THE BUTLERS OF INISHOWEN
Sarah Matilda Butler 1865 - 1937 > John Derrick Butler 1844 - 1913 > Robert Butler >
The following is an outline for a book on our Butlers that Ed Butler was going to write. Sadly, he passed away before it was completed.
THE BUTLERS OF INISHOWEN
Outline for the book to be written on the Butlers of Inishowen and their descendants in Ireland and the U.S. This is a short outline of the research for the book, THE INISHOWEN BUTLERS. The book will describe the Inishowen Butlerís lives in far greater detail than this outline. Aside from including additional facts, it will illustrate the social culture our family lived in and comment on the economic, political, and geographical influences that shaped their lives.
The first known Butler in our line is Thomas Butler. An educated guess would put his birth date somewhere between 1555 and 1565. Not much is known about him except that he was English.
Two lines of investigation are being pursued at the moment, (1989) one, hopefully, will lead us to where he was from in England. The first of these leads, would put his location in London. The second would put him in County Down, Ireland, as part of an English plantation in Ireland in the late 1500ís, some 20 to 30 years previous to what is commonly referred to as the Ulster Plantation.
Our connection to Thomas is through his son Robert, born approximately 1585 to 1590. Robertís location is not definitely known either. But, the one lead we have on him, would indicate that he also may have resided in County Down, in the same early English Plantation of Ireland as his father Thomas. We do know Robert married Sarah Campbell, daughter of Mr. Campbell of Argyle in Scotland. When this was first discovered, it was believed that Robert had emigrated to Scotland from England. But, now that County Down seems a strong possibility, and was so heavily populated with Scottish settlers, it is suspected that he met, and married Sarah in Ireland, after he or his father immigrated from England.
Robertís son was Captain George Butler I. George gets this distinctive title to differentiate him from his eldest son, captain George Butler II. The information we have on George I is extensive, relative to that of his predecessors. His birth date is estimated to be 1605 to 1615, with a leaning to a more specific date of 1610.
George I married a Brisbane. Her first name is not certain. As far as is known they had four children. The mortality rate for children was high at this time and it is possible that they had more than the four, but if they did they did not live to adulthood. The children were: George II b. 1635-42, William b. 1636-43, James b. 1637-1644, Robert b. 1638-45.
The religion a person professed was extremely important in this period of history. George I has been described as an English Protestant in all records that mention his religion.
Above, map of Ireland and the suspected area that George I came from.
The first mention of him in any record found yet, is in the barony of Inishowen in Donegal in the 1630 Muster of Ulster. He is described as being unarmed. At this time when was probably living on one of the estates on the east coast of Inishowen. (possibly George Caryís estate, another one of our ancestors) There were only 174 adult British males in Inishowen at this time and with the exception of a gathering across the bottom of the peninsula of Inishowen, the majority of the British were distributed evenly along Inishowens east coast.
The parishes of Culdaff and Cloncha were not settled with English at this time. It is suspected that the earliest settlement of English in these parishes was 1632, when Sarah Babbington and James Downham got leases from the See of Derry and the Earl of Donegal. It is probable that it was at this time George moved the 4 or 5 miles from where he had been living, to his first Culdaff area home of Baskill.
Life in the parishes of Culdaff and Cloncha had to be lonely for George I and his family, since by 1665 only 4 other English speaking families had settled. It was not until after 1665 that the plantation in this area really got underway.
The next mention of George I comes in the records of the Quarter Sessions of Tyrone in 1634. He is charged with breach of peace and evidently found guilty, as it is stated he was fined 5 pounds. It is almost certain that this George was our George for several reasons. His in-laws lived in Tyrone. No Butler had residence in Tyrone at the time, and the nearest Butler in the Muster of 1630 was in Cavan. What brought about the connection of George with his in-laws and ultimately his wife is unknown. Perhaps the friend of a friend sort of thing. Or more interestingly, maybe the breach of peace incident.
He is next noted in the Civil Survey of Ireland in 1655. He is recorded as having lease of 80 acres in the townland of Baskil. This is about a quarter of a mile from Lisdaragan, the present day seat of the Butlers of Inishowen.
The Civil Survey was a census of a sort, that listed all the important land holding citizens of Ireland in 1642. This was taken because during the English Civil War, the Crown confiscated vast tracts of land from those who backed the opponents of the Crown, the parliament. When parliament won the war and made England a republic, a system of government described as the Commonwealth was instituted. The government under the Commonwealth then sought to restore any property taken from those loyal to it and this required a detailed list of landowners at the start of the Civil War.
Although George I and all the other important landholders are listed in this survey, no confiscations appear to have taken place in Inishowen. This appears to be because the largest landholder in Inishowen and the landlord of George I was Chichester and he was in the favor of the Commonwealth.
The Census of 1659 lists George I and his two oldest sons, George II and William (this listed all males over the age of sixteen). He is indicated as living at Ballycarron. This is about Ĺ mile northwest of Culdaff. In the back of this book, he is also described as being a commissioner for the poll taxes, once for Lifford in mid Donegal in 1660 and for Inishowen as a whole for 1661.
