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The Putnam Public Library had its beginning in March of 1884, when Mr. R. S. Hillman, a representative of the Empire Library of New York, suggested to some of the citizens a plan to start a library in Putnam. The plan was to secure 200 members, who would subscribe $1.50 each for a life membership thus obtaining a library of 200 volumes. The plan met with approval, and in a short time the necessary names were secured. The Citizen’s Library Association was formally opened on April 25 with 270 books, and 140 members. The first home of the Library was in the jewelry store of the Wright Brothers, one of whom acted as librarian, assisted by W. B. Ferguson. Later Ferguson was chosen librarian. At the meeting of the directors in March 1886 the librarian reported 500 volumes in the Library. Books were eagerly read and the supply did not equal the demand. Mr. Ferguson resigned as librarian, and Mr. J. R. Cogswell was appointed to fill the vacancy.
In the spring of 1888 the directors made arrangements with the ladies of the W. C. T. U. to have the library located in their room in the Union Block. Miss Alice Johnson was appointed librarian. In March of 1889 the question of placing the Citizen’s Library Association under the proposed State Charter was discussed. It was voted that the Citizen’s Library Association transfer all its property to the Putnam Library Association. At the town election in October of 1894 the vote to accept the library was successful and the Putnam Library Association became the Putnam Free Public Library. In September of 1898 the library was reopened after being recataloged in the Dewey-Cutter system with Miss Emma J. Kinney as librarian. The Library moved again in 1904 to the Court House Block. A reading room shared with the Putnam Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution added to the Library’s services.
For economic reasons the town voted in the fall of 1912 to change the location of the library from the Court House Block to the Municipal Building on Church Street. In a town meeting on October 7, 1912 after much discussion and by a close vote the motion was carried to appropriate $1,000, the entire sum to be used in the municipal building, rent free. After many faithful years of service Miss Kinney retired in 1932 and Miss Abbie F. Scott was appointed librarian. In 1945 the Library began to make a more extensive use of the Inter-library Loan Service, borrowing frequently from Hartford, Boston and Providence Public Library and in 1950 the Putnam Library began its own Inter-library loan service, known as the “Swap-group” and exchanged books with many libraries in the area. Miss Scott received her degree in library science at Simmons College in 1947 and became Putnam’s first trained librarian. In July of 1948 the Board approved the purchase of the Bosworth property for a new library. On August 12 the Town Meeting voted the purchase. It was not until December 15, 1953 that an appropriation was made to building. Mr Henry Schrab Kelly was engaged as architect and on September 1, 1954 the contract for the construction was signed with the Coleman Construction Company. It seemed to be a happy coincidence that the building was to be completed in 1955, the 100th Anniversary of the incorporation of the township of Putnam.
The building suffered severe damage in the Flood in August of 1955. Fortunately the library materials had not been moved to the new building yet and so the dedication was delayed until December 2, 1956. Abbie Scott was the librarian from 1932 to 1962 and was succeeded by Millicent Beausoleil, who retired in 1979. A new Children’s wing was dedicated on December 2, 1979 and coincided with the appointment of Mary Brumbaugh as Library Director. Priscilla Colwell took over as director in 2006 when Mary Brumbaugh retired after a long period of service to the library.
Emma J. Kinney, Modern History of Windham County Connecticut, Allen B. Lincoln, editor, 1920, p. 796.
History of the Putnam Free Library, 1931-June 1955, data compiled by Mrs. Maryott and Miss Keith.
History of the Putnam Free Public Library, Miss Ellen Wheelock, read at Woman’s Club, 1936.
History Of The Park
The following information was taken from: “The Winter Campaign of Starving” Archaeological Investigations at Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding and Bethel Connecticut. By Ricardo J. Elia and Brendan J. McDermott
Creation of the Israel Putnam Memorial Camp Ground
When the army broke camp, in accordance with custom, the barracks were burned, the chimneys fell in different directions which is still distinguishable in most cases, and then with time became apparently only heaps of stone. (Report 1903: 8) *Recent research indicates the barracks were not burned, wood was valuable back then.
The deserted camp ground was left to its former solitude, and in the course of a few years, became overgrown with trees and a thicket of underbrush and it was not strange, that after the passing of a few generations, even the location, or the history of the camp ground, was almost unknown. (Report 1915: 8)
The movement to preserve and memorialize the site of the winter quarters of 1778-1779 in Redding began in the late 19th century. Although the details of this movement are not recorded, it is likely that the initial efforts were made by local citizens of Redding, especially Charles B. Todd, the local historian, and Aaron Treadwell, the landowner who donated the first tract of land that would become the Israel Putnam Memorial Camp Ground.
The first official action leading to the creation of a state park on the site of the encampment at Redding was the passage by the Connecticut legislature, in January, 1887, of a resolution to establish a committee “to investigate and report at once on the practicability and desirability of obtaining for the State the old Israel Putnam Camp Grounds in the town of Redding, on which traces of said encampment still exist, and the erecting thereon of a suitable monument or memorial” (Todd 1913: 7). The legislative committee visited the site in February, 1887, which they described in a special report, dated February 9.
The heaps of stone marking the site of the log huts in which the brigades were quartered, are forty-five in number and are arranged opposite each other in long parallel rows defining an avenue some ten yards wide and five hundred feet in length. These, with others scattered among the crags, admirably define the limits of the encampment, and form one of the best preserved and most interesting relics of the Revolution to be found in the State, if not in the Country. It was here that Putnam and his brigades wintered in ln 1778-9. (Bartram 1887: 40-41)
The committee also reported that Aaron Treadwell, the owner of the site, was willing to donate the land to the state. The committee recommended that the state accept this offer and appropriate $1500 for the purpose of erecting a memorial on the site. The Connecticut legislature passed a resolution accepting these recommendations on May 4, 1887 (Todd 1913: 9).
Accordingly, on August 17th, 1887, Aaron Treadwell gave a 12.4 acre parcel to the state for the sum of “$1 and other considerations (Redding Land Records 25: 80-82, hereafter RLR).” This property, the first building block in the eventual construction of the park, may have been the same one purchased by Treadwell on June 28, 1877 for $110 from Henry H. Adams viz:
…a certain piece of land situated in said town of Redding at the “Old Camp” so called containing 12 acres more or less and bounded north by land of (Harsock?) Read East by heirs of Isaac H. Bartram South by Highway and West by Sherman Turnpike so called in part and in part by land of grantee… (RLR 24: 63).
This, in turn, may have been purchased by Adams on April 6, 1865 for $150 from Sally and Huldah Read:
…a certain piece of or parcel of land lying in said Redding at the Old Camp so called in quantity 12 acres bounded south by highway, east by heirs of lsaac Bartram North by Hannah Read West by Sherman Turnpike in part & in part by Aaron Treadwell (RLR 21: 154).
At this point it is impossible to follow the deed trail back any further. There is no indication of from whom Sally and Huldah Read purchased the property. There is only one other reference to the “Old Camp” when Aaron Treadwell purchased an adjacent parcel on April 9, 1879 for $450 from Joseph Hill:
…quantity 18 acres more or less at Old Camp so called the same being pasture and woodland bounded North by heirs of Benjamin B. Read east by an old road formerly Sherman Turnpike south by highway leading from Lonetown Schoolhouse… (RLR 24: 298).
From the beginning, the purpose of preserving the site of the encampment was to commemorate the winter quarters, not to create an area for recreation. In a plan presented to the legislative committee that visited the site, Charles B. Todd explained the rationale behind the park.
It is not proposed to erect a pleasure park, but a memorial. The men it is designed to commemorate were strong, rugged, simple. Its leading features, therefore, should be of similar character and of such an historical and antiquarian cast as to direct the thought to the men and times it commemorates. The rugged natural features in which the proposed site abounds should be retained. (Todd 1913: 7).
Todd proposed adding some new features to the site, while preserving intact the main line marking the remains of the encampment:
I would throw over the brooks arched stone bridges with stone parapets such as the troops marched over in their campaigns through the Hudson valley. The heaps of stone marking the limits of the encampment should be left undisturbed as one of the most interesting features of the place. One might be reconstructed and shown as it was while in use. A summer house on the crag guarding the entrance, might be reared in the form of an ancient block-house, like those in storming or defending, which Putnam and his rangers learned the art of war. Such a structure, at this day, would be an historical curiosity… (Todd 1913: 7-8).
It was also recommended to erect a monument on the parcel to commemorate Putnam and his troops. In 1887, a sketch was made of the encampment site on the portion of the Treadwell property that would be donated to the state in the following year. This plan, entitled “Plan of Camp ground of Gen. Israel Putnams’ [sic] Soldiers During Winter of 1778-1779 in Redding, Connecticut,” is located in the Redding Land Records (vol. 25, p. 81), and is shown in Figure 11. As the earliest sketch map of the site, this plan is of considerable interest. In addition to showing the boundaries of the 12.40 acre Treadwell property, the plan identifies several features that were believed to be related to the 1778 & 79 encampment. These include an “old road built by Putnams [sic] soldiers” a single hut and the “camp guard quarters,” located in a “grove” the main “line of soldiers huts,” consisting of a double row of “remains of chimneys” and a cluster of “officers’ quarters” located near the monument.
The granite obelisk monument was built in the summer of 1888 under the supervision of a committee appointed by the governor. This committee, during its work, had noticed that “the tract of twelve acres which had been presented by Mr. Treadwell very inadequately preserved the autonomy of the former camp. The line of barracks originally extended through the adjoining fields north nearly a quarter of a mile….” (Todd 1913: 9). This discovery led to the acquisition of additional land so that the entire winter camp might be included in the park. The Read property on the north of the Treadwell parcel (Plan 1) was purchased by O. B. Jennings and donated to the state on February 10, 1888 for “$1 and other good considerations (RLR 25: 90).” This parcel of almost 30 acres included the hill later crossed by Overlook Avenue, the so-called bake oven, and an additional area of firebacks later Jennings gave another 52 acres of wooded land west of the camp grounds (RLR 27: 5). Twenty acres at the northern end of the camp, including the area around Philip’s Cave, the “officers quarters, and the armies entrance into the camp, were purchased and donated by I. N. Bartram (Report 1903: 10).
Two last donations completed the historical nucleus of the park. A gift of acres 46 sq rods” was made on July 26, 1893 by Helen and Isaac Bartram (RLR 25: 301-3). This completed the circuit of Overlook Road. The property comprising the entrance to the park on either side of the Sherman Turnpike was given on July 23, 1889 by Aaron Treadwell (RLR 25: 150-52). All of these donated parcels can be picked out individually on the 1890 surveyed plan of the park, although how the Bartram donation of 1893 can be recorded on an 1890 plan is unexplained.
The activities relating to the creation and maintenance of the Israel Putnam Memorial Camp Ground were managed by a board of commissioners appointed by the Connecticut General Assembly (Fig. 12). The commissioners reported on their activities beginning in 1889 and every two years thereafter between 1903 and 1915 these reports were published by the slate and are preserved. The report covering the 15-month period ending September 30, 1902 is particularly useful, because it contains a comprehensive summary of legislative actions, reports, expenditures, and lists of commissioners from the early years of the movement to create a state park (Report 1903).
