A Street Called Dowman, A Street Called Putnam
There is a street called Dowman in Union City and a street called Putnam Street. This historical record says that two men by the name of Dowman lived in Union City, Bart Dowman, Sr., and Bart Dowman, Jr. The record also shows that William Putnam was one of many Putnams who lived in Union City. It is not a wide leap of logic to connect the citizens with the street names.
So far there is no smoking gun connection between the family names and the street names, but the circumstantial evidence merits a resounding yes!
Union City Historical Museum records show that in 1894, a grocery store called Howard & Dowman operated on Maine Street near what later became Pennbank. In 1900, a man named B. Dowman, a grocer, did business at the same location.
A newspaper story from the Union City times, dated October 19, 1904, mentions “Mr. Bart Dowman, one of our well-known grocermen.” It seems that the snow fell in October that year and Bart Dowman had an idea. He called for his sleigh to be brought out and he delivered groceries with it. The story notes that the snow and mud mixed provided poor sleighing, but nevertheless, there was sleighing.
That night and the day after brought more snow and for the 108 days without a break, Union City had sleighing. Then the weather broke and a thaw came. The sleighing ceased for a few days, but the snow remained in the woods and later it continued. That winter of 1904-1905, Union City was blessed with 139 days of good sleighing.
The teamsters who depended on snow for hauling logs to the factories and mills were unable at times to get through all of the snow. Mr. Dowman isn’t mentioned again, but it would be logical to suppose that since he delivered groceries successfully on the sleigh once, he would deliver them again and again as long as the sledding lasted.
Bart Dowman Sr. was born in 1842, died April 12, 1916, and is buried in Evergreen cemetery. Dowman Street is a daily reminder of the winter he delivered groceries by sleigh and of the fact that he lived and did business in Union City.
Putnam Street is also a reminder of an important man in Union City history. William Putnam came to Union Township with his parents William W. and Philema Burch Putnam in March 1839. In 18, he moved to Union City, and the house in which he died on March 25, 1897 stood on the same spot that he built it on in 1846.
He spent his early life at home helping his parents farm, learning the carpenter’s trade and receiving a limited common school education. Then when he was 22 years old, he left home and practiced carpentry until 1859, earning a reputation as an efficient workman. For some time before he quit carpentry and a long time after, he dealt in real estate from which he earned a large fortune.
On November 13, 1845, William married Miss Nancy C. Burroughs, a native of Windham, Vermont. In politics, William was a Whig and then a Republican. In 1857, he was elected county commissioner and served three years. He was also at one time elected a Justice of the Peace, but resigned after serving one year.
In 1859, the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad was completed as far as Union City and Mr. Putnam was appointed an agent for the company. He served in this position for 25 years and acted as a ticket agent until a few weeks before his death, having resigned the duties of freight and express agent several years before that. From 1855 to 1888, he also ran a coal office opposite the depot which was later owned by Thompson and Hipple.
William Putnam was one of the self-made men in Erie County. He started out as a poor boy with a meager education and through perseverance, honesty, industry and economy, succeeded in accumulating a good property and a worthy name and reputation.
The Dowmans and Putnams honored Union City with their lives, and Union City recognized them by naming streets after them.