In the 1665 Hearthmoney Rolls, George was recorded as having two hearths and living at Culdaff. His son Robert had one hearth and lived at Dunross (this is barely a stones throw from Culdaff).
The Ellis manuscripts show that Captain George Butler I played host to John Bramhall, the bishop of Derry for two days in 1668. The bishop was making his annual visitation of the diocese of Derry. Other records show that our ancestor Rev. Robert Young, the incumbent at Culdaff, who ordinarily would have played host to the bishop, was ill at the time. Evidently, this was the reason for the unusual arrangement.
George Iís next and last mention in the records is the execution of his Administration Intestate. He died in 1671 and his administrator is listed as William Brisbane. William is mentioned as next of kin and a resident of Donegal. His residence is probably incorrect. There were only one or two Brisbanes living in Donegal at this time, and none of them were closely connected to William Brisbane. His exact relationship to George is not mentioned, but he was probably his brother-in-law.
During the forty years we know that George I lived in the Culdaff area he is not known to have lived further than two miles from the village.
Captain George Butler Iís story poses two mysteries. The first, is where was he from? The second is, how did he amass such a great amount of land in the time period from the early 1640ís to the mid 1650ís? We know that his entire landed estate amounted to a mere 80 acres in 1642. Only about half of that was arable. In the 1600ís one did not rise above himself quite so easily. Hard work and perseverance only got a person sweat and a sore back. So where did George I raise the money to possess thousands of acres of land by the last half of the 1650ís? Research is proceeding on this and there is at least one lead. However, it may wait for some future researcher to discover the answer.
This brings us not to the direct ancestor of most of the Inishowen Butlers, but to his oldest brother, George II. If it had not been for Captain George Butler I giving land to Captain George Butler II, his eldest son, shortly before George Iís death, we probably never would have known what happened to George II or his brother William. After their mention in the Census of 1659, all word of George II and his brother William disappear from the records of Inishowen.
It is extremely useful to go into George IIís life in detail because it is interesting, and extremely illuminating in reference to our family.
Above, Photocopy of George II's signature
George II was born sometime between 1635 and 1642. From an old document kept at Culdaff House (the seat of the Youngs of Inishowen) Amy Isabel Young, author of THREE HUNDRED YEARS OF INISHOWEN, describes a transfer of land from Captain George Butler I to George II. In it, George I states that because of his great affection for his son, George II, he is giving him title to certain lands. George II is described as Lieut. George Butler of New Ross, Wexford. The document is undated, but because of the mention of George IIís rank in the Irish Army, we can put the date of this document between 1668 and 1671. George II did not attain the rank of Lieut. Until 1668 and of course George I died in 1671.
George II got his commission in the Irish Army by personally petitioning the Duke of Ormonde in London in 1660. This was the year of the restoration to the throne of Charles II. Whether George II traveled there, or was in the area going to college is not known. We do have evidence that indicates that both he and his brother William did attend an institution of higher learning.
The Dukeís name was James Butler. He was the hereditary head of the great family of Butlers from southern Ireland. The Butlers of southern Ireland were the leading Anglo-Irish family.
In a letter of recommendation to the general of all the English Army, George Moncke, the Duke describes George II as being of the Dukeís family. This was obviously meant in a broad sense or perhaps was an exaggeration to insure a positive reaction to the recommendation (there is no evidence whatever to connect the Inishowen Butlers with the Dukeís family). George II carried the letter in person, and presented it to the general or his secretary. A year later we find George II as Coronet of the Duke of Ormondeís foot company at Duncannon, Wexford in southern Ireland.
A person as important as the Duke of Ormonde was not expected to be present at the quarters of his company. Indeed, he also held a captainís position in a troop of horse, as well as being the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. This last position was the highest government position in Ireland. When the captain in a company held his position in name only, the lieutenant in those companies was acting captain. The lieutenant in George IIís company received a promotion shortly after Georgeís arrival and George was acting lieutenant and acting captain for nearly a year, before being relieved of those duties by the arrival of a new lieutenant.
George II became a lieutenant in 1668 and kept that rank until 1682 when he purchased his commission as captain. We now come to one of the most interesting and informative sources of information uncovered in all the research.
In 1682 George II appears to have bribed the Ulster Herald (the Herald of Ireland) to produce a false pedigree and attribute the family arms of the Butlers of Bewsey in Lancashire, England to our family.
The Butlers of Bewsey had an illustrious history that went back to the 1066 Norman invasion of England and produced many knights and members of Parliament. The history of the Bewsey Butlers is voluminous and extremely detailed in the book, THE LORDS OF WARRINGTON, volume 1.
