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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Great Conflict..The Civil war

The children of Patrick and Jane Butler would be a generation that watched as America struggled to stay together. That struggle defined their lives and changed the destiny of each of them. They would witness suffering on American soil that took the citizens of Walton County Ga. to hell and back.

Their oldest son William H. Butler b1827 was our gggrandfather, Papa Butlers grandfather. I don't know what the H. stood for, maybe Hansard which was his mothers maiden name. The other sons were , Nathan D. Butler, James P. Butler, Milbury Butler, and Henry Butler. They had two daughters, Sarah the oldest b 1826 and daughter Cynthia C. Butler. I know just a little about William's siblings. Nathan enlisted July 17,1861 Company B 16 Infantry regiment and died of pneumonia in Goldsboro N.C. April 16,1862..never to see home again. James who was 10 years younger than our William enlisted 3/4/1862 Co. H. 42nd Regiment..he lived through the war and came home to his wife Elander (Ellen) Austin Butler who he married 1/2/1859. I have found no records on Milbury or Henry as of yet, nor of Cynthia. Sarah married John Marler and in 1880 Patrick is living with them in Jackson Co Ga.

William H. Butler married Mary M. Whitley in Walton county 12/5/1849. They called him "Will" and her "Polly".
William was a member of Co. H. 11 Ga Regiment Walton Co. Volunteers. The history of this regiment is well documented because the officers kept accurate diaries and journals of what happened. Most of the following account is from these writings which can be found in Wayfarers In Walton, a History of Walton County by Anita B. Sams.
At the time of his enlistment Will and Polly had three children, Nathan Patrick(our great grandfather), James William, and Rebecca Francis. Joseph Henry, the youngest would be born after William's death. Patrick our ggrandfather was 9 years old when his father went off to war.

Officers of Compny H. were Capt "Tige" Anderson from Newton Co and a veteran of the Mexican War, First Lieutenant Henry D. McDaniel, and Second Lieutenant Matthew Talbot Nunnally. Henry McDaniel would return to Walton county after the war and become Governor of Georgia and Matthew Nunnally would die at Gettysburg.
William was a Private, he was 34 years old. Late in June, 1861 William and The Walton Co Infantry left Monroe for Atlanta. That day the company was presented a flag that was hand made by a group of young women of the community. The banner was given in a ceremony on the courthouse square in Monroe before they left that warm summer day. Lieutenant McDaniel later sent it to his father and it is in a Georgia collection of flags at the state capitol. After the warm send off in Monroe the company boarded a train for Atlanta, then on to Augusta and Virginia. At a pause in Petersburg, Virginia a group of women appeared at the station and when the men got off the train the women prepared a breakfast that the citizen soldiers ate picnic style. Then they went on to Richmond to the camp site at the fairgrounds. From Richmond they were ordered to join General Joseph E. Johnston. Eighteen miles of the trip was made on foot through the Shenandoah Valley. The troops slept without tents and it would many weeks before they were to have shelter.
Fate would deny the Walton Volunteers from being a part of the first battle of Bull Run. Some say a railroad conductor was bribed to delay the train carrying fresh troops, and that he was later tried and shot. In any event the Walton Infantry was left stranded in an open field without food or baggage to remain until Sunday night when the battle was over. The victory was for the South and the delayed regiments reached Manassas Junction Monday morning in the hard rain. As they stepped off the train the wounded were being brought in. After a 6 mile march in mud without tents or blankets the rain came down on them until midnight.

