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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Royal Visitors

In July, 1839, King Louis Philippe I of France received an American visitor, a Mr. Hughes, the American charge d’affaires in Stockholm. After introductions, conversation turned to the King’s visit to America in the late 1790’s.

King: “Have you ever been at Marietta?”
Mr. Hughes responded yes, that he had lived there for several years. 
King: “Did you know a French baker there, named Thierry?” Francis Thierry was a French immigrant who arrived in Marietta in 1790 with his wife and two children.
Mr. Hughes answered that indeed he knew Thierry.
King: Explaining with amusement, “Well, I once carried him away from his family,” referring to a decades-earlier incident during Louis Philippe’s visit to Marietta in 1797. More about this episode later. 

Louis Philippe De’Orleans, later King Louis Philippe I, “King of the French” visited the United States in 1796 and 1797. The King often amazed visitors with his memory of minute details of his American tour decades earlier. 

King Louis Philippe I, Getty image -  Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1841

Marietta Connection - Ephraim Cutler
There were two Louis Philippe encounters with a Marietta connection. The first was a chance meeting with pioneer leader Ephraim Cutler who recorded the event in his journal. He met two Frenchmen while boiling salt at the "Salt Works"1 on Salt Creek in Muskingum County, Ohio. He was working there with a friend, Peter Noblaise, a Frenchman who had emigrated to Gallipolis,Ohio.

The two visitors asked to stay with Cutler and Noblaise that night. At the cabin Cutler noted that the three Frenchmen became "quite loquacious in their native language." Noblaise was a good singer and sang the Marseilles hymn and several French airs. Cutler reported that one of the men asked him detailed questions about the Ohio Company, and the settlements at Marietta and Gallipolis. After midnight they retired. Ephraim gave the man his bunk and bear skin. As they left the next day, Louis’ companion explained to Noblaise that the other man was Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans. He would later be King of France

Louis Philippe was born into royalty in the House of Orleans in 1773. He and his family supported the French Revolution. At age eighteen he was given a command in the French army. He performed well but was forced to flee when he was implicated in an ill-fated attempt to overthrow the French government. He spent the next twenty years in exile from France.

 Young Louis Philippe, Duke of Chartres in 1792 by Léon Cogniet wikipedia. 

Louis Philippe and his two brothers, Antoine Philippe, the Duke de Montpensier,  and Louis Charles, Duke De Beaujolais, toured the United States. Louis Philippe was anxious to see natural wonders, Indians, and the backwoods of the new country. The introduction to Louis Philippe's Diary of My Travels to America, observed: "What is amazing is the breadth of his experiences and the distances he covered when most of the Eastern half of the United States remained unknown and unexplored.“ 

Marietta visit
Louis’ other local visit was a stop at Marietta in December of 1797 toward the end of their American tour. They were on a keelboat trip down the Ohio River, headed  to New Orleans and a return trip to Europe. It was December. River travel was treacherous with the ice, swift currents, and snags. They pressed on anyway. 

At Marietta they stopped for supplies. Louis Philippe wanted fresh bread was directed to the Francis Thierry, the baker whom King Louis Philippe recalled. He had no bread available at that moment and fired up his oven to begin baking. The group obtained their supplies and toured Marietta. They were fascinated by the Indian mound earthworks ("interesting ancient remains") and made a sketch of them. 

As they prepared to leave Marietta, Mr. Thierry rushed the fresh bread to the group's boat on the Muskingum River. But ice on the river was breaking up at that exact moment. The boat lurched away from the shore - with Thierry still on board - to avoid the ice. He was frightened but soon was deposited on dry land by canoe when the ice danger passed. The future King and his party continued down the Ohio River grateful for the fresh bread. He would later amuse listeners, such as Mr. Hughes, in retelling the adventure of "kidnapping" a French baker at Marietta.

The American Tour
Louis Philippe had arrived from Europe in October 1796 at Philadelphia, then the U. S. Capital. He met many prominent people while there and made a good impression. He was described as “modest, amiable, unpretending, cheerful, forgetful of his lost rank." Louis Philippe witnessed the inauguration of John Adams and heard Washington's last speech as President. He reportedly proposed marriage to a young lady. She apparently was willing, but her father was not: "As an exile, destitute of means, you are not a suitable match for my daughter." 

Louis Philippe was not a typical prince in demeanor or lifestyle. He and his brothers had been educated by a governess, Madame De Genlis. They learned by doing through games and role playing. They learned other languages. They spoke only English at lunch; Italian at dinner; German when working with a German gardener. They were toughened by sports, long walks, and sleeping on the floor. He also developed medical skills working with a surgeon. It was an education for adversity as well as for the royal life. Louis Philippe recalled later that his governess "brought us up with ferocity."

Lithograph after the painting by David showing him in Switzerland circa 1793 teaching geography and mathematics under an assumed name at the college at Reichenau during his 21 years of exile from France. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images). A few years after this he visited America.

His two brothers joined him in America after a long sea voyage in February of 1797. Soon the trio was off to explore. One of the the first stops was Mount Vernon. They visited with George Washington for four days. Washington gave them a recent Abraham Bradley map of the United States and traced a recommended itinerary in red ink. The future king impressed visitors by showing them the "George Washington" map years later.

Abraham Bradley map approx 1796; similar to the map George Washington gave Louis Philippe. Viewed at Tennessee Virtual Archive.  

They next wound their way through Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southern Ohio. Often they lodged with locals, sleeping on the floor surrounded by the occupants, sounds, and smells of a cramped cabin. They stayed one night with a Captain Chapman in Tennessee who wondered out loud why they would “endure all the fatigues of a hard journey to see wilderness, savages, and other (unworthy things).” 

At Chillicothe, Ohio, Louis Philippe stopped a barroom brawl, rescuing the landlord. They endured bedbugs, coarse manners, indifferent workers, excess drinking by the settlers, and periods of rough travel. Antoine Philippe wrote to his sister in August 1797 after a rugged two weeks in New York State: “We have spent fourteen nights in the woods, devoured by all kinds of insects, soaked to the bone, unable to get dry, eating pork and sometimes a little salt beef and corn-bread.” 

There were also delightful visits and excellent hospitality. They met prominent people in cities like Pittsburgh, Boston, and Philadelphia. There were surprise encounters with emigrants from France. One of these, Chavelier Dubac, ran a sweet shop in Pittsburgh. His pet monkey, Sultan, entertained guests. 