Other data relating to the management of the park include the record of minutes of meetings of the Putnam Memorial Camp Commission. These records are incompletely presented at the existing museum in the park. They include an original leatherbound book containing meeting minutes from July 11, 1901 to August 26, 1909 copies of minutes for the period July 14, 1911 through June 6, 1917 a folder containing original and carbon copies of minutes of the commissioners’ meetings from July 7, 1921 through October 18, 1923 and carbon copies of minutes from 1947-49.
In addition to the records pertaining to the commissioners’ meetings and park activities, a series of maps and plans relating to the park was examined during the course of the survey. These documents were found in two places: the existing museum, on the park grounds, and in the files of the state Department of Environmental Protection in Hartford.
The erection of the monument occupied the attention of the park commissioners during 1888 (Bartram et al. 1889: 43-44). Immediately thereafter, work began on the construction of the park entrances, roads, bridges, and other features. Most of the area was wooded and overgrown when the park was created. According to the 1887 legislative committee’s report, “a fine forest covers the greater portion of the site” (Bartram 1887: 40-41). The commissioners’ report for 1889-90 describes the early work in the park:
Active work was begun at once in clearing under-brush and rock from the grounds, building drives, walks, log-barracks, and block-houses. We found the grounds rough and stubborn to clear. Much of the timber had been cut, leaving large and obstinate stumps to remove. We were forced to make many changes from the plans, as were they followed out, it would mar the beauty of many of the fine features of the camp, and come in contact with the fire-backs. These changes were made only after a careful consideration and by a vote of the Commission. (Report 1893: 51).
These features–the antiquarian infrastructure of the park–were described in the parlance of the time as “improvements.” The 1889 committee’s report detailed some of the specific plans that were underway in the park (Bartram et al. 1889: 46-47): estimates were prepared for the construction of a main avenue (later called Putnam Avenue), side avenues, ways, and paths for the construction of block houses and gates at the park’s entrance for the construction of a masonry dam for bridges, culverts, stone and iron fencing, and gates and for the building of barracks with chimneys or log huts in ye olden time of 1778, at $200 each.”
One of the most important activities during the early years of the park was the clearing and landscaping of the terrain around the stone piles that marked the remains of the soldiers’ huts during the encampment of 1778-79. While the park records make it clear that the preservation of the firebacks and other remains of the 1778-79 encampment was of paramount importance, it is also clear from a review of the records, supplemented by the evidence of archaeological testing, that the remains of the original camp suffered a great deal of disturbance from the methods that were employed by the early park to “restore” them. These included grading, landscaping, and removing trees, stumps, and stones, and it seems probable that most of the firebacks (in the main double row along Putnam Avenue, at least) were systematically cleaned out, their artifacts removed some were certainly rebuilt, including several in the vicinity of the monument. The remains also suffered from the fact that in several areas (the guard house, log barrack, and stone barrack) modern reconstructions were built directly on top of the original ruins.
It is sufficient to point out here that Revolutionary War period artifacts were regularly discovered and collected from the site during these activities. We also learn from the inventory of “relics” deposited in the park’s museum that many were collected by Thomas Delaney, who served for 24 years as the park’s first superintendent in that capacity he was in charge of much of the grading around the firebacks Among the artifacts in the museum were:
Box of Bullets and Grape Shot found on the grounds, donated by Thomas Delaney.
Wood with Bullets imbedded in it, found on the grounds, donated by Thomas Delaney.
Old Gun Barrel, found on grounds, donated by Thomas Delaney. (Todd 1913: 45)
The network of roads and paths created in the first few years of the park still exist today and serve to define the limits of the main encampment. These roads, which were all named, are shown on the 1890 plan the park records (Report 1903: 11) list the principal roads and their names:
Putnam Avenue, the main avenue through the middle of the grounds.
Overlook Avenue. runs over Overlook Hill on the west side of the park.
Sustinet Avenue, passes up the west side of Prospect Hill.
Terrace Road, runs parallel with Sherman Avenue separated from it by the retaining wall.
Sheldon Avenue. connects the entrance. Putnam Avenue and Overlook Avenue on the south.
Huntington Avenue, connects Sustinet Avenue, Putnam Avenue and Overlook Avenue on the north.
The origin of the toponymy seems to be a mixture of historical associations and topographical descriptions. Putnam, Huntington, and Sheldon avenues were named for generals who were associated with the encampment: Major General Israel Putnam, who commanded the three brigades that wintered in Redding in 1778-79 Jedediah Huntington, commander of the 2nd Connecticut Brigade and Elisha Sheldon, who commanded the state cavalry corps. (Sheldon and his troops were mistakenly believed to have spent the winter in Redding in fact, they were stationed at Durham, Connecticut). The origin of the name of Sustinet Avenue is obscure, although it may have derived from the Connecticut state motto, Qui transtulit sustinet (“He who has transplanted will sustain”). Overlook and Terrace avenues were obviously named for topographical features.
Also built by the turn of the century were the main entrance to the encampment, with its substantial stone bridge, blockhouses, and gate posts a “rustic bridge” and smaller blockhouses at the north entrance to the camp, on the Sherman Turnpike (Route 58) a pavilion (1893) horse sheds a “work shop,” moved to the park in 1896 and a “rustic arbor” (Report 1903: 11).
Expansion of the Park
The park records indicate that, as early as the turn of the century, the park commission had determined to acquire the grounds of the “Old Put Club” on the east side of the main encampment. This land was necessary, according to the commission, for “the immediate and imperative need for the future protection and development of the grounds into a suitable memorial” (Report 1903: 12). The principal reasons are described:
The grounds are a part and parcel of the cantonment itself. It is a part of the landscape picture and without it the grounds will lack unity of design and purpose. It belongs to it and is needed by it as truly as the outside of the house is needed by the rooms inside.
It will enable all the work shops, shed, and houses for domestic use to be off those grounds which an peculiarly sacred for association sake, and the swings, animals and birds which have been presented to the State and are of interest to the children to be moved away from amongst the relics of the camp.
The possession of “Old Put Lake” is in every way desirable for the camp grounds, it is one of the most beautiful sheets of water in Western Connecticut, lying just over the eastern boundary line of the park and for quite a distance is less than one hundred feet from it. (Report 1903: 12-13)
As the description indicates, the park commissioners envisioned a fundamental separation of the park into two areas: one, on the west side, preserving the historical remains of the encampment, and the other, on the east side, offering recreational and scenic resources. This functional division of the park has remained to the present.
Despite the attempts of the commissioners to convince the state legislature to purchase the grounds of the “Old Put Club,” it was not until 1923 that the state finally acquired the land on behalf of the park. Surveyed maps of the areas east of Route 58 were made in 1907 and 1923, and show various features and structures on the property (see Figs. 40, 41). The 1924 sketch plan shows the park with its modem outlines (Plan 3). In addition to the former “Old Put Club” grounds, additional new lands were acquired west of the original park grounds a comparison of the park boundaries on the 1890 and 1924 plans shows how much new land was obtained for the park by the 1920s (see Plans 1, 3).
The east side of the park includes Lake Putnam, formed ca. 1891 by damming the course of the Little River several picnic grounds the Park Manager’s House, a 1925 Colonial Revival residence built on the site of the 1891 clubhouse of the Old Put Club, and apparently incorporating some of its structural elements the park’s maintenance garage, a Dutch Colonial fieldstone barn built in 1912 other former structures, including toilets, a shelter, and icehouse and the site of an isolated group of possible firebacks.
Meanwhile, on the west side of Route 58, several new structures were constructed in the 1920s. They included two buildings on Prospect Hill: the Colonial Revival museum, built in 1921, and the Park Ranger’s House, a ca. 1925 Craftsman bungalow built on the south side of the hill to replace a former residence. Also by this time the so-failed “middle entrance” to the park, connecting the south end of Prospect Hill with the Sherman Turnpike (Route 58), had been built.
In 1955 the state legislature voted to give control of the Israel Putnam Memorial Campground to the state’s Park and Forest Commission. Today, the Putnam Memorial State Park is managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Parks and Recreation. For several years prior to the survey park activities had been limited to part-time maintenance carried out by a resident park manager and his assistant. By 1993 this was limited to occasional visits by a regional supervisor.
Adjoining the park proper on the east beyond the State road is its latest and most important addition — a beautiful lake with dark wooded heights rising beyond — the former holdings of the Old Put Club, which was formed the year after the park was opened, 1891, by several gentlemen of Danbury and Bethel — Frank Judd, Samuel S. Ambler, George M. Cole, William Benedict, Theodore Ferry, Judge Hough and others, for the purpose of building a dam across Little River to impound its waters and create the beautiful lake we now behold. Its present bed was then a swamp of alders, willows, sedge and other aquatic plants through which flowed sluggishly the “‘ river, having just been formed by the three brooks that flow down the parkside from the west, and a larger one coming from the north along the Bethel road. The site was chosen and the dam built by Isaac M. Bartram, and a clubhouse and keeper’s dwelling was added soon after.
For many years the Club flourished — at one time, Mr. Frank Judd informs me, it had fifty members, but some died or moved away, others dropped out and at last it became necessary to sell and wind up its affairs it was accordingly sold to the Rogers Peet Company of New York and for several seasons was used by them as a summer vacation resort for their clerks and other employees. The State acquired it in 1923. Its area is 103 acres — greater than that on the west which is 102.
We will now return to the Main Entrance and complete our tour of the grounds. Passing the Superintendent’s modern cottage — the former Clubhouse burned a few years ago and the State replaced it with this much finer structure. A short distance south, nearly opposite the store, we make a sharp turn east, go down below the dam and on rising turn sharp north where is a new road opened by the State since it acquired possession, running up over the wooded heights and regaining the State road near the North Entrance of the park. There are rocks and boulders on the hillside and a dense forest over all shutting out even a glimmer of the lake. The Commission hopes to open lanes and vistas through it this summer permitting its cheerful sparkling waters to greet the visitor.
At the summit we will find eighteen stone heaps similar to those across the lake but not arranged in parallel rows more in squares circles and triangles — an outpost of the main body no doubt set here to guard against attack from the east and south.
Continuing on down the hill, still west, we come soon to a rough woods road leading left over a slight rise and down to the lakeside by the former summer camp of the Rogers Peet boys, now sometimes used for banquets and dancing parties. A few hundred yards farther on, crossing the brook as it enters the lake, we regain the State road near the Northern or Bethel Entrance to the park.
Most Recent Park Improvements
By the 1970’s and 80’s park attendance was diminishing, buildings fell into disrepair and the park was officially decommissioned & closed when State Parks’ operating budgets were pared back in the early 1990’s. A small group of neighbors and local supporters volunteered to physically maintain the park the best they could from 1991 to 1997. 1997 was the year the park was reopened, due largely to the persistent efforts of the Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Park (FANs) who lobbied the DEP in Hartford for staffing and funding.
On the heels of their success in reopening the park, the Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Park hired a restoration consultant to offer an opinion of whether or not the park’s 1893 pavilion could be saved. The consultant said “Save the pavilion!”. Next the DEP State Parks Division worked with architects to retrofit the Old 1893 Pavilion into a modern day visitor center. The old structure was dismantled piece by piece, beam by beam, and numbered. A new foundation was excavated for a new walk-out cellar level. Then the building was reconstructed using materials that were still sound. Today the new visitor center is a all climate-controlled building with rest rooms.
The very expensive project included a new and safer Rt. 107/Rt. 58 intersection, new parking lot, and a new main entrance into the park. The visitor center grand opening was held on October 11, 2005.
