Monday, April 15, 2013

The Massachusetts / Ohio Connection

My mom grew up in the small town of Hamilton, Massachusetts.  It is a quiet place in the middle of Essex County, with old colonial houses.  One of its biggest claims to fame is the wagon train formed by Manasseh Cutler, which took the first settlers to Ohio in 1787.  She often pointed out this historical marker to me, but I couldn't imagine Western style pioneers in Hamilton when I was a little girl.  

On December 3, 1787, the
first covered wagon to leave
Massachusetts for the west
set forth from this spot
arriving the next spring in 
the Northwest Territory and 
founding Marietta, Ohio.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Tercentenary Commission

The Congregational Church of Hamilton, Massachusetts
On the corner of Cutler Road and Bay Road. 

Reverend Manasseh Cutler (1742 – 1823) was born in Killingly, Connecticut.  He graduated from Yale and taught school and dabbled as a lawyer before becoming the pastor of the church in “The Hamlet” parish of Ipswich, Massachusetts (now known as the town of Hamilton).   He became interested in the settlement of the Northwest Territory (Ohio) in 1786 and was an agent of the Ohio Company of Associates,  which also included General Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Winthrop Sargent, James Mitchell Varnum , Richard Platt and Samuel Holden Parsons.  

Manasseh Cutler is the husband of my 3rd cousin, 6 generations removed.  His wife was Mary Balch, born 16 November 1740 in Dedham, Massachusetts.   Our common ancestors are Benjamin Balch (1628 - after 1715) and Sarah Gardner (1627 – 1686) of Beverly, Massachusetts.  In the Ohio Company, Brigadier General Rufus Putnam is my 2nd cousin, 6 generations removed.  Our common ancestors are John Putnam (1570/80 – 1662) and Priscilla Gould (b. abt. 1585) of Salem, Massachusetts.

The settlers who left Hamilton, Massachusetts reached Marietta, Ohio in the spring of 1788.  It was the first permanent settlement of Europeans in the present state of Ohio.  The settlers chartered their first Congregational church in 1796, and built the first building in 1807.   The documents and papers of the Ohio Company of Associates are held in the archives at Marietta College in Ohio. 

Departure on December 3, 1787, from Manasseh Cutler’s parsonage in "The Hamlet” parish of Ipswich, Massachusetts, of the first of two groups comprising the pioneers to the Ohio Country and the Northwest Territory. This image is from the book by Edwin Erle Sparks, The United States of America, Part 1, published in 1904.

Here is a list of the 48 pioneers all from New England (found at Wikipedia on a list carved onto a monument at Front Street in Marietta, Ohio).  Are you a descendant or relative of these families?  I can see several that are surnames from my family tree (Putnam, Munroe, Flint, Gardner).  General Rufus Putnam was a 2nd cousin, six generations removed.  So was Hezekiah Flint, who married Sally Putnam cousin to General Putnam.

General Rufus Putnam, Colonel Return J. Meigs, Sr. (arrived several days later than the others), Colonel Ebenezer Sproat, Major Anslem Tupper, Surveyor John Mathews, Major Haffield White, Captain Ezekiel Cooper, Captain Daniel Davis, Captain Jonathan Devoll (Devol), Captain Peregrine Foster, Captain William Gray, Captain Josiah Munroe (Munro), Captain Jethro Putnam, Jabez Barlow, Daniel Bushnell, Phineas Coburn, Ebenezer Corey (Cory), Samuel Cushing, Jarvis (Jervis) Cutler, Israel Danton, Jonas Davis, Allen Devoll, Gilbert Devoll, Jr., Isaac Dodge, Oliver Dodge, Samuel Felshaw, Hezekiah Flint, Hezekiah Flint, Jr., John Gardner, Benjamin Griswold, Elizur (Elisur) Kirtland, Theophilus Leonard (Learned), Joseph Lincoln, Simeon Martin, Henry Maxom, William Maxom (Mason), William Miller, William Moulton, Edmond (Edmund) Moulton, Amos Porter, Jr., Allen Putnam, Benjamin Shaw, Earl Sproat, David Wallace (Wallis), Joseph Wells, Josiah White, Peletiah White, Josiah Whitridge.
The website of the First Congregational Church, Hamilton, Massachusetts 

Wikipedia Ohio Company of Associates

Barbara Poole's blog "Life from the Roots" has two blog posts about Manasseh Cutler, her 4th great grandfather, at these links:

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. An interesting post Heather! It gives me some clues that I'll need to add to my lengthening genealogy "to do" list. I do not know if I am a descendant or relative of any of these pioneers, but several surnames are included in my genealogy: Mason, Miller, Moulton and Wells.