They spent time with Indians to learn more about them. Louis coaxed Cherokees in Tennessee to play a lacrosse-type game. At a Seneca Indian Reservation in New York state, he successfully treated a tribal chief by bleeding him. The chief granted Louis the high honor of sleeping on the family mat - between the grandmother and great aunt. 

The brothers departed the U.S. from New Orleans in August of 1798 bound for Cuba. They finally reached England in February of 1800, after a series of harrowing delays. Louis Philippe eventually ascended the French throne as Louis Philippe I, “King of the French” in 1830. He wrote to  historian François Guizot in 1839: “My three years’ residence in America have had a great influence on my political opinions and on my judgment of the course of human affairs.” 

His reign promised to be middle-of-the-road. He was called “citizen king.” Attempts at reforms were frustrated by political and economic unrest. There were seven assassination attempts on the King's life. He was deposed in the French Revolution of 1848. That ended the monarchy for good. Louis Philippe I was the last King of France. He died in 1850.

  1. The Salt Works was a salt deposit along Salt Creek in Muskingum County. Surrounding communities formed the "Salt Springs Company" to make salt. Volunteers worked long, tedious hours boiling the salt water to produce salt crystals for community needs. They sold the surplus. Ephraim Cutler was among the volunteers working that day.

Abbott, Jacob, Louis Philippe, New York and London, Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1901
Bishop, Morris, “Louis Philippe in America,“ American Heritage Magazine, Volume 20, Issue 3, 1969, viewed at 
Cutler, Julia Perkins, Life and Times of Ephraim Cutler, Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co, 1890
“Louis Philippe,” NNDB tracking the entire world, 
“Louis-Philippe Biography,” , editors,
“Louis Philippe I,”
Perley Poore, Ben, Rise and Fall of Louis Philippe, Ex-King of the French, Boston, William D. Ticknor & Company, 1848 
Wright, Rev. G. N.  Life and Times of Louis Philippe, Ex-King of the French,
London, Peter Jackson, Late Fisher, and Son

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Marietta and the Queen

What do the names Castrapolis, Protepolis, Urania, Tempe, Genesis, and Adelphia have in common? They were discussed as possible names for the new settlement at Marietta. Adelphia was the strongest contender; it was advocated by pioneer leader/lobbyist Manasseh Cutler. In a December 3, 1787 letter to Rufus Putnam, he stated, ”I feel a partiality for the name proposed at Boston, and think it preferable to any that has yet been mentioned. I think that Adelphia will, upon the whole, be the most eligible. It strictly means brethren, and I wish it may ever be characteristic of the Ohio Company.”

The city was ultimately named Marietta, in honor of Marie Antoinette, then the flamboyant Queen of France. The French had played an important role in support of the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Many of the pioneers had a personal acquaintance with the French nobleman Marquis de Lafayette who had served with distinction as a soldier, commander, and diplomat for the American side. The Queen herself was said to be an ardent supporter of the colonies. 

This story was brought to mind by a newspaper report on October 16 this year. My wife noticed it and said to me, “Did you know that Marie Antoinette was beheaded on this date in 1793?” I looked up blankly from my iPad. Synapses slowly began to fire; dots were connecting.....Marie Antoinette....Queen of France during the French Revolution....yes! - Marietta’s namesake. Now I had to know more. 

The Ohio Company Directors passed a resolution on July 2, 1788 as follows:  “Resolved, that the City near the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio (Rivers), be called MARIETTA (and) That the Directors write to his Excellency the Compte Moustiers, informing him of their motives in naming the city and requesting his opinion, whether it will be adviseable to present to her majesty of France, a public square-“ Moustiers was the French ambassador to the United States at the time. 

There was no record of a response from the Queen or French officials to the naming of the city and the offer of land. A report circulated that the Queen had sent a commemorative bell to Marietta which was lost at sea. But that has never been verified. 

Ohio Company Directors designated Square Number 1 (where Mound Cemetery is now) as Marie Antoinette Square. It was leased to Rufus Putnam on March 7, 1791 for a period of ten years for maintenance and beautification.  By that time, the Queen’s name was no longer attached to the square. 

Mound Cemetery, Illustration from Squier and Davis Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi, viewed at This was named Marie Antoinette Square for a period of time before it became a cemetery. 

Queen Marie Antoinette lived a life of extremes: from the pinnacle of royal power and wealth to imprisonment, disgrace, and public execution. She was born an Austrian princess and given in marriage at age 14 to Louis Auguste de Bourbon, heir apparent to the French throne. For her May 1770 wedding, she was escorted to France with an entourage that included 57 carriages, 117 footmen and 376 horses.

Marie Antoinette at age 13 by Joseph Ducreux. Viewed at Wikipedia. This portrait was sent to her future husband in France so he could see what she looked like.

In 1774, the couple became king and queen - he at age 19, she at 18. Early in her reign, she was famous for profligate spending, flamboyant dress, and wild socializing. Tabloid-type gossip exaggerated her public image. She was vilified for shameless opulence while many in France - and the national treasury - were impoverished. Later in her reign, she focused more on her children, political issues, and cultural interests. She is credited with influencing policy leading to French support of the American cause in the Revolutionary War.

This 1787 State Portrait of Marie Antoinette and her three surviving children, Marie Thérèse, Louis Charles (on her lap), and Louis Joseph holding up the drape of an empty bassinet signifying the recent death of Marie's fourth child, Sophie, was meant to improve her reputation by depicting her as a mother in simple, yet stately attire (by Vigée-Lebrun, 1787). From

But the royal couple were resistant to the teeming social and political changes in France. The French Revolution forced her and King Louis VI from power. She was convicted of treason on trumped up charges and publicly beheaded, as her husband had been earlier that year, on October 16, 1793. Her body was placed in an unmarked grave.

Marie Antoinette's execution on 16 October 1793: Sanson, the executioner(left, on platform), shows Marie Antoinette's head to the people (anonymous, 1793). CLICK TO ENLARGE. 

Read  "10 Things You May Not Know About Marie Antoinette" at at this link:
Number 10 on that list says: “A U.S. city is named in honor of Marie Antoinette.” That city is Marietta, Ohio.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Smallpox, pioneer scourge

Smallpox. Among the many hardships that the early Washington County pioneers endured was illness, often severe and sometimes fatal. There was bilious fever, scarlet fever, malaria, yellow fever, cholera, and .....smallpox. I read about smallpox often in stories of early settlers. It was only when I saw this photo that the devastation of the disease sank in. 

Young girl in Bangladesh with smallpox, from Wikipedia.