Grand Opening on October 11, 2005
Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding has been designated as Connecticut’s first State Archaeological Preserve. The designation, bestowed by the Connecticut Historical Commission, recognizes the archaeological importance of Putnam Memorial State Park and provides additional administrative measures for the park’s protection and professional management. The “Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Memorial State Park” (FANs) initially requested the designation. It was later endorsed by DEP Commissioner Rocque and was officially designated a State Archaeological Preserve on January 3, 2001.
Putnam Memorial State Park hosts many, many great learning programs throughout the year and is well worth the trip. May is Living History School Days month The annual Summer Craftsman Program runs 8 weeks in July and August Living History Weekend complete with mock battle skirmishes is held in the Fall the annual Winter Walk is always informative and held in December.
Museum: The building contains exhibits and historical material related to Redding’s encampments. Open 11am to 5pm daily, Memorial Day thru Columbus Day.
Group Tour Reservations: 203-938-2285.
Park is Open: Daily- 8am to sunset.
When you become a member of the Friends & Neighbors (FANs) of Putnam Park, you become part of a group whose mission is to help maintain and … Donate / Become a Member
History of Manufacturing in Putnam, Connecticut
The manufacture of cotton goods, the prime element in Putnam’s early growth and prosperity, is still its dominant interest, engrossing the largest amount of capital, giving employment to by far the largest number of residents. Rhodesville leads in this manufacture with its mammoth mills and myriad looms. As in former days Mr. Smith Wilkinson stood for the embodiment of manufacturing enterprise, so now one man stands at the head of three large establishments, overseeing the general interests of a business far beyond the highest ideal of previous generations. The Morse mill with its large addition, the fine Powhatan mill erected in 1872. the mills of the former Nightingale Company, including the old Rhodesville mill, are all under the management of the general agent and part proprietor, George M. Morse G. C. Nightingale, treasurer. A capital of $600,000 is invested in these manufactories. More than nine hundred looms are run, and about eight hundred hands employed. The former Ballou mill passed into the hands of Mr. Edward Cutler, a much respected resident of Putnam, who carried on the establishment for a number of years. He was succeeded by an association of Providence gentlemen, known as the Putnam Manufacturing Company, which after various reverses, still retains the privilege. South of the Falls, on Meadow street, are the fine new buildings of the Monohansett Manufacturing Company for the manufacture of sheetings, established in 1872 -Estus Lamb and George W. Holt, of Providence, proprietors. About 175 hands are employed by this company-George W. Holt, president A. F. Lamb, treasurer George W. Holt, Jr.. resident agent.
The old Pomfret Factory Woolen Company, which under the management of Mr. M. Moriarty, had been doing a very successful business, was seriously crippled by the failure of a large wool house in New York and after a year’s struggle was forced to make an assignment. The present Putnam Woolen Company was organized in 1878 E. A. Wheelock, resident agent and treasurer. This company improves the privilege of the former woolen company in the manufacture of cassimere, employing nineteen sets of machinery and over three hundred hands.
With the influx of new blood and capital several new and promising industries have been established. In this aggressive age the supreme authority of King Cotton has been questioned. and wool, silk, iron, steel and even such down-trodden entities as shoes, assert their claim to equal sovereignty.
The manufacture of silk goods was introduced in Putnam by Messrs. G. A. Hammond and C. C. Knowlton, January 1st, 1875. Land and building on, the flat below the falls was procured from Mr. G. M. Morse, one of the contracting parties, and great pains taken with all the initiatory arrangements for this novel enterprise. About thirty girls were ready to begin work, attracted by the inherent fascination of silken fabrics for the feminine mind-with a sufficient number of experienced workmen to instruct and aid. With new machinery, skilled labor and unwearied pains the mill was successfully set in motion, and bales of silken filaments from Japan and China wrought into substantial sewing-silk and twist for American use. The process. though not difficult, required a nicety of touch and observation, and many applicants failed to meet these conditions, but in time all difficulties were overcome and many women and girls rejoiced in the establishment of this agreeable and remunerative industry. At the close of their first decade the Putnam Silk Mills report continued progress and prosperity. In 1885 the business had so outgrown accommodations that the old mill was rented and the works and machinery moved into a large three-story building in the same vicinity, furnishing ample room, abundant light and every convenience. About a hundred and twenty-five operatives, including ninety girls, are steadily employed. A visitor to the mills is struck by the order, neatness and apparent cheerfulness of its inmates. The process by which the slender spinnings of the silk worm are transformed into familiar silk and twist and heavy braid is a marvel of mechanical skill and ingenuity. The weekly product is sent immediately to market, through their own agent, no ” middle men ” being employed by this firm, and the experiment of silk manufacture in Putnam has proved a financial benefit to all concerned.
The shoemaker is not a modern invention. As far back as can be remembered every neighborhood had its local cobbler. Two or three such shoemakers and menders were known in the Quinebaug valley, their shops a famous rendezvous for boys and news mongers. The first to introduce anything like the modern sale shoe manufacture into Putnam was Reverend Sidney Deane, who had previously served with great acceptance in the Methodist ministry. A man of much versatility and abounding energy, he was especially adapted to the exigencies of the aspiring villages, and encouraged to engage in shoe manufacture in 185.’ An ardent champion of the new town interests, he was yet elected representative of Thompson in 1854, on the express understanding that the question of separation was not to be raised at the approaching session of legislature. But unsettled questions persist in asserting themselves on all occasions ” manifest destiny ” hurried matters to a crisis, and Thompson’s elected representative carried all before him in a most eloquent appeal in behalf of the new town. The ” tide ” in Mr. Deane’s affairs that set in with his championship of the future Putnam, swept him on to a seat in congress and political life, leaving the shoe manufacture in the hands of one of his assistants, Mr. Charles M. Fisher. ” Fisher & Clarke” carried on the business for a year, then Fisher alone for a year. In 1856 Edward T. Whitmore associated with Mr. Fisher, under the firm name of ” Fisher & Whitmore,” their partnership continuing about eight years.
Great changes were continually made in this manufacture by the introduction of machinery and new modes of working, involving the necessity of larger accommodations and outlay. William G. Tourtellotte was associated for a time with Mr. Fisher, as C. M. Fisher & Co. Thomas P. Botham, Hiram H. Burnham and William D. Case were later partners, who represent the firm since the death of Mr. Fisher, September 30th, 1886. About 120,000 pairs of shoes are annually produced by this firm, employing from eighty to a hundred hands. Steam power is used as far as practicable.
Mr. Whitmore continued in the shoe business, having for a time W. H. Tourtellotte for a partner, and then, with Mr. W. S. Johnson, established the firm of ” Whitmore & Johnson,” making women’s, boy’s and misses’ boots and shoes. Losing their factory in one of Putnam’s destructive fires, they now occupy the ” old silk mill,” abandoned by the silk manufacturers for a larger building. Beside carrying on this extensive manufactory, Mr. Whitmore has operated in real estate, building a number of houses on Elm street. ,Mr. Artemas Corbin, who has been for many years connected with shoe manufacture in Putnam, and Mr. Prescott Bartlett, are engaged in the manufacture of slippers, employing each a considerable number of hands.
Carpenters and masons, workers in wood and stone, have found abundant employment in Putnam. The Truesdells, Whitfords, Chamberlains, Farrows, Waters, Herendien are among the many who have helped build up the town. John 0. Fox, so useful in many ways, opened a lumber yard about 1860. The Bundys have long served as house painters in Putnam, and adjoining towns have called out a corresponding advance in the whole line of house building and decoration. The old-time house carpenter, plodding interminably over a single dwelling, is superseded by great establishments, with gangs of jolly workmen, driving jauntily about and hastily throwing up Queen Anne and other fanciful structures. Much of the material used is prepared by machinery and steam. B. M. Kent established in 1575 a manufactory of window frames, sashes, doors, blinds, balusters and kindred articles. Much work has been accomplished by contractors Kelly and Wheaton, erecting many of the fine new buildings in Putnam, Pomfret and other towns. A large number of men are employed by them during the summer. Other work is done by John Adams, bricklayer and contractor, by H. F. Hopkins and others. A lumber yard is kept by Myron Kinney. Many workmen are employed in house painting and decoration by Mr. T. L. Bundy.
Putnam’s development in manufacturing enterprise has been much quickened by the formation of a Business Men’s Association. Keen-sighted men awoke to the conviction that the business of the town was not sufficiently diversified was too much limited to the cotton factory interest. A meeting was called in March, 1884, in which some forty citizens participated. Mr. Manning served as chairman. Much spirit and unanimity were manifested. Appropriate remarks were made by different business men. The chairman stated that Putnam had grand water privileges and admirable railroad facilities had started with sixteen hundred inhabitants, and therefore gained in thirty years about three hundred per cent. What she lacked was unity, perseverance and a doing away with so much selfishness. It was voted to form a society-Messrs. John A. Carpenter, T. P. Leonard, G. E. Shaw, L. H. Fuller, C. N. Allen, a committee to perfect a plan of organization and constitution. At the second meeting the proposed constitution was discussed. Judge Carpenter explained the object to be, ” To unite all the citizens under rules to work together for the good of the village, in whatever way their united voluntary efforts could be directed.” Some who favored the object could not exactly see how the association could contrive to carry it out, but the wise chairman gave his earnest approval and thought a great deal of good could be brought about, if the manner of doing could not be stated or defined. He was deeply concerned to get the entire people united together for mutual benefit, and to promote the prosperity of Putnam.
At the following meeting the constitution was adopted and a goodly number of signatures obtained. The society was to be called, The Putnam Business Men’s Association.” its object was “to advance the general business interests of the community, and promote a more intimate knowledge of all events affecting the public welfare, and as far as possible to use its influence to improve the material interests of the community.” April 4th, 1884, constitution and by-laws were formally adopted, and the following officers chosen: President, James W. Manning vice-presidents, E. H. Bugbee, E. A. Wheelock, G. W. Holt, Jr., G. A. Hammond, W. H. Pearson, S. H. Seward, D. K. Olney treasurer, J. A. Carpenter secretary, W. W. Foster, M.D. executive committee, L. H. Fuller, M. G. Leonard, G. E. Shaw, Ed= ward Mullan, C. N. Allen. May 15th 109 citizens of the town had enrolled themselves members, meetings were promptly held, and various needed improvements discussed. The work so well begun was carried forward with much spirit, and the good results predicted from this union of heads and hands abundantly realized. A fresh impulse has been given to business in various departments, several new industries have been established, and many new dwelling houses erected. The present number of -members is 100. President, G. A. Hammond secretary, A. B. Williams treasurer, J. A. Carpenter executive committee, G. E. Shaw, L. H. Fuller, E. Mullan, F. W. Perry, W. H. Letters.
One of the most promising among Putnam’s later industries is the Foundry and Machine Corporation, incorporated April 1st, 1884 capital stock, $20,000. A machine shop and other needful buildings were at once erected and the first cast made August 27th. They make a specialty of the Plummer Steam Heater, for which they hold the patent, but also manufacture castings of varied descriptions. The Steam Heater is largely in demand, and the business of the company is well established upon a permanent basis. Some thirty or forty workmen find remunerative employment. Mr. Orrin Morse is president of the company. Mr. William R. Barber, secretary and treasurer, is -also the efficient managing agent. Henry G. Leonard, L. H. Fuller, Edward Mullan, J. C. Nichols and George E. Shaw complete the board of directors. This corporation was formed with the special object of adding to the substantial interests of the village, and gives promise of abundant success.
