Brig. General Rufus Putnam (Continental Army)

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Brig. General Rufus Putnam (Continental Army)'s Geni Profile

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Rufus Putnam

Birthplace: Sutton, Worcester County, Province of Massachusetts
Death: May 04, 1824 (86)
Marietta, Washington County, Ohio, United States
Place of Burial: Marietta, Washington, Ohio, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Deacon Elisha Hale Putnam and Susannah Sadler
Husband of Elizabeth Putnam and Persis Putnam
Father of Ayres Putnam; Elizabeth Howe; Persis Howe; Susannah Burlingame; Abigail Browning and 5 others
Brother of Elisha Putnam, II; Hannah Dudley; Nehemiah Putnam; Jonathan Fuller Putnam; Susannah Putnam and 5 others
Half brother of infant Putnam

Occupation: General in Revolutionary War, Judge, Land Surveyor, General, Surveyor, Farmer
Managed by: Theodore Allan Reece
Last Updated:

About Brig. General Rufus Putnam (Continental Army)

A Patriot of the American Revolution for Massachusetts with the rank of Brigadier General. DAR Ancestor #: A092745

"In March, 1754 when in his sixteenth year, Rufus was apprenticed to Daniel Matthews of Brookfield, to learn the trade of millwright."

The above quote is from "The Life of Rufus Putnam", compiled by Mary Cone in 1886, and based on the memoirs and journal of Rufus Putnam.  Perhaps this has something to do with the marriage of his sister Huldah to Daniel Matthews?

Rufus' grandfather was a half brother to the father of the famous Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam.

Rufus Putnam was a colonial military officer during the French and Indian War, and a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was instrumental in the initial settling of the Ohio Country following the war.

Putnam was born in Sutton, Massachusetts. His grandfather was a half-brother to the father of Israel Putnam, the renowned general during the American Revolution. Rufus's father died when he was 6 or 7, and he temporarily lived with his grandfather. Putnam's mother remarried two years later to John Sadler. Rufus lived with his mother and stepfather in Sutton, where the family ran an inn.

Putnam served with a Connecticut regiment during the French and Indian War. He served from 1757 to 1760. During the war, Putnam saw action in the Great Lakes region, near Lake Champlain.

After the war, Putnam relocated to New Braintree, Massachusetts. There, he worked as a millwright from 1761 to 1768. During this period he was married twice—first, in April 1761 to Elizabeth Ayers, the daughter of William Ayers, esquire of the Second Precinct of Brookfield (now North Brookfield), Massachusetts. Elizabeth died in 1762, and on January 10, 1765 he remarried to one Persis Rice, the daughter of Zebulon Rice of Westborough, Massachusetts. While Putnam worked as a millwright, he devoted his time to educating himself, learning vast quantities about geography, mathematics, and surveying.

In 1769, Putnam left his occupation as a millwright and became a farmer and surveyor. Rufus Putnam, along with Israel Putnam and two others, traveled in 1773 to near present-day Pensacola, Florida. There, Putnam surveyed and chartered lands along the Mississippi River that were to be granted to veterans of the French & Indian War.

After the shots at The battle of Lexington were fired, Putnam immediately enlisted the same day, on April 19, 1775, in one of Massachusetts first revolutionary regiments. Putnam later enlisted in the Continental Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, under the command of David Brewer. Brewer's regiment first engaged with the British Army in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Putnam, drawing from his knowledge and skill as a millwright, was essential in constructing the fortifications necessary for obtaining victory. His fortifications played as a key advantage for the Continental Army, securing victories at Sewall's Point, Providence, New Port, Dorchester Heights, Long Island, and West Point.

General Washington appointed Putnam to be the Chief of Engineers of the Works of New York. He was soon promoted to engineer with the rank of colonel; however when the Continental Congress rejected his proposition to establish a corp of engineers in December 1776, Putnam resigned.