Smallpox has been around for centuries. The first evidence of the disease was from Egyptian mummies dating from the third century BCE. Smallpox occurred in outbreaks all over the world. An estimated 200 million died in the twentieth century alone; many survivors suffered blindness and severe scarring.

Your author was surprised to learn that immunization techniques for smallpox were developed several centuries ago, likely in Asia. Tissue from smallpox sufferers was rubbed or inserted into a scratch in the skin of the person to be immunized. That person would contract smallpox, usually in a less severe form, and thereafter would be immune. This treatment, referred to as variolization, was imported into Europe around 1720. It was a crude and not always successful form of immunization which preceded more modern vaccination techniques. It was widely used in the 1700’s, including at Marietta. 

Yet smallpox remained a scourge which impacted pioneer settlers. Many contracted the disease. Dozens died. Survivors could be blind or disfigured by scars. Courageous doctors and caregivers risked their lives to treat those infected.

Reverend Manasseh Cutler treated smallpox patients in his native Massachusetts. There was an outbreak of the disease in 1772 at Marblehead, MA. Patients were to be admitted to a hospital at Cat Island where Cutler visited. Local residents panicked fearing that the influx of infected patients would spread the disease. They burned down the hospital. The specter of smallpox appeared again in early 1779. Cutler by then had become a physician after training during the previous year. He inoculated and treated 40 or more patients during that period.

The original work party headed to Marietta in 1788 was slowed by smallpox. A group under Major White struggled west from Massachusetts over rough Pennsylvania terrain. In February 1788 they arrived at Simrill’s Ferry on the Youghiogheny River to build boats for the trip down the Ohio River to Marietta. The boat building was delayed by, among other things, smallpox which afflicted five of the party.

The initial outbreak of smallpox at Marietta began in January, 1790. A boat bound for Kentucky stopped at Marietta with a sick passenger, a Mr. Welch, and his family. He was taken to the home of James and Mary Gardner Owen. His disease was the dreaded smallpox. Residents met and decided to build a “pest house” (a building for quarantine and treatment of contagious disease patients, including smallpox) near where Marietta College is now. Mr. Welch was moved there but died a few days later. Mrs. Owen became ill with the disease but later recovered. 

London Pest House image, from Wikipedia. Pest houses originated for epidemics in Europe, such as bubonic plague. Some buildings were quite large. Burial grounds (the “plague pit” in this image caption) were often near the pest house, away from public areas.

Residents were concerned about contagion because of living in close quarters at Campus Martius. There was a town meeting at the northwest blockhouse at Campus Martius. They decided to build more pest houses and to have everyone “inoculated” (using the variolization technique described above). Several of these houses were built “on the plain,” probably in area where Fifth Street and Marietta College are now. One house held 23 patients; another occupied by Colonel Stacy and his family had 20 people. Of the hundred plus people inoculated, only two died. Six people died who became sick by contagion. Doctors Jabez True and Thomas Farley cared for the sick.

Apparently some pest houses were quite small and the quarters cramped. Master builder Joseph Barker stayed in one for a while. He and his wife Elizabeth Dana Barker moved to Marietta in 1789. When the January 1790 smallpox outbreak occurred, Mrs. Barker moved to Belpre to live with her parents until the danger passed. Joseph Barker remained in Marietta and was inoculated with smallpox and moved into a pest house. He rather cheerily described it in a letter to his wife: “I am living in a little clean log cabin that is six feet wide, seven feet long and four and a half high.” He could sit up but not stand up. “We lodge very well.” He survived the sickness and was reunited with his wife and infant son Joseph Jr. a few weeks later.

Mary Bird Lake provided invaluable assistance in this smallpox outbreak. She was a native of England who married Archibald Lake and emigrated to the colonies. She served as a matron of two hospitals caring for wounded and sick Revolutionary War soldiers, including those with smallpox. She received personal thanks from George Washington for her work. Washington commented in 1777 that smallpox was a potentially greater threat than “the sword....of the enemy.”

The Lakes moved to Marietta in 1789 with their eight children. Williams’ History of Washington County Ohio (hereafter, “William History”): "The spring after their arrival the small pox broke out, and during the terrible pestilence Mrs. Lake served a crucial role as nurse." She was familiar with the inoculation technique and guided the physicians who had no experience with smallpox treatment. 

1793 brought an extensive smallpox outbreak in Washington County. In August, scarlet fever and then smallpox appeared in Marietta at Picketed Point, spread from militia soldiers in Colonel Haskell’s command. The Court of Quarter Sessions met on August 7 and ordered removal of the infected persons to Mixer’s spring. The Court met again August 9 and ordered the sick relocated to Devol’s Island, presumably a more isolated location, on the Muskingum River.

Smallpox broke out in September 1793 at the beleaguered Belpre community, which had endured famine, Indian threats, and scarlet fever in recent times. A scout named Benjamin Patterson brought the disease; he had been inoculated in Marietta. The Belpre community initiated “heroic measures,” knowing of the contagion risk of living in close quarters. They sent for Dr. Jabez True from Marietta to inoculate the entire community at Farmer’s Castle (the fortified enclosure at Belpre), which became “one great hospital.” Dr. Samuel Barnes also cared for smallpox patients at Belpre. 

The immunization effort protected the community from devastation. About a hundred were inoculated. Most survived the resulting mild form of smallpox. Five people died, though, testimony to the imperfect inoculation method. 

The family of Simon Deming moved to Rainbow on a donation tract in 1796. They erected a cabin there and cleared an area for farming. Williams’ History has a curious commentary: “During the following season an epidemic of smallpox spread across the county, and the young men of the neighborhood made the Deming cabin a pest house.” Several families of the Deming clan were “confined within this one cabin, where they were waited on by a physician from Virginia.” Who were the “young men”? Were they providing a needed community service or enforcing a quarantine vigilante style? And were the Demings forced to stay in this cabin?

Early physicians were often called on to minister to smallpox patients, in addition to other illnesses. Dr. Jabez True “was many times exposed to the attacks of the Indians, as he passed up and down the Ohio (River) in his visits to Belpre and still lower on the river, to minister to the sick...., numerous trips were made in a canoe, accompanied, generally, by two men.” 

Settlers in Washington County endured much the first few years. Williams’ History captured the essence of what they suffered: ...the terrible scourge had been prevented from doing its worst. Though sorely tried, (they) were destined to neither succumb to the Indian, to famine, to fever, nor to pestilence.”

