Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 Prompt - Father's Day - Ernest Wentworth Putman

Ernest Wentworth Putman 1875-1961
my great grandfather

Ernest Wentworth Putman @ 1881

So, WHO is Ernie's father? Ernie Putman, my great grandfather, was born October 5,1875 in Vermilion County, Illinois.  I have been chasing his father for years and probably will continue for years. Since I have no idea who Ernie’s father is, his paternal line ends with him. A surname I might never know.

On his death certificate his son, Forrest Putman, is the informant and he states that Ernie's parents are Joseph and Elizabeth Putman.  Joseph Putman dies in 1892 and leaves a will where he names his four living children; John, Mary Ellen, Martha "Mattie", and Nancy Jane.  Ernie would have been 17 years old and would have been listed if he was a son. I believe Joseph and Elizabeth Putman were his grandparents and raised him. So which child of Joseph and Elizabeth was his parent?  Based on the evidence I have collected I believe it was their daughter, Mary Ellen Putman. 

Mary Ellen was born December 1857 and would have been 17 when Ernest was born and makes her a very likely candidate as his mother. On January 23, 1878, Mary Ellen Putman, married Charles Prickett and in the 1880 federal census in Vermilion County, Illinois was listed with her husband Charles Prickett, two children, Franklin 2 years and Horatio 5 months old but no five-year-old boy named Ernie. When I looked in the 1880 federal census for Ernest Putman, who should be five years old at that time, he is not listed with his suspected mother Mary Ellen or his grandparents!  I discovered he was hidden in a closet.  There isn’t any five-year-old boy named Ernest living anywhere in Vermilion or surrounding counties.

I would guess that in 1890, the federal census from that year was destroyed, Ernie is living with his grandparents. In 1885 his mother, Mary Ellen Prickett and her husband and then five young children move to Missouri and in the 1900 federal census the Prickett family is living in Boone County, Nebraska with 9 children.  No son named Ernest or born in 1875 living with the family.

In the1900 federal census we find Ernie, 25 years old, married and living with his wife, Cora Elizabeth and two daughters, Hazel and Beulah, living in Rossville Twp., Illinois. His grandmother Elizabeth Putman is living with her daughter Mattie Putman in Henning running the Henning Hotel.

According to the History of Ross and South Ross Townships published by the Rossville Historical Society in 1987, “Ernest “Ernie” Putman was raised by Joseph and Elizabeth Putman, his grandparents.” And, according to Mary Putman, daughter-in-law of Ernest Putman who was married to his son Forrest Putman, “Mary was Ernest’s mother’s name, but I don’t think he had a daddy”.

Ernest Wentworth Putman was presumably raised by his grandparents, married Cora Elizabeth Wilson, had five children and contributed to the Henning community as a storekeeper, threshing machine operator, well driller and plumber.  According to the Rossville publication he never charged enough for his services and was well known and liked by everyone in the community.

So, after 40 years of research I am convinced that Mary Ellen Putman is his mother.  But the question “Who is Ernie’s father?”, and he surely had a daddy, is a puzzle I will continue to try and solve.

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