He reenlisted in the Northern Army and served under Major General Horatio Gates. Under Gates, Putnam commanded two regiments in the battle of Saratoga. Putnam also constructed crucial fortifications, including Fort Putnam at West Point in 1778. In 1779 Putnam served under Major General Anthony Wayne in the Corps of Light Infantry following the capture of Stony Point, commanding the 4th Regiment. Putnam's remaining military career was rather uneventful. In January 1783 he was commissioned as brigadier general.

After the war was over, Putnam returned to Rutland, Massachusetts. He had bought a confiscated farm here in 1780, and returned to reside upon it. Putnam returned to working as a surveyor, inspecting lands in Maine (then part of Massachusetts). Putnam was a strong advocate of granting lands to veterans of the Revolution. He was one of the authors of the army's Newbergh Petition, which was submitted to Congress requesting land disbursements.

Putnam's advocacy for land grants led him to establish the Ohio Company of Associates for the purchase and settlement of Western lands. The Ohio Company was established in Boston on March 3, 1786 by Putnam, John Filson, Samuel Holden Parsons, and Israel Ludlow. Its primary purpose was to settle the North-West Territory, the land granted for colonization by the US from the Treaty of Paris (1783).

The Company bought 1,000,000 acres of land north of the Ohio River, between the present day sites of Marietta, Ohio, and Huntington, West Virginia. Cutler had attempted to purchase all of the land between the Ohio and Scioto Rivers, but the western half of this tract was purchased by the Scioto Company.

Putnam led a group of Revolutionary veterans to settle the land in 1788. These American Pioneers to the Northwest Territory arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, on April 7, 1788, and established Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent American settlement in the Northwest Territory. Putnam went on to serve as a Supreme Court judge for the Northwest Territory.

He served in General Anthony Wayne's Ohio campaign against American Indian tribes, and in 1796, Putnam was appointed as the first Surveyor General of the United States, a position he held until 1803. He was elected a Washington county delegate to the Ohio Constitutional Convention in 1802[3]. Putnam died on May 4, 1824. He was buried at Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio.

The town of Putnam, Ohio (now a part of Zanesville, Ohio) was named for Rufus Putnam. One of his grandsons, Catharinus Putnam Buckingham, was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

In 1808 he was elected the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Ohio.