In 1796 English surgeon Edward Jenner developed an improved vaccine using cowpox virus. Persons vaccinated could be immunized from smallpox without being sickened by it. Jenner had noticed during his surgeon apprenticeship that milk maids and dairy farmers who had suffered from the less virulent cowpox were immune from smallpox. Dr. Jenner devised a vaccine and inoculated an eight year old boy who proved immune from smallpox. Jenner presented his findings; years of suspicion and controversy followed. Finally, in 1800, his method was widely adopted.

Dr Edward Jenner performing his first vaccination on James Phipps, a boy of age 8. 14 May 1796. Painting by Ernest Board (early 20th century). He noticed that milk maids who had been sick with cowpox were immune from smallpox and developed a vaccination
 process using cowpox.

Millions of people were saved from smallpox, yet millions of the unvaccinated died into the twentieth century. With improved vaccine and wider distribution, smallpox was finally eliminated as a health hazard. The last reported case was in 1977.


Andrews, Martin R., History of Marietta and Washington County and Representative Citizens, Chicago, Biographical Publishing Company, 1902

Cutler, William Parker and Julia Perkins, Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, L.L.D. Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co, 1888

Hildreth, Samuel P., Pioneer History: Being an Account of the First Examinations of the Ohio Valley and the Early Settlement of the Northwest Territory, Cincinnati, H. W. Derby & Co., 1848,

Hildreth, Samuel, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of the Early Pioneer Settlers of Ohio, Cincinnati, H. W. Derby & Co., 1852

Ridiel, Stefan, M.D., Ph D., “Edward Jenner and the History of Smallpox Vaccination,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, National Center for Biothechnology Information, viewed at

Waller, A. E., “Dr. Samuel P. Hildreth 1783-1863,” Ohio History Journal, Vol 53, Smallpox, Smallpox Vaccination, Smallpox Variolization

Williams, H. Z., History of Washington County Ohio, Cleveland, H. Z. Williams and Bro, 1881

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Rufus Putnam: the early years

Rufus Putnam, one of Marietta’s founders, a millwright, surveyor, veteran of two wars, pioneer leader, civil servant - faced many hardships in his early life. But those hardships in life and military service formed the foundation for decades of leadership and accomplishment. 

Note: Words in bold are your author’s emphasis of Putnam’s traits.

Profile portrait from Wikipedia. Portraits of Rufus Putnam are mostly from middle age or older, and he preferred to be viewed from the left side.

At age seven his father died. Life with his stepfather, Captain John Stadler, after his mother remarried was harsh. He was not allowed to attend school. Stadler believed intellectual pursuits were a waste of time. Biographer Samuel Hildreth noted that Rufus “craved...instruction and would not be appeased without it. He persisted and largely taught himself.  Rufus used scant earnings from waiting tables at Stadler’s public house to buy powder and shot. With that, he shot game birds, sold them for cash, and bought reading and arithmetic books.

As a young adult he took on the obligations of military service. Below are notes from Rufus Putnam’s Journal (quotes are from The Life of Rufus Putnam with Extracts from His Journal unless noted).

The French and Indian War between Great Britain and France, began in 1754. On March 15, 1757, at age nineteen, he enlisted as a “provincial” soldier (volunteer from the American colonies) with the British forces. It was not easy duty.

July 8, 1757: He and two other rangers were sent forward to scout an area near Lake Champlain. They were stranded without adequate clothing or bedding for 2 days when their unit withdrew without them.

July 23: At 8:00 am, Indians attacked his unit near Fort William Henry. There were thirteen dead and one missing. “This was the first sight I had of the Indian butcherings and it was not very agreeable to the feelings of a young soldier.” 

August 3: A French Army laid siege to Fort William Henry; on August 9 the garrison of outnumbered British soldiers surrendered. While Putnam’s group of Provincial soldiers were marching to surrender at Fort Edward, Indians attacked “and a most horrid butchery ensued.”  The terms of surrender allowed the British to leave peacefully. Indians on their own began wantonly attacking British soldiers and civilians, including women and children.

Fort William Henry image. For more detail about the fort, click here.

Engraving of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm trying to stop Native Americans from attacking British 
soldiers and civilians. Viewed at engraving by Alfred Bobbett, ca. 1824-1888 or 9, engraver, based on painting by Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 1822-1888

October 8: Most men in his ranger unit were discharged. He was drafted into a group of carpenters until November 8 to finish building fortifications at Fort Edward. 

November 18: “Three Hundred and Sixty of us were drafted into....winter quarters. This was a great and unexpected disappointment.” They expected to be discharged earlier when the fighting was over.

February 3: His unit’s official enlistment expired, but the commanding officer insisted they remain and threatened them with death if they left. They set out anyway for Fort Hoosac at 3:00 am. Knee deep snow. Their provisions were barely enough for 2-3 days. 

February 4: Snowy, stormy day. Disappointed that they did not reach the fort that evening. 

February 5: Started early expecting to reach the fort by noon. “Noon and night came but no fort...Provisions nearly exhausted...several men froze their feet.”

February 6: Realized they had taken a wrong turn along the river. Changed course. Camped on a mountain top. Snow five feet deep.

February 7: Thirty men breakfasted on a small turkey. Followed a small stream which grew into a river by days end - an encouraging sign. Nothing to eat but beech nuts and a few cranberries. “Night found us very faint and much fatigued,” but hopeful.

February 8: Rough terrain. “Men...feeble and lame with frozen feet.” In their desperate need for food, they killed the dog that had accompanied them and ate it. “It was carefully butchered and divided” so that each man received the same amount.     

February 9: Better conditions for walking. Spirits bolstered by signs of human activity and familiar landmarks. 

February 10: Arrived at the fort by 10 am where they were cared for and fed. Rufus Putnam stated that for the entire march he had carried the pack (in addition to his own) of Ichabod Dexter, who had severe frost bite. 

February 15, 1758: Arrived home at Brookfield, Mass.

April 10, 1758: Rufus re-enlisted:  “Notwithstanding my late sufferings (in the previous campaign), I again engaged for another campaign in the Provincial service.”

June 12: He was assigned to a unit of engineers who were sent to Lake George to build defenses in advance of the army’s campaign to take Fort Ticonderoga (then “Fort Carillon”).

July 5: 17,000 British troops advanced in boats along Lake George towards the fort. On July 6, General George Howe, second-in command of the army and beloved by the troops, was killed in an initial skirmish. This was a major blow to troop morale. 
July 8: Putnam’s regiment was building a breastwork (temporary earthen fortification). There was a constant barrage of cannon and musket fire. In the late afternoon he volunteered to carry ammunition forward to the front lines. The army had retreated to a breastwork. He was shocked to see “so many of our men killed and wounded.”