" I saw part of the battlefield yesterday and of all the horrible scenes this has to be the most horrible. Our men who were killed have been buried and I saw their fresh graves, the dead of the enemy are still lying as they fell, some with their heads torn off and others with their bodies mutilated." (A Private to his grandparents in a letter from the Battlefield of Bull Run)

Here the war ended for William, as he caught typhoid fever and was discharged disabled August 10,1861. Sickness caused many to die and many to have to go home. Some how he made it to Walton county before he died. There at home in Walnut Grove Sept 18, 1861 Will , our gggrandfather left this world behind. Then our ggrandfather Patrick was an orphan at age 9 and his mother Mary(Polly) a widow. Their loss must have tested them in ways we can't know. With no husband to make a crop, they would have starved if not for help from relatives. Or did Patrick and Polly plow the fields themselves? We don't know what they went through the year that Will died, but it was nothing to compare with the years to follow, when they would have to face an enemy alone with no father or husband to protect them......

Friday, August 28, 2009

She was born in Africa....

She couldn't remember her mother, but Phoebe was born in Africa. At twelve she had a lot of responsibility. She watched the little white children while the grown women worked. Each of them had their ways. Keeping them entertained was easy enough. She would sing songs first and if they were fussy she would make funny faces. They would laugh so. Sometimes a story or game or melody would come into her mind from somewhere, but she couldn't quite recall it, so she would make up something to play or sing or tell.
She was small for her age and both of her two dresses were way to big for her. They hung on her shoulders and the hems were both frayed and dirty from dragging on the ground. The red clay would not wash out even if she boiled them in the wash pot. When she wanted to run fast, she would hold up the bottom of the skirt with one hand and run, her bare feet so calloused and rough on the bottom that rocks, briers or hot sand never even hurt at all.
She slept by the fireplace in the kitchen on a pallet that she rolled out each night after the cook fire died down. In the winter it was the best place to be, and in the summer the floor felt cool, but the kitchen stayed warm until morning.
It seemed that everything went well for her until some of the children took sick. Oddly enough whenever they were feeling poorly, she would be poorly too. She wasn't really faking, but the queasy feeling that came when the other children were ill just over took her. She always got to rest when that happened like the sick children, and Lord knows she needed it.
Years and years past and she never married. She never grew any bigger than when she was twelve. At 45 she still looked like a child.
One day she was free to come and go as she pleased, but she had no where to go and no one to go to. So she stayed. She stayed and watched the grand babies until her eyes quit working and her arthritis made running after children too difficult.
They buried her in a special place in the family cemetery on the old home place, way in the back with the others under a Sassafras tree.
One day her mother met her there and finally took her back home.

*Based on a true account of the life of Phoebe a slave who belonged to Mama Butler's family as told to my father David A. Butler by his cousin Paul Clay and his mother Lydia Braswell Butler (Mama Butler). Cemetery located on Hwy 20 South 3 miles out of Loganville Ga on the old Braswell Homeplace.*

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home........

Imagine building your home from the ground up without any of the modern tools used today. Slow and laborious work of felling trees and skinning logs. Trying to get a roof over their heads before the winter weather had to have been a top priority. Patrick Butler b 1760 and his wife Elizabeth Rebecca Fannin Butler lived in Elbert Co Ga the rest of their lives. They could have moved as they got Land Lottery draws, but they stayed. Perhaps Virginia to Georgia was far enough and they needed stability.

Nathan and his wife Mary Ann sold out in 1805 and left Elbert Co. We find them in Walton 1830. A younger Patrick Butler b 1799 d after 1881 m Jane Hansard in Elbert Co Ga. is also in Walton. This Patrick I know for sure is a grandfather of ours because in the census records his oldest son was Papa Butlers grandfather, William H. Butler.

Patrick Butler b1799 m Jane Hansard d After 1880 Jackson Co Ga In the 1850 Census he is living in Dekalb Co and in the 1860 , he is in Fulton county. He lists his occupation as - Carpenter
Aunt Jewell told me that someone in our family helped build the railroad and this Patrick sounds like he could be the one. The railroad was built during this era before the civil war and since he moved to Atlanta he could have used his carpentry skills for that construction.

In the 1880 census he is 81 and living with his daughter and son-in-law(John Marler) in Jackson county. That means that Papa Butler's father N. P. Butler would have known him(Patrick).

