William Moulton Butler is a 3rd great-grandparent on my paternal side. I have written about William many times...he is one of those ancestors that is fascinating because there are many "possibilities" and no clear answers.
He was born January 22, 1824 to Nathaniel and Rachel (Little) Butler in Watertown, New York. He was the first of six children.
William married Celia Temperance Bliss November 4, 1845 in a double wedding with her brother Seneca Bliss. The Chicago Democrat ran the following announcement:
At the residence of N. F. Butler, Esq., in this city, on last evening, by the Rev. F. Bascom, Mr. Wm. M. Butler and Miss Celia T. Bliss. Also, Mr. Seneca C. Bliss and Miss Betsy Lawson.According to "The Descendants of George Little who came to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1640" by George Little, William had four children with Celia.
Sadly, only the two girls survived to adulthood. Celia Bliss Butler died in November 1865. And this is where the story gets hairy. On the 1870 census, William is listed without a wife and with five children. But remember, supposedly, only two of his children with Celia would have been alive in 1870. So who is the mother of the other three children?
|William Butler's 1870 census from Chicago, Illinois.|
William M. Butler, Sr., had some legal trouble with the children from his first marriage, which I have discussed in a previous entry. The long and the short is that he had to pay money to Willamena and Celia for misappropriating their inheritance. He was in the hardware business until the Great Fire in 1871. Soon thereafter William moved his family to Hobart, Indiana, just across the state line from Chicago.
William is listed as a farmer in 1880, but I have found no land records for him. I have no information on William between 1880 and his death. Even in death he is a conundrum. He has two headstones. The first is in the Hobart Cemetery in Hobart, Indiana.
Note that the two headstones list different dates of death: December 1, 1895 and December 1, 1909. Quite a spread there. However, based on his obituary he died in 1895. And based on records from Graceland I believe that he is actually buried in Hobart Cemetery.
His obituary reads as if he were a very stern man that only showed his softer side to a very few. I do know that his oldest son, William (my second great grandfather) was out of the home by 16. But that could be for any myriad of reasons. William Butler Sr.'s obituary also states that he was a spiritualist and the funeral speech was made by "the eloquent Cora L.V. Richmond, of Chicago, one of the most brilliant leaders of the Spiritualistic exponents in America." Still more to explore with William.
Due outs for William:
1. Research his role in the Spiritualist movement
2. Research the Unitarian church in Hobart
3. Try to find more information on William between 1880-1895; Start with local newspapers.
4. Try to determine where the family name Moulton comes from
Other posts about William M. Butler:
Brick wall - Who is your mama?
William Butler misappropriates inheritance
I was hoping for terrific-ness
Old Settlers of Chicago
Butler family breakthrough
Little, George Thomas. The Descendants of George Little who came to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1640. Rachel Little genealogy, pp. 171-172. Published by the author. Auburn, Maine. 1882.
Calumet Book and Engraving Co., Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois (with portraits). Isaac Heustis biography, pp. 474-475. Chicago, Ill. 1897.