Saturday, March 12, 2011

I was hoping for terrific-ness...

About a month ago I wrote about William M. Butler and court case he was involved in against his daughters here. I wrote to the Cook County Circuit Court and requested a search of their archives for the case between Willa Mina Butler and Celia S. Butler against their father, William M. Butler. A few days ago I received a response and copies of the documents related to the case. I was hoping for terrific-ness.

I am not sure that I found it. The documents I received were few and not very robust with information. In fact, it is not even very clear what the case was about. The outcome was that William M. Butler agreed to pay $55,000 to Willa Mena and Celia in order for them to drop any further claims against him. I found one inflation calculator that estimated $55,000 in 1877 being equivalent to around $1 million dollars in today's money. I have to wonder where William Butler got the money. The court documents do not explain why the daughters sued their father, but it does mention a tract of land. I know that their birth mother, Celia Temperance Bliss, was from a wealthy family. I can only conjecture that when she died (the date of which is yet to be discovered) she provided for her children and her husband misappropriated the funds. Perhaps the daughters only wanted their fair share.

At first it seemed that the only information I would be able to squeeze from the file was that William M. Butler owed the girls $55,000. But iinterestingly, he is mentioned as their guardian and they his wards...not a father and child relationship. If they were his blood children, why would they be listed as "wards" in court documents? That could just be a clerical error.

Alas, I was hoping to find out what happened to Celia Bliss Butler and determine why her children would have sued their father. This all is a backdoor method of determining information about the death of Celia and whether or not she is my ancestor's mother. But I only walked away with more questions.

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