Jedidiah Morse, who wrote the first geography to be published in the United States, spoke of the opulent families both in Natchez and the Cumberland settlements to which the Natchez Trace ran.
First among them was Gen. Phineas Lyman. His interest had been aroused as an officer...to whom the British crown owed gratitude and its newly acquired lands (ca 1763) offered reward. General Lyman was regarded by the British as the ablest and most trustworthy Colonial general in the northern colonies in the French and Indian War. And his prestige, if not his appearance, was enhanced by the fact that he was married to Eleanor, daughter of Col. Timothy Dwight of Northampton, Massachusetts, whose son and great-grandson were both to become presidents of Yale University.
He (Phineas Lyman) must have talked much in the tavern of his old wartime comrade, Israel Putnam, later to become a popular hero of the patriots in the American Revolution. At any rate, Israel and his brother Rufus were stirred by the 'false hopes' Phineas raised about the land. The Putnams left a journal about their explorations (1772-73) but preferred to remain in New England.