive.org

What Putnam refers to as Sweetterret Creek is known today as the Swatara Creek. In some other accounts, the place where Putnam joined the party is referred to as Lincoln’s Run rather than Lincoln’s Inn.

[2] Simeral’s Ferry now, known as West Newton, is a place in Pennsylvania where the Old Glades Trail met the Youghiogheny River.  Simeral’s Ferry was named after the family of an Alexander Simeral. Variant spellings of their surname include: Simerall, Simrall, Simrell, Sumerill, Sumrell, Sumrill.

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