George II had the herald name Edward Butler (the last in the line of Bewsey Butlers) as his great-grandfather Thomasís father. Historians are quite explicit on the fact that although Edward Butler was married two times, (the first one wasnít even consumated) he had no children, legitimate or otherwise. In fact, at the end of the book, THE LORDS OF WARRINGTON, vol. 1 the author alludes to the very pedigree that George II had drawn up (he does not metion him by name, but is is clear he is referring to George IIís false pedigree) describing it as the pedigree registered in the Ulster Heraldís office in Ireland, and saying it to be contrary to any facts. The manuscript pedigree in the Herald's Office itself has a penciled in notation, in the margin, made in the 1800ís also describing it to be incorrect.
But, although the connection between Edward Butler and our Thomas Butler is incorrect, it provides us with information that would not have been available otherwise.
The pedigree when it is dealing with Bewsey Butlers, is quite correct.
At the point our imaginative herald inserts the Inishowen Butlers, the pedigree reads:
Edward Butler of Bewsey in ye county of Lancashire, Esquire, son and heir to Thomas married Jane daughter of ÖÖÖÖBrooke of County Renfrewshire, Esquire and by her had issue Thomas.
Thomas Butler of Bewsey in ye county of Lancashire, Esquire, son and heir to Edward was marryed to ÖÖÖ.by whom he had issue Robert.
Robert Butler of Bewsey in ye county of Lancashire, Esquire, son and heir to Thomas was marryed to Sarah daughter of ÖÖ.Camoll (spelling was what you wanted to make of it in those days, Camoll actually meant Campbell) of ye family of Argile in Scotland by whom he had issue George.
George Butler of Bewsey in ye county of Lancashire, Esquire, son of Robert was marryed to Jennet daughter to Sir John Birsben (Brisbane) Baron in ye county of Bishopton in Scotland by whom he had issue George, William, James, (James is our direct ancestor) Robert viz. 4 sons.
George Butler of Bewsey now of Temple Lyons in ye county of Wexford, Esquire, first son of George, was marryed to Anne daughter to William Smith of Lyncolnshire, by whom he had issue George, William, Robert, and Anne and Jane.
William Second son of ye first mentioned George, was marryed to Letice Clinton of Lincolnshire by whom he had issue George, William, Christophilus and Thomas.
Although the pedigree is false, it is quite obvious that the omissions of a wifeís name and other data suggests that the names that were used, when not referring to titled persons, were very likely correct. Otherwise, it would have been a simple matter to give fictitious names for the gaps that are present.
Beside the false attribution of a connection with the Bewsey Butlers he took a few more liberties. He put his motherís lineage abit closer to the Brisbane main branch than it deserved when he claimed her father to be John Brisbane, the Laird of Brisbane. There indeed was a John Brisbane, Laird of Brisbane during the correct period, but research has proven his daughter Jeannette did not marry George Butler. The Brisbanes were a close family in Scotland and there is no doubt that the woman that George I married is tracible to the Laird of Brisbane in genealogical terms, but it probably would be necessary to go back at least several generations.
So, we are left with an indefinite knowledge of George IIís motherís first name. Who knows, it really may have been Jeannette (note that George IIís eldest daughter was named Jane. The names Jean, Jeane, Jane, and Jeannette were all interchangeable in those days).
We do learn the following facts about our family by studying the false pedigree.
It gives us the name of our oldest ancestor, Thomas.
It gives us the name of Captain George Butler Iís father, Robert, and his motherís name, Sarah Campbell.
It gives certain proof of George Iís childrenís names and the order of their birth.
It gives the names of George IIís children and the order of their birth. It confirms the name of his wife, and gives the name of his wifeís father, and the area of England they were from.
It gives his brother Williamís childrenís names, and their order of birth. It gives his wifeís name, and her fatherís name, and the area of England they were from.
All in all, a tremendous haul, genealogically speaking.
George II obviously had this pedigree manufactured to give his background a needed boost. It is difficult for most people in the modern day world to fully realize the implication of status in the everyday world of 300 years ago. Everything was gauged by who you were in those days. What you could do did count, but when the two were weighed as to their importance, there was no contest. George II was just made a captain or was just about to be, and was moving in circles where it was essential to be of an armigenous family in order to keep an upward progress, socially, and monetarily.
So, although a person today would condemn George II for his outright masquarade, a person living 300 years ago, would give a devilish wink, and an understanding smile.
Below, This is an enlargement of the impression left by George II's signet ring on the sealing wax from one of his 1682 letters to George Mathew, the Duke of Ormonde's half brother and estate manager in Ireland. The ring was made to display the false coat of arms on his letter seals and as everyday ornament. The crosses on the right half of the coat of arms are from his wife's family arms, the Smiths of Lincolnshire.On the left side, are covered gobletsfrom the Bewsey Butler arms of Lancashire.
Above, a photocopy of George II's seal ring with the family arms on it.
George II was stationed in all parts of Ireland during his 26-year career in the army. His most common post was at Duncannon, Wexford, where he appears to have made his base camp home, Ramsgrange, just two miles from Duncannon Fort.
George II was killed in a duel in 1686. George Twistleton was his opponent. Twistleton was the captain of a foot company, evidently quartered near George IIís foot company. The location that this took place is not known at the present, but there are several avenues of investigation being pursued. Twistleton petitioned the King through the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for pardon from this breach of military law, but, without success, and was cashiered from the army.
