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Putman Family Papers, 1900-1990

Manuscript Collection 1452

About the Collection

The Putman Family Papers were donated to Special Collections by Ellen Compton on March 1, 2002.

The papers consist of correspondence, documents, genealogical material and images, including photograph albums. The material was collected and compiled by Laurene Putman Compton. The majority of the papers and images are illustrative of life in Pea Ridge, ca. 1920-1929. Families about whom Laurene collected information include the Lees and other branches of Putmans. Photographs and correspondence occasionally refer to the Civil War. There is a detailed photograph album of Laurene's life from infancy through high school. The sudden death of Bill Putman is documented by correspondence, letters, and memorials. See also the Compton Family Papers and the Swift Family Papers.

Contents of the Collection (nine boxes)

Series 1. Putman Family Correspondence and Documents. Boxes 1-2 Series 2. Images and Albums. Boxes 2-3
Oversize Material. Box 4
Biographical Information about the Putman Family

Series 1. Family Correspondence and Documents, Boxes 1-2
Items in the papers include letters written by Bill Putman to Laurene Putman and letters written by Edna when Bill died. Clippings and memorials further document his death. Some letters to Laurene are from Putman cousins concerning family genealogy. Documentation includes narrative accounts of Putman's stores, a ledger, and a file on the Putman Cemetery in Benton County where the oldest family members, John Jehue and Rachiel, are buried. Bill Putman's Pea Ridge Masonic College diploma is filed with oversized material.

Box 1
1. Correspondence, 1922-1990
2. Documents, 1933-1974
3. Pea Ridge school notebook, 1922, and Putman's Store ledger, ca.1934
4. Clippings, ca. 1930-1980 [includes Frank Brashear's correspondence]

Box 2
1. Putman family genealogy records
2. Lee family genealogy records
3. Obituaries and memorials

Series 2. Putman Family Images, Boxes 2-3
The pictures in the collection record a wide variety of activities, particularly in Pea Ridge, ca. 1910-1980, and activities in the life of Laurene Putman, 1916-1935. There are two photograph albums, one kept by and for Laurene and one kept by Edna when she was in school in Pea Ridge. Members of the Putman, Lee, Webb, and Pickens families are included in snapshots and portraits.

Box 2 (Cont'd)
4. Putman and Lee family groups, ca. 1910-1918. Images 1-8
5. Putman family individual portraits, ca. 1910-1980. Images 1-12

Box 3
1. W.H. "Bill" Putman, ca 1910-1937. Images 1-10
2. Laurene Putman in Pea Ridge and Elkins, 1916-1928. Images 1-12 3. Laurene Putman in Rogers, 1928-1935. Images 1-11
4. Putman snapshots, 1970s. Images 1-10
5. Putman home in Pea Ridge, ca. 1910-1980. Images 1-4
6. Putman's Store in Pea Ridge, ca. 1910-1920. Images 1-10
7. Putman's Men's Store in Bentonville, 1970s. Images 1-3
8. Elkhorn Tavern, ca. 1910. 1-2
9. Pea Ridge Masonic College Band, ca. 1910 and Pea Ridge float for Apple Festival, ca.1925. Images 1-2

Box 4 - Oversized Material
1. Putman genealogical chart
2. Marriage License for Laurene Putman and Neil Compton
3. Photograph - Pea Ridge Masonic College student body, ca. 1912
4. Edna Swift's photograph album. 12 pages, 31 images.
5. Laurene Putman's photograph album. 80 pages, 237 images

Oversize Material - unboxed
1. W. H. "Bill" Putman's diploma from Pea Ridge Masonic College, 1905.

Biographical Information About the Putman Family
Myrl Laurene (at times spelled Laurine) Putman was born in Rogers, Arkansas on March 9, 1916, the only child of William H. (Bill) Putman and Edna Swift Putman. She grew up in Pea Ridge where her father was the owner and operator of Putman's, a general merchandise business. She attended high school in Rogers, graduating in 1933. For two years she attended the University of Arkansas. Her parents moved their residence and their business to Bentonville and in 1935 Laurene married a Bentonville resident and medical student, Neil Compton. Following Neil's graduation from medical school and a brief period in Warren, the couple continued to live in Bentonville for the rest of their 55 years of married life. Active in numerous community endeavors, Laurene was a skilled gardener and was instrumental in the formation and early activities of the Ozark Society. The Comptons had three children, Ellen, Edra, and Bill. Laurene Putman Compton died in 1990.

The Putmans represented in these papers were the descendants of John Jehue Putman (1794-1880) and Rachiel (or Rachel) Bond Putman (1797-1876). In 1868 the couple moved from Tennessee to Benton County, Arkansas, near Bentonville. Accompanying them was their youngest child, Sarah, and their second child, William L. Also in the party was William's wife, Charlotte, and their four children, Margaret L., John Jehue (always referred to as J.J.), William Henry (Henry), and Joseph M. (Joe). This family settled in Benton County in the small town of Pea Ridge.

Already living in Benton County since before the Civil War, was a grandson of John Jehue and Rachiel, James Carr Lee, son of their daughter, Mary Ann Putman and James Bond Lee. James Carr Lee had established Leetown, a village that later figured in the Battle of Pea Ridge. He was also the father of thirteen children by two wives. With his first wife, Littie Hickman, he had William C., Mary Ann, and Lottie Bell. With his second wife, Millie Jane Carroll, he had: Sarah, Lettie, Carna, Charles, James, Seth, Alice, George, John, and Cleva.

Mary Ann, the second of James Carr Lee's children, married her cousin, J.J. Putman. They made their home in Pea Ridge and had five children: Kate, Charlotte (Lottie), William H. (Bill), and twins John Calvin (Cal) and Carl. J.J. opened a general merchandise store in Pea Ridge that was later taken over by his son Bill.

Bill Putman married a fellow student at the Pea Ridge Masonic Academy, Edna Swift of Elkins. They had one child, Laurene. Bill and Edna operated the store in Pea Ridge but from 1923 until 1933 they made their home in Rogers allowing Laurene to attend Rogers schools. In ca. 1933 they moved the business to Bentonville. In 1937 Bill Putman died unexpectedly and Edna took over the management of Putman's until her retirement in 1974.


Last modified: Friday, January 23, 2009