Putnam Cutlery Company was organized in 1886, with a capital stock of $5,000, for the manufacture of knives of every description excepting table and pocket cutlery. A patented support to the blade, owned by this company, is very valuable, making it impossible to break or pull the blade from the shank. The late John O. Fox was the first president G. D. Bates, secretary and treasurer.
The Russell Force Pump Company was organized October 31st, 1887, and holds the patent right for supplying New England with this pump, which is manufactured for out-door use,, and can be used by power and hand without the use of wind mill. It is a double action pump, capable of pumping from 44 to 50 gallons per minute, made by the Foundry and Machine Corporation. The president of the company is G. D. Bates secretary and treasurer, W.. R. Barber, who, with L. J. Russell, Charles N. Allen, E. Hersey and L. H. Fuller, form the board of directors.
The Putnam Gas Light Company was formed in 1878, and did much for the enlightenment of the village. Farther progress was made through the agency of the Putnam Electric Light Company, organized in 1886, when a hundred and fifty incandescent lamps and thirty-five arc lamps were introduced. Still greater benefits may be expected from the consolidation recently effected, by which “The Putnam Light and Power Company ” supersedes previous organizations. President, F. W. Perry secretary, treasurer and superintendent, Allan W. Bowen directors, A. Houghton, F. W. Perry, J. W. Manning, C. E. Searls, S. H. Seward, A. W. Bowen, G. A. Hammond.
The Putnam Steam Laundry, Miller & Shepard, proprietors, is a new and flourishing institution, especially welcome to housekeepers. Numberless carpets and curtains bear fresh testimony year by year to its cleansing efficacy, and the weekly washing day is made no longer a supreme necessity.
Concrete walks are made and repaired by Mr. Albert Arnold.
Carriages are also made and trimmed by S. P. Brown, John Gilbert, G. G. Smith and H. W. Howell.
A creamery is one of Putnam’s latest institutions. In May, 1888, the subject was first considered and a committee appointed to obtain subscriptions for the formation of a Dairy Company. June 21st, a company was organized, and C. D. Torrey, C. E. Mills, J. W. Trowbridge, L. H. Fuller, W. P. White, G. A. Hawkins, S. H. Seward chosen directors. Land was secured in Pleasant valley, south of the village, and a building put up sufficiently capacious to accommodate the milk from a thousand cows. In December it was voted to obtain a charter from the legislature, and the capital stock was increased to $5,000. C. D. Torrey was chosen president W. P. White, secretary L. H. Fuller, treasurer board of directors retained in service. The summer of 1889 finds the creamery under full headway, receiving the milk of several hundred cows in Putnam, Killingly, Thompson and Pomfret, and turning out some two hundred pounds each, of butter and cheese, daily. An expert from New York state manages the milk, keeping everything in excellent order. . A ready market is found for all the products. It is hoped that pecuniary profit, as well as much saving of time and labor, will result from this associated enterprise.
One of the most important works accomplished in Putnam, since the formation of the Business Men’s Association, is the introduction of an abundant supply of water. Damage by fire and much household inconvenience had accrued from previous scarcity. Mr. George E. Shaw was the first to agitate the matter, laying before the association, in 1884. a resolution to investigate the feasibility of introducing water into Putnam village. Messrs. L. H. Fuller, G. E. Shaw, Moses G. Leonard, E. Mullan, C. N. Allen, J. W. Manning, C. M. Fisher, G. M. Hammond, J. H. Gardner, D. K. Olney and W. H. Pearson were appointed a committee for this purpose. Convinced of its practicality they petitioned the legislature for incorporation, and formed a joint stock company, with a capital stock of $100,000. Estimates of cost were obtained from different contractors, and Wheeler & Parks, of Boston, selected-they agreeing to furnish the Putnam fire district with sixty hydrants, at the cost of $1,800 annually. A supply of water was obtained from the outlet of Woodstock lake, about two miles distant, and brought into a receiving tower on Oak hill, and thence distributed throughout the village. A million gallons -daily could be used. The present officers of the Putnam Water Company are: L. H. Fuller, president M. G. Leonard, vice president George E. Shaw, secretary Elbert Wheeler, treasurer. The work was completed January 21st, 1886. Though meeting with the combined opposition incident to all costly public enterprises at the outset, Putnam water works have proved a triumphant success, giving to residents an unfailing supply of their most vital daily necessity, and a sense of security from fire beyond all cost or estimate.
Trade in Putnam scarcely needed the stimulus of association. The Pomfret Factory and Rhodesville stores drew customers from all the surrounding country. The first Pomfret Factory depot dispensed flour and grain as well as tickets. Stores sprung up like mushrooms in the new Depot village, some to collapse after a brief existence, others to grow up into established institutions. The large establishment of Manning &. Leonard, with its ample stock of light and heavy articles, is the lineal offspring of a mercantile experiment begun more than forty years since by the senior proprietor. A store opened by another Pomfret aspirant, Nathan Williams, shared largely in popular favor. A directory published in 1861 gives the following list of stores: Dry goods, Cutler & Tucker, J. W. Manning, Richmond & Williams (Lewis), M. S. Morse & Co., J. S. Gay druggists, D. B. Plimpton, Benjamin Segur fish market, William Winslow fruit and confectionery, John L. Flagg furniture dealers, C. N. & S. P. Fenn groceries, Henry Leech, Simeon Stone flour and grain, Hobart Cutler, E. H. Davison & Co. jewelers, J. B. Darling, D. .R. Stockwell merchant tailor, H. N. Brown ready-made clothing, W. M. Olney meat market, Sanford H. Randall saloon, Thomas Capwell shoe store, F. A. Brewster saddle and harness maker, C. F. Carpenter tinware, Stephen Spalding tailor, Henry Thurber milliners, Mrs. John B. Clark, Mrs. R. Darling, Mrs. A. Dresser, Mrs. S. C. Sprague, Mrs: Mary Smith. This meagre list was soon extended. The long established watchmaker’s and jeweler’s shop of Mr. Edward Shaw was removed from Thompson to Putnam in 1863. The solitary tinware and hardware shop of Mr. Spalding, which had contrived to supply three or four towns with cooking stoves and baking utensils, was succeeded by the far more complete establishment of Mr. Thomas C. Bugbee. Three large establishments to-day, carried on by Chandler & Morse, Perry & Brown, and J. E. Taylor & Co., crowded with stoves, heaters, agricultural implements, and all manner of labor-saving devices, illustrate the marvelous progress made in mechanical art and in appliances for household comfort. A fourth store has been recently opened by S. A. Field. The little watchmaker’s shop of Mr, Edward Shaw has expanded into an emporium of useful, ornamental and aesthetic articles. The Wright Brothers from Waltham, Mass., in six years’ trading in the same line, have won success and honorable reputation. Jewelers’ wares are also sold by G. L. Geer, practical watchmaker and engraver, and in the well-filled store of E. E. Robbins. Druggists have made still greater advancement. Those who remember the little apothecary shops of former days view with amazement the varied assortment now displayed in the large and elegant stores of G. E. Dresser, Davenport & Burt, G. Farley and E. O. Hersey.
The dry goods stores show less numerical gain, but carry a greater amount of stock than formerly. The list comprises Manning & Leonard, J. E. Bailey, M. J. Bradley, Simeon Farley, Edward Mesner, Murray & Bugbee, A. B. Williams. Mesner carries on “The People’s Store,” opened in 1869, by J. H. Gardner, and enjoying a wide popularity. The well-known firm of Sharpe & Green is successfully represented by Mr. Williams. Murray & Bugbee have recently succeeded to the popular store opened by the O’Briens. Mr. Bailey was well known as leading salesman in 11 The People’s Store.” The number of grocers and provision dealers has very largely increased. Ten leading groceries figure in place of two, managed by C. M. Bradway, Alfred Coutois, Edward Fly, Guilbert & Moison, P. M. Leclair, W. H. Mansfield & Co., Edward Mullan, Morse Mills store, P. O’Leary and Smith Brothers. These enterprising merchants were mostly strangers, brought by the growing reputation of Putnam, and have identified themselves with the interests of the town.
A very flourishing trade in flour, feed and grain is carried on in the north part of the village, by Bosworth Brothers, who removed from Woodstock valley to Putnam, about 1870. They run a steam grist mill, supplying hosts of customers. Meat markets are conducted by Morse & Darling, Putnam Cash Market Co., Randall & Co., and A. C. Stetson, which feed the thousands of Putnam and also help sustain the needy towns adjacent. Refrigerator buildings for the reception of dressed beef from the West have been provided near the depot, under the charge of R. H. Bradley. Fish is furnished by H. T. Bugbee and other markets. A former unknown luxury is now abundantly supplied from the ample ice houses of H. T. Bugbee and E. E. Lincoln. Bread and other bakerage are prepared by Bakers Asselin, Labossiere and Lilly, and fruit of every variety is to be found in its season. In the ready-made clothing interest the letter C carries all before it. The Connecticut Clothing Company, Bates & Lindsey proprietors, has a large constituency, and makes proportionate sales. J. W. Church also makes a specialty of readymade clothing, and goods for men and boys. Manning & Leonard sell many goods in this line, also, and still a place is left for the tailor’s art, as plied by C. L. Gilpatric, J. O’Leary, Lea Milot and J. H. York. J. N. Douty for seventeen years has carried on a successful hat store. Mrs. M. E. Murfey still accommodates her many friends -with tasteful millinery. Mrs. Thompson and Buchanan, Miss M. E. Lowe, Madame Breault, Misses M. M. Brady and N. Egan find abundant patronage in this ever attractive art, while some half-dozen dressmakers fail to exceed demand for their useful service. Popular shoe stores are maintained by A. M. Parker and G. W. Ingalls. The latter succeeds Mr. T. P. Leonard, who removed from Woodstock with his brothers, M. G. and W. Leonard, and built the tasteful ” Leonard Row,” on Providence street. ” Shoes of swiftness ” and ” Seven-leagued boots ” might be included in the stock of Mr. Parker, judging from the facility with which he traverses the universe. The chief furniture dealer is now Mr. L. E. Smith. The Fenn Brothers were the first to engage in this business, removing to Putnam before the organization of the town, and were active in church and business affairs. Mr. C. N. Fenn has long served as undertaker, and also deals in pictures, artists’ materials and house-furnishing goods. The music store of W. H. Letters supplies other artistic needs. Such everyday essentials as coal and wood are to be found in the convenient coal yards of J. W. Cutler and F. J. Daniels.
Accommodations for stores and business have undergone various vicissitudes. Again and again fires have devastated the center of trade. The original brick block, with its historic Quinebaug Hall, built by early enterprise and sold to Mr. T. H. Bugbee, and the succeeding Bugbee Block, on the same site, were both destroyed. The stately Union Block, now occupying the site, was built by substantial capitalists in 1882-83. Hathaway’s, Chesebro’s and Wagner’s blocks bear the names of those who assisted in their construction. The first Congregational church edifice forms part of Manning’s store. Central Block, now owned by W. H. Pearson, was built by Chamberlain and S. P. Fenn. Mr. T. H. Bugbee built the hotel- that bears his name. The Chickening House was built by Edward Lyon the Elm street House by John Ross. A spacious block, with room for holding courts, is now projected by Messrs. Houghton and Wagner. These gentlemen, with Messrs. Bugbee, Gardner, Miller, Pearson and Wheaton, are prominently connected with the building and land interests of Putnam, with which many others are also more or less associated. One of the older residents, 11r. Edgar H. Clark, civil engineer, has exceeded all others in connection with the surveying and laying out of the fast growing town.