George II did not leave a will. His wife Anne (Smith) handled his administration intestate, and the matter was still peding in 1699, when his daughter Jane (Briver) was in charge of the administration.
George IIís childrenís names were George, William, Robert, Jane, and Anne.
Photocopy of William's signature above
George Iís second son was William. Not as much is known about William as is known about his brother George, but we do have some details. He was born 1635-43 and was mentioned with his brother George in the Census of 1659. He married Lettice Clinton of Dublin in the church of St. Werburgh in 1674. Her family was originally from Lincolnshire as was George IIís wifeís.
William appears to have purchased a captainís position in the Irish Army about 1677 with (from his own description) the money he received at his fatherís death. There is evidence that indicates he also used the influence of the Duke of Ormonde to gain entrance to the army.
There are a number of letters he wrote in the Ormonde Manuscripts collection that indicate he was worried about his position in the army in 1685, at the time King James II took over the throne, and was at work reversing the prejudice of having to be Protestant to be in the army to having to be Catholic.
William died in 1688 from unknown causes as far as is yet been discovered. He appears to have left a will but so far it has not been located, if indeed it can be.
His children were George, William, Christophilus, Thomas and Bridget.
William was stationed in various parts of Ireland during his career. In 1682 there is an entry in the Derry Cathedral Register recording the christening of his daughter Bridget. Coincidently, he was stationed at the same post, Muff, when he died six years later in 1688. This was a small village just 2 miles northeast of Londonderry. (not the same village, also about 2 miles from Derry, but in Donegal and directly north.
It is not thought that either William or George IIís families returned to the Culdaff area. No evidence has been uncovered to indicate this. George IIís family seems to have stayed in Wexford or perhaps settled in the Dublin area, as is evidenced by serveral letters in the Ormonde Manuscripts collection. It has been noted from the same collection that perhaps Williamís family located in the near Dublin area.
The man that took over Williamís company of foot, William Stewart, marched the troop into Londonderry about a year later to become part of the famous 1689 Siege of Londonderry.
(Since this was written much more has been discovered about William. I will be altering the content of this outline in the near future and will include the added information about William at that time.)
We next come to the direct ancestor (in this generation) of the majority of Inishowen Butlers, James Butler. Before the discovery of the false pedigree, our only knowledge of his existence was a copy of a lease made to his son Stephen Butler in 1716. Stephen is holding a lease formerly held by James Butler, Late of Baskill. The time period involved seemed to demand that James was of the same generation as George II and William. The lease agreement goes on to refer to the lands involved as being leased by George Butler of Bunnagee, in 1657, and the land being passed down to Stephen's keeping to be by legal descent. This established a generation lineage that seemed quite obvious, and as the false pedigree confirmed, a correct one.
There are no other records, as yet discovered, with James' name. The possibility is being investigated that James was the same James Butler that was a lieutenant in a troop of horse, during the same period that George II and William were in the army. But, as yet, no hard evidence that would indicate he is the same James has been discovered.
James died somewhere in the period 1705 - 1715.
Lastly, we come to Captain George Butler's youngest son, Robert. Outside of the mention he gets in the 1665 Hearthmoney Rolls, Robert is not found in any records, except the false pedigree. There is a Robert Butler listed as Burgess for Londonderry in 1692. No evidence has been discovered that would indicate this is the same Robert, but it is suspected that he is.
Next in line is James' son Stephen. Stephen is generally referred to as Stephen of Foxborough. Since we have the birth date of Stephen's wife, Jean Young (1682), as good estimate of his birth would be the late 1670's. (It has just recently been discovered (1999) that there is an entry in an ancestral names list that puts Stephen's birth date at 1682 and Jean's at 1684. This still has to be investigated as to authenticity.
Above, Photocopy of Stephen of Foxborough's signature.
Stephen and Jean married in 1702, and had 11 children. The list of their children are as follows: Elizabeth b. 1705, Robert b. 1706, George, bap. 1709, Stephen b. 1709, Grace bap. 1712, Son bap. 1713, James bap. 1715, Norton, Bap. 1720, thomas, b. 1724, John, bap. 1729, Joseph, bap. 1731.
This generation of Butlers gained quite an illustrious ancestral background. Their mother, Jean Young, through her mother, Ann Hart could claim to be a direct descendant to William the Conqueror. This is a claim made by many families with little or no proof. There are only a handful of genealogies that have the proper documentation to back up direct relationship to William the Conqueror. In this instance, the documentation is rock solid and verified by the most imminent historians and genealogists.
One of the interesting pieces of trivia of this relationship with William the Conquerer's, that this makes the infamous King John (of Robin Hood fame) our direct ancestor. (Thank heavens Robin Hood never existed)
Below is a photocopy of Jean's signature
But, before anybody gets blinded by the reflected glory, it must be pointed out that because of the many children that Eleanor (who we descend from), King John's daughter had, there are perhaps three or four million people in the United States and England that could claim the same relationship.