Children Of Patrick and Jane Butler- 1850 Census Walton
William H. Butler 24-Our gggrandfather
E. S. Butler 20
Nathan D. Butler 18
Cynthia C. Butler 15
James P. Butler 14
Milbury Butler 11
Henry H. Butler 10

This generation of Butlers would witness the greatest American tragedy of all time.. The War Between The States. Many of them would pay for this terrible nosedive our country took with their lives. Papa Butler's father would become an orphan at age 9 and have to grow up without a father. All of this generation of Butlers in Georgia would suffer and.. yet they would survive...We are here today because of their courage and determination to endure. The defeat of the South catapulted Georgia into horrors so unspeakable that I am convinced that whether we know it or not our grandparents and parents and even we still bear the scars of it in our unconscious. They knew as no other region of America the despair of the defeated. They knew the pain and loss of wealth, power, dignity, and even identity. All were striped away in the 4 years between 1861 and 1865.

From Virginia and the dreams of a better life in Georgia, our grandfathers and grandmothers dug in and reached down and put the dreams aside to mourn ..A mourning so deep and so wide it would swallow some of them up forever..............

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good help is hard to find.....

So far we have two sons of Zachariah that I am currently investigating that could be our grandfather after Zach.

Patrick Butler b March 1, 1760 in St Pauls Parrish Hanover Co Va married Elizabeth Fannin in Va , served in Capt James Anderson's company, Colonel Nelson's regiment, and in 1781 in Captain Brown's company. He was in the battles of Camden and Guilford.

Both Battles were lost to the British , but with such a high cost that British General Cornwallis lost 25% of his troops in the Battle of Guilford. The Americans were led by Nathaniel Green good friend of George Washington and his most trusted General.

After the war Patrick was awarded land in Georgia in Elbert Co and went there with his father Zachariah. His grave is in Elbert Co in the Butler Cemetery on the Dye Homeplace in Fortsonia Ga, south of Elberton in Elbert Co Ga along with his father Zachariah. Their wives and others are probably there too.

Nathan(iel) Butler b1769 Virginia married Mary Ann ? I have not found their marriage record, but I have copies of land transfers done in Elbert Co Ga that show his wife's name to be Mary Ann. April 20th 1805 Nathan and Mary Ann his wife sold over 100 acres for $250.00 to John Brewer on the waters of the Wahatchee Creek a branch of the Broad River.

So Zachariah and his sons and their wives and children came to Ga for their free land. They left Virginia and traveled by foot or horse or wagon to Elbert Co Ga.

A 200 acre farm needs at least 9 -12 adults to do the work necessary to cultivate the land, clear the land, raise crops, tend animals, build homes and out buildings, dig a well,
fortify the place against attacks by Native Americans and wild animals, chop wood to last through the winter, etc.
Zach, Patrick, Nathan, possibly another did they do all that was needed to survive?

They had I said before.
They brought all their worldly possessions from Virginia and that included their slaves..

Are you surprised, shocked, or maybe in the back of your mind you always knew that the possibility existed that our forefathers actually owned other human beings? I was not surprised, but I was sad that along with my pride in America I have to temper that pride with the knowledge about the sin of Slavery..Yes I call it a sin, because I believe greed was the seed that for some justified slave labor. Servitude was nothing new to the British. The social classes had rigid lines and people of higher social standing had always had servants who did the day to day work. The Lords ruled over the peasants, the land owners over the renters. Indentured servants worked for a craftsman or over lord for period of time and then they were free to go out on their own. Many people worked under the thumb of someone else to earn their passage to America. But agricultural cash crops like tobacco, corn, cotton, and rice needed lots of intense labor and the sin of slavery became an institution that provided that labor. .....In the end it would cost them almost everything.

So Zachariah, Patrick, and Nathan worked their land and they did not do it alone. We don't know who they were, but the Africans who came to Georgia with our Grandfathers worked side by side with the Revolutionary war heroes, and their wives building a new life in north Georgia..........

