52 Ancestors: #3 George Butts–Family History Mystery

George W. Butts, 1834-1863 (?)

When I wrote about my great-grandfather Henry Allen Butts last week and week before last, I was not sure that I had identified his twin brother George. Some  evidence says that he may be George W. Butts, and I at least know a little bit about his short life if he IS George W. Butts. On the other hand…..

George, George, George–who are you?

Twins

These are NOT the Butts brothers. These are twins from 1886 in a photo from the Green County Pennsylvania Photo Archive. Used with creative commons license.

Records abound for George Butts’.  Unfortunately, few of them match the known birthplace and dates of my great-uncle George, my great-grandfather’s twin brother. WARNING: Inside baseball ahead.  If your eyes glaze over at the details of tracking family history, you may want to skip to Henry Allen’s letter home.

Even though I have  not been able to find official baptism and birth records for a George OR a Henry Allen Butts born in Louden, Franklin County, PA, the Butts family Bible that lists “John Henry Augustus born 29th November 1834,” says, “George was born on same day five hours apart. Was baptized January 15, 1835 by Priest (He ? en.).”[As I mentioned in the article on Henry Allen, the family histories are all consistent in saying that John Henry Augustus became Henry Allen. Census reports confirm both boys born in 1834/35.]

The fact that there is no further record in the family Bible, while others in the family have spouses listed, and some have children listed as well, lends credence to the fact that he died young.

The 1850 Census taken in St. Thomas Township, Franklin County, PA shows the family as follows:

  • Jacob Butts, 25 (Miller)
  • Catherine Butts, 21
  • Frederick Butts, 20 (Laborer)
  • Thomas Butts, 17 (Laborer)
  • Henry Butts, 15 (Laborer)
  • George Butts, 15 (Laborer)
  • James Butts, 10
  • Ellen [Esther?], 52

This list of the family members and their ages is confirmed by other sources. Apparently their father died between 1840 and 1850 and all the boys except the youngest must work to support the family.  Their mother Esther, would have been 52 at that time.

Interestingly, in the same township census there is also a George Butts, 16 years old, born in 1834 [Census ages are frequently a year off because the census taker calculates from birth year rather than taking into account birth month]. This George Butts is living as a laborer with the Jacob Huber family.  I imagine it is quite possible that both families would list him with them, as laborers worked on a seasonal basis. So while he was literally with the Huber family at the time of the census, his own family considered him a permanent resident.

Great Uncle George, are you George W.??

Union Army Soldiers

Drawing of Union Army soldiers lining up for soup. Click for more information. Citation below.

There are several men named George Butts in the Civil War rolls of Pennsylvania. A distant cousin who shared her research with me ten years ago, believed that George W. Butts is buried in a Church yard in Franklin County PA. That man’s birth date is almost correct on the tombstone  the aforementioned cousin tied together that deat with the George W. Butts listed on Union Army rosters.

George W. enlisted in the 3-month volunteer 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment, Company C on April 20, 1861 and was mustered out with his company on July 26, 1861.   Later in 1861, a George Butts enlisted in the 77th, but he is not designated as George W. Butts. Unfortunately the Veteran’s Burial Card from National Archives found at Ancestry.com says that George W. Butts was born in 1841. (with the same death date that we have for George W.)

George W. Butts, Civil War soldier, is buried in a Lutheran Cemetery in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, Plot #294.  The tombstone, according to the Butts cousin says he died May 21, 1863 at 28 years, 3 months and 22 days old.  That does not quite match up with either the Butts family Bible or the Veteran’s Burial Card, which says he died at 21 years old. Furthermore, we know the family was Catholic and he was baptized by a priest, so why would he be buried in a Lutheran Cemetery? That as well as the birth date shown with the death record casts  doubt on George W. being the correct George.

All of this points to the fact that I probably spent a couple of days pursuing the wrong George.

Uncle George, Are You George M??