The several hotels of Putnam enjoy abundant patronage. Under the efficient administration of the late D. K. Olney the Bugbee House achieved a high reputation, well maintained by the present genial proprietor. A number of boarding houses are well sustained. Payne’s dining room is also a well-established institution, while saloons rise and fall at the option of town voters.
For nearly twenty years after the tide of business had turned to the valley, money accommodations were still found on the hill-top, particularly at Thompson Bank. It was not till near the close of the war of the rebellion that the citizens of Putnam awoke to the conviction that the business interests of the town demanded local accommodation. The establishment of a national bank was accordingly discussed at the office of Hon. Gilbert W. Phillips, March 3d, 1864. Articles of association were adopted and stock subscribed amounting to $100,000. Application was then made to the United States Treasury Department, and the requirement of the law having been fulfilled, the ” First National Bank of Putnam” was opened for business March 23d, in Stockwell’s former jeweler’s shop. President, Edmond Wilkinson cashier, Charles S. Billings directors, Benjamin C. Harris, Sabin L. Sayles, Ezra Deane, Rufus S. Mathewson, George Paine, G. W. Phillips, Chandler A. Spalding, John A. Carpenter. The capital stock was soon increased by $50,000. A brick building was erected in 1866 and John A. Carpenter made cashier. 1-1r. Wilkinson was succeeded in the presidency by Hon. .G. W. Phillips in 1868, who held the position twenty years. James W. Manning was chosen as his successor. Judge Carpenter still serves as cashier. Mr. S. R. Spalding has held position in the bank for nearly twenty years. Messrs. Franklin Bailey and Seth P. Stoddard served faithfully as bookkeepers. The board of directors consists of J. H. Gardner. C. J. Alton, E. H. Bugbee, Rufus Pike, Lucius Fitts, with the president and, cashier.
Putnam Sayings Bank preceded the national bank in date of organization. A charter was granted May, 1862, to Edmond . Wilkinson, R. M. Bullock, John O. Fox, R. S. Mathewson, George A. Paine, Horace Seamans, Winthrop Green, Prescott May, William Field, James NV. Manning, Charles Bliven, Henry G. Taintor, Charles Osgood, Lorenzo Litchfield, Edgar H. Clark, and George Buck. July 19th the bank commenced business. Edmond Wilkinson served as president G. W. Phillips, secretary and treasurer trustees, Edmond Wilkinson, Richmond M. Bullock, John O. Fox, Rufus S. Mathewson, George A. Paine, Sabin Sayles, Jeremiah Olney, Joseph B. Latham, G. W. Phillips. The present officers are: President, J. H. Gardner secretary and treasurer, Jerome Tourtellotte trustees, J. H. Gardner, O. H. Perry, C. M. Fenner, Charles P. Grosvenor, Z. A. Ballard, John A. Carpenter, G. W. Holt, Jr., A. Houghton. Deposits reported October 1st, 1888, $1,132,530.72.
May 29: Connecticut’s First Revolutionary War General — A Daring Leader in Two Wars, and a Peacetime Hero.
Today in Connecticut history, Revolutionary War general and French & Indian War veteran Israel Putnam passed away on his farmstead in Brooklyn, Connecticut. Best known for his participation in the Revolutionary War’s crucial Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, Putnam’s reputation for bravery and daring was earned long before hostilities broke out between the British Army and American colonists.
Born in Massachusetts in 1718, Putnam moved to northeast Connecticut in 1740 after purchasing land in the town of Pomfret (part of which would later become the town of Brooklyn) with his brother-in-law.
When the French and Indian War broke out in 1755, Putnam enlisted with a regiment of Connecticut militia where he caught the attention of the famed Robert Rogers after exhibiting bravery in the Battle of Lake George. Rogers recruited Putnam into his company of Rangers where he served with distinction, escaping disasters on many occasions, including shipwrecks and Indian capture. By the time the war ended in 1763, Putnam had earned the rank of Major, and he returned to his hometown of Brooklyn an even bigger hero than before.
A romanticized 19th century depiction of Israel Putnam “leaving the plow” to answer the Lexington Alarm.
As a prosperous farmer and popular tavern owner, Putnam shared the growing resentment of his fellow New Englanders over new British taxation policies of the 1760s, and became a leading member of the Connecticut Sons of Liberty. According to legend, Putnam heard the news of the British march on Lexington and Concord in April 1775 while plowing his fields. He immediately dropped his plow, mounted the nearest horse and rode non-stop to Cambridge, Massachusetts to offer his military services in defense of his countrymen.
With his French and Indian War reputation preceding him, Putnam became one of the first four officially appointed major generals to serve under George Washington in the newly formed Continental Army in 1775, at the age of 57. Despite his notable bravery leading New England troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Putnam had mixed success as a commanding officer during the Revolutionary War. Military historians note that he was much more successful managing smaller units in unconventional, guerilla-style tactics — like he did in the French and Indian War — than he was with the larger, more formally organized army units placed under his command during the Revolution. Furthermore, while his brash, aggressive, and rough-around-the-edges personality endeared “Old Put” to the men serving under his command, he clashed with virtually every other high-ranking officer he worked with in the Continental Army. After his troops were routed during the Battle of Long Island in 1776, Putnam was assigned to increasingly unimportant patrols and commands, and in late 1779, a stroke that left him partially paralyzed ended his military career. He returned to Brooklyn, once again welcomed as a consummate hero, where he lived until his death on May 29, 1790. Connecticut educator and author Timothy Dwight penned Putnam’s epitaph, writing that he was “ever attentive to the lives and happiness of his men” and “dared to lead where any dared to follow.”
To this day, Israel Putnam is remembered as one of the most legendary, larger-than-life figures of 18th-century Connecticut and as a national hero of the Revolutionary War, with towns and counties named after him in 10 states. His original gravestone in Brooklyn was so heavily visited — and chipped away for souvenir shards — that it had to be removed to the State Capitol building for safekeeping. Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding, Connecticut preserves a campsite where Revolutionary War troops under Israel Putnam spent the winter of 1778 – 1779. Putnam is also honored with statues at Bushnell Park in Hartford, and on Route 169 in his hometown of Brooklyn.
Fanny Greye Bragg, “Israel Putnam,” Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution
General Israel Putnam’s division of the Continental Army encamped in Redding in the winter of 1778-1779. This division was comprised of General Poor’s brigade of New Hampshire troops under Brig. General Enoch Poor, a Canadian Regiment led by Col. Moses Hazen, and two brigades of Connecticut troops: 2nd Brigade Connecticut Line regiments commanded by Brig. General Jedediah Huntington, and the 1st Brigade Connecticut Line regiments commanded by Brig. General Samuel H. Parsons. This division had been operating along the Hudson (Eastern New York) during the fall, and as winter approached it was decided that it should go into winter quarters at Redding, as from this position it could support the important fortress of West Point in case of attack, intimidate the Cowboys and Skinners of Westchester County, and cover lands adjacent to Long Island Sound. Another major reason was to protect the Danbury supply depot, which had been burned by the British the year before but resurrected to keep supplies going to Washington’s army.
Colonel Aaron Burr, one of General Putnam’s aides and a frequent visitor to Redding, had suggested that Putnam look over the area for a future winter encampment during a summer visit to General Heath’s Brigade in Danbury. Putnam found the
topography and location ideal. Three camp locations were marked and later prepped by artificers and surveyors under the direction of the Quartermaster staff: the first in the northeast part of Lonetown, near the Bethel line, on land owned by John Read, 2nd (now Putnam Park). The second was about a mile and a half west of the first camp, between Limekiln Rd. and Gallows Hill in the vicinity of present day Whortleberry Rd. & Costa Lane. The third camp was in West Redding, on a ridge about a quarter of a mile north of West Redding Station (vicinity of present day Deer Spring Drive & Old Lantern Road).
The main camp, which is now known as Putnam Memorial State Park, was laid out with admirable judgement, at the foot of rocky bluffs which fenced in the western valley of the Little River. 116 huts were erected to form an avenue nearly a quarter mile in length, and several yards in width. At the west end of the camp was a mountain brook, which furnished a plentiful supply of water near the brook a forge was said to have been erected. The second and third camps, were both laid out on the southerly slopes of hills with streams of running water at their base.
Each of the camps were strategically positioned to defend main highways in and out of town: Danbury to Fairfield Danbury to Norwalk Redding to Danbury and points north (stage coach route).
As to the exact location of Putnam’s headquarters, authorities differ, but all agree in placing it on Umpawaug Hill. Some of Putnam’s officers were quartered in West Redding. General Parsons’ headquarters were at Stephen Betts Tavern on Redding Ridge.
The troops went into winter quarters at Redding in no pleasant humor, and almost in the spirit of insubordination. This was particularly the case with the **Connecticut troops. They had endured privations that many men would have sunk under: the horrors of battle, the weariness of the march, cold, hunger, and nakedness. What was worse, they had been paid in the depreciated currency of the times, which had scarcely any purchasing power, and their families at home were reduced to the lowest extremity of want and wretchedness.
Petition of the Connecticut Soldiers in the Revolutionary Army, to His Excellency, Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut. Communicated by Mr. L.B., of New York. The following document is from Captain Nathaniel Webb’s Orderly Book.
Camp Reading, December 27th, 1778
Petition to his Excellency Gov. Trumbull. May it please your Excellency. The Sense of Importance of opposing with Force, ye attempts of Great Britain to enslave our Country, induces us to lay before your Excellency the Condition of that Part of ye Army raised from the State of Connecticut & ye great Danger of their disbanding & returning to their several Homes.
They have may it please your Excellency been promised a Blanket, & other Clothing annually from ye Continent & a Blanket from ye State every year, for each non-commissioned Officer & Soldier, those Promises have not been complied with, so far from it, that although we have not, one half ye Quota of Men this State was to raise, we assure you not less than four hundred are to this Day totally destitute, & no one has received two Blankets according to Contract, nor has more than one half of the Clothing promises ever been received or any compensation made for ye deficiency, that when they have Coats they are without Breeches, & when they are supplied with Shoes, they have neither Stockings nor Shirts, & at this Inclement Season many of our Men are suffering for want of Blankets, Shirts, Breeches, Shoes & Stockings, & some are destitute of Coats & Waistcoats.
The increasing Price of every necessary [necessity] and Convenience of Life, is another Grievance most [unreadable] experienced by ye Soldiery in their Marches, & in other Situations, they are necessitated to purchase Provisions and Vegetables when in Camp. The Prices now asked for one Meal is from three to eight Shillings. Turnips from two to three Dollars per Bushel & other Vegetables in proportion, that a Soldiers month Pay is consumed in about three days in furnishing himself with necessaries not supplied by the Public. – These are Grievances very greatly and Justly complained of by your Soldiers, & Officers of every Rank are Sharers in the Consequences of these Evils.
An expectation of Redress has retained ye Soldiery hitherto, but Desertions Daily increase & unless that Justice which is their due is done, We assure your Excellency we fear it will not be in our Power to retain them. We have ye greatest Reason to believe they will wait ye Event only of their Petition at ye Adj. Assembly, & should that Assembly arise without doing them Justice in ye past depredation of ye Currency, we are convinced ye greater part of ye Soldiery will desert.
