James Osborne Putnam was a friend of Lincoln before he became president and worked on Lincoln’s election campaigns. He was also appointed by President Garfield to represent the US as minister to Belguim.
Putnam’s relatives arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in the early 1600s. James was related to the Revolutionary War general, Israel Putnam. The Putnam family arrived in Western New York in 1817 and built a log cabin. James O. Putnam was born a year later. James studied law at Yale and came back to Buffalo to practice. While waiting on clients, he spent his time writing a book of essays and biographical sketches of Buffalonians. His book can be found here.
The Putnams lived on Swan Street, but later moved into a brick house at 756 Washington Street (The Putnam House was used as a kindergarten and nursery school for years after his death). James O Putnam owned a farm that covered most of the land west of Richmond Avenue including Putnam Street. He bought the land as an investment, and subdivided it into building lots and sold them. The trees on the east side of Richmond Ave from Colonial Circle to Breckinridge were planted by James O Putnam. He was a perfectionist, and inspected the trees year after year. The weakling trees would be uprooted and replaced throughout the years. At the age of 80, Mr. Putnam was selected to present the flags to the Buffalo soldiers and sailors leaving for the Spanish American War. He also served as Chancellor of the University of Buffalo. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Source: “Named for James O Putnam”. Courier Express Aug 28, 1938, Located in ECBPL Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, Vol 2.