A HISTORY OF THE GENERAL RUFUS PUTNAM HOUSE...
This magnificent hip roof colonial was built in about 1750 by a man named John Murray, a Scotch-Irish immigrant
who had arrived in the colonies some years earlier as a penniless boy named John MeMorroh. He changed his
name and found his way to Rutland where he worked as a peddler, storekeeper and cattle buyer, and built his
fortunes up so that he became the wealthiest man in town. He served in town government and represented
Rutland for 20 years in the General Court. He also flaunted his wealth and ruled his land like a lord.
In the fiery years before the Revolution Murray was appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth as a
Mandamus Councillor answerable only to the Governor and the King and responsible for overseeing the King's
laws and taxes, an unpopular position with the angry colonists but one which Murray seemed to relish. On the
night of August 24, 1774 an angry mob of 500 men from Worcester marched 12 miles to Rutland to force
Murray to resign. They stoned his house, broke windows and shouted threats. Murray fled with his family by
coach over the back road to Princeton and thence to Boston where he sought asylum with the British. He later
went to New Brunswick and never returned to the United States. All of Murray's properties were confiscated in
1776 during the Revolution and sold by the new government after the war. In the interim the property was leased
by Samuel Babbitt.
This house was purchased in 1781 by General Rufus Putnam for 993 pounds silver. Putnam was one of General
Washington's prized engineers. Born in Sutton in 1738, Putnam received no formal schooling but taught himself
writing and arithmetic with books bought from selling grouse and other game he had shot. Putnam taught himself
to survey land and served three enlistments in the French and Indian War, designing and building defenses
against the French on the Great Lakes. In the Revolution he designed the breastworks on Dorchester Heights
which allowed General Washington to force the British out of Boston shortly after the battle of Bunker Hill.
Putnam was regarded as General Washington's ablest engineer; in one of his many engineering feats he designed
the fortifications that kept West Point on the Hudson River out of British hands.
As a resident of Rutland Putnam filled many town offices but his dream was the settlement of the great Northwest
Territories, as the future states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan were then known. Putnam devised a
plan wherein officers of the Revolution would accept land in the new territory in lieu of wages they were still owed
by Congress. He founded the Ohio Company, a group of war veterans and, with the approval of Congress and
General Washington, established the first town in Ohio, named Marietta, in 1788. One of the founding principles
of the Ohio Company was that slavery should be excluded from the new territory.