About Boats Whose Names Start With The Letter
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Submitted by
Robert P. d'Aigle, RPA
Principal Investigator
CRC, LLC, International Archaeology & Ecology
7400 Jones Drive, Suite 313
Galveston, Texas 77551

Source: Ernie Thode, Director of the Washington County, Ohio Historical & Genealogy Library. ernestthode@charter.net

The first steamer "Rufus Putnam" was 60 tons, 75 feet x 18 feet, built by Caleb Barstow at Marietta, Ohio, for Oliver Dodge and Capt. John Green in 1822 and 1823. She must have been on one of the early voyages of her Ohio River trade when the young Joseph Dyar, returning from Louisville on the way back to Marietta, had to walk back home after she was temporarily stranded near Maysville, Kentucky. In January 1824 she made her famous run up the Muskingum River to Putnam (now South Zanesville), Ohio, after her namesake General Rufus Putnam saw her off from Marietta. In 1825 she was bought by Capt. David G. Bates of Galena, Illinois, and was active on the Mississippi River, chartered to carry troop supplies to Fort Crawford (now Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin) and Fort Snelling (now St. Paul, Minnesota). She also carried furs from Land's End trading post, located a mile upstream from Fort Snelling on the Minnesota River, then called the St. Peter's River. She snagged and sank on 28 Dec 1825 at Point Chicot on the Mississippi River, a peninsula that juts out dangerously into the river, in present-day Chicot County, Arkansas, with no loss of life. Her only known relic, a roof bell, was presented to the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio, by Capt. Winfield Scott Heatherington.

The second steamer "Rufus Putnam" was 98 tons, a sidewheeler built by James Whitney at Marietta, Ohio, in 1835. Capt. Bosworth was her first master. She was first registered at Pittsburgh. According to the Lytle List of merchant steam vessels, she was "sold alien" in 1839, but Lytle did not offer an explanation as to whether the boat went to Mexico or what happened to her. This boat must be the one that sank on the Sabine River at the Eaves Plantation near Belgrade, across from Salem, Newton County, Texas, on 6 January 1840. The site of the wreck is shown on an 1840 map of the eastern boundary of Texas. Her engine and boilers were used by Payne and Bendy for an upright sawmill at the narrows of the Sabine River from 1841 until 1843, when the sawmill was bought and moved by Robert Jackson.

About The Name Sake
Rufus Putnam

Rufus Putnam was an American soldier and pioneer settler in Ohio. He was born on April 9, 1938 in Sutton, Massachusetts. Between 1757 and 1760, Putnam fought in the French and Indian War. From 1760 to 1775 he worked a variety of jobs as a millwright, a farmer and surveyor until the outbreak of the American Revolution. In 1775 he entered the Continental Army as a lieutenant colonel. He was involved in the organization of the batteries and fortifications in Boston and New York City in 1776 and 1777 and then was successful in commanding a regiment under General Horatio Gates at the Battle of Saratoga. He built new fortifications at West Point in 1778 and in 1779 he served under General Anthony Wayne. He was promoted to brigadier general four years later.

Putnam became interested in the settlement of the Western lands after the war and in 1786 he was involved in the founding of the Ohio Company of Associates. This association's goal was to obtain a land grant in the Ohio country for settlement by veterans of the War of Independence. They obtained a grant from Congress of 1,500,000 acres and Putnam was appointed the company superintendent of the colonizing activities. Along with Reverend Manasseh Culter, Athens county and the university were laid out by Putnam. In 1788 Putnam led a small group of 48 Revolutionary War heroes into the Northwest Territory by flatboat and canoe to establish the first organized settlement in that territory. Named Marietta, to honor Marie Antoinette, the settlement grew to become the seat of government for the territory, drawing pioneers to purchase land. It became known as the "Gateway to the Northwest."

Before being appointed surveyor general of the United States in 1796, Putnam served as a territorial judge in Ohio and as a brigadier general. He lost his position as surveyor, being dismissed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, due to incompetence and deficiencies in mathematics. He died on May 4, 1824 in Marietta, Ohio.


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