Montgomery County Illinois History

Butler Illinois

History of Butler Illinois

By: A. T. Strange

The village of Butler is one of the oldest small towns in the county, and though a dwarf in size, it has been the abiding place of many prominent citizens, and is rich in memories of old Montgomery history. The name was probably adopted in honor of Butler Seward, who built a house near the present site, although it is alleged that the name came from Butler County, Ohio, where some of its citizens came from.

The village was started in 1855, on land owned by William Seward, though not incorporated until 1863. The first survey, on the Seward land, was made by James Starr, laying out 86 lots and platting the same. Later, Mr. Bayless surveyed another series of lots, and most of the town was built on the latter survey. The first business house was a store house, moved there from Woodsboro by Uncle Billy Woods. This was in 1855. After Woods had got his store ready for business, Henry Berry walked up to the counter and laid down a mink skin, and called for ten cents worth of pepper, and this was the first commercial deal ever transacted in a public store in this historic village. Prior to the laying out of the town site there was quite a settlement of farmers in the surrounding country who were, and are, included in any reference to Butler.

The first school house in the Butler community was built of logs in 1849. It was a single-room affair, and was afterwards sold to Dennis Crowley and became a part of the residence which he built. Another and better school building was then erected, containing two rooms. This was built by John McGowan in 1857, and remained till 1865, when the present commodious building was erected. Among the teachers who have contributed to Butler’s store of wisdom may be mentioned: Andrew Watters, James C. Colvin, Abbie Cunningham, Jesse C. Barrett, Jane Hickman, Helen Colvin, M. V. Zimmerman, Geo. B. Mitchell, Florence Seward, C. L. Howard, M. E. Richardson, Etta Doerr, L. B. Whitman, Camilla Jenkins, Geo. A. Franklin, W. S. Cress and others.

Among the Ministers who have aided in tile spiritual upbuilding of the Butler community may be mentioned Thos. E. Spillman, Elisha E. Barrett, John Hamilton and J. Livingood.

Aside from the pedagogical and ministerial character of Butler's early settlers were many men and women who were locally prominent and recognized as among Montgomery County’s best people. .A. history of Butler is, to a large extent, a history of the county. Many of the most active characters of Litchfield, Hillsboro and Raymond were proud to be of Butler parents. A few of the early settlers will be mentioned, with the country from which they came. From Ohio came Dr. Charles Harper, John C. Aten, Eliza Judd, Wm. Seward, Geo. C. Seward, Henry Harper, Joseph Burnay, Moses, Henry and David Berry, William Williamson, Anna Slayback Wikoff, Percy Masters, Dewitt C. Burris, Eliza Bishop Judd, and Eunice Weber Dryer. From Ireland were: Joseph McCoy, Matthew McMurty, Wm. Watson and Thomas Colvin. From Germany were Frank W. Weber and Henry Bremer. From Pennsylvania were John Hamilton, J. Livingood, Samuel Berry, John Hostetter and Oliver Bewley. Henry Griffeth came from South Wales. John C. Sammons, Rachel McKay, Lemuel Washburn, Myndert Vrooman, Jacob Weber and Susan Lockhart came from New York. From Scotland came Robert Bryce and Jane Gallen McKay. Mary Waggoner Scherer, Daniel Bost and Stanford Robinson were from North Carolina; Orlando Mack came from New Hampshire; Julia Nail Dort and Albert Dryer from Vermont; Elizabeth Knodle Hoes from Maryland; Deliverance Cooper Hugg and Rachel Edsall DeKay from New Jersey; Thomas E. Harris and Louisa Cleveland Bassett were from Massachusetts; Margaret Severans McReynolds was a Virginian; Isaac Betty was a Tennessean, as is also Henderson Howard; Beniak Kelley hailed from New Hampshire; Charles W. Jenkins from South Carolina; Elisha E. Barrett from Virginia; Daniel Scardon from Germany, and Francis Phillips from Randolph County, Ill. Much might be said of these pioneers, but space will not permit it at this time.

Taken from: “First Annual Report of the Montgomery County Historical Society” 1914

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