We assure your Excellency we have & shall continue to appease every discontent which has ye remotest Tendency to produce Mutiny & Desertion or any other Act prejudicial to ye Service & we have ye Satisfaction to believe we posses ye Love & Affection of ye Soldiery & that they are not desirous to forsake us or ye Cause of their Country.
But it may please your Excellency they are naked in severe Winter, they are hungry & have no Money…[it goes on and on repeating the same theme for three more paragraphs]
We have furnished our Agent with a Calculation, founded on ye best Evidence in our power, that being adopted by our Assembly will in our Opinion quiet our Troops & that nothing short will give them Satisfaction. We have the Honor to be with ye Greatest Esteem Your Excellencies.
George Washington to Deputy Clothier Gen. George Measam, Jan. 8, 1779
“It has been represented to me that the troops of Connecticut are in great want of Shirts, Stockings and Shoes. This leads me to inquire of you whether they have not received their proportion of these Articles in common with the rest of the Army. The troops in general have obtained orders for a Shirt and pair of Stockings per man and a pair of Shoes to each that wanted. If the Connecticut Troops have not been furnished … you will on receiving proper Returns for that purpose supply them in conformity to this Rule.”
The frustrations caused by the deprivations brought to a head the attempted mutiny on the morning of December 30th at Huntington’s camp. The troops had decided on the bold resolve of marching to Hartford, and airing their grievances in person to the Legislature then sitting. The two brigades were plotting their escape when the threat of troop desertion was brought to Putnam’s attention. He, with his usual intrepidity and decision of character, threw himself upon his horse and dashed down the road leading to his camps, never slacking rein until he drew up in the presence of the disaffected troops.
“My brave lads,” he cried, “whither are you going? Do you intend to desert your officers, and invite the enemy to follow you into the country? Whose cause have you been fighting and suffering so long in-is it not your own? Have you no property, no parents, wives, children? You have behaved like men so far-all the world is full of your praises, and posterity will stand astonished at your deeds but not if you spoil it all at last.
Don’t you consider how much the country is distressed by the war, and that your officers have not been any better paid than yourselves? But we all expect better times, and that the country will do us ample justice. Let us all stand by one another then, and fight it out like brave soldiers. Think what a shame it would be for Connecticut men to run away from their officers.”
When he had finished this stirring speech, he directed the acting Major of Brigades to give the word for them to march to their regimental parades, and lodge arms, which was done one soldier only, a ringleader in the affair, was confined to the guard house, from which he attempted to escape, but was shot dead by the sentinel on duty- himself one of the mutineers. Thus ended the affair.
In January, Private Joseph P. Martin related two more uprisings in his camp journal, both were thwarted by regimental officers, but indicate some discontent among the troops still lingered. After that many of the Connecticut troops were placed on patrols at Horseneck, Stamford and Norwalk. Some were sent over to “no-man’s land” in Westchester County and several hundred troops were sent to New London for guard duty and the construction of Fort Griswold.
Executions at Gallows Hill
Putnam was no stranger to deserters and spies. Nothing had so much annoyed Putnam and his officers during the campaigns of the preceding summer on the Hudson than the desertions which had thinned his ranks, and the Tory spies, who frequented his camps, under every variety of pretext, and forthwith conveyed the information thus gathered on the enemy.
To put a stop to this it had been determined that the next offender of either sort (deserter or spy) captured should suffer death as an example. The opportunity to implement this determination soon arrived. Scouts from Putnam’s outposts in Westchester County captured a man lurking within their lines, and as he could give no satisfactory account of himself, he was at once hauled over the borders and into the presence of the Commander-in-Chief. In answer to the commanders queries, the prisoner said that his name was Jones, that he was a Welshman by birth, and had settled in Ridgefield a few years before the war commenced that he had never faltered in his allegiance to the King, and that at the outbreak of the hostilities he had fled to the British army, and had been made a butcher in the camp a few weeks before, he had been sent into Westchester County to buy beef for the army, and was in the process of carrying out those orders at the present. He was remanded to the guard house, court-martialed and at once ordered for trial. Putnam had his first example.
On Feb. 4, 1779, Edward Jones was tried at a General Court Martial for going to and serving the enemy, and coming out as a spy. He was found guilty of each and every charge exhibited against him, and according to Law and the Usage’s of Nations was sentenced to suffer Death:
“The General approves the sentence and orders it to be put in execution between the hours of ten and eleven A.M. by hanging him by the neck till he be dead.”
Two days after another General Court Martial was held for a similar offence: on Feb. 6, 1779, John Smith of the 1st Connecticut Regiment, was tried at a General Court Martial for desertion and attempting to go to the enemy, found guilty, and further persisting in saying that he will go to the enemy if ever he has an opportunity.
“The General approves the sentence and orders that it be put in execution between the hours of ten and twelve A.M. for him to be shot to death”
General Putnam having two prisoners under the sentence of death determined to execute them both at once, or as he expressed it, “to make a double job of it,” and at the same time make the spectacle as terrible and impressive as the circumstances demanded.
The scene which took place at the execution of these men on February 16 was described as shocking and bloody, it occurred on a lofty hill (known to this day as Gallows Hill) dominating the valley between the three camps. The instrument of Edward Jones’ death was erected approximately twenty feet from the ground atop the hill’s highest pinnacle. Jones was ordered to ascend the ladder, with the rope around his neck and attached to the cross beam of the gallows. When he had reached the top rung General Putnam ordered him to jump from the ladder.
‘No General Putnam,’ said Jones, ‘I am innocent of the crime laid to my charge I shall not do it.’
Putnam drawing his sword, compelled the hangmen at sword’s point, that his orders be obeyed and if Jones would not jump, that the ladder be over-turned to complete the act. It was and he perished.
The soldier that was to be shot for desertion was but a youth of sixteen or seventeen years of age. The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett, who was pastor of the Congregational Church in Redding for a period of fifty years, officiated as chaplain to the encampment during that winter, and was present at the execution. He interceded with General Putnam to defer the execution of Smith until Washington could be consulted- for reason the offender was a youth but the commander assured him that a reprieve could not be granted.
John Smith was described as “extremely weak and fainting” as he was led by Poor’s Brigade Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Evans, approximately 200 yards from the gallows to the place he was to be shot.
Putnam gave the order and three balls were shot through his breast: he fell on his face, but immediately turned over on his back a soldier then advanced, and putting the muzzle of his gun near the convulsive body of the youth, discharged its contents into his forehead. The body was then placed in a coffin the final discharge had been fired so near to the body that it had set the boy’s clothing on fire, and continued burning while each and every soldier present was ordered to march past the coffin and observe Smith’s mangled remains an officer with a drawn sword stood by to ensure they complied.
It was indeed a grisly scene, and many have questioned the accuracy of the accounts published about it because it seems almost too ghastly. But it should be said that: boldness, firmness, promptness, decisiveness- were the chief elements of General Israel Putnam’s character, and at this particular crisis all were needed. There was disaffection and insubordination in the army, as has been noted. Desertions were frequent, and spying by the Tories was almost openly practiced. To put a stop to these practices it was vitally necessary to the safety of the army, to see that these sentences were carried into effect. If the executions were bungling done, the fault was with the executioners, and not with the General.
Theft of Cattle & Livestock
The journals of private Joseph Plumb Martin (stationed with the 8th Connecticut in Parsons’ middle camp) shows the desperate lack of food and poor weather conditions endured by the troops throughout January:
“We settled in our winter quarters at the commencement of the new year and went on in our old Continental Line of starving and freezing. We now and then got a little bad bread and salt beef (I believe chiefly horse-beef for it was generally thought to be such at the time). The month of January was very stormy, a good deal of snow fell, and in such weather it was mere chance if we got anything at all to eat.”
Given the conditions, it is difficult to blame the soldiers that took matters into their own hands and ventured out of camp in search of provisions. The citizens of Redding, did not see things this way, those who initially felt quite honored by the selection of their town for the army’s winter quarters, soon grew tired of soldiers looting their livestock. The soldiers position was that they were the one’s fighting the country’s battles and plundering the neighboring farms was within their rights as men of war. To them a well-stocked poultry yard, a pen of fat porkers or field of healthy heifers offered irresistible cuisine when compared to the horse-beef they were being offered back at camp. After a time, however, the wary farmers foiled the looters by storing their livestock over night in the cellars of their houses and in other secure places.
[This was an issue throughout the war and the letter below shows that George Washington was aware of it. It also highlights why looting was difficult to stop, as looters could claim they confiscated the provisions because they were intended to be sold to the British.
To Major General Israel Putnam, From George Washington, Philadelphia, December 26, 1778.
“I have not a Copy of your instructions with me, but if my memory serves me, I was as full in my directions respecting the conduct of Officers who shall be sent upon the lines as I possibly can be. The Officer must determine from all circumstances, whether Cattle or any species of provision found near the lines are in danger of falling into the hands of the Enemy, or are carried there with an intent to supply them. If it is thought necessary to bring them off, they must be reported and disposed of as directed by your instructions.
I was very particular upon that Head, because I know that great Acts of Injustice have been committed by Officers, under pretence that provision and other kinds of property were intended for the Use of the Enemy. I would recommend the bringing off as much Forage as possible but I would not advise the destruction of what we cannot remove. I think your plan of sending out a large party under the command of a Field Officer and making detachments from thence, a good one and if you and General McDougall can agree upon a cooperation of your parties I think many advantages will result from the measure. You may agree upon the mode of effecting this, between yourselves.” ]
Farmer’s livestock was not the only object of the soldier’s desires, below are some entries in the parish records that prove that “amid the horrors of war sly cupid found a chance to inflict his wounds”. They are given as entered by the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett:
Feb. 7, 1779. I joined together in marriage James Gibbons, a soldier in the army, and Ann Sullivan.
March 18, 1779. I joined together in marriage John Lines, a soldier in the army, and Mary Hendrick.
March 30, 1779. I joined together in marriage Daniel Evarts, a soldier in the army, and Mary Rowland.
April 15, 1779. I joined together in marriage Isaac Olmsted, a soldier in the army, and Mary Parsons.
April 28, 1779. I joined together in marriage Jesse Belknap, an artificer in the army, and Eunice Hall.
May 4, 1779. I joined together in marriage William Little, steward to Gen. Parsons, and Phebe Merchant.
May 23, 1779. I joined together in marriage Giles Gilbert, an artificer in the army, and Deborah Hall.
March 9, 1780. I joined together in marriage William Darrow, a soldier in the army, and Ruth Bartram.
The troops left Putnam’s encampment in stages, Colonel Hazen’s Canadian regiment were detached from the New Hampshire brigade and ordered to Springfield, MA they left on March 27th. The New Hampshire regiments also left on March 27th for their new assignments in the Hudson Highlands. Huntington’s 2nd Connecticut Brigade left for Peekskill right after May 1st , and Parsons’ 1st Connecticut Brigade was the last to depart on or about May 27th … also bound for duty at the Highlands.
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Putnam, Connecticut - History
This sketch was written by Emory B. Giddings. It appeared in The Connecticut Magazine Vol VI, Number 5, July-August, 1900. I found a copy at the Hotchkiss Library in Sharon, Connecticut.
