Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Uzziel Putnam Jr. (1826-1879), Uzziel Stevens Whitcomb (1817-1898)

Uzziel Putnam Jr. as he appeared in the History of Cass County, Michigan, published in 1882.

   Today's profile highlights the life and political career of one Uzziel Putnam Jr., an oddly named resident of Cass County, Michigan. Mr. Putnam is listed as being the "first white child born in Cass County" and over the the course of his short life served in a number of local political offices, later  distinguishing himself as a member of both houses of the Michigan Legislature.
  Uzziel Putnam Jr. was born the township of Pokagon, Michigan on August 12, 1826, the son of Uzziel Putnam Sr. (1793-1881) and his wife Anna Chapman (died 1880). Uzziel Sr. is noted as being one of the earliest settlers in Cass County and was also a veteran of the War of 1812, serving in the Pennsylvania militia. Uzziel Jr. received his education in the town of Niles, Michigan and in 1849 began attending the University at Ann Arbor, graduating with honors in 1853.
  Soon after his graduation Putnam began pursuing the study of law, eventually reading law in Detroit. After being admitted to the Michigan bar in 1855 he established a law practice in Pokagon, but "soon abandoned it for the quiet home life upon the farm, to which he was accustomed and warmly attached." Putnam engaged in farming for the majority of his life, and in addition to farm work was also named to many local offices of public trust, serving at various times as School Inspector, Justice of the Peace and Circuit Court commissioner.
   In January 1862 Uzziel Putnam married fellow Pokagon native Jane Clyborne, with whom he had three children, Adie (birthdate unknown), Mabel (born 1869) and Ira (birthdate unknown.) Jane Clyborne Putnam died aged 29 in 1871 and in 1875 Uzziel remarried to Lizzie Finch, with whom he had a fourth child, Hilda (born 1875.)
   In 1868 the citizens of Cass County elected Uzziel Putnam to the Michigan State House of Representatives, and the History of Cass County (where the above picture of Putnam was discovered) makes note that the "higher offices in which he filled, like the humble ones, came to him unsought, simply through the recognition and the rewards of his manliness of character." Putnam took his seat in January 1869 and in the next year was elected to the State Senate, serving until 1872. A roster from the 1871 senate session (bearing Putnam's name) is located below.


   Shortly after leaving the senate Putnam was named by then Michigan Governor John Judson Bagley to a seat on the Michigan State Board of Charities, and was reappointed to this board in 1877, serving until his death two years later. While serving on this board Putnam also accepted the position of President of the Cass County Pioneer Society, and as he was the first white child born in Cass County, it was said that he was "particularly suited" for this position, "not alone for the fact that he was the oldest native of the county, but because of the lively interest which he exhibited in all matters of early history and pioneer experience."
   Uzziel Putnam Jr. died at age 52 on February 10, 1879 and was soon after interred in the Sumnerville Cemetery in Sumnerville, Michigan. Putnam was survived by both his mother, father and second wife, and was memorialized in the 1882 History of Cass County as a man who's "character rested on a granite basis and sustained high public virtue and private integrity that nothing could corrupt. He has left streaming behind the bright effulgence of his character to illumine the way for others, and to lighten and soothe the sorrows of bereavement. His life is his eulogy."

 A Michigan legislative resolution mentioning Uzziel Putnam's death in 1879.

   
  A few days after the above article on Uzziel Putnam was published, another politician was discovered who also has the same odd first name "Uzziel". Read on to find out more!

Uzziel S. Whitcomb as he appeared in "The Whitcomb Family In America", published in 1904.

  This oddly named politician is Uzziel Stevens Whitcomb, a longtime resident of Richmond, Vermont who served in both houses of the Vermont legislature. He was born in Richmond on January 21, 1817, the son of Thomas and Anna Stevens Whitcomb and attended schools in the Richmond district.
  Whitcomb married in March 1842 to Ms. Marilla Sheldon, with whom he would have six children. Uzziel and his family relocated to Canada when he was in his twenties and later removed to California to take part in the ongoing gold rush there during the early 1850s. He eventually returned to Jericho, Vermont where he purchased a farm and resided here for nearly a decade, after which he returned to California for a time. 
   In 1864 Uzziel Whitcomb resettled in Richmond, Essex County, Vermont and here purchased a farm. This farm eventually grew to be over a thousand acres and was listed by the Genealogical and Family History of Vermont as "the largest farm in town." Whitcomb spent the majority of his life engaged in farming and "through industry, perseverance and hard work, he succeeded in cultivating his land, so that it yielded him a large amount of profit."
   While farming was obviously Whitcomb's main means of earning a living, he also was a distinguished man of affairs in Richmond. He served as a deacon in the local Congregationalist church and was also elected as town selectman on a number of occasions.  In November 1859 Whitcomb was elected to the Vermont State House of Representatives, where he ably represented the county of Chittenden for one term (1860-1861). Whitcomb was returned to the legislature in November 1865 and served another term from 1866-1867. A roster from that legislative session (bearing Whitcomb's name, along with the other Chittenden County representatives) has been posted below.


  After leaving the legislature in January 1868 Uzziel Whitcomb returned to his farming pursuits and spent time at his farm until 1881, when he was elected to the Vermont State Senate. Taking office in January 1882, Whitcomb was remarked as being the oldest senator serving in that session and held a seat on the committees on Federal Relations and the joint standing committee on Reform Schools.
  Whitcomb served on term in the senate which concluded in 1884. He died in Richmond at age 82 on August 24, 1898 and was subsequently buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Richmond. His wife Marilla survived him by three years, dying in January 1901 at age 80 and was also interred at the Riverview Cemetery.

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