Judge Ephraim Cutler

(updated January 1, 2018)

Ephraim Cutler - 1767-1853

The younger Cutler on the left  is a restored portrait painted by Sala Bosworth. *  The picture on the right is the more frequent ink sketch of the elder Cutler.

 Ephraim Cutler was honored by a highway marker dedication on November 29, 2003 at Veto Ohio. The following highway marker was erected by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission through the efforts of member Henry Burke, Marietta historian and promoter of the local history of the Underground Railroad.

NOTE:  There is an interesting historical site devoted to the celebration of the Civil War.  It is the Civil War Journal of Julia Cutler, fourth daughter of Ephraim and second wife, Sally Parker.  It was created and maintained by relative, Peggy Dempsey.  Visit at: http://juliacutlerjournal.blogspot.com/

Text of Highway Marker (Click Here)

Highway Marker dedicated July 17, 2004

Constitution, OH (formerly 3.5 miles north of Belpre)

Welcome to this site.  Since I first began my research on Judge Cutler a good deal more information has become available, particularly on the Internet.  In 2009 I was interviewed by Jim Phillips of the Athens News.  This resulted in a most accurate article in the Athens News (Dec. 14, 2009).  As this article, Cutler the younger was the real benefactorof OU, is not likely to remain for long on the paper's website. I have copied it and made it available at this link (Click Here).  Two other sources of information may be of interest to those reading Phillip's piece.  They are briefly described below along with links to them.

    The Life and Times of Ephraim Cutler by Julia Perkins Cutler (daughter) is the only complete account of his life.  Publication date - 1890. (Click Here)

    The letter to Ephraim from his father Manasseh in 1825 demeaning Ohio University for their lack of respect for his efforts.  (Click Here). It was published in the Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler L.LD (Vol. II).

    In August, 2014 I was invited to submit an article about my experiences as a reenactor of Cutler to Appalacian History: Stories, Quotes and Anecdotes, an Internet blog site maintained by Dave Tabler.  You can learn a good deal about Cutler and my experience 'doing' him  in the article My Life as Ephraim Cutler at: http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2014/08/life-ephraim-cutler.html

        Ephraim Cutler's papers are housed in the archives of the new Legacy Library on the campus of Marietta College, Marietta, OH.

                                                                                                                                                        Richard Dean

Reenactments of Judge Cutler (by Richard Dean)

Click Here

Born 251 years ago:
Apr. 13, 1767 at Edgartown (Martha's Vineyard), MA (There are some sources that list Dec 13th as Ephraim's birth. He writes in his daughter, Julia's, biography of him that he was born in April; his gravestone, likewise states April 13th.)


July 8, 1853 at Constitution, Ohio (near Belpre, Ohio)

Married to:

Leah Atwood - 6 children

He was the eldest son of Manasseh Cutler, a lobbiest for and prominent leader of the Ohio Company and Associates. Judge Cutler was a writer and signer of Ohio's Constitution, Ohio Legislator, and Trustee and Major Supporter of early Ohio University.

In his lifetime, Judge Ephraim Cutler was citizens of both the British Colonies and United States of America (Massachusetts and Ohio). He was a personal acquaintance of George Washington and lived through the administrations of 13 additional presidents; the last being James Polk. From the time of his birth until his death this nation went from being a series of British colonies to a nation that extended to the Pacific Ocean. California, the 34th state, was the last to be admitted to the union (1850) prior to this death in 1853.

Occupations and Accomplishments of Ephraim Cutler in his lifetime


1790 - Cared for his grandfather's farm in Killingly, Connecticut

1800 - Ames Township - drove cattle and hogs to Baltimore, MD (30 yrs)



1790 - Killingly, Connecticut for his grandfather

1795 - Waterford Settlement with Ohio Company


Benefactor to Ohio University (Click here for recent article):

1802 - Introduced legislation to the Northwest Territorial Legislature to establish Ohio University [American Western University]

1802 - chaired the Territorial Legislature committee responsible for establishing a university in Athens.

1824 - delivered the inugural address for the third Ohio University President, Robert Wilson.

1825 - Obtained $1,000 from the Ohio's legislature to establish a Medical College at Ohio University.

Served 30 years on the Ohio University Board of Trustees, never missing a meeting. His responsibilities included the annual oral examination of all candidates for graduation, frequent efforts to lobby the state legislature for funding, and involvement in the constant problem of managing the rentals of town lots required to seek the primary funding for university operation. Thomas Hoover in The History of Ohio University describes him as replacing Rufus Putnam as the god-father of Ohio University.

