Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, June 5, 2010

John Butt Sr. and his family

Last week's column introduced John Butt, Jr., who, according to the 1834 census (initial tally for the new Union County) was the first of the Butt settlers here. He and his first wife, Sarah Gordon Butt, were the only two in their household when William Gilliland, census taker, completed the survey (March 24, 1834). John Butt, Jr. and Sarah's first child Thomas was born April 13, 1834, and was that close to being included in the 1834 census.

By 1840, two more Butt families had joined John, Jr. and Sarah Butt to take up residence in Union County. One family was that of John, Jr.'s brother, Alfred Butt, who married Caroline Boyd on October 10, 1839 in Union County, with the Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr. performing the ceremony. Elisha Hedden was Alfred's brother-in-law, having married John, Jr. and Alfred's sister, Juanita Caroline Butt (1821-1896) on July 19, 1838. The second Butt family listed in the 1840 census was that of John Butt, Sr. and his wife, Sarah Rider Butt. It will be the Senior John Butt family that we will trace in this column.

John Butt II (later designated Sr.) was born in Pendleton District, SC in 1780 to John Butt I. All of these John Butt names can be confusing, indeed. The family researcher needs to look at birth dates, and designations to keep them straight.

John Butt, Sr. (remember his son, John, first Butt to settle in Union, was designated Jr.) and his wife and children had first moved from the Pendleton District of South Carolina to Habersham County. It was during the "Gold Rush" days along Duke's Creek in what later became White County. John Butt II (or Sr.) staked a claim and began searching for gold. This writer has no record of whether he struck it rich with gold mining, but his acquisition of land seems to indicate that his findings were not minor. Sometime before 1840, John Butt, Sr. and his wife and children still at home moved across the mountain from Duke's Creek to a section of Choestoe near where Booger Hollow Road is now located, on the Virge Waldroop place. He farmed there, and later moved northward as gold was found in the Coosa Mines. On the Butt homeplace on the Nottely River, an old mindshaft was later found near the graves of John, Sr. and Sarah Butt, an indication that he had set up a mine on his farm there.

John Butt, Sr. and Sarah Rider Butt were parents of eleven children, five sons and four daughters. They are listed here, not in order of birth; if known, their spouses are listed:

(1) John Butt, Jr. (12/06/1806-01/23/1884) married Sarah Gordon and Rebecca Fleming. (See last week's column for his life story and names of his fourteen children.)
(2) Jacob Butt (1808) married Ruth Collins (1820), a daughter of Thompson and Celia Self Collins. They had a farm in the Butternut Creek section of Union County and reared a family of eight children.
(3) Matilda Butt was born about 1811 and married a Lyons.
(4) Alfred Butt, born in 1813 in Pendleton District, SC, married Caroline Boyd in Union County Oct. 10, 1839 and settled along Butternut Creek to farm.
(5) Elizabeth Butt married John Fain. They lived awhile in Union County then moved to Cherokee County, NC.
(6) James Allen Butt was killed in the Seminole War and buried in Tallahassee, Florida.
(7) Judah Butt (daughter) married Elisha Carroll.
(8) Sarah Butt (b. 1816) married Jacob Loudermilk.
(9) Juanita Caroline Butt (09-21-1821 - 01/21/1896) married the Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr. on July 19, 1938. They had eleven children and lived in Union and Towns counties. He was a noted early Baptist preacher in the mountain region.
(10) Susannah Butt married a Black; and then George Gaddis (on 10/07/1834).
(11) William G. Butt was born in Habersham County in 1823. He married Sarah Adaline England in Union County on 01/08/1845.
John Butt established the Polk post office in the Choestoe District on February 20, 1844. We can believe the oversight of the post office was given to John Butt II (or Sr.) rather than John Butt, Jr. because of its location in the Choestoe Militia District. He kept the appointment until November 5, 1845, when Francis (Frank) Collins (son of Thompson and Celia Self Collins) became postmaster. John Butt (Sr.) again assumed the postmaster's job at Polk on September 13, 1847, and kept it until Joseph England succeeded him September 25, 1851, when the name of the post office was changed from Polk to Choestoe.

Several of the Butt families, including John Butt, Sr. were slave owners. In the 1840 census, John Butt, Sr. had two slaves; his son, Alfred, had one slave; and his son John Butt, Jr. had four slaves. By 1850, John Butt, Sr. had passed away, but his widow, Sarah Butt, owned five slaves, Alfred owned 2, and John Butt, Jr. owned eight slaves.

It has been recorded that upon his death, John Butt, Sr. owned over 2,000 acres of land which was passed on to his children.

The Butt Family Cemetery has two graves with headstones so weathered that inscriptions are now illegible. The late Union County historian, Edward S. Mauney, recorded the inscriptions for posterity before their information faded:

Sarah Butt - 1784 - April 29, 1855
John Butt, Sr. - 1780 - May 16, 1843
This cemetery may be visited by driving west from the old courthouse on the square in Blairsville on Highway 76 for one mile. Turn left (south) onto an access road and travel one-fourth mile to the old Butt Homeplace nestled along the Nottely River. On the old homeplace site you may also be able to see remains of an old mine shaft where John Butt, Sr. and his sons once mined for gold in Union County.

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 29, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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