As we have already seen, the town of Putnam was incorporated in May, 1855. After incorporation and organization the town set to work to adjust the many perplexing questions which naturally confront a new corporation just starting out upon its voyage of existence. Settlement with mother towns was amicably effected within a few months. Nine and a half square miles and 1,376 inhabitants had been taken from Thompson; seven and a half square miles and 275 inhabitants from Killingly; three square miles and 168 inhabitants from Pomfret. The population of the new town was thus 2,319. of which about three-fourths were included in the village. The prescribed bounds were run by competent surveyors from the respective towns and confirmed by town authorities. Putnam’s share of the property of the several towns, the school deposit fund and other funds.-together with her proportion of public poor, were promptly made over, and its various affairs were soon settled upon a satisfactory basis. Lucian Carpenter was appointed sealer of weights and measures. It was voted that the number of selectmen, assessors and board of relief should be three each; of grand jurymen, four. October 1st, the town vas Balled to vote upon its first constitutional amendment” That every person shall be able to read any article of the state constitution before being admitted as elector.” The votes cast were 153—88 in favor, 65 against the amendment, On the same day the town held its first annual meeting and completed its quota of town officers. Assessors chosen were Seth Babbitt, Eli R. Davis, Warren W. White; board of relief, Benjamin Bray ton, Richmond Bullock, Daniel Alton; selectmen, Horace Seamans, Walter S. Burlingame, Chandler A. Spalding; town clerk, treasurer and registrar, James W. Manning; constables, Riley Smith, Archibald Kennedy; fence viewers, David Clark, Lucius E. Sawyer, Dan Cutler; grand jurors, Alanson Herandean, George E. A. Bugbee, Erastus Torrey, Abel Dresser, Martin Leach; sealer of weights and measures, Lucian Carpenter; pound keeper, Riley Page; haywards, Charles Pike, Prosper Bundy, Horace Cutler, Olney Whipple, Elliott Carpenter, George Perry, Palmer Hide; agent of town deposit fund, Asa Cutler. The assessors were ordered to make an equal assessment of every person’s property according to actual value without reference to old abstracts-George Buck, George Warren, Richmond Bullock, auditors of accounts. Rooms in the Brick Block were to be hired for public meetings. The first justices chosen April 1st, 1856, were Horace Seamans, Hiram A. Brown, Henry C. Reynolds, Warren AV. White. The first representative was Richmond M. Bullock. A probate court was constituted the same year and justice Horace Seamans unanimously elected judge.
Thus legally established and provided with competent officers, Putnam went bravely onward, preeminently the modern town of northeastern Connecticut, booming with life, hope and energy, rejoicing in its admirable location and manufacturing and railroad facilities. From its first starting it had the good fortune to draw from the surrounding sections young men of sterling character and active business habits, who identified themselves with the interests of the town, and gave their best energies to its upbuilding and development. As in earlier years ” God sifted three kingdoms to furnish seed for the planting of New England,” so some of the best elements of three substantial towns were enwrought into the foundations of Putnam. Its subsequent growth has kept pace with this favorable beginning. Built up mainly by the gradual accession of men of moderate means and large energies, this growth has been healthful and natural, till now it stands among the leading inland towns of New England, in many respects a model among modern manufacturing and railroad towns-its distinguishing characteristic a large-hearted and aggressive public spirit, ever ready to make sacrifice of self for the good of the public. Its population at the latest count was nearing seven thousand; grand list, $1,995,008. For thirty-four years it has had the good fortune to retain as town clerk, treasurer and registrar the man who received the first choice of its voters, James W. Manning. Selectmen in 1888 Omer La Rue, Lawson I. Bowen, Walter P. White; assessors, Charles D. Torrey, Prescott Bartlett, Peter M. Le Clair; board of relief, Patrick O’Leary, Warren W. White, John S. D. Grant; grand jurors, Louis Elontie, Edward Fly, John R. Cogswell, Lebbeus E. Smith; constables, Milo P. Corbin, Byron W. Carpenter, William H. Longdon, Edward De Croner, George B. Ingraham; haywards, 1. Fred Cutler; 2. William R. Holland; 3. David E. Clark; 4. M. O. Bowen; 5. William A. Pearson; 6. Ashael Batty; S. Walter White, auditors of town accounts, Samuel R. Spalding, William A: Pearson. The running expenses of the town for the year ending August 31st, 1888, were $30,000. Like other modern towns with lofty aspirations Putnam has been compelled to cumber itself with a debt in carrying out the various improvements that have seemed imperatively needful, whose interest is a heavy item in annual expenditure. Among the extras of 1888 were some $700 expended in clearing the roads of snow, after the famous March blizzard.
Putnam, as previously hinted, has been greatly exercised by the uncertain laying out of some of its first roads. By untiring effort these difficulties have been in a great measure surmounted, old streets widened and new ones laid out where needful. Among her notable achievements has been the clearing up, laying out and transformation of the hills east of the village, which in 1855 were still reposing in aboriginal rudeness, covered with rock and forest. One of the first to aid in the transformation of Oak hill was Mr. Ebenezer Farrows, who purchased wild land on the east side of. Oak hill, together with a boggy swamp eastward. By hard labor in draining this swamp and clearing the brush, Mr. Farrows prepared the way for human habitation. A street that bears his name now runs from Ring street to Walnut street, continuing thence over what were formerly the wooded heights of Shippee hill. Handsome dwelling houses, “beautiful for situation,” adorn the various streets crowning Oak hill. Many public spirited citizens have aided in this work of transformation, clearing off the road, digging out rocks, making ready for the laying out of convenient streets. An angle long left to disreputable rubbish, has been lately purified, reconstructed and built up with tasteful dwellings, through the enterprise of Doctor Miller. Even the historic `.Dow’s Grove,” with all its serious and mirthful associations, its memories of religious meetings, band concerts and rink skating, has been forced to bow before the ruthless hand of progress. Purchased by one most prominent in the later building up of the town at a recent date, it is already reclaimed, graded, laid out into handsome streets and a large number of eligible building lots, offering ample accommodations for many present and prospective residents.
Source: History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889