Conducted court in the Silas Bingham house (currently the Ohio University Visitors' Center) when it served as the earliest Athens County Courthouse.

Real Estate Agent:

1790 - operated the Ephraim Cutler Agency in Killingly, Connecticut; he and his father, Manasseh, sold approximately 50 percent of land to original Ohio Company stockholders.

1800-1824 - was involved in sale of over 2,000 acres of land in Athens County, primarily in Ames and Dover townships.



1795 - traveled to Ohio via covered wagon and flatboat.

1795 - surveyor for Ohio Company

1797 - organized the early settlement of Ames township (Amesville). Solicited Captain Benjamine Brown and Lt. George Ewing (Revolutionary War veterans) to join him as first citizens of Ames township.

1804 - charter member of Coonskin Library (Western Library Assn.)  Access original Western Library Association records at: http://www.ohiomemory.org/        Go there and type in Western Library Association to see original copies of records of the Coonskin Library.


Cutler Home

the second one to be built aroud 1800. Still stands 3miles North of Amesville, OH.
Housed the Coonskin Library and 1st school in the area. Funding is being sought to restore it.
Look on right for sign "Kick Wheel Acres"

Cutler moved from this home to the Old Stonehouse in 1806 in order to have his wife nearer to medical attention - Samual
Hildreth, her physician.  Cutler's youngest daughter by his first marriage, Mary and Husband Gulliver Dean Lived only a mile west.
Cutler continued to own this home and travel by horseback frequently to visit them.

Dover Portion of Coonskin Library

Coonskin Library

First housed in Cutler home in 

1804 (seen to left)

Old Stonehouse - Cutler's home in Constitution, Oh (1806+)


1801 - member of the 2nd Territorial Legislature at Chillicothe that set in motion the process of establishing statehood. Cutler was a Federalist. Federalists were the minority party having been outnumbered by the recent immigration of many Virginians into the western part of the state (Chillicothe and Cincinnati), the majority being of the Jefferson Democratic Republican party who aggressisvely opposed Governor Arthur St. Clair. He and his colleagues unsuccessfully opposed statehood at that time and advocated that Ohio's western border be the Scioto River, thus excluding the stronghold of the Jefferson Republicans - Chillicothe. (Cutler was among the youngest members)

1802 - After the US Congress defeated the act establishing two Ohio states divided at the Sciota river, they passed the Enabling Act authorizing Ohio statehood. An Ohio Constitutional Convention was convened. Cutler returned as one of four Washington County delegates. He cast the single vote among the 35 delegates opposing statehood. But subsequently had major influence on the nature of the constitution. His most noted impact was his successful efforts to revise the draft of Article 8 in committee to replace the Jefferson plan in the first draft that would permit slavery for a short time, with exclusion as worded in the Northwest Ordinance that slavery and involuntary servitude be unlawful in the new state.  NOTE:  There is some confusion currently on this issue.  Many accounts say Cutler cast the vote on a last minute amendment to the final constitution to exclude slavery in Ohio'.  The issue of slavery was never a major issue at the convention; however, most Jefferson Republicans and a few Federalists did not want to grant full rights to Negros and did not want to encourage immigration of the Negro race into Ohio from the bordering slave states of  then Virginia and Kentucky. There was an amendment to the final draft of the constitution that would have limited the citizenship rights of negros; this amendment was defeated.  Cutler was brought to the convention site from a sick bed to cast a tying vote and convice John Milligan , a Stubenville delegate, to reverse his vote to defeat the anti-negro rights amendment.  So Cutler was influential in 'defeating slavery', but it was a result of committee drafting of Article 8 and not the defeat of a last minute amendment to alter the final constitution.  Most history acounts tell of the single Cutler vote that defeated slavery.  However, most creditable Ohio historians say there is no record of such an event in the official records of the Ohio Constitutional Convention.  These records do; however, site John Milligan for casting the vote to defeat an amendment to limit negro citizenship rights.

Proposed (left) & Actual (right) States in Northwest Territory

1825 - wrote state law that provided free education in Ohio public education in Ohio funded by property tax. (currently challenged in Ohio)

1825 - wrote state law for differential (ad Velorum) property taxes.