  2. Heather, thanks for writing about my direct ancestor, Manasseh Cutler, my 4th great-grandfather. I've written about him and he is buried across the street. We went again to his tombstone 3 weeks ago.

  3. How nice to see the home town, Heather. I grew up on Cutler Road, next to the Congregational Church, and my parents are buried in the cemetery across the street. One of the most peaceful and well-kept cemeteries I have visited. I know we've talked about having this in common, but it was good to see the story. I forget which year, but there was a re-enactment of that journey by some local townspeople, I think of my parent's generation. My next door neighbor who was a Smith, was related to Dodges. I know he participated. Perhaps your mother mentioned it. It would have been in the 50's or 60's. As a child without a clear sense of history timelines, the covered wagon story always kind of confused me. How could we have Gen'l Patton's tank in the park downtown, and then a picture of a covered wagon, by the church?!

    1. Yes, my Mom remembers the re-enactment. She grew up on Roosevelt Avenue, near Asbury Grove. We have a lot of relatives in the cemetery across from the church, too. Maybe our Moms went to high school together? Her maiden name was Allen, and there were seven siblings. She knew half the town in the 1940 census schedule. She used to babysit for Gen. Patton's grandchildren.

  4. Hi Heather, we should meet and share info of Hamilton sometime. My mother actually grew up in Marblehead, and moved to Hamilton in 1950 after she and my father married. We lived on Cutler Road, on the edge of the Bradford estate. (now Donovan.) My brother and I were born there and attended school in Hamilton. I'm trying to remember if I knew any Allens. Did any of her siblings stay in Hamilton and have children there? I have all those town reports from 1950 to 2004 when my Mom passed away. Do you know when that reenactment happened? I wonder if it is in one of the reports. Now I'm curious

    1. Yes, most of her brothers stayed in Hamilton. Two still live in Wenham. Allen Oil was run by her brother, and her cousin Harold Allen. Harold is still in Hamilton, and some of my cousins are on the Fire Dept. All the Allen brothers (five of them) used to play baseball on the same team in the 50s and 60s. Do you remember Allen Oil?

  5. Yes, I do! There is some other reason it rings a bell, too. Maybe it's just "Allen Road." I also knew a Cindy Allen in high school...

    1. Mom just wrote me that she didn't babysit Patton's grandchildren, she played with them. Her family was friends with the Patton chauffeur. She did babysit for a Patton cousin. Sorry, Mom!

  6. How very exciting, the first covered wagon west from MA. This information ought to help a lot of people in Ohio. I don't see any of my surnames, but this certainly looks like a list of mostly English names to me. So many of my ancestors are turning out to be English that I'm getting used to the variations.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful post and pictures from Hamilton. Manasseh was my half 3rd cousin 7X removed; Jervis Cutler was my half 4th cousin 6X removed. I also have Putnams and Dodges from Essex County.

    I'm beginning to think we are all related.

  8. Another great post! After moving to Ohio five years ago (as a third-generation Californian), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had Ohio ancestors back to the 1830s; in fact, the Kirtland in your list of names was a forebear of a woman who married into my family. It was also an eye-opener to learn that at one time Ohio was "the West"; something that I must have missed in school.
    For any other Buckeyes (or their descendants) here: any Ohio folks with Cherry or Ketchum in their trees? We might be cousins! And will I see any of you at the Ohio Geneaology Convention next weekend in Cincinnati?

  9. Hi, Heather! Another connection! John Putnam and Priscilla Gould/Deacon. I am descended through their son Thomas Putnam and his daughter Ann Putnam. :)