Rufus Putnam. He was born at Sutton, Massachusetts, April 9th, 1738, and died at Marietta, Ohio, May 4th, 1824. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a millwright. In March 1757, in his nineteenth year, he entered the provincial service, and thus took part in the war of England against France. In March 1761, he returned to his home in New Braintree, and pursued his business as a millwright for seven or eight years. He was then engaged in practical surveying till the war of the Revolution, having learned the art from Colonel Timothy Dwight, of Northampton. He had been in April 1761, united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Ayers, of Brookfield, a lady who died in November following. In January 1765, he married Miss Persis Rice, of Westborough, Massachusetts. He lived with her fifty-five years in great harmony and the enjoyment of much happiness. Having been selected in 1772 as one of several officers who had served in the French war, to explore the lands in the South granted to the Provincial troops, he proceeded with his cousin Israel, Captain Enos, and Thaddeus Lyman to perform that duty; but, after the party had made surveys above New Orleans, in what is now the State of Mississippi. When, three years afterward, the storm burst that had been culminating during these years, he at once offered his services to his country, and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of Colonel David Brewer's regiment, stationed at Roxbury as a regiment of General Thomas's division of the Provincial army, after the battle of Lexington. While engaged at New York Colonel Putnam received the following letter: " NEW YORK, August 11th, 1776. -Sir: I have the pleasure to inform you that Congress has appointed you an engineer, with the rank of colonel, and pay of $60 a month. I beg of you to hasten the sinking of vessels and other obstructions in the river at Fort Washington as fast as it is possible. Advise General Putnam constantly of the kind of vessels you want and other things that no delay that can possibly be avoided may happen. I am, sir, your assured friend and servant, G. WASHINGTON." This appointment was wholly unexpected, as was his recognition by Congress in this honorable manner, and so far out of that customary as to create for him a position until then unknown to the Continental army. Nevertheless, as he preferred service at the head of a regiment in the field, he applied, on the 8th of the following December, to raise such a regiment, and the application was by the commanding general thus acknowledged: "BUCKS COUNTY, near Cogell's Ferry, December 17th, 1776. Dear Sir: Your letter of the 8th from Peekskill came duly to hand. Your acceptance of a regiment to be raised on Continental establishment by the State of Massachusetts Bay is quite agreeable to me, and I sincerely wish you success in recruiting and much honor in commanding it. Your professions of attachment are extremely gratifying to, dear sir, your most obedient servant, GEO. WASHINGTON." After taking command of his regiment, he was, consequently, by the order of General Washington, made superintendent of the fortifications of West Point on the Hudson, then in course of construction. He arrived there in March 1778, and found the works that for many months had been in course of erection so inefficient that they had to be abandoned, and the work begun anew under his direction. For this purpose he was authorized to employ the men of his regiment, and they built the main fortress named by General McDougal, in honor of its engineer, "Fort Putnam," and today it stands (1880), commanding the plain and the point, a fine example of his practical engineering ability. In 1779, Colonel Putnam was appointed to the command of a regiment of light infantry in the brigade of General Wayne, a body of men composed of the selections by General Wayne himself from the whole army; and from this time until the close of the war he commanded this regiment. January 8th, 1783, Colonel Putnam was commissioned by Congress a brigadier-general in the army of the United States, and served as such until the declaration of peace and the ratification of the treaty in September 1783, released him from military service. Our space here will not permit extended reference to the great act of his life in time of peace. Suffice it here to say that with the formation of the Ohio Company, and that legislation by Congress that made the great Northwest free territory forever, to be inhabited by intelligent American yeomanry. General Rufus Putnam's name and fame is indissolubly united. Appointed superintendent of all business relating to the settlement of the lands of the Ohio Company, he was also appointed judge of the first court of common pleas, and one of the only three judges then in the territory; and, shortly afterward, he was made surveyor-general of the United States. In 1792, President Washington appointed him a brigadier-general in the regular army, and in the same year he was sent to Vincennes to negotiate a treaty with the Indians. No monument of brass is necessary to indicate his greatness. So long as the history of his country shall be written and read, the part he played in that history will be found occupying one of its broadest and brightest pages.

Revolutionary War Continental Army Brigadier General, Western Frontiersman. He enlisted for service in the French and Indian War in 1757. During the Revolutionary War, he entered the Continental Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1775 and was in charge of constructing defensive works around Roxbury and Dorchester Heights near Boston that winter. In 1776 he constructed fortifications around Manhattan and was appointed chief engineer of the Continental Army by Congress. Commissioned Colonel and commander of the 5 Massachusetts Regiment, he served in the Saratoga campaign, built fortifications at West Point, and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1783. Appointed by Congress as surveyor of western lands in 1785, he became interested in settling the Ohio country. He helped form the Ohio Company of Associates, which purchased 1.5 million acres in the Ohio country, and founded the settlement of Marietta at the mouth of the Muskingum River in 1788. Appointed by President Washington as judge of the Northwest Territory in 1790, he became a Brigadier General in the United States Regular Army and concluded the Treaty of Vincennes with eight Indian tribes in 1792. Served as Surveyor general of the United States from 1796 to 1803, and a member of the Ohio Constitutional Convention in 1802. (bio by: Garver Graver)

Family links:

 Elisha Putnam (1685 - 1746)
 Susannah Fuller Putnam (1695 - ____)
 Elizabeth Ayres Putnam (____ - 1776)*
 Persis Rice Putnam (1737 - 1820)*
 Ayres Putnam (____ - 1762)*
 Elizabeth Putnam (1765 - 1820)*
 Susanna Putnam Burlingame (1768 - 1840)*
 Abigail Putnam Browning (1770 - 1803)*
 William Rufus Putnam (1771 - 1855)*
 Edwin Putnam (1776 - ____)*
 Martha Putnam Tupper (1777 - 1842)*
 Jonathan Putnam (1721 - ____)*
 Stephen Putnam (1728 - 1803)*
 Rufus Putnam (1738 - 1824)
  • Calculated relationship

By Matt Putnam August 17, 1999

Georgia, GENERAL RUFUS PUTNAM had a large family and had about two dozen grandchildren.