Fort Ticonderoga ("Fort Carillon" at the time - from, photo by Carl Heilman II

British troops had suffered a humiliating loss at Fort Ticonderoga. Rufus returned to his regiment of Provincial engineers. At midnight they began a march in retreat to Fort William Henry.

Howe’s death prompted a poignant reaction at the time from Rufus, “...I was so panic struck that I remain(ed) with the boat guard (away from the fighting);..... however, I recovered, at least in a measure, (and rejoined) the regiment.” He admitted accepting the risky assignment to carry ammunition to the front lines on July 8 “lest my reputation should suffer” for having shown cowardice after Howe’s death.

His reflection continued: “I have heard that some men say that...they like to fight as well as they like to eat. I never had any such feelings; so far as I am able to judge for myself, it was pride and a wish to excel, ...that influenced me, at that period of life....”

July 22: Putnam’s unit was employed repairing roads from Fort Edward to Albany until October 29 when they were discharged.

November 9, 1758: He returned to Sutton, Mass., his hometown. “Thus I carried through a second campaign, enjoying uninterrupted health, the friendship of my officers, and never charged with any crime. But alas! On my journal I cannot find any acknowledgment to my Divine Benefactor and Preserver.”

April 2, 1759:  He enlisted again: “I this day engaged the Provincial service for the third campaign.”

July 22: A new campaign for taking Fort Ticonderoga was underway. British forces advanced. At 1:00 am on July 27, there was a spectacular explosion which lit up the night. The French had blown up the fort’s munitions and retreated.

August 4: Regular provincial soldiers were discharged. Rufus agreed to continue work building saw mills for a promised dollar a day. 

November 30: After four months of work, he was discharged, but the engineer in charge did not honor the dollar a day agreement. Rufus was paid only 15 cents per day for his hard work. “I was cheated,” his journal notes with exasperation.

December 1: Embarked with eleven others in two bateaux (large boats) to cross Lake George bound for Fort George. Another ordeal lay ahead. Weather good but worsened. Had to stay the night on a small island. Became very windy and cold.

December 2: Too windy to proceed; “it was never colder since my remembrance.”

December 3: Provisions all gone; “...the cold continuing and hunger increasing.” Luckily they found some old provisions left by others and ate a meal of salt pork and flour.

December 4: One of boats leaked. To lighten its load, baggage was transferred to the other boat which became severely over-loaded. With any wave action they would have perished. “But Providence ordained it so there was a perfect calm the whole day.” Arrived at Fort George just after sunset.

March, 1760: Rufus enlisted yet again and was ordered to recruit others into the Provincial service. It was frustrating duty; he found only a handful of recruits.

June 2: Joined his unit of engineers stationed at south outlet of Lake George. They did not participate in the siege and surrender of French forces at Isle au Noix which paved the way for the British to capture Montreal on September 8, 1760. 

The French and Indian War was over. Rufus returned to his primary trade of building mills.

His journal has a curious entry on June 27, 1760: Rufus Putnam reported having a dream that he was attending a wedding in the home of his future father-in-law William Ayers. Rufus then realized he was the one being married. In another dream a short time later he was in a room with his future wife Elizabeth Ayers. 

September 10, 1761: He married Elizabeth Ayers but she died less than a year later. Shortly after that, their infant son was also buried. “Thus was I in less than a year deprived of mother and child, and in them, as I then thought, of all earthly comfort.” He would remarry in 1765.

January 10, 1773: Agreed to help find land in the new Florida Territory for veterans of the French and Indian war. But the promised king’s order authorizing the grants was never approved. The Putnam party’s eight month exploration of the lands was for naught. He was reimbursed for only a fraction of his time and expense.

Rufus enlisted again in 1775 - this time in the Revolutionary War. Hildreth: “He buckled on his sword when the strife began, and he did not lay it down till liberty was secure and peace again smiled upon the land” - nearly six years later.

Image of Fort Putnam at West Point NY built in 1778 by Rufus Putnam and 300 soldiers from the 5th Massachusetts Regiment.

Such was Rufus Putnam’s lifelong sense of duty, commitment, and perseverance that went into whatever endeavor he chose.

Cone, Mary, Life of Rufus Putnam with Extracts from His Journal, Cleveland, William W. Williams, 1886

Dawes, Ephraim Cutler, Journal of Gen. Rufus Putnam Kept in Northern New York During Four Campaigns of the Old French and Indian War 1757-1760,  Albany, NY, Joel Munsell's Sons, 1886

Hildreth, Samuel, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of the Early Pioneer Settlers of Ohio, Cincinnati, H. W. Derby & Co., 1852

Mad Monarchist blog, "Sacrifice at Fort Carillon," November 30, 2017, madmonarchist.

New York State Military Museum, "Fort Putnam," at, "History," references to Fort Edward

"Rufus Putnam," Wikipedia, viewed at

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

L. L. Peddinghaus, The Rambler: When Driving Was a Real Adventure

L. L. “Lew” Peddinghaus operated a Marietta jewelry store in 1905 at 187 Front Street. He must have been successful because he was able to afford new cars every year or so. That was a big deal at the time.

Driving was really an adventure then. Hardly anyone owned an automobile. Cars were not used for everyday transportation but for recreational outings. The auto was kept in a garage or barn when not used. 

Photo of the Lew and Edith Peddinghaus in their 1907 Rambler automobile at the old Marietta Country Club, image from an unknown publication.

Mechanical problems were routine on most trips. There were few creature comforts - passengers were prepared to get wet, muddy, cold, hot, sunburned, windblown. Roads were marginal at best; few were paved. Directional signs were not reliable; getting lost was part of the adventure.

Photo of the Peddinghauses in their 1908 Rambler (on the left) and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sheets who were having car trouble. Photo from S. Durward Hoag collection, viewed at the Washington County Local History and Genealogy Library. Notice the license plate on the Rambler, "28" with OH monogram but no date. This was the first year that Ohio issued automobile state license plates.
1908 Ohio License Plate image from

The Rambler moniker fit well - it was the name of the automobile that Peddinghaus drove, and it described his wayfaring spirit. The Rambler was an early automobile produced by Thomas B. Jeffrey Company, maker of the Rambler bicycle. The car was manufactured in a former bike factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rambler was a pioneering brand, introducing such features as a steering wheel and spare tire. The advertisement below listed the price at $1400, about $35,000 in today’s dollars.