Friday, August 21, 2009

If you are King, you have to be careful..

If you are King you have to be careful that your food and drink are safe, just in case someone in the kingdom wants you gone. That's how the Butlers got their name. William The Conqueror brought with him the chief Bouteillier(Bottle) wine taster with him to England around 1066 or so.
Tasting the drink to make sure it was safe was an important job and your life depended on how good you were at it.Theobald Fitzwalter was created chief Butler of Ireland in 1177. The family started to use the name Butler at about 1220. The title the Duke of Ormond was bestowed on the Butlers in 1328.
Now what does that have to do with the Butlers in America? Well as time passed more and more families took the surname Butler because of their occupation in serving the rich and famous, then branched out on their own into Planting, Carpentry, and yes even clergy.
Zach lists his trade as Planter and that turned into Farmer. Many Butlers were small land owners, and share croppers. Share cropping is growing a crop on someone elses land for a share in it. If you did not own land of your own you could live and work another mans farm and keep a share of the crop you grew. Not a way to riches but of survival.

Check out the link on Agriculture in Colonial America.

Zachariah Butler b 1736 m Sarah Bowe d 1758, Then Mary Edwards
James b1758 m Sarah?
Patrick b1760 m Elizabeth Fannin
Nathan(iel )b 1762? some say 1768 m Mary Ann ?
Joel b
These sons along with other children followed our grandfather Zach to Georgia after the revolution. James and Patrick were Rev War vets also. Nathan shows as a vet of The Indian Wars.

I am confident that one of the above sons is our grandfather after Zachariah. I have some evidence for all three but Nathaniel is my best guess.
How could a family carve out a place to live and do all that work?
They had help.......

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Irish Roots Or English Boots?

From the beginning of my search for our Butler ancestors I found over and over that they were we have some red hair out there and a few short tempers? Are we great story tellers, musicians, romantics full of blarney ? Stereotypes filled my imagination. I spoke with a researcher who said someone told her a gggrandfather still had a little Irish brogue in his speech. Is that why there are so many Patricks in our family?
Now I learn that Zachariah Butler ,the first grandfather that I know belongs to our line.. may have Christopher Butler as his father a possible Englishman. Oh well, we may learn soon as the Butler DNA project is well underway.
If you are a male Butler I urge you to take the DNA test..lets see where our roots really are.
Lets start at the beginning as far back as I have found.

Zachariah Butler b1736 Hanover Co Virginia
The same year and county as Patrick Henry. Everyone in Hanover Co knew who Patrick Henry was, knew of his support for the revolution and many had heard him speak in person. At the Williamsburg website you can hear his most famous speech given. I urge you to listen and try to see why our ggggrandfather Zach joined the Virginia Continental line in Sept 1780.

Look at the copy of "The Size Roll" Zach and his oldest son James are the last two on the page. James outlived several wives and had over 20 children. He and most of them went to Alabama, where he is buried. I am not sure which son of Zach that we are decended from...Hopefully the Butler DNA project will answer that question. James was the oldest, then Patrick, Nathan and Joel. More on them later. Not everyone knows the height, eye and hair color of their grandfather born in 1736..we do. He was a planter, he fought for America's freedom and for that he was awarded a 200 acre plot of land on the banks of the Wathachee Creek in Elbert Co Ga. He, his wife and most of his children left Virginia and walked/rode to Georgia. They had guts to do that. North Georgia at that time was a wilderness. Trees as big around as SUVS. Wild game..bear,turkey,deer,mountain lion, bob cat, panther,and the unknown. Native American lands had been traded-taken- and pioneers were pouring into the southern colonies. The sides of his property say vacant on several sides with a Hickory tree as markers for the boundary. No neighbors for miles, no hospitals, no firemen, no police, no one to rescue or help..just themselves and no doubt their faith in God..who surely was watching over our grandfather as he chopped that first tall tree down and heard it fall in the forest so long ago.....