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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Union County Butt(s) family legacy

The Butt family in Union County, descendants of John Butt, Sr. and his wife Sarah Rider Butt, have influenced many generations in Union County.

As we saw in the two previous columns on the Butt family, the first to arrive in Union County was John Butt, Jr. and his wife, Sarah Gordon Butt. Then came John, Jr.'s father, John Butt, Sr. and his wife, Sarah Rider Butt. From these two "first families" a number of descendants lived and worked in Union County or went out from Blairsville to make a difference in the world.

In researching the family, one can quickly see how many times the female name Sarah appears in descendants of these two first families. Each of the John Butts had a Sarah for a wife. The name Sarah was given to a female child in several of the succeeding generations. A common nickname for a girl named Sarah was "Sallie."

The column for May 22 listed the twelve children of John Butt, Jr. and his wife, Sarah Gordon Butt, and the two children of John Butt, Jr. by his second wife, Rebecca Fleming, bringing John, Jr.'s total number of children to fourteen. Tracing some of these children a bit further to subsequent generations reveals some of the legacy left by the Butt family.

Eugene W. Butt was the sixth child of John, Jr. and Sarah Gordon Butt. He had the reputation of being the wealthiest man in Union County and had extensive land holdings. The story is told that his children often played with gold coins to entertain themselves. His daughter, Cora, married Dr. Juan Wellborn, a well-known medical doctor who practiced from their home on the square in Blairsville. His son Jewel Butt was known for his witty sayings and quick answers to questions, a philosopher of sorts.

James Allen Butt, Sr., fourth son of John, Jr. and Sarah Butt, served in the Confederacy in Smith's Legion and then transferred to the 65th Georgia Calvary.

He received wounds in the war during the battle of Atlanta, and suffered consequences health-wise for the rest of his life. However, he was able to render public service as County Commissioner when the courthouse on the square was erected in 1899.

James Allen Butt, Jr. married Ellen Owenby. He became a merchant and had a popular general mercantile store on the square in Blairsville. This store building later became a drug store, operated by James A. Butt, Jr.'s son, Sylvan Butt, pharmacist. Perhaps many remember, as I, going to the drug store as children and having an ice cream which Dr. Butt kept on dry ice until better means of storing ice cream came with electrical freezers.

Other children of James A. and Ellen Owenby Butt became educators. Their son Hubert Butt was a teacher and administrator at Young Harris Academy. Their daughter, Grapelle Butt Mock was a teacher at Union County High School and at schools in East Tennessee. I was privileged to have Mrs. Mock as a high school teacher, and appreciate the good instruction and positive influence she had on my life. The Grapelle Butt Mock house is now an annex to the Union County Historical Museum (the old court house) and is serving a good purpose as an interpretation center for mountain ways and life of past years.

Mr. Ira Butt was the grandson of John Butt, Jr. His father was Thomas Butt. Ira Butt was the owner and editor of The North Georgia News for about seven decades from the early 1900's to the 1970's. His column "Did You Know?" was a popular feature, giving both historical and contemporary vignettes of happenings. During World War II, Editor Ira Butt was diligent in reporting on military men who had gone out from Union County to serve their country.

Other notable Butt descendants have been public servants. Archibald Blucher Butt, son of Jacob and Ruth Collins Butt, was a justice of the peace in Blairsville. His son, Claude Butt, was Union County Clerk of Court for over three decades. Dr. James A. Butts is a noted medical doctor in Gainesville. These three columns are but sketchy summaries of the contributions made to Union County and beyond by the descendants of John Butt, Sr. (1780-1843), farmer and miner.

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published June 5, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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