Excerpt from Chapter One – “A Bright Beginning: Clouds on the Horizon”Published June 29, 2018
October 1, 1838, Malta, Ohio
She begins her letter with the words “My dear Parents.” Twenty-nineyear-
old Sarah Cutler Dawes, living now in the small Ohio town of Malta
on the Muskingum River, is informing her mother and father that they
are grandparents once again. The baby, “whom we call Rufus,” had been
born on the Fourth of July 1838. The name Rufus seemed to fit the occasion.
His namesakes are a Boston cousin who has made a name for himself
as a poet, being a contemporary of Edgar Allen Poe, and the second,
Revolutionary War General Rufus Putnam.
Putnam was the leader of forty-eight daring pioneers who, in the
summer of 1788, established the first United States settlement in the
land north of the Ohio River. Almost all of the settlers were Revolutionary
War veterans and their families. The settlement was located where the
Muskingum joined the Ohio, and they named the town Marietta, in
honor of the French queen, Marie Antoinette, recognizing the critical
support given by France during the American Revolution. Sarah called
Marietta her hometown, though she had grown up on a large farm in the
nearby hilly countryside adjacent to the Ohio River.