College receives historic paintings from descendants of Israel Putnam
Wilton family donates 1830s paintings of Fort Harmar, Campus Martius
MARIETTA, OH (07/21/2017) When Ben Wilton visited Marietta College's Legacy Library in 2013 to donate a manuscript by Northwest Territory pioneer Samuel Prescott Hildreth, he was impressed with everything he saw that day.
"Marietta College has a wonderful library," said Ben, who lives in Buffalo, New York. "It's why I knew this was the right place to donate these paintings. This is where they belong."
Ben and his brother, Frank, recently donated two oil paintings depicting Fort Harmar and Campus Martius from the 1830s. The paintings are being appraised, but Director of the Library Douglas Anderson believes they both have significant historical and financial value. Anderson said neither of the paintings are signed, but they are believed to have been painted by early Ohio artists Charles Sullivan and/or Sala Bosworth.
"I'm delighted that the Legacy Library will have a role in preserving these historic paintings and making them available to historians and researchers here at the College and in the Marietta community," Anderson said. "It is particularly gratifying that they have been returned to this area after so many years."
The paintings had belonged to their father, Frank Putnam Wilton, and had been in the family for several generations. The Wiltons are descendants of Gen. Israel Putnam (of Revolutionary War fame), through Douglas Putnam who married Mary Ann Hildreth (daughter of Dr. Samuel P. Hildreth) and was a founding trustee and secretary of the board of Marietta College.
Frank Putnam Wilton passed away on Aug. 26, 2016, and the paintings were left to the brothers.
"It was dad's wishes that they come back here," said his son, Frank. "We inherited them, but we knew this is where they belonged. We know they will be taken care of and utilized here."
Marietta College's Special Collections houses many significant historical documents, including photos, books and paintings. Anderson said the addition of these two paintings will increase the historical significance of what is already available for researchers from this time period of the Northwest Territory.
"The quality of materials we have on the early days of this part of the nation are a major reason why researchers come to Marietta all of the time," Anderson said. "Most notably, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, who has been visiting our Special Collections to do research on his next book."
Located in Marietta, Ohio, at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, Marietta College is a four-year liberal arts college. Tracing its roots to the Muskingum Academy begun in 1797, the College was officially chartered in 1835. Today Marietta College serves a body of 1,200 full-time students. The College offers 45 majors and has been listed among Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Peterson's Competitive Colleges, and has been recognized as one of the top regional comprehensive colleges by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, as well as one of the nation's best by Forbes.com.