Print advertisement for the Rambler - early 1900s. Image courtesy of Washington County Local History and Genealogy Library

Restored 1904 Rambler photographed in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2010, viewed at

Lew Peddinghaus and his wife Edith - were frequent travelers. Lew kept meticulous notes on each trip - usually matter-of-fact even in trying situations, sometimes amusing, always fascinating. Fortunately, his journals were preserved, and now reside at the Washington County Genealogical and Local History Library. Quotes in this article are from Peddinghaus's journal or his notes.

This book was published to record automobile trips. There were meticulous details, from the date and time to the weather, distance, and incidents.

Peddinghaus documented what he called the “Rambler Reign,” the period of 1904-1909 when he owned four Rambler automobiles. Each was described in detail, for example, the 1905 model:
“No. 2 Rambler: (1905-1906) Rambler 5489 Type 3, Weight 2300 lbs, 18 hp Ave. speed 30 MPH. Two cylinder opposed, 5 & 6, single chain drive, Kahki top, olive green, Surrey Model (Without the fringe on top.) Veedometer, Hartford shock arresters.”

Here are records of a few trips from in his journal:

One of the shortest was a problem-plagued trip from his home on Front Street to the Marietta Country Club, then located in Devola.
Date: July 3, 1907
Time of start: 7 pm
Guests: Mrs. Gallagher, Miss Gallagher, her friend Miss Hubbard, Edith
Incidents: picked up passengers. “When got to road near dam, key in left rear wheel worked loose;...could not repair it. (Passengers) walked to streetcar, on the way telephoned Andersons. After waiting an hour and a half, Kale came with Mr. Baxter and Buick. Kale then started after a rope (for towing) and after an hour,...found one. Hitched on and started towing us....the Buick broke down. Worked about an hour, and found one of the valves sticking. Reached home at 11:25 pm.“ No indication of frustration in his journal - just the facts.

There were often multi-day trips covering hundreds of miles. One such trip took them to Cleveland and back over 10 days in September, 1906. Their circuit included Zanesville, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, Sandusky, Cleveland, Wooster, Zanesville, and back to Marietta. Peddinghaus kept incredible details. On that trip, the vehicle operated for 37 hours, 16 minutes covering 624.1 miles, with an average speed of 17.05 miles per hour. There were journal entries for each day of travel. How many times have you recorded these details of your trips?

Here are some of his notes for that trip; each segment was a day's travel:

From Marietta to Zanesville: Average speed 13.2 mph, drove through rain, put on tire chains to navigate the muddy road, “every one wet.,” stopped to repair hub brakes which locked up, “I got into poison ivy.”

From Zanesville to Columbus: Average speed 20.7 mph (very good for the time); stopped to replace a link in broken chain. Peddinghaus often recorded humorous details: for example in Columbus: “George (Alexander, one of his passengers) stuck on girl in drug store, bought everything she offered. Hair tonic etc.”

Columbus to Dayton: a rare problem-free travel day: “Roads...level and fine. Everything working fine, no stops, and no trouble.” 

Dayton to Lima: “Had trouble getting out of Dayton and from here on got lost in every town we went through.” 

Lima to Sandusky: Averaged 22.15 mph. Fair dinner at Tiffin - Peddinghaus often commented on meals or lodging. “Tried to turn out (pull over) for a team of horses; (car) sank into ditch. Got out easily. Teamsters bid us a merry ‘ta-ta.’ Next time they turn out, not me.”

Cleveland to Wooster: Rain in am, cloudy in pm, “crossed ‘Brooklyn Bridge,’ came to toll gate paid 7 cents and had 19 miles of good brick pavement, another toll gate and pay 4 cents fair dirt road all way to Wooster.”

Wooster to Zanesville: “A day of trouble!” Muddy road; tire chain caught on mud guard; clutch failed on long steep hill - recruited 2 boys with horse team to pull them up the hill. “Met team (of horses) on hill; woman claimed her horse would never pass one of ‘them nasty things (automobiles),’ have been lost in every town we passed through. Clutch failed on hill below Dresden. Got dark. Too late for supper at Clarendon in Zanesville. Hardest day and most trouble have ever had.”

Zanesville to Marietta: Another challenging day. Muddy. Averaged only 12.8 mph. Started out but had to return to have high speed clutch tightened. Engine missing badly; bridge out, changed plugs near Malta. Mrs. Alexander visited her uncle in McConnelsville. At Beverly George Alexander saw “a good looking girl leading a horse which (was) frightened (by their) car and took off down a road. George liked this girl’s appearance so well that he chased the horse and finally returned it to the good looking girl.” No comment on Mrs. Alexander’s reaction to the good looking girl incident. Arrived home at 6:45 pm.

In 1908 they drove to New England with a Dr. and Mrs. Howard Smith and their son Lawrence. The trip started on an uncertain note: "Leave Marietta expecting to go to Berkshires...May not get there. Car is heavy (with luggage and passengers) and overloaded." It was a characteristically bold Peddinghaus venture, driving that far in an open vehicle, fully loaded with 5 people, with the constant threat of breakdowns, rough roads, bad weather, and poor road signage. They were gone 23 days. His journal reflects his great satisfaction with a successful trip: "1748.7 miles - one puncture - valves slipped twice - pump leaked - radiator leaked. Never had to stop. Always reached (destinations) on time. Good car - delightful trip." 

Thanks to Lew Peddinghaus's pioneering spirit and journal notes, we have a fascinating glimpse into early auto travel.

Note: The Peddinghaus Jewelry business was sold in 1918 to Walter A. Baker (your author's grandfather) and his cousin Henry Baker. The store became Baker & Baker Jewelers. The business continues today under the ownership of Larry Hall and his family.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Ephraim Cutler’s Journey: Westward to Ohio

“When our arrangements for going west were completed, on the 15th of June, 1795, I left Killingly (Connecticut) and departed from a circle of friends from whom I had received every mark of friendship from my childhood, and who had bestowed on me at a maturer age many evidences of respect and confidence. Mrs. Cutler’s friends, as they pressed around her at parting, expressed their fears that she could not survive the journey. She answered cheerfully, that ‘she had committed herself to God, her Savior,’ and was not disheartened by any apprehensions. ...Our assembled neighbors gathered around and bade us farewell, with many good wishes and tears. Thus we left the scene of my early life, and started on this then hazardous journey and perilous enterprise.”  

