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BUTLER, Webster C. 1847-1873


Posted By: S. Ferrall - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 6/15/2022 at 22:08:24

"Rattle his bones over the stones -
"He's but a pauper whom nobody owns"

How many poor, unfortunate, homeless and friendless mortals, of both sexes, there are wandering over the face of the earth, with no place to lay their weary, sorrow-stricken bodies to rest, unless, perchance, some kind, generous and sympathetic person who feels for others woes extends a helping hand. One of these unfortunate beings, a young man apparently between 20 and 25 years of age, found his way to this city on Sunday last. He came down the river on the steamer Minnesota and was put ashore here because he had no money to pay his fare. He wandered around town during a part of the afternoon, called into several saloons and tried to get a drink.

In the evening he sought Marshal Edwards and told him his circumstances and requested his assistance to get some medicine and somewhere to stay. He gave his name to the Marshal as W.C. Butler, of Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Edwards took him to the American House, where he was shown to a room. The young man not making his appearance at breakfast time the next morning, an entrance was made to his room, where he was found stiff, stark and dead.

Announcement was made and the authorities summoned. Justice Merrill, acting Coroner, summoned a jury, who examined the body and returned a verdict that he came to his death in consequence of general ill-health, exposure and want of proper nourishment. The jury consisted of J.S. Barney, J.S. Mobley and M. O'Meara.

On 23d ult, according to the testimony of J.W. Bates, proprietor of the Lansing House, in this city, this same person stopped at his house for two days and registered his name as "W.C. Butler, Dayton, Ohio." and claimed that he was selling fruit trees. He was then out of money, and told Bates that he expected to meet his partners here and they would settle his bills. He left and went up the river. The next we hear of him is at Brownsville, where he told nearly the same story. He got on the Minnesota at Victory.

In his pockets were found a piece of soap, a com and a bottle of medicine. He had a full suit of greyish clothes on, which had become rather shabby. His features generally would indicate that he was not accustomed to hard labor, and that he was a person that had been well brought up. The remains were buried Monday afternoon in the "Potter's Field" where they will perhaps forever remain unwept and unclaimed.

~North Iowa Journal, Wednesday, November 5, 1873; pg 3


Butler's Identity Established
Our readers will recollect the melancholy circumstances connected with the sudden death of a man named W.C. Butler, at the American House, in this city, on the 3d of November last. He had been in this neighborhood some weeks, and being penniless and dissipated, was turned from door to door until he was landed at this city from a down river boat.

Through the kind offices of the Mayor, who directed that he be given accommodations at the American House, he was afforded shelter on a terribly cold night, in the storm of which he must have perished, had he been exposed to it. When called to breakfast next morning, he made no reply, and, upon investigation, he was found stretched upon his bed, stiff and stark in death.

In the hope that tidings of his fate might thus reach his relatives, we printed in our columns the particulars of the inquest, &c, and mailed copies of the paper to the mayor, postmaster, and newspapers of Dayton, Ohio.

It appears, from the following letter, recently received by Mr. Dreher, that the publication of the facts met the notice of his wife, and in that startling, unexpected manner, she was apprised of his sad fate. The letter is neatly written, and, as will be seen, worded in such manner as shows the writer to be a person of refinement. It is as follows:

Troy, Ohio, Nov. 29, 1873
Mr. Dreher:
Dear Sir: I received the sad news of my husband's death, through the Dayton Journal, last evening, and I write to you for full particulars. No doubt you think strange in not hearing from any of his relatives before this. His parents died when he was quite young; he has neither brother nor sister; and I, being an invalid, could not come there at present.

Mr. Butler was not always the man you saw him to be; he was at one time in good circumstances, and did have a tree company, but loss and sickness brought him where he is. After a long sickness he was never again in his right mind.

He left home the 18th of April last, to visit a neighboring town. I have never seen him since, and he has been wandering from place to place, imagining himself selling trees. I have heard of him at different times; would write or send, but always too late - he had just gone.

I cannot realize that it is my husband! yet that is his name - Webster C. Butler. In enclose a picture of him as he looked when he left home. I do not know why he registered his name as from Dayton, as he lived in Troy. He was a Southerner, and during the war came North to Troy, where he lived with an uncle until we were married. His relatives are all respectable, and in good circumstances; and realize, very deeply, the terrible manner of his death.
-Mrs. Web Butler

The letter contains various inquiries and directions as to the disposal of his body, &c. The photograph referred to is that of a young handsome, intelligent looking man, and was at once recognized by those who saw Butler when alive as the identical person.

Mayor Burford has answered the letter, as requested, and gave the stricken wife the fullest particulars as to the disposal of the remains, &c.

~Mirror and Chronicle, Friday, December 26, 1873; pg 3

Contributor's Notes: Oak Hill cemetery 'merged files' by Paul Moritz (deceased) note that Webster C. Butler, was a Civil War veteran of Co. A, 7th IA Inf.; the Civil War service and the names of his parents given by Mr. Moritz are very likely incorrect, and should be verified. Click the link below:

Webster C. Butler's entry (last on page)

Allamakee Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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