Putney Association

The Putney Bible Association began with John Humphrey Noyes and his legal wife Harriet Ann Holton in fall of 1836.  Harriet Ann Holton was born in Springfield, Vermont, November 28, 1808.  Her maternal grandfather was Mark Richards, a nephew of the New England theologian, Dr. Samuel Hopkins.  Richards had been Lieutenant Governor of Vermont and a member of Congress. William C. Bradley, eminent as a lawyer, scholar and statesman, was an uncle by marriage.

Harriet was an only child, and having been left an orphan at an early age was adopted by her grandparents. She had an excellent mind, not brilliant, but cool and perceptive, and she received, for the times, a good education. After leaving school she was for a number of years under Unitarian influences, but in 1831 at the age of 23 she was converted to revivalism. Her diary records this change with characteristic brevity: “In a protracted meeting I came to the conclusion to devote my life to God.”

John R. Miller was born in Westminister, Vermont, near Putney, on December 16, 1813, one of five children of John Miller and Betsy Robinson. Brought up with strict religious beliefs, he became interested in the doctrines preached by John Humphrey Noyes in 1835. He joined the Putney Corporation in 1841 and married Charlotte Noyes. John Miller had given up both business and political aspirations to join the Putney Corporation and his financial acumen was of inestimable value in bridging the gap between the Putney and Oneida Associations.

Charlotte Hayes Noyes married John Langdon Skinner and younger brother George Washington Noyes married Helen Campbell.  Between them they had the following assets according to the February 5th, 1841 financial statement for Putney Society of Inquiry:

………. Noyes’s father’s estate (John, Charlotte, Harriet & George W.) was $19,920.00 plus two farms, besides dwellings and other investments

………..Noyes’s wife, (Harriet Holton)  contribution was $16,000.00

……….John R. Miller,  gave $2,000.00.

………..John L. Skinner  gave $200.00

……….George & Mary Cragin gave $200.00

……….TOTAL of   $38, 320.00

Average annual income for male manufacturing workers from 1820-60:

…..in urban New England:  $323.25

..…in rural New England: about $303.25

..…in urban Middle Atlantic states (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey): $337.10

..…in rural Middle Atlantic states: $292.58

The folks who began The Putney Association were extremely well off financially.


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