Portrait of Ephraim Cutler by Sala Bosworth viewed at

Ephraim Cutler's journey to Marietta in 1795 was especially harrowing. It is recounted from his memories of the actual events. Quotes are from his recollections, Life and Times of Ephraim Cutler. He experienced many setbacks in his early life, the trip to the Marietta area, and the first years living there. But he overcame adversity with perseverance and a positive outlook.

The journey to the new settlements in Ohio in the late 1700's was fraught with challenges. Travel was physically difficult - rugged terrain, no roads, long distances. Indians were a threat. Illnesses such as smallpox, diarrhea, bilious fever were common and could be fatal. Journey was also a metaphor for major life changes which accompanied moving to frontier settlements. Life there was radically different, often involving hardship, isolation, and lack of cultural activities. 

Ephraim, the eldest son of Manasseh Cutler, became a successful political leader and businessman in Southeast Ohio. He was was raised in Connecticut by his grandparents, but by his late 20’s had yet to find his niche. He was by then married with four children. After a failed mercantile business and losses as an agent for Ohio Company subscribers, he was restless for change. His wife Leah was in poor health. Her doctor advised that a warmer climate would be good for her. “This determined me to (move) to Ohio....and my wife approved...”

The Cutlers embarked from Killingly with a wagon, a yoke of oxen, two horses, and a milk cow “which gave us an abundance of milk on the way." They were accompanied by Colonel Israel Putnam, Israel Putnam, Jr., and their families, and Phineas Matthews. At Bethlehem PA, they stopped and visited Reverend John Heckewelder, noted Moravian missionary. Heckewelder was present at Fort Harmar treaty negotiations with Indian tribes in late 1788.

As they crossed mountains west of Carlisle PA, the pregnant wife of Israel Putnam, Jr. became seriously ill and gave birth prematurely.  They carried her on a makeshift stretcher to a home at the base of the mountain. The Putnams remained there until Mrs. Putnam could travel again. The Cutlers and Mr. Matthews continued on to the Monongahela River near Williamsport (now Monongahela PA). There Ephraim ordered a Kentucky flatboat built to transport the four families to Marietta. 

                           Flatboat illustration by Granger. Image from

A man named Becket allowed the Cutlers to stay in a cabin of theirs. The two families became close friends during the Cutlers' visit while the boat was being built. Ephraim seemed sorry to leave them when the flatboat was ready to take them on to Marietta. “I have ever felt grateful to him and to his family, not only for their friendly courtesy, but for substantial favors received.”

Ephraim and Colonel Israel Putnam took the horses and cow by land through Washington PA to Wellsburg VA (now West Virginia) on the Ohio River. The others set off in the flatboat on the Monongahela River. Surely the rest of the journey would go more smoothly, Ephraim hoped.

At Wellsburg, Ephraim and Colonel Israel met up with Colonel’s son Aaron Waldo Putnam and Phineas Matthews. Aaron had come up from Belpre to assist in bringing the flatboat down the Ohio River to Marietta. Matthews explained that the flatboat only made it about 15 miles to present day Elizabeth PA because of low water conditions on the river. He reported that Ephraim’s wife, the elder Mrs. Putnam, and Israel Jr. were all sick. The four men exchanged foreboding glances. The illnesses were likely bilious fever; it was contagious and often fatal.

The group decided that Aaron Putnam and Phineas Matthews would take the livestock downriver. Colonel Putnam and Ephraim returned to the boat. In a few days, a rise in the river allowed them to again start out in the flatboat. Now, Ephraim thought, they could make it to Marietta in a few days without further incidents. Ominously, sickness continued to afflict the group. Colonel Putnam and the Cutlers’ youngest son Hezekiah became ill. 

Below Pittsburgh progress on the Ohio River was “exceedingly low” due to low water. They were averaging only three or four miles per day. “....we were often aground; and I, with George Putnam, was much of the time in the river lifting at the boat, to get it over the sand-bars and shallows.”

A few days later, before reaching Beaver Creek, their “dear little son” Hezekiah died. “We stopped at a new place where the owner had buried some of his family, and by their side deposited his remains.”

Cutlers’ eldest daughter Mary became ill with bilious fever and soon died. Ephraim poignantly recalled their grief. “(We lost) one of the most promising children I ever knew. She was quite precocious in all her improvements...and interested all who saw her. To add to our distress we had no alternative but to commit her to the earth in the dreary wilderness, far from the habitation of any civilized being.”

As they approached Marietta, Ephraim’s wife Leah fell and broke two ribs. Then Ephraim was severely weakened by dysentery.  The group finally landed at Marietta on September 18,1795, just over three months after they left Connecticut. The Cutlers found temporary housing at "a stockade," probably at Picketed Point near the Ohio River in Marietta. 

It had been a devastating journey. But they had made it. Ephraim recalled that their feelings “were varied.“ “We had overcome the labors and fatigues of a long and perilous journey; but we had to mourn the loss of two of our dear children one just budding into life,...the other, the darling youngest son....We had landed sick, among strangers, and (with) little hope that I should ever rise in health. Such was our introduction to pioneer life.”

Ephraim Cutler home at Amesville OH where the family lived 1799-1806. The home still stands today; the current owner hopes to do some restoration work. Image from

When his health recovered in Marietta, there was no stopping him. He went on to become a successful farmer, public servant, educator, and political leader. Among his accomplishments:
  • Co-founding Ohio University where he served as a trustee from 1820-1849
  • Leading efforts to prohibit slavery at Ohio's 1802 constitutional convention.
  • While in the state legislature in the 1820's he helped create statewide school standards and reform the property tax to an ad valorem system, taxing land based on value.
  • He was a fervent abolitionist and supported Underground Railroad efforts.

Cutler Hall is the oldest building at Ohio University, built in 1819. It was named for Manasseh Cutler, Ephraim’s father. However, Ephraim is credited with co-founding the University and served as a Trustee for 30 years. Viewed at

What gave him the courage to persevere through these early challenges? He credits his grandparents, self education, and working with people (farming, public office, Ohio Company agent) at a young age. He also noted a "special (divine) providence (which) guides and directs the affairs of men. I can not be sufficiently thankful that God has thus preserved me. The glory and praise be to His holy name." 