There are many other noted people to be pointed out in this particular lineage, (particularly associated with the Ulster Plantation) but because this is an outline, and not the book, they will have to be passed over for now.
It would be useful at this point in the outline, to explain the role the Young family played in the Culdaff area. Robert Young, the fifth protestant minister to occupy that seat in the Culdaff area, was by all evidences known, not particularly rich, nor was he attached to a prominent family. But, by the first part of the 1700's, his family was in possession of thousands of acres of land, and were the acknowledged gentry in the immediate Culdaff area. George Young, Jean young's brother, was appointed High Sheriff for Donegal in 1734 and throughout the 1700's and 1800's the Youngs maintained their position as the gentry of Culdaff. Although there were Inishowen Butlers that kept comparable standing in the Culdaff through the 1700's and into the early 1800's, the Youngs appear to have superseded the Butlers early in the 1700's.
Stephen was comparatively well off financially, having lease of a great deal of land from the Earl of Donegal. He truly fell into the category of landlord. He made his will out in 1734 and died in 1742 or 1743. The probate for the will took place in 1743.
The following is the text of his will:
In the name of God amen, the 4th day of June, 1734, I Stephen Butler, of Foxborough in the barony of Ennishowen, and Co. of Donegall, gent. to my dearly beloved wife Jean, the sum of L 10 to be paid her yearly out of ye rent of Baskell, and all my household furniture and my stock to the said Jeane. If any one or more of my children should prove disobedient to said Jean my wife I do order and appoint that said child or children to have but one Brittish shilling given them as a legacy. Jeane my said wife, Thos. Hart, Esq. of Londonderry, merchant, and Robert Young of Culdaff, gent., to be my executors.
Probate 9 June 1743 by George Cary and the burden of the execution thereof was granted 25 May 1752, to Jane Butler, wife of the deceased, all the exrs. being dead.
Because of the relationship the Butlers shared with the Youngs, through Jean Young, it would not be exaggerating to imagine that the Butlers received favorable treatment in social and business dealings with the Youngs. One small example being the following.
Robert, Stephen's eldest son, signed a bond for a loan from his uncle, George Young, to Stephen in 1729. This was necessary because Stephen had been having some temporary financial problems.
Robert is not mentioned again in any records. He most likely died before his father or moved from the area, because Norton, one of the older brothers seems to have reaped the benefits of primogeniture and was the large landowner in later years.
During the first half of the 1700's there are three Butlers mentioned in the records of Inishowen that cannot be identified with relationship to Stephen. The first of these is a George Butler that witnessed the will of Jean Young's mother in 1707. The second is a James Butler that was on the 1735 Culdaff vestry committee for upkeep of roads in the village area. The third is a Walter Butler who signed the vestry book in 1738 and was mentioned in the 1750 Protestant Housekeepers Roll. There is a good possibility that this Walter was the son that was unnamed in the list of Stephen's children.
We now come to another mystery in our genealogy and our weakest link. Which one of Stephen of Foxborough's children is our connection to the line? There is little to no doubt that one of Stephen's sons were in our direct line. There were no other Butlers in Inishowen beside that of Captain George Butler I's children. Two of the four left at an early age and never came back. George I's youngest son is absent from mention in almost all the records and appears to have either moved from the immediate area or died at an early age. There is a Robert Butler mentioned as burgess of the city of Londonderry in 1688. The prevailing suspicion is that this is George I's youngest child. Work is being done to prove this. This leaves George I's next to youngest child, James of Baskil, and through him, Stephen of Foxborough. Our direct ancestor Stephen's grandson, George of Cloncha was born in 1752. There are only two of Stephen's sons that are NOT candidates for being his father, Norton, and Robert. Robert because he appears to have died early, and Norton, because we know his family history quite well. John seems to be a good choice. Although he was rather young to have had children by Anglo-Irish tradition, he would not have had reason to wait for his father's death and the subsequent inheritance to marry. His father was already dead. Another reason John is thought to be George of Cloncha's father is that, George of Cloncha's eldest son's name was John. John was born in 1771. George's second son, George, was born in 1790.So, if for the time being, we consider John our connection to the line, we can move on to George of Cloncha (pronounced Glen-caw). As has been said, he was born in 1752. George married Rose Gillen and eventually moved onto Lisdaragan where Butlers still reside to this day.
Rose Gillen appears to have come from old Irish stock. Her family was identified as being protestant in the 1750 protestant housekeepers rolls. There were a few native catholic-irish families that converted. She is the first non-Anglo-Irish wife traced to date. There is an interesting story that comes down to us through the folklore of the family worth relating. Although the date is lost, it can be easily assumed that the following took place sometime in the 1790's. This estimate is arrived at by considering all the facts involved and the events transpiring in this period.