The children of his daughter PERSIS PUTNAM who married PERLEY HOWE were JOSEPH, PERLEY, ABIGAIL, RUFUS WILLIAM, and PERSIS. The children of his daughter PERSIS PUTNAM who married PERLEY HOWE were JOSEPH, PERLEY, ABIGAIL, RUFUS WILLIAM, and PERSIS.


The children of his daughter ABIGAIL PUTNAM who married WILLIAM BROWNING were WILLIAM RUFUS, GEORGE, and SAMUEL McFARLAND. The children of his daughter ABIGAIL PUTNAM who married WILLIAM BROWNING were WILLIAM RUFUS, GEORGE, and SAMUEL McFARLAND.

The one child of his son WILLIAM RUFUS PUTNAM who married JERUSHA GITTEAU was WILLIAM RUFUS JR. The one child of his son WILLIAM RUFUS PUTNAM who married JERUSHA GITTEAU was WILLIAM RUFUS JR.

The children of his son EDWIN PUTNAM who married Eliza Davis were FRANKLIN, JANE, RUFUS, WILLIAM RICE, and CATHERINE. The children of his son EDWIN PUTNAM who married Eliza Davis were FRANKLIN, JANE, RUFUS, WILLIAM RICE, and CATHERINE.



If you have any specific questions on any of these grandchildren, e-mail me at ( and I can give more particulars. If you have any specific questions on any of these grandchildren, e-mail me at ( and I can give more particulars.Matt


Edward Putnam, grandson of the first John, gives the above account in a manuscript dated 1733, himself being then seventy-nine years of age, and adds: "From these three proceeded twelve males; from these twelve, forty males; and from these forty,eight-two males. There were none of the name of Putnam in New England but those of this family.

"With respect to their situation in life," he remarks, "I can say with the Psalmist: 'I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread,' except of God, who provides for all. For God had given to the generations of my fathers, Agar's petition-' neither poverty nor riches '-but hath fed us with food convenient for us, and their childrenhave been able to help others in their need. The third generation have all gone to their account but three, and he that gives this account is one of them, aged seventy-nine years."

In 1741, at the age of eighty-seven, he gives the names of the following heads of families of the fourth generation, viz.: Edward, Elisha, Joseph, Ezra, Isaac, Nathaniel, Daniel, Benjamin, Tarrent, Cornelius, Stephen, Israel, Thomas, Edward, Archelaus, Joseph, Samuel, John, Amos, Josiah, James, Caroline, Jethro, John, Jonathan,Henry, Holyoak, Jacob, William, David, Ely, Joshua, Henry-32. But how many there were at that time, [10]of that generation, he says he could not tell. This good, old man died in the year 1747, in the ninety-fourth year of his age.

The Putnam family, as before stated, settled at Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1634, and they were very numerous at that day in that and the neighboring towns. However, they are a family by no means so governed by local habits as some others. They now spread through all New England and many other parts of the United States; nor have I ever found one of the name but was descended from the Salem family. It would be in vain to attempt, at this day, to give an account of all the male descendants of the family. However, I shall attempt a genealogy, as far as has come to my knowledge:

First, Thomas Putnam, the eldest son of our ancestor, John Putnam, had four sons Thomas, Edward, Archelaus and Joseph. Edward was born July 4, 1634, and died at upwards of ninety-three, before mentioned. His sons were the fourth generation, viz.: Edward, born April 29, 1682, lived to an old age; Holyoak, born September 18, 1683, killed by the Indians; *Elisha, born November 3, 1685, died June 10, 1745; Joseph, born November 1, 1687; Nehemiah, born December 20, 1694, died young; Ezra, born April 29, 1696, died aged fifty-one, Isaac, born March 14, 1698, died aged fifty-nine.