The History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, lists a George M. who enlisted 9 October 1861 as a Corporal in Company F, 77th Infantry. Again, this is Henry Allen’s company, and it seems logical that the twins would enlist in the same company at the same time. However, the list includes no further information to help track George.

So there we are. Stuck. He was born a twin to Henry Allen Butts on a known date in a known place. I know his parents’ names and that he was working as a laborer at the age of 15 to help support his widowed mother and her large family. Everything else is speculation. Do you have more information on George Butts? Where do you suggest I go next?

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary (Mame) Isadore Butts Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Henry Allen Butts, who is the twin brother of
  • George Butts

Civil War Photo Citation: Forbes, Edwin (1839-1895). Life Studies of the Great Army. A historical work of art, in copper-plate etching, containing forty plates, illustrating the life of the Union Armies during the late Rebellion. New York, E. Forbes, 1876, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University

Research Notes

  •  Transcripts of a Butts Family Bible provided to me by Jane Butts Kilgore in 2003, owned at the time by James E. Butts. Other carefully researched information on the Butts family was also sent to me by Jane Butts Kilgore.
  • “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” by Rev. Homer Blubaugh, Saint Mary Church, Lancaster, Ohio.  This is a combination of documented and anecdotal information about the Butts family from Ohio. Some was gathered at family reunions. Some is downright wrong, but some is quite interesting. My copy was sent by Butts descendent Helen Findon in 2003. The document says Revised May 11, ’92 – Rev. Homer Blubaugh. Copies in the authors’ possession.
  • History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-5; Prepared in Compliance with Acts of Legislature, by Samuel P. Bates, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71.Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Library, 2005
  • Birth and death records researched on Ancestry.com in this case yielded mostly dead ends.

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1 thought on “52 Ancestors: #3 George Butts–Family History Mystery

  1. MM VONVILLE

    FYI: You don’t have to print this on the page if you don’t wish to do so or you may just print or input sections of it, if you wish.
    — I have heard it said that George was married and had a daughter when he died and was buried in either Ft. Loudon or St. Thomas, PA. They are close to one another.
    — There was a Will on http://www.GenForum.com. The site itself for posting was discontinued about 5 years ago however, the posts which were there can be found upon an internet search by inputting appropriate words. It’s spelling is not great but is understandable. Esther, if I remember correctly, was willed a bed and possibly somethings else and possibly the house; 1 or 2 of his sons were mentioned. Possibly “The John Butts Will” would bring up the http://www.genforum.com post. The will did not list his middle name which is Henry, originally Johan or Johann Heinrich BUTTS or BUTZ. He was the only one to reach adulthood and possibly the 1st to solidly use BUTTS. (His ancestor did come to Ringwood, Passaic, New Jersey as a BUTZ and part of the Hasenclever migration of 600 skilled workers.) I believe, his father had 2 wives, one was (Madeleine) KURTZ, and 8 or 9 children with both wives. John was the youngest of all of the children, most were girls (are on http://www.FamilySearch.org). Perhaps that’s part of the reason why he had about 20 children, 8 with the first wife and 12 with Esther who was the second and a very young wife.
    – There are 40 years difference between John’s oldest child and James Beaver Butts, the youngest child who has a descendant quite active in genealogy and a good person.
    – Esther was the daughter of John “Stall / Stahl / ?spelling” who may have been a Captain /?/ General in the War before the Civil War. Supposedly he is famous in PA, like a Captain or General. I have searched for him but not thoroughly and have not knowingly “found” him, his wife may have been a “Mary”. As with Henry Allen B., John may be his middle name.
    – Remember that Catholic (and possibly Lutheran into German) records had names translated into Latin and written in Latin upon the records. Therefore, the Augustus part of the Latinized name probably stands for the given Allen name. John is the first name of John Henry Augustus Butts and, this is just my thoughts, because his dad was elderly by the time he was born and his mother suffered because his father died while she had some really young children that he did not have a good experience and he dropped the John because of the negative association and then went by his 2nd and 3rd English given names in OH: Henry Allen.
    – Hope this helps somewhat.
    Mary
    MM V. V.

    Reply

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