In the 1790's the country was in religious and political revolt. The Catholic Irish attempted to overturn the English backed Anglo-Irish protestant government. Catholic priests were among the most encouraging leaders in this revolt. So, the Anglo-Irish set about to put down the revolt. Their thought was, one of the best ways to stem the tide of revolution was to jail, banish or kill any Catholic priest. It appears that the Catholic priest in the Culdaff area had to flee, lest he lose his life or freedom. Evidently he was innocent of any involvement with the revolt, or the Butlers had a special liking for him, because the Butlers of Lisdaragan sheltered and hid him from discovery, until he could escape safely. He was hidden in a small room or loft in the cottage and to make sure no one discovered his presence he was not permitted to move from the spot. He was given a small bell and when he needed anything he was told to quietly ring it and a member of the household would attend to him.
An appropriate amount of time passed and the bands of protestants who were scouring the countryside, gave up their hunt. The Butlers gave the priest one of their horses, a white one, to make his safe get-a-way. As the priest was giving his thanks and saying his good-byes, he said these words, "may good luck and fortune reign over Lisdaragan and it's people as long as it has a white horse." Lisdaragan was never without a white horse from that day, until the early 1940's when mechanization provided the means of improving farm practices and Lisdaragan purchased a tractor.
Rose Gillen, George's wife, was born in 1755 and died in 1837.
George of Cloncha died in 1809. He left a will but it has not been located.
A cousin of George of Cloncha, (or also spelled Clonca) Norton Butler, who will be called Norton II to separate him from his son, Norton III, and his father, Norton I, is a subject worth writing about in more detail in this outline. In 1801, Norton II returned from military service in the Rebellion of 1798 mentioned above, and settled in the Culdaff area at Grouse Hall. He was married to Rachel McNeil of Antrim and had two or three children. The family later enlarged to include 7 children. He set about managing his land and that of several absentee landlords. In time, he was established firmly and enlarged on the number of clients that he managed land for.
Sometime around 1810 illicit distillation of alcohol in the Inishowen area became a major means of support for the poorer Irish. The Irish parliament passed a law that fined landowners who were found to have evidence of illicit distillation taking place on their lands. So, the lawbreakers simply relocated their apparatus to the more desolate parts of other peoples lands and carried on with their activities. This soon became a great drain on the profits of those who were innocent. Norton II being responsible for his clients lands and his own, became one of the greatest opponents of this illicit trade and gradually came to be hated by the lawbreakers. Several attempts were made on his life. In 1815, while he was inspecting his cattle in a field in back of Grouse Hall, he was shot and bayoneted by two of the illicit distillers, William McGuinness and his brother Daniel McGuinness. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland gave Norton's wife a pension of 200 pounds a year. This was accomplished through highly placed friends.
Norton II's death was quite famous in Ireland at the time. During this period, a young English politician, Sir Robert Peel, the secretary of Ireland, gave a speech in favor of granting Mrs. Butler's pension. This same Sir Robert Peel, some years later, returned to England and eventually became England's Prime Minister. Before leaving Ireland, Peel formed a new police force that became a model for the modern day structure of England's police force. At first, the new police were called "Peelers", after Sir Robert. Later and more permanently, the nickname given the police was also in honor of Sir Robert Peel. They were called "Bobbies".
Norton II's two boys, Daniel and Norton III, later immigrated to New York City, where they both pursued careers as clerks. Norton III had first lived in Valpariso, Chile for several years before making his way to New York. Norton II's wife Rachel, died in Armagh in 1865 at the age of 88.
But, back to our line. John, (born 1771) George of Cloncha's eldest son, was known as John of Redford. As far as records show, John only had one sibling, George (born 1792). In present day Butler family lore in Inishowen, there is the story of this last mentioned George's son George or Stephen accompanying his cousin to Londonderry, upon the cousin's immigration to the United States in 1847. Three of his same cousin's family (according to the story handed down) died in the Johnstown Flood in 1889. This suggested that John of Redford was the Ireland connection for the Clearfield Butlers. He had long been suspected to be the connection for the Clearfield County branch of the Inishowen Butlers, but there didn't seem to be anyway of confirming the connection.
The above described story fueled suspicions to an even greater degree. It took a great deal of research and an equal amount of deducting to finally come to convincing proof that John of Redford was the Irish connection to for the Clearfield Butlers. The following trail of evidence is circumstantial, but even the most conservative of experts should agree that when all these pieces are put together, there is little room for doubt. The tombstone in Culdaff churchyard lists John of Redford and his father George of Cloncha and John's mother, Rose, plus John's brother George and his wife and grandson as being buried beneath it. The only other name on the tombstone is that of James, John's son that died in 1832. No mention is made of John's wife or any additional children on this tombstone or on any other tombstones in the graveyard.
Mary Butler, the woman known to be the mother of that first generation of Clearfield Butlers, arrived in Clearfield in 1847. John died in 1845. there was no husband with Mary when she arrived. No wife was buried with John. That's the first suggestion of a possible matching of these two.
The second would be the eldest brother's name in the group of adults that first entered Clearfield County with the elderly Mary. His name was George. From the records that are available at this time, George was actually the second son born to John and Mary. While this does not follow the normal practice of naming the eldest son after his male line grandfather, it does indicate that perhaps this was one of those occasional times when the second son was given the honor. This fact does not make the case as strong as it could be, but indicates that the name was important enough to be given to one of his eldest sons. John's father's name was George.