Of the fifth generation, sons of Edward2, Edward3 settled in Sutton, died at an advanced age, leaving a numerous issue; Holyoak, who also settled in Sutton; and Miles, who first settled inMiddleton.

Fifth generation, sons of Elisha, third son ofEdward1: Elisha, born December, 1715,died in the army, 1758; Nehemiah, born March 22, 1719, died at Sutton, November 27, 1791; Jonathan, born July 19, 1721, died at Sutton; Stephen, born April 4, 1728, died at Northampton March 5; Amos, born July 22, 1730, died August 19, 1804;tRufus, born April 9,1730.

Fifth generation, Sons of Joseph, fourth son of Edward1: Oliver and Joseph. [11]

Fifth generation, sons of Ezra, sixth son of Edward1: Nehemiah, died young. Ezra had three sons; all died without male issue.

Fifth generation, sons of Israel, seventh son of Edward1: Phineas, Asaph, Nathan, Isaac, Edward, Daniel. Edward died young. The others have numerous families.

Sixth generation, descending from Elisha, son of Edward1, viz.: sons of Elisha2: Andrew, Elisha, Antepas,Jockton, Luke, William. Sons of Nehemiah-Aaron, Reuben, Joseph, Benjamin. Sons of Jonathan- Adonijah, Trolinsbee, Jonathan, Francis, John. Sons of Stephen-Solomon, John, Elisha, Gideon, Lewis, David, Rufus. Son of Amos-Paul, who died in childhood. Sons of Rufus_**Ayres, William Rufus, **Franklin, Edwin.

Seventh generation, grandsons of Rufus, son of Elisha. Sons of William Rufus-William, died a few days after birth; William Rufus, born June 13, 1812. Sons of Edwin-Franklin, Rufus, William Rice.

In reviewing this memoir, in justice to the character of my father, Elisha Putnam, I ought to mention that he was much respected as a citizen and Christian, was town clerk many years and deacon of the church, and represented the town of Sutton in the general court, how many years I cannot say.

Descendants of Joseph, the youngest son of Thomas and grandson of our venerable ancestor. He was half-brother to Edward 1, whose descendants have been noticed:

Fourth generation, sons of the above Joseph-William, David, Israel1.

Fifth generation, sons of David - William, Allen,Joseph, Israel, Jesse.

Fifth generation, Sons of ttIsrael2: Sixth generation-Israel, David (who died young), Chuyler.

Sixth generation, sons of William, son of David1 - Andrew and William.

Sixth generation, sons of Joseph, son of David1-Jesse.

Sixth generation, sons of Israel, son of David1 - Allen, David, Israel.

[12]Sixth generation, Sons of Israel, son of Israel1-Israel, Aaron Waldow,David, William Pitt, George Washington.

Sixth generation, sons of Daniel, son of General Israel-William.

Sixth generation, sons of Chuyler, son of General Israel-John, Nathan, P. Schuyler, Oliver.

Seventh generation, sons of Aaron Waldow, son of Colonel Israel-William Pitt, Aaron Waldo, Israel Loring.

Seventh generation, sons of David, son of ***Colonel Israel-Benjamin Perkins, Charles M., Peter R., Douglas, David, Murray, George.

The descendants of the branches of the Putnam family are very numerous, an account of whom has not been attempted for want of documents, and it is to be observed that, of the thirty-two heads of families mentioned by my grandfather in 1741, the descendants of only eight of them have been noticed, and those very partially in several instances.

  • Elisha removed from Salem and settled in Sutton, May, 1725. Isaac also removed to Sutton soon after.
    • Died in childhood. tCommenced the settlement at Marietta, on the Ohio, April 7, 1788, and arrived there with his family November, 1790. This is the celebrated General Putnam, born at Danvers, Mass., 1716; settled at Pomfret, Conn.

