Frank L. Putnam, 1867 – 1942
Not only do we each have a father, but our fathers and mothers had fathers too! We each have a legacy of fathers to remember.
Today and throughout this week, I particularly remember the stories I heard about my Great Grandfather Frank L. Putnam. My hometown and his hometown, Richburg, NY, became the roughest toughest boom town in the US in 1881 when oil was discovered there. Frank, only 16 at the time, came from a line of farmers. Suddenly 8,000 people moved to Richburg overnight. The boom went on for a year before another oil discovery took the crowd to another town. Meanwhile, there still was plenty of rich oil in the ground (and still is). Frank worked in the oil fields as a young man, eventually becoming an entrepreneur with the establishment of the Putnam Oil Company around 1898.
Frank Putnam was not only respected as a good businessman but also as a good man, a generous man. He achieved becoming a Third Degree Mason and held membership in the Richburg First Day Baptist Church. My brother remembers townspeople speaking gratuitously about our great grandfather. One of his paper customers who had run the grocery store in town, related stories of Frank paying off grocery charge accounts for local people who could not afford their bills. He also paid off a woman’s home before there was a foreclosure so she could retain her home. The kindness and upright character of this wealthy, successful, respected businessman were well known in the entire area. He died in 1942, and his wife passed in 1946. The following spring, my family moved into the Putnam homestead. I grew up among his furniture, household goods, and hearing many endearing stories of him and his wife. The above photo sat in a prominent place in our living room. Several family members have been named after him down to current generations.
The Bolivar Pioneer Oil Museum in my home area annually inducts an oil producer, living or dead, into their Hall of Fame. My brother proposed our great grandfather. He will be inducted this Friday, June 26, 2015!