Thirdly, in the group of adults that arrived in the Clearfield area was a sister with the name Rose (born 1825). She was the second oldest girl (the first born daughter getting the mother's name, Mary). Again, it was common enough custom to name the second eldest daughter after the father's mother. John's mother's name was Rose. Another match.
Fourth item to be considered is weak, but does fit in the scheme of probability that would make one believe John to be our missing link. And that is, that John died in 1845. This would give a family just the right amount of time to think about a large step such as emigration and to act on it. A year and a half.
The fifth piece of evidence tightens the case even more. In a dust laden and cob webbed store room in the basement of the County Donegal Court House in Lifford, Donegal (barely 10 yards from the cell that held Norton II's murderer) was an old record book for Inishowen listing the contributors to the fund for the needy in 1841. Among these yellowed pages was the notation that a MARY BUTLER, of REDFORD donated 1 shilling toward the fund. Consider it, a MARY BUTLER, the reigning family member of the Clearfield Butlers in the U.S. in 1847 and a JOHN of REDFORD with no wife beside him in his grave in Ireland, together with the persuasive fact that a MARY BUTLER of REDFORD was contributing to funds for the poor in 1841.
The last bit of evidence and perhaps the single most convincing when joined with all of the other pieces, was found in the historical society in Bellefonte, Centre County (just east of Clearfield County). In a series of tombstone inscriptions of the central Pennsylvania area preserved by a woman in the early 1930's, was the following inscription from the old public graveyard in Clearfield. Mary Butler, wife of JOHN BUTLER, died 1863, aged 77 years at death. This tombstone is still standing in the old Clearfield public graveyard. It's face is illegible. Thank heaven someone thought ahead to the time when it would be illegible. And, there was no inscription on her tombstone noting her husbands death nor was there a tombstone for him in the graveyard. It is hoped that anybody considering all of this evidence would conclude that the relationship of John of Redford, and Mary Butler, the elderly immigrant of Clearfield County in 1847 was clear. John of Redford appears to have followed the practice of many Irish men. He did not marry until his father died, or was about to. This seems obvious, since George of Cloncha died in 1809 and John had his first child in 1811 by a wife who was barely 23-years-old.John was 40-years-old at this time. The reason that John was not living at Lisdaragan is not known at this time. (If indeed he wasn't) Being the eldest son, he should have inherited the homestead and the bulk of George of Cloncha's estate. It may have been as simple as not wanting to move from an established home. He did live in Redford for sure, at least in the latter part of his life as is evidenced by his wife Mary's contribution to the fund for the needy in 1841.
The two brothers, John of Redford and his brother George are the direct ancestors for both of the branches of the Inishowen Butlers. John for the Clearfield County branch and George for the remaining Butlers in, or lately from, Inishowen.Outside of information on birth and death on his tombstone, John of Redford is only mentioned once in the records. This is in the Tithe Applotment books of the 1828 - 1832 period. His name appears with his brother George's as owning 1/4 of a lease of land in the townland of Cloncha. Marchant is the second name in the lease. Marchant owned 1/4 of the lease as well. The third name is McGranahan. He owned half of the lease.
In 1977, when four of the Clearfield County branch were visiting Ireland, they met a man named McGranahan. He lived about 100 yards from what is speculated to be the visiting Butler's ancestor's last Irish home. This is in the townland of Cloncha (just a very short distance from Lisdaragan). The gentleman they met very likely was the descendant and heir to the same McGranahan that shared the lease with John of Redford.
The small cottage the Americans visited was in a ruined state. All four walls were still up, and almost the entire roof was intact, except for several small patches that allowed the sun in. But, the dirt floor was strewn with litter and the remains of evidence of livestock having inhabited the cottage. It evidently had been many years since it had been occupied by humans. The roof was made of sod, with abit of thatching. Still, it was fairly easy to imagine how it once had been and to picture the Irish Butlers who emigrated to America as they once had been.
We now come to the generation of the Clearfield branch of the Inishowen Butlers. John of Redford had six children. James b. 1811-12, George b. 1812, Mary b. 1815, Robert b. 1817, Rose b. 1825, John b. 1827, and Elizabeth b. 1828.
James was nineteen when he died in an accident in 1831. He was plowing a field with a rifle propped onto his plow, when it accidently went off, wounding him fatally. No reason has been passed down as to why he had the rifle with him. One possible explanation would be, at this period of history the Culdaff area was infested with a great over population of wild hares. It was a problem that threatened many peoples livelihood. It seems likely that many farmers made it a practice to carry rifles during the work day to shoot as many hares as they could.
The second oldest living son, Robert, not having much expectation of inheriting land from his father, appears to have sought his fortune by emigrating. He must have arrived in Clearfield County in the very late 1830's or 1840. This is evident, since records show him selling a strip of land in the Mt. Joy area in 1841. He must have received some grant of money from his father to set him up in his new country. So, Robert was in the United States at least seven years prior to the emigration of his family.