“Biography of Ephraim Cutler,” viewed at

Cutler, Julia Perkins, Life and Times of Ephraim Cutler, Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co, 1890

“Ephraim Cutler”,

“Ephraim Cutler Home Page,” viewed at

Walker, Charles M., History of Athens County, Ohio, Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co, 1869

Williams, H.Z., History of Washington County Ohio, Cleveland, H. Z. Williams & Bro., 1881.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Century of Service - The Story of the Hippodrome, Colony, and Peoples Bank Theatre

Peoples Bank Theatre in Marietta, Ohio, was born as the New Hippodrome Theater 100 years ago in May of 1919. It was renamed the Colony Theater in 1949, then closed in 1985. In 2016, it began a new life as the beautifully restored Peoples Bank Theatre which continues the tradition of top quality entertainment for Marietta. Congratulations to all who helped make this wonderful restoration of the theater and of world class entertainment possible.

Peoples Bank Theatre interior. Image from Peoples Bank Theater

Construction was begun in 1918 by C & M Amusements to replace the original Hippodrome Theater located near Union Street which burned in 1917. The New Hippodrome Theater, as it was known at first, was a truly a first class facility. It was built to the recently adopted strict code Ohio building laws with fireproof materials and many emergency exits. The theater could be evacuated in an emergency within two minutes. 

There were 1200 seats, a large vaudeville stage which could also accommodate Broadway-size productions at the time, a 50 foot fly loft for scenery and lights, many dressing rooms, a chorus girl dressing room under the stage, plush carpeting, perfect sight lines, good acoustics, a booming "echo" theater pipe organ. A large boiler provided steam heat in winter. An innovative deep well system circulated cold water for then state-of-the-art air conditioning.

The "Hipp" began eight years before "talking" pictures. Most of the early fare included vaudeville acts, Broadway plays, and silent movies with music from the organ and the five piece Hippodrome Orchestra. The theater opening on May 2, 1919 featured Mary Pickford in "Daddy Long Legs." It was released to C&M Amusements two weeks early to attract interest in the theater opening.

The Hipp was updated in 1928 with audio equipment for "talking" movies. It continued with movies, plays, and local productions. Actor Boris Karloff starred in a live stage production in the 1943. Someone recalled that an elephant walked on stage as part of a circus act, but I can't verify that. Country western star Tex Ritter walked across the stage on his horse in the early 1950's.

Boris Karloff ad courtesy of Peoples Bank Theatre

Blues singer Mamie Smith gave her first of nine concerts at the Hipp on Feb. 23-25, 1933. Born in Cincinnati, Smith made history thirteen years earlier in 1920 with the recording of "Crazy Blues," considered to be the first blues vocal recording and the first blues hit, selling more than 1 million copies in less than a year. Although her style was more vaudeville and cabaret than straight blues, she nevertheless was an important pioneering artist, paving the way for great female blues artists such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Mamie Smith ad and photo courtesy Peoples Bank Theatre

Productions by local talent included minstrel shows and school plays. My Uncle, Dan F. Baker, recalled memories of the Hippodrome Theater. Walter Baker (Dan’s father and owner of Baker & Baker Jewelers) performed with members of Kiwanis Club in a Minstrel show. He was playing a woman and had to find size 9 high heeled shoes. He found the shoes at Kesterman Shoes then located next to Baker & Baker Jewelers store on Front Street.

Dan himself performed with former Procter and Gamble CEO Ed Harness in "Emperor Who Had No Clothes." Dan - 9 years old at the time and an accomplished vocalist (was invited to join the Vienna Boys Choir) - was a character in a singing role with a single spoken line. He also played the little lame boy in the "Pied Piper of Hamlin," played the little lame boy. He performed in operettas "South in Sonora," and "Pirates of Penzance."

My father, W. Norman Baker appears in one of the few stage photos from the Hipp early era, below. It featured him (third from left) and his brother Dan (far right). An article from the Marietta High School paper "The Original" in 1938 mentions the play, "Applesauce."

Photo provided by Peoples Bank Theatre, donated by W. Norman Baker

Image from W. Norman Baker family

The images below include three advertisements, one for a movie, one for a live performance, and another for an unusual game of chance to win tickets to the Hipp.

Movie ad from 1946. Notice caption at bottom: "First Showing of the Fox Movietone Shot of the Christening of the Pioneer, Marietta College's Floating Dormitory." This was national news coverage for Marietta College's unique housing solution to the post-war GI enrollment surge. Image provided by Peoples Bank Theatre.

Bradley Kincaid, "The Mountain Boy," was a WLW Radio Cincinnati recording star who performed at the Hipp. Image from Peoples Bank Theatre.

Ad for weekly "Game of Chance" which gave away a total of 25 tickets to the Hipp to winners of the guessing game. Can you decipher this and figure out how the contest worked? Ad image from Peoples Bank Theatre

The New Hippodrome Theater disappeared, as it were, after the theater was sold to Shea Theatre Company in the late 1940's. It was extensively remodeled and re-opened in 1949 as the Colony Theater. There was a contest for submission of names for the remodeled theater. Mariettan Jack Lowe suggested the "Colony Theater" name. It was chosen for the reference to Marietta's history, and "quality, brevity, and clarity." Lowe won the prize of $25.00 (about $250 in today's dollars). 

The biggest event in the theater's history was the 1957 premier of the movie "Battle Hymn" which chronicled the heroic actions of Marietta native Colonel Dean Hess during the Korean War. The movie featured then mega-star and teen heart throb Rock Hudson. There were parades, Hollywood dignitaries, and appearances by other actors in the movie. 

The Colony featured first run movies and other variety acts, including local talent, Handel's Messiah performances, country and rock acts. St. Mary Catholic Church held services there in the early 1970's while the church was renovated.

But, alas, the theater attendance waned in the late 1970’s. The Theater changed hands several times. It was owned in the latter years by Marjorie Bee who heroically tried to keep the theater alive with second run movies, occasional concerts, and local events. Concerts included country artist Ernest Tubbs, The Ohio State Jazz Band, and the Buckeye Travelers country music entertainers. For some time she operated the theater without phones, heat, or advertising to save money. A sign at the theater entrance told patrons to bring blankets during cold weather. 

Dr. H. Dean Cummings, retired professor of music at Marietta College, recalled performances of Handel’s Messiah at the Colony Theater in the mid-1980s. The heating system was woefully inadequate. Musicians and attendees wore coats; space heaters were used in the orchestra string section. In another Messiah performance, escaping sewer gas left many participants feeling queasy

The theater closed for good in 1985 and was later purchased by local businessman Dan Stephan. It was through his vision and persistence that a campaign to restore the theater began. It culminated with the grand opening in January of 2016. Today, the Peoples Bank Theatre is again a vital cultural and entertainment asset to Marietta.