Wednesday, January 31, 2024

2024- Prompt - Influencer - Ernest Wentworth Putman

Ernest Wentworth Putman 1875-1961

Nancy Simmons

-Paul Simmons - my father

-Wallace Simmons - my father's brother

--June Putman - Paul & Wallace's mother, my grandmother

---Ernest Putman - my father's & uncle's grandfather, my great-grandfather



Ernest Wentworth Putman 1875 -1961
My father's maternal grandfather

The prompt Influencer was very difficult for me. I have had so many family members who influenced me through the years. My husband, my siblings, many aunts, and uncles have had an impact on who I am. First, I was looking at who influenced me but then I remembered the stories my father told of living with his maternal grandparents after his father died in 1931. Those stories were about his grandfather Ernest Wentworth Putman. I also recalled a discussion I had with my cousin about how much our great-grandfather influenced her father, my father's brother.

Ernest and Cora (Wilson) Putman's Home 1902
Henning, Vermilion County, Illinois
Beulah, Cora, Hazel, and Ernest holding my grandmother, June

My great-grandfather was Ernest Wentworth Putman who was born October 5, 1875, in Henning, Illinois. He was raised by his grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth (Slusser) Putman. On June 26, 1894, he married my great-grandmother Cora Elizabeth Wilson. He bought a house in Henning and opened a hardware store. In the 1900 federal census, he is listed as a merchant. 

Ernest W. Putman Hardware 1900
Henning, Vermilion County, Illinois

In the 1920 census, he is listed as a garage owner, in 1930 he is listed as a steam engineer and has a general practice, in 1940 he is listed as a well driller and in 1950 he is in well drilling and plumbing.

Ernest W. Putman with horse drawn thrashing machine

In 1931, my grandfather, Walter Simmons, died of pneumonia at the age of 29. He had married my grandmother, June Putman, daughter of Ernest and Cora Putman and they had moved to Dearborn, Michigan to work for Henry Ford. My father's older brother, Wallace was born in June 26, 1921 and my father arrived January 29, 1925. When Walter died in February 1931in Dearborn, Michigan, June and her two sons moved back to Henning, Illinois to live with June's parents, Ernest and Cora.

Ernest Putman sitting on the tractor of the thrashing machinery
Vermilion County, Illinois about 1905

My father was six and Wallace was eleven when they moved to Henning, Illinois to live with their grandparents. They were at a very impressionable age and their grandfather was their male role model. In 1931, their grandfather owned a steam thrashing machine and would travel around the county and help farmers harvest their crops. He was a business manager as well as a machinist. Sometime while the boys were living in Henning their grandfather started a well-drilling business. Again, he managed his business and had machinery to maintain. 

Wallace Simmons, their mother June (Putman) Simmons, and Paul Simmons
about 1934

In April 1934, Wallace and Paul's mother remarried and moved back to Detroit, Michigan. Wallace graduated from Detroit Cass Technical High School and started a job at the Cadillac Motor Car Division while attending Wayne State University. Like his grandfather, he was interested in engineering. In 1942 Wallace joined the U.S. Army and spent time in Europe during WW II in Company A 292nd Engineer Combat Battalion. After the war, he continued his education at the University of Michigan and graduated with a BS Degree in Engineering Mathematics. Wallace continued his education after obtaining a job with Argonne National Laboratory at Illinois Institute of Technology graduating with an MS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Wallace's daughter, Beverly, believes Ernest had a strong influence on her father's career.

Wallace HS graduation, Wallace and Paul, Paul HS graduation

My father Paul Simmons, graduated from Western High School in Detroit and was drafted into the U.S. Army directly after graduation. Paul was in the 76th Division of the 304th Regiment, Company L. He marched across Germany from Belgium to Czechoslovakia. After the war, Paul attended Wayne State University as he worked at A & P grocery store. Paul chose the path of merchant following his grandfather's business career. Paul worked as a produce manager for A&P for several years. In 1952, he started his own grocery business, Lincoln Square Market, on Fort Street in Detroit. Paul also opened a small butcher shop for a short time. In 1960 he took a job as assistant manager of Francis Foods in Temperance, Michigan. About 1970 he became a wholesale distributor for Better Made Potato Chips. The family always associates grocer and merchant to my father.


Paul Simmons and Virgil Smith
Lincoln Square Market 6020 W. Fort Street

Both Wallace and Paul shadowed their grandfather in their careers. My cousin was spot on when she stated that Wallace's grandfather influenced her father and I believe he also greatly influenced my father.


Wallace Simmons, Ernest Putman, and Paul Simmons
1958 Putman Family Reunion 


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