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Fayette County, Iowa
Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa
Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of
Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
Harrison Butler, a retired farmer residing on section 5, Westfield Township, well deserves a representation in this volume for he is one of the representative citizens of the county. The family from which he is descended is of Scottish origin. His great-grandfather, a native of Scotland and a stone-cutter by trade, emigrated to this country, and in Baltimore County, MD., his son Joseph, grandfather of Harrison, was born and reared to manhood. He was a farmer by occupation and in Baltimore County married and had eighteen children, one of whom, Absalom, was born May 26, 1789. Under the parental roof he spent his boyhood days and at the age of twenty left for Virginia, where he became acquainted with and wedded Jane Lane, a native of that State. They emigrated to Ohio, then on the western frontier and had the usual experiences of a pioneer, including adventures with the Indians and many hardships on account of their distance from settlements where supplies and provisions could be obtained. Mr. Butler purchased military land and in the midst of a deep forest hewed out a farm. In 1820 he removed to Muskingum County, Ohio, locating about ten miles from Zanesville, where he made his home for a quarter of a century. In 1845 we find him residing in Greene County, Wis., near Monroe, and four years later he is numbered among the citizens of West Union, Iowa, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying in October, 1863, at the age of seventy-six years. The death of his wife occurred in 1867, when seventy-eight years of age. For many years he was a member of the Baptist Church and in politics was a strong Whig until just prior to the late war when he supported Democracy. To him pioneer life was very attractive and he was well fitted to withstand its hardships and difficulties. A respected citizen he left many friends at his death who sincerely mourned his loss.
Our subject, who was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, October 26, 1815, was one of nine children. Abraham, the eldest, died near Charles City, Floyd County, Iowa; Joseph died in Lawrenceville, Ill.; Harrison is the next younger; John, who was a Baptist preacher, died in Kansas; Caleb departed this life in Fayette County; Mrs. Sarah McCammaut, is now deceased; Eliza J. died in West Union; Absalom is living in Kansas; and Henry Lewis is deceased.
At the time of the removal of his family to Muskingum County, Ohio, our subject was a lad of five years and he there remained until twenty-eight years of age. As his services were needed at home upon the farm and the schools were not of a very advanced grade, his educational advantages were consequently very limited. At the age of twenty-four he chose as a helpmate on life's journey Miss Amanda Gist, their marriage being celebrated on April 14, 1839. She was born in Muskingum County, April 25, 1819, but her people were from Maryland and Virginia. Four years they spent in the Buckeye State and then removed to Greene County, Wis., where they remained for seven years. Mr. Butler always kept ahead of the railroads and in the spring of 1850 came to Iowa, claiming the land on which he now resides. It was entirely unimproved but had a fine spring and grove upon it, and with his usual foresight he saw that by cultivation it would make a fine farm and after years have verified his prediction. He claimed the land on the 7th of June, 1849, purchasing it when it came into market and moved his family thereon in the spring of 1850. For the success which he has achieved Mr. Butler deserves great praise. He borrowed the money at 30 per cent. interest, with which he met the expenses of the journey. That, however, is the only money he has ever borrowed. He believes in paying his way as he goes and is honest as the day is long. He worked hard to accumulate a competence, toiling from early morning until late at night, but his efforts were at length crowned with prosperity and he has now laid aside all business cares and is living a retired life, enjoying the fruits of former labor. His farm comprises two hundred and two acres of arable land and fifty-two acres of timber land, and he has given a considerable amount to his children, thus permitting them to start in life under more favorable circumstances than he did.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Butler were born, Mrs. Arram Blount, who died in 1878; Mrs. Mary E. Finch, who was born in Ohio and is now living in West Union; Absalom, who was born in Wisconsin and died in 1865, at the age of twenty-one years; Mrs. Sarah E. Hough, who was born in Wisconsin, is now living near Oelwein; Joseph, who was born in Wisconsin, married Clara Kelsy of Fayette, and is now a farmer of Westfield Township; George, who married Clara Dorland and operates a part of the home farm, and also owns a small farm; John, who wedded Mary Gillett and farms a part of the old homestead; and William H., who married Ada Mott and is living in California. The children all grew to mature years and received good common-school educations, thus fitting them for the duties of life.
A few years since, Mr. Butler and his estimable wife returned to Ohio on a visit and found the old log house still standing in which they had made their home a half century before. This worthy couple are numbered among the best citizens of the community and have won the respect and confidence of all who know them. He has been identified with the upbuilding of the county and all that pertains to its advancement and best interests. He built and furnished the schoolhouse in his district and has done much for the cause of education. In politics he was first a Whig and supported Gen. W. H. Harrison at two elections. In 1850, he became a Democrat and has since voted with that party. He has held a number of township offices, serving acceptably, and in 1854 was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Sheriff but was defeated owing to the large majority of the opposing party. He and his wife are faithful and consistent members of the Baptist Church, in which he has been a local preacher for more than a third of a century. In this county he has had charge of two congregations and has done efficient work in the cause of the ministry."
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