1816 - benefactor to Ohio University; trustee for 30 years. Never missed a Trustee's meeting. Acquired funds to establish a medical college at Ohio University; however, such a college was not established until the 1970s.

1806 - is credited by Henry Burke, Marietta historian, as having a major role in establishing the Underground Railroad in Ohio. His home along the Ohio River near Belpre is cited as the Constitution Station.  His role in the UGRR has been 'picked up' by a number of Internet contributors.  I and many others dispute his direct involvement in the Ohio UGRR.  While his sentiments were consistent with the mission of the UGRR, there is not direct evidence he was actually assisting runaway slaves.  Most of those years he was in Columbus serving as a legislator.  His second home in Warren Township near Belpre was too close to the Ohio River to be one to actually 'hold/house' runaway slaves. However, Susan Hazen, a current owner of Cutler's 1800 home 3 miles north of Amesville, (pictured above) reported that her family has discovered a number of concealed locations in that home presumed to have been used to hide escaping slaves. Also, a number of ajoining homes, one of his daughter Mary and husband, Gulliver Dean,  that were recognized has safe houses on the UGRR routes north. So this webmaster's position on the matter is that any major involvement in transporting and/or harboring escaping slaves would have been via his Ames township family and neighbors.  Incidentally, when the village of Amesville was laid out and named in 1839 the first name choice was 'Cutler' which was rejected by Judge Cutler.  The village of Harshaville was renamed Cutler in honor of William P. Cutler, Judge Cutler's son  and then president of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad that ran through it and was the site of a train station. 

Area Developer:

1835 - sponsored the Chillicothe-Marietta turnpike (current SR 550)

1832 - supporter of Ohio Canal system.

1837 - lobbied actively in behalf of the citizens of Marietta to influence the building of railroads in S.E. Ohio. His son, William P. Cutler, continued in this effort to become head of the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad, a forerunner of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Other Web References concerning Ephraim Cutler
  1. Amesville (OH) History - included founding of Coonskin Library
  2. Arrival in Ames Township with two Revolutionary War Officers
  3. Trip with Honorable John Quincey Adams
  4. Listing of Ohio Company Stockholders
  5. Role in Establishing Tax-supported Public Schools
  6. Role in the Ohio Underground Railroad
  7. My Life as Ephraim Cutler

Ephraim Cutler Lives???

Richard Dean reenacting Judge Cutler at his grave site - 2002.

Richard Dean began to reenact Judge Cutler in 1999 after extensive study of Ephraim Cutler's life. His interest in Mr. Cutler evolved gradually. He had been aware of Cutler's role in early Amesville and the creation of the Coonskin Library (Western Library Association) from growing up in Amesville. In his extensive family genealogical research he came more frequently in contact with information related to Judge Cutler's role in the courts of early Southeastern Ohio. He eventually became convinced that Ephraim Cutler had had signfiant and major influences n Early Ohio, but that he was largely unknown to Ohioians, particularly Southeastern Ohioians. As an example, there was a major court decision overturning the use of property taxes to finance public education, but never once has there been any local acknowledgement of the fact that this origial effort by Cutler to achieve this means of financial support, was the first efforts tu fud public education outside of Massachusetts.

Richard first began to perform as Judge Cutler at the anual Burr Oak Boy Scouts of America Camporee near Glouster for tristate scouts (OH, WV & KY). He also perfomed before the Ames-Bern Alumni Banquet and the White Oaks Settlement Bicentennial celebration in 2001, visit with Athens 4th graders at O.U.Visitors Center, and 2002 Constitution Ohio Reunion. He will participate in the Ephraim Cutler Highway Plaque Dedication sometime in 2002. When he performs he represents Mr. Cutler as a 70 year old man. He is in period costume, circa 1840 and speaks in Massachuesetts (eastern) dialect. He is pictured as he portrays Judge Cutler in the photo on his homepage (http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~deanr). If interested in having Richard represent Judge Cutler at a community event please contact him at the email address at the bottom of this page.

In real life, Richard Dean is a retired faculty member of the School of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences at Ohio University.

*Portrait is by Sala Bosworth, painter of several Marrietta Pioneers.          Ephraim Cutler Street Sign - Marietta, OH

Contact Information:

Richard Dean

487 Estates Dr

Athens, OH 45701


Day Phone: 740-5931-0249

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This page was last modified by Richard Dean on August 5, 2014.