Much has been said and considerable written, concerning the doings of the Putnam Phalanx, but all of these records concern recent events and none record the early history of this famous organization. In fact so little is really known concerning the history of the company, that it has been exceedingly difficult to obtain facts regarding it. To-day the Putnam Phalanx stands at the head of all military bodies in the State of Connecticut, while its ranks are numbered the best known men in the commonwealth. Governors, Generals, State and Town Officials of note have carried and do carry muskets and march with the rank and file, when occasion demands. Although its headquarters are in the Capital City, its members are scattered all over the State. The first meeting of which any record can be obtained, was held in this city (Hartford), August 9, 1858. It was not intended at that time to make the organization a permanent one, the idea then being to form a military company for the time being, which according to the historian, "should welcome home, Col. Thomas H. Seymour, a distinguished fellow townsman, known as the "Hero of Chapultepec," a title acquired in the Mexican War. (Col. Seymour had also represented this country as Minister at the Russian Court, with marked ability). A copy of the call for enrollment issued by those interested in the formation of the company at the time reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, do hereby enroll ourselves, for the purpose of forming a military company, to take part in connection with the regularly organized military of this vicinity, on the occasion of the return of Col. Thomas H. Seymour, to his native city, and in giving him such a reception as his eminent civil and military services entitle him to from the hands of his fellow citizens."
Following this preamble were affixed the names of the signers, of which there were 153 representative citizens of Hartford and the vicinity. As soon as the desired number of members had been secured, a meeting was held at the Seymour Light Artillery Armory and committees were appointed to investigate the questions of uniforms, arms, constitution and by-laws, finance and a drill officer. On the 25th of August, another meeting was held at which these committees reported. By-laws were adopted and the committee on arms reported that muskets had been obtained through the courtesy of Col. Samuel Colt. Upon the election of officers which followed, Horace Goodwin was chosen Major A.M. Gordon Captain of the first company and Allyn Stillman, captain of the second company. Up on the suggestion of Major N. Seymour Webb, who was subsequently chosen Adjutant, the organization was christened the "Putnam Phalanx."
The command made its first bow to the public as a military body on the 22nd of December 1858, when a street parade was given. At this time no uniform had as yet been selected and the members of the battalion appeared in the regimentals of the Amoskeag Veterans which were generously loaned them by the Manchester organization. These uniforms were of the Continental style and very similar to those worn by the company today. At the close of the parade the Battalion was presented with an appropriate standard by the descendants of Israel Putnam, whose name the command bore. June 2nd, 1859, the "Puts" made their second appearance, this time in their own uniforms. At this time the Legislature was in session and so pleasing was the appearance of the new company, that the representatives and senators passed the following resolution:
"Be it unanimously resolved, That the appearance of the Putnam Phalanx is most gratifying to us and reflects the highest credit not only upon its officers, but also upon the rank and file."
August 30, 1859, was the eventful and historical day, set aside for the reception of Col. and Ex-Governor Thomas H. Seymour. Organized for the especial purpose of taking part in this celebration the members of the Phalanx turned out in force, but three of the whole number being absent when the role was called. Their showy Continental uniforms appeared in striking contrast to the more sober ones of the Seymour Light Artillery, Light Guard, Colt Guard, Hartland Cavalry, Citizens' Guard of Rockville, and other military and civic bodies that participated in the parade. According to the historian, "The display was the most grand and imposing one ever before witnessed in the Charter Oak City and a striking proof of the high estimate in which Col. Seymour was held by his friends and acquaintances at home."
Putnam Phalanx visits Putnam Park
As has been stated the original idea of the Phalanx was to have a temporary organization, but its name, uniform and spirit so aroused associations of times historic, that it culminated in the organization of a command, the purpose of which was to commemorate and perpetuate the glorious past of Israel Putnam and other sons of the American Revolution.
Although nominally a military body, the Putnam Phalanx is more distinctly a social organization. Its pilgrimages have been many and in every city in which it has appeared it has won social distinction. The first of these pilgrimages was made in October 1859, when the command visited Bunker Hill, Boston and Providence, beside many other places of historical interest. At all of these place the Phalanx was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm and the memories which their appearance revived were eulogized by the greatest orators in the land, among whom was Edward Everett of Boston, Mass. A second trip was made in November, 1860. The objective point being the tomb of Washington at Mount Vernon. On this excursion the command also visited the cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. The ovations received upon this occasion are recorded as being among the greatest in Phalanx history and are recalled with no little pride.
Since organization the Putnam Phalanx has had sixteen Majors and of this number, ten have joined the silent army of the dead. Among those who have had the honor to command are men prominent in both business and political interests of city and state. The roll shows the names of Horace Goodwin*, James B. Shultas*, Timothy M. Allen*, C.C. Burt*, Seth E. March*, Henry Kennedy*, H.L. Welch, Henry Kennedy*, Freeman M. Brown, Alvin Squires*, Clayton H. Case, Joseph Warner*, O.H. Blanchard, Dr. Henry Bickford, James N. Shedd and Charles B. Andrus. Major Andrus is the present incumbent of the office.
When in 1879 the Phalanx celebrated its 21st birthday and became of age, Major Freeman M. Brown, then in command, called the attention of the members to several matters connected with the history of the organization, and made several wise suggestions which he regarded as fundamental to the furtherance of the objects of its founders. He suggested that as the records were then very incomplete, it would be well to gather such facts connected with its history as might be obtained without going into lengthy detail, which would prove interesting in days to come. Major Brown's recommendation was well received and at the present time a brief but comprehensive history, framed, adorns the parlor at the armory. The facts contained in this were obtained to a great extent by ex-Captain Lucius W. Bartlett. His work to this end was ceaseless and untiring and to him is due no little credit.
The Phalanx was a healthy youngster and from the date of its birth grew rapidly. From 1860 until 1878 inclusive, accessions to the roll each year are recorded as follows: 37, 5*, 7*, 12*, 1*, 31, 12, 11, 10, 26, 24, 19, 12, 8, 27, 14, 22, 39, 31.
These additions brought the total number of members up to 525 actives. It will be noticed that the years showing the smallest enrollment, were during the Civil War, '61-'64. During those years interest flagged and there were but 100 members on the active roll. In January, 1871 the membership list reached its lowest ebb, when but 50 actives answered the roll call. Since that time, however, the reaction has been correspondingly great and today the organization can show a roll which in point of numbers is second to none in New England.
When President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 troops to put down the Rebellion, a meeting of the Phalanx was called for the 26th of April, but adjourned until the next day. At the adjourned meeting it was voted to put the Battalion on a war basis, by supplying the members with the most approved fire-arms, fatigue uniforms and such other articles as are required to make a Battalion efficient for active service. On the 20th of May, 1861, it was voted to tender escort to all organizations of volunteers leaving the city within 60 days. According to the historian, "This ended as far as appears from the records, the active service of the Phalanx as a military corps." It should be stated, however, in justice to the patriotism of the members, that many of them were enrolled in the ranks of the great army which went forth to battle for the nation's honor. Many fought their way to fame and everlasting glory while others sacrificed their lives that the Union might be preserved.
In June 1860, the Phalanx made a two days' pilgrimage to Brooklyn, Connecticut, paying an official tribute to the tomb of General Israel Putnam. They were accorded a hearty welcome by the townspeople and the celebration was one long to be remembered. Upon their return a meeting of the command was held and resolutions acknowledging the courtesies extended them were adopted. A committee of nine was appointed to solicit subscriptions in co-operation with other organizations interested, and adopt any means deemed necessary to further the erection of a monument to the memory of General Putnam at Brooklyn. This committee consisted of S.A. White, Thomas H. Seymour, Henry C. Deming, J.W. Stewart, Timothy M. Allyn, E.N. Kellogg, C.C. Waite, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Spencer. What conclusion this committee reached or what the result of their work is only a matter of conjecture, but it is presumed that their duties were interfered with by the opening of the Civil War. However this may be, it was not until a quarter of a century later, through the efforts of the Phalanx and the citizens of Brooklyn, that the matter was brought to the attention of the Legislature and the appropriation of a sufficient sum to erect a suitable and appropriate monument to the memory of Connecticut's heroic son, was obtained. The monument was dedicated with imposing ceremonies in which the Phalanx participated, June 14th, 1888. It is told with exceeding gusto by members of the Phalanx who took part in these ceremonies, that this occasion was the only on which the "Puts" did guard duty and called for water. It seems that the company of militia which was to have done guard duty at the time failed to materialize and in consequence the Phalanx were detailed to keep the crowd back. The day was exceedingly hot and sultry and with their heavy muskets and the Continental uniforms, the "Puts" suffered all the torments of the day. The colored porters who were detailed to carry water, were treacherously inclined to sell it for a small sum of 5 cents per glass, so that before the pails reached the sweltering guardsmen there was little water in their interior. The porter registered solemn oaths that the pails were leaky, but the jingling nickels and dimes in their pockets told a different story to the thirsty ones.
October 5th, 1861, the eloquent Judge Advocate of the Phalanx, Isaac W. Stuart, was enrolled among the silent Battalions. His loss was keenly felt by the corps who recognized and appreciated his worth. At a special meeting called for the purpose suitable resolutions were adopted and a fitting tribute to their deceased comrade was placed on the records of the command.
Governor Buckingham, the famous "War Governor" of Connecticut, was inaugurated at New Haven in May, 1862, and at the attending ceremonies the Phalanx was present. Before leaving for the Elm City, the command was presented with a beautiful banner by the "Ladies' Putnam Phalanx Association," composed of the wives and lady friends of the members.
May 14th, 1864, Major Horace Goodwin, first commandant of the Phalanx, passed away. The Phalanx attended the funeral in a body and at a special meeting drew up the usual resolutions, in memoriam. The years of '65 and '66 do not seem to have been prolific with much excitement for the command, for the only events recorded are an excursion to Worchester, Mass., as guest of the State Guard, and a target shoot at Waterbury.
October 15th, 1867, was a notable day in the history of the Phalanx, for on that day they entertained as their guests the members of the Amoskeag Veterans of Manchester, New Hampshire, and the Providence Light Infantry of Providence, Rhode Island. The arrangements made for the entertainment of these guests were very elaborate and included a banquet at which the Governor, Mayor and many prominent citizens were present and delivered addresses. The whole entertainment concluded with a promenade, concert and ball. This was the first of a series of visits exchanged between the three commands.
October 7th 1868, a visit was paid to Northhampton, Mass. while still a year from that date they extended the field of their journeys and traveled to Niagara Falls, accompanied by a large number of ladies and guests. On the evening of Wednesday, May 4th, 1870, the "Puts" took a hand in politics and joined in an election parade at New Haven, while on the 20th of September of the same year they added materially to their reputation as hosts by entertaining as their guests, the Worchester Mass. State Guard. In September 1871, a five days' pilgrimage was made to Montreal, Rutland, and Burlington. This was said to have been the first armed invasion of an armed military corps. from the United States to the Mother Country's Dominion, in its history. At Montreal the Battalion received a most cordial welcome from the Mayor, Military companies and citizens, although the Continental uniforms of the invaders was a constant reminder that their owners came from the land conquered by the rebels. At Rutland and Burlington also the Phalanx was cordially received and different organizations, both Military and Civic, vied with themselves in making the stay there a most pleasant one. In August 1872, the "Puts" paid a visit to Rocky Point at Providence, where all the delights of an old fashioned clam bake were enjoyed. In September of the same year another excursion was indulged in to Newburyport and Portland, Maine. In July 1873, with fond remembrances of the clam-bake at Rocky Point, still in their hearts, the Phalanx paid another visit to that place and again tasted the delights of the juicy but elusive bivalves.
