Benjamin Putnam

Journal of Sanford Porter, Pg 49-50, Orton, Grafton Co, New Hampshire, approx.1809

But in a fiew days thare came a man with his team and wagon to hall hay. He came from the upper store an intire stranger to us all. He had a hand with him to load and mow away the hay that he haled. He drove his team onto the meddow whire it ware to work. He told us whire he was from and that he came to take all hay for the old Major. Blogit told him thare was ____hay and whare to put it. Blogit asked him what was his name. He said his name was Benjamin Putnam and he went to work a fetching on hay, got his load and went up to the mow with it and come back and said he had come on purpose to pitch hay and he stumpt any one man in that company to pitch hay with him. He was a big stout looking man. He brage and boasted and swaggered about. Said he could out pitch any man. He bet too gallons of rum that he could beat any man pitching hay. He would jab his fork in to the hay and take up big forks full to show us how stout he was and keep boasting. We all stopt to look at his pitching and heare him brag he would bet too gallons of rum that he out pitch any in the crowd. When he had gone with his load I said, “men why don’t some of you take that chap up and pitch with him. He says he will bet too gallons of rum that he can out pitch any of us. Take him up some of you at his offer. I do not like to hear him brag so mutch. This is insultin for me to beare, that was to mutch to some of you men. Take him up at his offer.”

They said he was a big stout man.

“No doubt he thinks he can out pitch any man, perhaps he can. We don’t any of us know what he can do. Well,” said I, “If he comes again bostings and braging, if you will not any of you take him up, I will. I cant bear sutch insults. I don’t care how big he is nor how stout he is. He is a damed sneak brag-a-dash. I can’t nor want be shit upon by any sutch chap.”

Well the whole of our company said if I would pitch with Putnam, if I lost the two gallons of rum, they would pay it and back com Putnam again, braging and boasting warse than ever. Said we was cowards and dare not pitch with him.

“Well,” said I, “Stranger, you and I will try that game and see how we come out.”

He looked at me with an air of disdain. He thought I had insulted him, a young beardless boy, the youngest and the lightest in the crowd. He said I was a joking, he thought it was a man he wanted to pitch with, not a young beardless boy. He acted as if he want agoin to take any notice of what I said, but our company told him that I was in ernest and that I would pitch with him and if I lost the two gallons, they would pay it. They thought all he wanted was to git the too gallons of rum wether he wanted to send it home or what he wanted to do with it, we could not tell. Well we made the arrangements, tare was two teams thare in the meddow and thare was a man by the name of Smith said he would load and mow away for me. The hay was in shocks. We had two men go and pick out these shocks as equal as they could and stick up stakes at one end of eatch row and Putnam and me could draw cuts for choice. Putnam and I was a greed to it and at it went.

They had got the mow at the end of the barn so high that we could not see eatch other load. When we drove up his load on one side of the mow and more on the other side, we had two men stand so far back that they could see both loads at the same time and when either of us got our loads off, they was to hollow and swing their hats and the other was to stop pitching. And when I through the last forkful on the mow, they hollowed and I one and shouted, “who rah, who rah.” Smith got off the mow and all hands went to see how mutch I had beat Putnam and they all judged he had four hundred wright on his wagon and they shoted and hooted. Putman jumped off his wagon and cursed and swore he would not pay the bet.

The men told him he should pay the too gallons of rum or they would ride him. He would not have a rag of clothes left on him. He said he wanted pitch another then with me. They told him I should not, for I had done all that was fair and honorable and he should pay the bet. He see he could not git rid of paying the debt and have a whole skin left and he sent off and got the rum and we had a spree that night. He did not brag anymore about pitching hay on my mow while in that company. I believe he was fairly ashamed of him self. He told someone that Porter fairly disceived his looks. Well I did for I was light and slender to look at but I was nerviey and springy and I had an art in pitching hay that seemed to be natural. I was not afraid to pitch with any man. They knew then what I had done when I under took with Putnam. They thought the reason would have to pay but they found that they had been deceived in my looks as well as Putnam. They would brag then and till what Porter had done. They would laugh at Putnam, “You got beat, did you? By a boy.” He did not hear the end of it while he staid in that crowd for they could not forgit.