Fort Harmar and Marietta When Fort Harmar was originally constructed by an act of congress its mission was to keep American settlers from putting down roots on Indian land. The fort was built in 1785 under command of U.S. Major John Doughty and a detachment of federal troops. Construction began late in the fall of 1785 and even though the structure was small by military standards, it seemed to take longer than expected and wasn't completed until the following spring. It was named for Major Doughty's superior, General Josiah Harmar.

In 1788 a group of 48 men, led by General Rufus Putnam, arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and River Ohio. They brought with them the first organized government, sanctioned by the United States.

Marietta is the oldest organized municipality in Ohio and the first official American settlement in the Northwest Territory. Marietta was purposely located on the east side of the Muskingum River where it joins the Ohio. On the west side of that confluence was Fort Harmar. When it was initially authorized by congress its purpose was to keep settlers south of the Ohio River and in fact this is what members of the garrison did resulting in the burning down the cabins of over-eager settlers who had decided to flaunt the law prohibiting them from the north side of the Ohio. But members soon found that life on the frontier was no easy task and the threat from Indian attack was always imminent.

Fort Harmar, a military outpost built 3 years before, lay across the Muskingum River. Native Americans living in the area were not pleased with the arrival of these white settlers who immediately started construction of two forts, Campus Martius, which stood at the site of the museum which today bears it's name, and Picketed Point, at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. At the same time, a community was also being built in the wilderness from plans made before the groups departure form Boston.

Settlers began arriving as did Governor Arthur St. Clair who presided over this new territory, and, by the end of 1788, 137 people populated the area. The Treaty of Greenville was signed with Native Americans in 1795, which legally allowed settlers to move from the safety of the fortresses and spread out into the surrounding territory.

When Rufus Putnam first arrived here, the Native Americans living in the area found it curious that these white men would build a town so close to the Ohio River. A fact that would haunt Marietta over the centuries as the Ohio River flooded numerous times, sometimes covering all but the highest rooftops.

The first settlers in Marietta were predominately retired Revolutionary War officers. A fact that can be attested to when visiting the local cemetery. It is estimated that there are more Revolutionary War veterans buried in Marietta than any other place in the country.

Washington County,Ohio Wills and Probate Records

PUTNAM, Rufus Will made 7-8-1813, Probated July 1824. Wife, Persis; children- William Rufus, Edwin, Elizabeth, Persis, Susanna (Burlingame), Patty (Tupper); Grandchildren-William Rufus and George Rufus Browning, Samuel McFarland, Franklin Putnam, Catherine Putnam Buckingham, child of his deceased daughter Catherina Buckingham. Exr's: David Putnam, Wm. Rufus Putnam. Witness: Joshue Shipman, Joseph Morris, Josiah Bodwell. Book 2, Page 139 Note: Cemetery Record- General Rufus Putnam, Revolutionary Officer and leader of the colony which made the first settlement of the Northwest Territory at Marietta, Ohio 4-7-1778 was born 4-9-1738 at Boston, Mass. and died Marietta, Ohio 5-4-1824. Persis, his wife was born 11-19-1737-died 9-6-1820. William Rufus Putnam born 6-13-1812 died 5-1-1881. Phoebe Wood Putnam, wife of William Rufus Putnam born 1-4-1815 died 6-6-1877. Elizabeth, daughter of Rufus and Persis (Rice) Putnam born 11-19-1765 died 11-8-1819. Beacon Rufus Putnam (William Rufus) son of Rufus and Persis Putnam born 12-12-1771 died 1-1-1855. Jerusha (Gitteau) Putnam, wife of Deacon Rufus Putnam born 4-7-1777 died 10-3-1845. Ref: D.A.F. Lineage book- Nat'l# 31403.


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Brig. General Rufus Putnam (Continental Army)'s Timeline

April 9, 1738
Sutton, Worcester County, Province of Massachusetts
April 1738
Mound Cemetery, Marietta, Washington, Ohio, United States
November 19, 1765
Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, U. S. A.
June 6, 1767
Brookfield, Worcester County, Province of Massachusetts
August 5, 1768
Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
August 7, 1770
Brookfield, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States
December 12, 1771
Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, U. S. A.