One of the few dark pages in Phalanx history is recorded with evident regret by the historian, when he states that on October 13th, 1873, E.B. Strong, one of the earliest and most active members of the command, and for a long time an efficient Quartermaster, became somewhat involved in his financial accounts and failing to meet the executive committee in an effort looking toward the adjustment of the same , was expelled from the Battalion, "for ungentlemanly and unsoldierlike conduct."
On election day in 1874, the Battalion paid a second visit to New Haven, this time as a guest of the New Haven Blues, whom they escorted in the inaugural parade, being reviewed by the Governor and his staff.
May 17th 1874, the statue of Israel Putnam on Bushnell Park was dedicated and the Phalanx took an active part in the ceremonies. This statue was made possible by a bequest in the will of Joseph Pratt Allyn, a son of ex-Mayor Timothy M. Allyn. In the evening the ceremonies were brought to a fitting close with a banquet provided by the Ladies' Phalanx Association before mentioned.
In this year the Puts decided to make up for lost time in the line of excursions, for on the 14th of October they gave one to Willimantic, where a target shoot was the principal feature of the day. The company was met at the depot by Captain Cranston and his company, who escorted them to the grounds provided for their use. Before being allowed to use the grounds, the major of the Phalanx was obliged to give his solemn promise that the safety of the citizens of the Thread City would be looked after at the shoot and that all who were damaged by stray bullets would be looked after at the expense of the marksmen. After the shoot the visitors were entertained at the principal hotel in the city with a banquet, after which there was a parade through the principal streets.
The battle of Concord was celebrated on the 18th of April 1875 and the Phalanx among other organizations were invited to participate. Acting upon this invitation, they started for that place on the 16th, stopped for supper at Providence, and remaining over night at Mansfield, going to Concord on the following morning. After the celebration the command left for home after enjoying a dinner provided for them at Horticultural Hall. On the return trip they again stopped over at Providence as the guests of their old friends, the Veteran Light Infantry. This excursion proved fatal for one of the oldest and most respected members of the Battalion, Horace Ensworth, the Adjunct, who was taken ill upon returning home. He never recovered and on the 24th of the following May, was laid away with all the honors due to a faithful and zealous soldier.
The Phalanx seems to have always had a leaning toward Providence, for on the 16th of June, 1875, it started on another pilgrimage toward the Rhode Island city on the way to assist in the ceremonies accompanying the celebration of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which occurred on the 17th. In the parade which was the principal feature of the day, none of the military companies attracted more attention or received more applause, than did the Hartford company. On October 5th of the same year another target shoot was held, this time at New Britain, in pursuance of an order issued by Major Kennedy. So few of the members were present on this occasion that the Major himself refused to accompany his command, and as an aftermath of the event resigned October 27th with the request that his name be stricken from the list of members. December 1st, 1875, Freeman M. Brown was elected Major to fill the vacancy.
Early in the year of 1876, a third company of the Phalanx organized at New Britain, applied for admission as a company in the Battalion and was admitted as such March 1st, 1876. June 16th, 1876, the command started on a trip to the Centennial Exhibition then in progress at Philadelphia. Upon arrival at that place they were met by the State Fencibles and escorted from the railway station to their quarters on Market Street, between 12th and 13th streets, at the Bingham House. On the following day, which was Sunday, the Battalion attended services at the First Baptist Church, upon the invitation of the pastor, the Rev. G.D. Boardman. During their stay in the Quaker City the Phalanx were the recipients of the greatest courtesy and consideration, not only from the Fencibles whose guests they were, but also from State and City officials. Subsequently a fitting testimonial was procured and a committee was appointed to visit Philadelphia and present the same Fencibles as a slight recognition of their many acts of thoughtfulness. This committee consisted of Major Brown, Captain Dowd, Quartermaster Squires, Secretary Baldwin, Adjutant Dickinson and Surgeon Peltier.
On the 10th of January 1877, a committee which had been appointed at a previous meeting, reported a new constitution and by-laws and the same were accepted and adopted. Prior to this year the annual elections had been held in April, May or June but the new constitution changed the time to February. On April 4th of this year a charter granted by the State of Connecticut was accepted which gave the organization full and legal power to transact all business pertaining to that body as a corporation. The new constitution provided that the 17th of June should be set aside as a holiday to be observed by the command as Phalanx Day, in a way to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. As the 17th of June following the adoption fell on a Sunday, the day was observed one day later, when the Battalion paraded. In the evening there was a banquet at the armory at which the officers of the First Regiment, City Guard, Horse Guards, and several members of Governor Hubbard's Staff were present.
July 11th, 1877, an invitation was accepted by the command to attend the Centennial celebration of the Battle of Bennington, but at a meeting held August 1st in the absence of the Major and on a motion of W.F. Whittlesey, it was voted to rescind the former action and so notify the Centennial committee. As soon as Major Brown learned of this action, he called a special meeting and it was once more voted that the Phalanx should go to Bennington, VT.. August 16th and orders were issued to the Battalion to this effect. It will be seen by this little incident that while Major Brown was in command of the Phalanx he occupied that office himself and evidently didn't propose to let any of his junior officers run it for him. Notwithstanding this, Major Brown was a popular commander and the interests of the Phalanx were always first to him, personal ones taking the second place.
The Phalanx attended the Bennington celebration on the 16th with full ranks. This celebration was also attended by President Hayes and his cabinet, Governors of New England and many others of prominence. Dinner was served to the distinguished visitors during the day and the Phalanx was the only military organization invited to the Pavilions.
After the dinner the Phalanx escorted the President and his party to the depot and still later participated in a reception tendered by the Governor of New Hampshire. On the following day the command returned home and while on the way passed through Camp Stark where they were loudly cheered by the soldiers and given a salute of 38 guns for Fuller's Battery.
The famous Ancient and Honorable Artillery of Boston selected Hartford as the place for the annual field day, October 1st, 1877, that day being the 241st anniversary of that venerable company. Hearing this the Phalanx tendered the visitors an escort and other courtesies for the occasion, which were gladly accepted. Invitations were also sent to all other military organizations in the city to participate. The "Ancients" arrived in this city about 3 o'clock in the afternoon of October 1st and were agreeably surprised by the reception which they received. The parade was reviewed Governor Hubbard, Generals Hawley and Franklin and others. In the evening a grand complimentary ball was tendered the visitors at Allyn Hall. On the following day at noon the commands again assembled and proceeded to Allyn Hall where a banquet was served. Among the guests on this occasion were ex-Governor Banks of Massachusetts, Mark Twain, Governor Hubbard, General Hawley and the Hon. Henry C. Robinson. The entertaining of the Ancients and Honorables was the last noteworthy incident of the Putnam Phalanx during the year of 1877.
Since that time the members of the command had been on many pilgrimages and have continued to noise abroad their reputation as hosts. As these trips and events have been of a comparatively recent date and full accounts of them have been published in both newspapers and magazines, I will not endeavor to record them. As I have before stated it is almost impossible to procure the early statistics of the Phalanx and were it not for the assistance of the present Historian, Sidney E. Clarke, Dr. Henry Bickford, Ex-Mayor Brown and others, this sketch would never have been written.
Bridgeport Lithuanian church
Bridgeport St. George church is still operating and, in fact, open most of the time, making it one of the easiest Lithuanian churches to visit without a prior arrangement (also, it is the Connecticut Lithuanian church closest to New York). Inside, one could see more Lithuanian details than in many churches of Lithuania, including Lithuanian inscriptions about benefactors incorporated into the stained glass windows, a Lithuanian chapel-post, Lithuanian words on the century-old altar cross ("Misijos atmintis 1913" - "Memory of a mission 1913"), Our Lady of Vilnius painting. All this despite the fact that the church is now mostly Hispanic. The Hispanic immigrants that came to the area and the remnants of Lithuanian community are on good terms, however, and the Lithuanian mass is celebrated once monthly.
Bridgeport St. George Lithuanian church
The St. George church of Bridgeport had its basement constructed in 1912. As was common with the Lithuanian-American churches, the construction continued above the basement and once the top of the church was built (cornerstone with both Lithuanian and English inscriptions dedicated in 1923) the basement was turned into a large hall for more secular affairs of the community.
Bridgeport Lithuanian church interior. Lithuanian flag on the right.
Before that, there was a wooden Lithuanian chapel in Bridgeport since 1907. In a typical history of the era, the boundaries between Lithuanian and Polish communities were not clearly defined, and there used to be a Polish mass held for Polish-speaking Lithuanians, which the Polish priest from the Bridgeport's Polish parish asked to stop, claiming that all Polish-speakers are Poles and should come to his parish instead. The bishop supported the Polish priest establishing a linguistic boundary between, that is, Lithuanian-speaking and Polish-speaking parishes with not Polish mass allowed in Lithuanian parish and no Lithuanian mass in the Polish parish.
The wife of Hartford Superior court judge Mr. Clark had this plate on his wife’s new Thunderbird. Here name was Winifred Clark and Mike asked the judge if he would release this plate to him as he was willing to get the judge’s wife a new 5 digit plate “WINNI”. The new plates were just released by CT Motor Vehicle Department. Mike delivered her new plate in Hartford with his brother-in-law Colin and mounted it o her beautiful T-Bird convertible. And here Mike is ready to mount it on the GTO, 44 years ago!
MICHAEL WEINFELD WAS HIRED BY DAVID MELENDY IN THE SUMMER OF 1975 AS THE WINY AFTERNOON ANCHOR AND REPORTER. MICHAEL COVERED THE 10-TOWN AREA AT NIGHT. MICHAEL’S BIGGEST STORY AT WINY WAS IN 1976 WHEN PUTNAM HAD TO SHUT DOWN BECAUSE THE BUDGET WASN’T PASSED. IT MADE NATIONAL NEWS! MICHAEL REPLACED DAVID MELENDY AS NEWS DIRECTOR IN 1977, BECOMING MORNING ANCHOR AND HOST OF THE DAILY TALK SHOW “PUBLIC HEARING”. MICHAEL WAS PART OF WINY’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY IN 1978.
IN 1979, MICHAEL LEFT TO BECOME NEWS DIRECTOR OF WMMM/WDJF IN WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT WHERE HE DID HIS FIRST CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS WITH PAUL NEWMAN AND HIS WIFE JOANNE WOODWARD. IN 1981, MICHAEL WAS HIRED AS A REPORTER BY THE AP IN NEW YORK AND WAS TRANSFERRED TO WASHINGTON IN 1983, JOINING MELENDY, WHO’S STILL WORKING WITH MICHAEL TODAY. MICHAEL STARTED IN THE AP’S ENTERTAINMENT DIVISION IN 1987 AND SINCE THEN HAS INTERVIEWED LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF CELEBRITIES, FROM GEORGE CLOONEY TO MADONNA. MICHAEL COVERS THE OSCARS, GRAMMYS, EMMYS AND OTHER AWARD SHOWS EACH YEAR.
MICHAEL CAN STILL BE HEARD ON WINY TODAY WHEN THERE’S A BIG ENTERTAINMENT STORY THAT’S INCLUDED IN THE AP RADIO NEWSCAST THAT AIRS AT THE TOP OF THE HOUR.