Patricia Elaine Stillwell Mims [Rici (Ree Cee)]

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Ithaca, NY

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Patricia's Story > Categories > Family obits

"Obit of George Washington Putnam" 


Date Range: 01/08/1903 To 01/08/1903   Comments: 0   Views: 17,766
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This is my great-great grandfather:


George W. PUTNAM, the Oldest Railroad Mail Agent, Passed Away at His Home Last Thursday.

Another pioneer has gone, and the familiar figure of General PUTNAM, as he was familiarly called, will be seen on our streets no more, he having passed away at his home on Chestnut street last Thursday evening, aged 84 years. General PUTNAM was a man of sterling worth and will be sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends, who knew and loved him for his true worth.

Mr. PUTNAM was the son of Jacob and Mary BURTON PUTNAM and was born in Manchester, VT, July 7, 1818. When about three years of age his family moved to Pawlet, VT where his father was interested in a cotton mill. In 1830 he came with his father to Westfield by the way of the Eric canal, his brother John, late of Mayville, riding his team the entire distance, and settled on a farm near Volusia. He received his education at the Mayville school and the Westfield Academy. After completing his education he taught for a number of years.

In 1842 Mr. PUTNAM went to Boston and purchased a telegraphic outfit and he and William CURTIS spent two years in traveling and lecturing on electricity and magnetism. Mr. CURTIS made the arrangements for the lectures and Mr. PUTNAM did the lecturing. They traveled with their own team and visited Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and by personal invitation Mr. PUTNAM delivered his lecture at the homes of the Governors of Ohio and Indiana. There was a great interest manifested in this subject at that time, as the telegraph instrument was a new thing.

Mr. PUTNAM was married to Alpa VAN VLIET in 1847, and to them were born six children, one dying in infancy, Mrs. Ida JONES dying in 1879; and four survive him, Mrs. Lillian MEEDER of Forestville, NY, Dr. B.H. PUTNAM of North East, PA, Rev. B. Van Vliet PUTNAM, pastor of the Presbyterian church of Canisteo, NY, and Mary P. BROWN of Selins Grove, PA.

Mr. PUTNAM engaged in farming from his marriage in 1847 to 1857, and furnished timber for the old Plank Road. In 1857 he was elected school commissioner and held the office until appointed mail clerk in 1861, three weeks after the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln.

In early life Mr. PUTNAM had been a Whig, but when the Republican party was organized he joined that party, and has ever since been identified with it. When first appointed mail clerk in 1861, he and two other clerks took care of all mail. The business has so grown since that time that over 40 men are now required to handle it. He has been in continual service ever since his first appointment, under all the different administrations, up to within the past three months and was the oldest man in the mail service, and was known to all as General PUTNAM. About three months ago he was made transfer clerk for registered packages between the post office and the railroads. One characteristic of his life has been his utter faithfulness to all duties. A striking testimony of this was afforded by the highest officials of the Service.

Under President Cleveland's administration, Postmaster General BISSELL promulgated an order requiring all Postal officers to take up residence on the branch of road where they were detailed. Six months was given for compliance. Without waiting to question the order, Mr. PUTNAM left his life long home and friends and took up his residence at Oil City. So great was the outcry against the order, that it was rescinded inside the six months. At once Mr. PUTNAM made arrangements to return to his old home but, to his astonishment, was not allowed to do so. It looked like punishment for obeying orders but the Department officials were obdurate.

When President McKinley was at the head of affairs he put at the head of the Post Office, General GARY of Baltimore. After repeated attempts to secure permission to return to his home at Westfield and all failing, Mr. PUTNAM's son wrote to his father that he thought he could arrange it all without running after any one any farther. He wrote, therefore, to his personal friend and classmate, Rev. Maltbie D. BABCOCK. D.D., Pastor of the Brown Memorial Church of Baltimore and later on the widely known Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City. Postmaster General GARY was an Elder in the Brown Memorial Church.

The facts presented to Dr. BABCOCK were soon in the hands of the Postmaster General. Within a week a personal letter from General GARY was received by Rev. B. VanVliet PUTNAM in which this true Christian gentleman, the head of the one great popular Department of the Government said: "That he was not only glad to do any service for his pastor or his pastor's friend, but also, having inquired as to the record of George W. PUTNAM, he was glad to do an act of justice for one who had rendered the most faithful service during long years wherein no complaints had ever been lodged against him."

What lower officials had refused so frequently was to their surprise, order by the Postmaster General. When Mr. PUTNAM was asked by some of the officials how he worked matters to secure this order, he simply replied: "It took two Presbyterian Dominies, one Presbyterian Elder and a Postmaster General to easily arrange it all."

Mr. PUTNAM's first wife died in 1863 and in 1873 he married Miss Julia KEYES of this place, who survives him and who has been a faithful wife to him in his declining years. No children were born to them, but they adopted a daughter a number of years ago, who married a nephew of Mr. PUTNAM's, Mr. Clyde PUTNAM, now of Warren, Ohio. They were present at the time of Mr. PUTNAM's death.

Some two years ago the following lines were taken by Mr. PUTNAM from his diary and handed to a member of the family. When The Tide is Low - L.C. Hardy

Some time at eve when the tide is low
I shall slip my mooring and sail away
With no response to the friendly hail
Of kindred crafts in the busy bay
In the silent hush of the twilight pale
When the night stoops down to embrace the day
And the voices call in the waters flow
Some time at eve when the tide is low
I shall slip my mooring and sail away

Through purple shadows that darkly trail
O'er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea
I shall fare me away, with a dip of sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To Mystic Isles, where at anchor lay
The craft of those who have sailed before
O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore

A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay
Some friendly barks that were anchored near
Some loving souls that my heart held dear
In silent sorrow will drop a tear
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In moorings sheltered from storm or gale
And greeted the friends who have sailed before
O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore

True to the prophecy of these simple lines, it was "at eve" that he passed out from the "busy bay." He died at ten minutes before seven on the evening of Thursday last, January 8, 1903, with all his living children, wife and one friend at his bedside.

The funeral services were held on Monday, January 12, at 2 o'clock at the Methodist Church being conducted under the auspices of the Masonic Fraternity of which order the deceased was long a member. The clergymen officiating were the Rev. S.M. GORDON of the M.E. Church and the Rev. Geo. L. MACCLELLAND of the Presbyterian Church, whose fitting remarks were very deeply appreciated by the family and gathered friends

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