William B. Gilliland was the first census taker. He registered the population in 1834 as 903. John Butt, Jr. and his wife were the only Butts registered in that census.
By 1840, the second Union County census, John Butt, Jr. and his wife were still in the county. Their household had grown to two males under 5 years of age, one male 5 to 10 years of age, John Butt, Jr., himself, between the ages of 30-40, 1 female under five, and his wife, between 20 and 30. John Butt, Jr. was the census taker. The population in 1840 numbered 3, 152 for Union County. The county was geographically large at that time, and still within its boundaries were portions of land that would be designated to Fannin County in 1854 and to Towns County in 1856.
Two other Butt families were in Union County by 1840. John Butt, Sr, whose age was between 50 and 60, a male between 15 and 20, a male between 30 and 40, Mrs. Butt, between 50 and 60, and one female between 20 and 30. This family was the parents of John Butt, Jr. and his brothers and sister still at home in 1840. The other Butt family was that of Alfred, between the ages of 20 and 30, and his wife, between the ages of 15 and 20. We find from other sources that Alfred was also a son of John Butt, Sr.
First, a word about the Butt surname. Some researchers have traced the first Butt settlers in America to Dutch origin, with the name spelled Butz. However, in a reliable source entitled Names through the Ages (NY: Berkeley, 1999), the name is seen as English, derived from Butler, meaning "keeper of the bottles." In time, the final syllable, er, was dropped and another t added, making it Butt; then, in more recent years, probably going back to the Dutch sound of Butz, the surname has a common spelling of Butts.
Since John Butt, Jr. and his wife were the first Butt family to settle in Union County, this column will seek to trace their family history. It is interesting to note that he owned four slaves in 1840, and by 1850 he owned 8 slaves. Since farming was his main occupation, these assisted him on the farm, and they helped Mrs. Butt with caring for the children and doing housework.
John Butt, Jr. was born in South Carolina December 6, 1806. His parents were John Butt, Sr. (1780-1843) and Sarah Rider Butt (1784-1855).
John Butt, Jr. was married twice. His first wife was Sarah Gordon Butt (April 17, 1816- February 13, 1864). John, Jr. and Sarah Gordon Butt had twelve children:
(1) Thomas J. Butt (April 13, 1834-March 6, 1895) married Ella McCraney. He was active in establishing early schools in Union County. Their son, Virge, became a medical doctor in North Carolina.Sarah Butt died February 13, 1864, during the Civil War. She was buried in the new Blairsville Cemetery. John Butt, Jr. married the second time to Rebecca Fleming on Nov. 30, 1869. John and Rebecca had two children, Paul and Orrin, bringing the number of children of John Butt, Jr. to fourteen.
(2) William Butt (1836-?). He evidently left Union County, for he was not in the 1870 census.
(3) Clarissa (Feb. 17, 1838-June 17, 1906) married John England. They had five children: Gus, Lush, Dollie, Alice and Sally.
(4) James Allen Butt, Sr. (April 6, 1840-Dec. 10, 1905) married Carrie Goodrum Bagwell. James, Sr. fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War and was wounded twice, first in Virginia and then in the Battle of Atlanta. Their children were James Allen, Jr., Ed, Lelah, Nina and Fleeta.
(5) John Butt, Jr. and Sarah's fifth child, born in 1842, was John Gordon Butt (his middle name was his mother Sarah's maiden name). He married Sallie Weaver. They evidently left the county; their children are not traced.
(6) Eugene W. Butt (May 1, 1844-Feb. 12, 1921) married on February 12, 1872 to a lady listed in the Union marriage records as F. G. Reid. She died in childbirth with their first child, a daughter. Eugene took care of the child by making her a bed he could swing onto his plow as he tended his crops. His second marriage was to a Miss Erwin. They had four children, Cora, Garnett, Jewell and Grovie. Eugene Butt was once termed the wealthiest man in Union County due to his large land holdings. He reportedly gave each of his children $10,000 upon their leaving home.
(7) Georgia Ann Butt (1846) married Edwin W. Watkins on Jan. 25, 1866. They evidently moved from Union County.
(8) Andrew J. Butt (1848) married Matilda C. Gaddis on Sept. 29, 1872, with the Rev. Alfred Corn performing the ceremony. This couple moved to Colorado.
(9) Sarah E. Butt (called "Sallie, 1851-June 23, 1875) married John L. Logan on Aug. 6, 1868. By 1870, they had one child, a girl named Sallie. Sarah died at age 24 and was buried in the new Blairsville Cemetery.
(10) Samuel F. Butt (b. 1853) married Rosa Pless on Jan. 2, 1879. Their children were Forrest, John, Arnold, Alice and Bertha.
(11) Virgil R. Butt (b. 1855) was at home with his parents in the 1870 census. No further information is available about him.
(12) Alice E. Butt (b. about 1857, according to census age) evidently did not marry. A grave in the new Blairsville Cemetery lists Alice as born in 1853 and died in 1886. She is possibly the Alice whose parents were John, Jr. and Sarah Gordon Butt.
John Butt, Jr. made a living for his large family by farming bottom lands along the Nottley River. He was one of the first representatives to the Georgia Legislature from the new county, along with John Thomas. The naming of the county Union, "because there are none but Union men there" was attributed to John Thomas. But both John Butt, Jr. and John Thomas agreed to this name.
Many descendants of John Butt, Jr. have contributed to growth and development of Union County and have gone to other places to make their mark there. (Resources: Early census records of Union County: 1834, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870. Marriage Records of Union County, 1833-1897, compiled by Viola H. Jones, 1992. Cemetery Records of Union County, GA, Union County Historical Society, 1990. The Heritage of Union County, GA, 1832-1994, UCHS, 1994.)
(Resources: Early census records of Union County: 1834, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870. Marriage Records of Union County, 1833-1897, compiled by Viola H. Jones, 1992. Cemetery Records of Union County, GA, Union County Historical Society, 1990.
The Heritage of Union County, GA, 1832-1994, UCHS, 1994.)
c2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 22, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved