Ohio Beginnings with Rufus Putnam
How is The Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts connected to Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio?
After the Revolutionary War, in March, 1786, a group of men met at The Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston to purchase land in the Northwest Territory. Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Samuel Parsons, and Rev. Manasseh Cutler formed the Ohio Company of Associates, also known as The Ohio Company, and purchased what was to become about one-fifth of the state of Ohio.
The Ohio Company Land Office, where Rufus Putnam and his partners worked, is the oldest known building in Ohio. Built in 1788, many hopeful land owners walked the path to its door.
These Revolutionary war soldiers were given land grants in lieu of payment for services rendered during the war. They purchased approximately 1,500,000 acres at roughly eight and a half cents per acre along the Ohio River in southeastern Ohio.
Provisions in this land grant were made for two sections in the center to be set aside for an educational institution. The first land grant college was to be called American Western University, but before opening changed its name to Ohio University.
Even though Rufus Putnam. the leader of the Ohio Company, was a self-educated man and did not have any formal schooling after the age of nine, he promoted higher education by serving as a trustee at Ohio University. He also claims a connection to West Point. where he built a fort during the Revolutionary War. Fort Putnam is today being preserved and operated by the United States Army Garrison, West Point.
In his memoirs, which are today at Marietta College, he shared his wish for a better education. One line said, “hence neglecting Spelling and gramer when young I have suffered much through life on that account.” But that didn’t keep him from recording records of all his correspondence, while he also kept a daily journal.
Rufus Putnam established the first Ohio Company settlement on the banks of the Ohio River in 1788. This became the first settlement in the Northwest Territory. Adelphia, meaning brotherhood, became its first name, but that was soon changed to Marietta in honor of Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
There the Ohio Company built a fortification to protect themselves from the Indians. They called their stockade, Campus Martius. Rufus Putman’s home was one of a row of plank houses inside this stockade.
A few years later, fortification was no longer needed, so the stockade was disassembled. However, the Putnam house remained at the original site, but with added rooms. He purchased the corner blockhouse for $70 and used its lumber for his house addition.
His wife, Persis and eight children, joined him in Ohio at their new home on the bluff of the Muskingum River. Their home here contained a kitchen, sewing/sitting room and two bedrooms upstairs. Now you can see the need for an addition.
What’s behind all those windows at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio today? Inside is the full size house of Rufus Putnam and it still stands where it was built back in 1788. The museum was built around the house in 1931 after the Daughters of American Revolution with assistance from the state of Ohio saved it from destruction.
Rufus Putnam served his country faithfully and was respected by his superiors, especially by his favorite leader, George Washington. It has been said that so long as the history of his country shall be written and read, the part Rufus Putnam played in that history will be found occupying one of its broadest and brightest pages.
Visit Campus Martius Museum to see where the Putnam family lived and learn more about their new life in Ohio. The museum overflows with Ohio history.
Campus Martius Museum is located at 601 Second Street, Marietta, Ohio, on Ohio State Route 7, and minutes from I-77. Plenty of free parking is available and cost of admission is very reasonable.