Newsletter -- October/November, 2007.


Did you know that in the United States there are nine counties named Putnam (as well as two towns in Connecticut and New York): Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Florida? Florida’s Putnam County was first proposed to be called Hilaka by the state legislature in 1848, but the name was changed on the second reading to Putnam.

Eight of those counties were named for Israel Putnam, while our Putnam County is the only county named for Benjamin Alexander Putnam.

Israel Putnam was born on January 17, 1718, in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts. His parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Putnam who were associated with the famed Salem Witchcraft Trials. The enticement of cheaper land had caused him to move to Connecticut where he become a prosperous farmer, tavern keeper, and participated in the French and Indian War. An outspoken opponent to British taxation of the colonies Putnam served in the Connecticut General Assembly. During the American Revolution he served as a general and fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His fame was great enough to have eight counties named after him. Israel Putnam died in Brooklyn, Connecticut on May 29, 1790.

For some time there was confusion over the origin our Putnam County’s name. Some sources indicated that it had been named for Israel Putnam but the historical record shows that Judge Benjamin Alexander Putnam (pictured at left) is the person the state legislature had in mind when our county was named. Our Putnam was a military officer (a major, colonel, and adjunct general) in the First Seminole War, a lawyer, a member of the Florida legislature, Surveyor General of Florida, and was the first president of the Florida Historical Society. The son of Dr. Benjamin Putnam and Ann Malcolm he was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1801 at Putnam Plantation. He attended and graduated from Phillips Andover in 1817 and Harvard in 1823 and practiced law in St. Augustine, Florida having moved there to be near his widowed mother. In March, 1830 he married Helen Kirby, daughter of Hon. Ephraim Kirby and Ruth Marvin of Connecticut. They had one daughter - Catherine. He died at his home in Palatka on January 25, 1869.

Catherine Putnam was born January 1, 1831 and married Dr. John C. Calhoun of Charleston, South Carolina. After his death in 1855 she married his brother, William Lowndes Calhoun. She died July 1, 1866. The Calhoun brothers were the sons of the South Carolina orator and Vice President (under two Presidents) John C. Calhoun (after whom Calhoun County, Florida was named in 1836) and his wife Floride Bonneau Colhoun (his first cousin once removed, whose family spelled their name differently than the rest of the family). John and Catherine had two children: John C. who died young and Judge Benjamin Putnam Calhoun. William and Catherine had a son -- William, Jr. After the death of her second husband Catherine, who had moved back to South Carolina, returned with her three sons to live in Palatka.

Family researcher Bill Putman appears to have made the link between Israel and Benjamin Alexander Putnam. One of Israel’s sons was Benjamin Farley Putnam who was born in Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts on August 26, 1751. He served as a surgeon in the Revolutionary War and settled in Savannah before 1787. He was married to Ann Sophia Malcolm who was from Washington, D.C. They had two children who died young: John (1794) and Helen (1792). Their other children were Augustus H. (1792-1817), John Gustavus (1796-1864 in Madison, FL), Charles E. (1797-1847), Caroline (1800-1839 in New Jersey), and our Benjamin Alexander Putnam.


The Society is planning a road trip to Crescent City and Welaka on November 10th. We will be leaving from the grounds of the Bronson-Mulholland House at 9 A.M. Our itinerary will take us to the privately-owned Welaka Maritime Museum, lunch at Three Banana’s Restaurant, and a tour of the Little Blue House Museum in Crescent City. For those wishing to leave the driving to someone else the Society is arranging to charter a bus. If you desire to join us on the bus the cost will be $7.00 per person and we ask that you please RSVP Society President Larry Beaton at 386-329-0811 by 5 P.M. on November 5th as the Society must meet a minimum number of twenty bus riders in order to secure the bus. Hope you can join us!


Mark your calendar for Thursday December 6th as the Society will be holding its annual Christmas social at the Bronson-Mulholland House at 7:00 P.M. Attendees will be treated to the vocal talent of Ms. Sandy Glenn. In addition to a hearty appetite please bring a dessert item or “finger foods” to share with everyone.


The Bronson-Mulholland House came alive with approximately sixty visitors recently as the Putnam County Historical Society hosted a reception for the dedication of the most recent downtown mural, The Battle at Horse Landing by Betty Sutiliff.  House docent Guy Tillis and his mother did a wonderful job with the light hors d'oeuvres and refreshments which made the reception a huge success.  There were quite a few people from out of town who had never visited the Bronson House.  The most repeated comment about the house and grounds was "What a jewel you have here in Putnam County."   "Job well done" to all for showing off  "The Jewel of Putnam County" and a special thanks to Guy and his mother for all of their efforts.