The emigration of the rest of the family was caused for a number of reasons, that in combination, made the choice to emigrate an obvious and easy one. First, they had someone in the new country to smooth the way for them. Second, the father of the family was dead. At the time he died, he was seventy four. The chances are, had he lived, he most likely would have been against leaving his home at such an age. Indeed, that may have been a factor in delaying the emigration of the rest of the family as long as it did. Third, although this branch of the Inishowen Butlers seems to have been in adequate shape financially, the future in Ireland was not a good one, because of the extreme over-crowding. By the time of their emigration to the United States, Ulster contained an average of 406 persons per square mile of arable land. Fourth, the country was at the height of a famine. Almost everywhere a person looked he saw poverty and desolation. Almost all of the poor class was devastated by the successive loss of potato crops on which they depended for the bulk of their food. Inishowen's crops were more evenly divided between oats and potatoes, so the effects were felt less in the area around Culdaff than in many other areas of Ireland.
It is very unlikely, that the Butlers in our direct line, who had remained protestant and consequently had land sufficient for rent income or varied food produce, were in any danger of being the victims of any great privation, since they did not depend on potatoes alone for their sustenance. But, the effect in general, was that it certainly didn't spell a future of good and plenty.
Fifth, Irish Robert in all likelihood was writing letters to his family, trying to convince them that life around Clearfield was so much better than what they had around Culdaff. He had just started his own family and probably wanted his Irish family to join him in America. Irish immigrants with this bent of mind colored their letters with promises of success and opportunity.
So, in the spring of 1847 the group set off for America. They arrived at the port of Philadelphia sometime in July, 1847 and made their way to Clearfield County. Undoubtedly, the group stayed with Robert for a short time, before finding their own home to live in, about a mile away, in the direction of Clearfield. For purposes of clear identification, the three adult brothers and sisters from Ireland will be known as Irish George, Irish Robert and Irish John as well as Irish Mary, Irish Rose (no pun intended) and Irish Elizabeth.
Within a year of arrival, Irish Mary was married to one of Clearfield's pioneers. Abraham L. Hess. Hess arrived in the area around Clearfield Bridge about 1810 and cleared a settlement beside Clearfield Creek. He was a widower and had several adult children by his first wife. Irish Mary gave him his youngest son, Abraham L. Hess, Jr. and a daughter, Rosanna, but she died at the age of 5. Irish Mary had been engaged to be married in Ireland and the prospective groom disappeared (supposedly to Scotland) when the date of the wedding neared. Irish Mary was pregnant by this time. She had a son, Jerimiah. He went by the name of Butler, except for a short period of time after Irish Mary's marriage to Abraham Hess, when he used Hess for his last name. Throughout his life he was commonly called Jerry Butler. He is listed as such in the 1875 Illustrated Atlas of Clearfield County. Abraham Hess died in the middle 1850's and Irish Mary went to live with her brothers and sisters alternatively. In 1860 she was living with her brother Irish John in Mt. Joy. Their mother Mary, was also living with Irish John at this time.
Eventually, Irish Mary moved into her own quarters in town. First, in a house next to North Witmer Park and then to a house on N. 3rd St. and Walnut. Finally, she bought a house on S. 4th St. and Cherry where her descendants live to this day.Irish Mary lived until December 15, 1887. She is buried in an abandoned graveyard on Cowdrick's farm beside Clearfield Creek on the farm that Abraham Hess first settled at the beginning of the 1800's.
Irish Elizabeth married Uriah Litz and had a daughter named Hannah. They also adopted a son, L. T. Shimel, he appears to have died in childhood. Irish Elizabeth lived until 1894 and was buried beside L.T. Shimel in Stoneville cemetary with a plain unmarked sandstone rock set upright for her headstone.
Irish Rose married Robert Litz and had a son named Rudolph Litz. It has not been discovered when she died. Her husband lived until 1912 and was buried in the graveyard at the Clover Hill Church, near Litz's Bridge.
Irish Robert married Margaret Derrick, the daughter of another Clearfield County pioneer, Nimrod Derrick, in 1843 and had six children. John D. b. 1844, Elizabeth b. 1846, George W. b. 1848, Mary b. 1851, Margaret b. 1853 and Sarah b. 1856.The census records indicate that Irish Robert's mother Mary was living with him in 1850. No doubt Mary, the matriarch of the new American Butlers, lived in shifts at her various children's houses, as was the custom for older single parents until recent years.
As far as records reflect, Irish Robert only lived at one residence during his married life. He died in 1861. His wife Margaret, lived until 1901. She died of Gangrene at her granddaughter's house in Clearfield's East End.
Irish John provides abit of a mystery that has yet to be solved. Although the family immigrated in 1847, he did not leave Ireland until 1849. Why would a boy of 20 stay behind in Ireland when his whole family had left? Recently there has been found a ships list for 1849 Londonderry to Philadelphia that lists a John Butler and a Mary Butler. Both the age of John and the age of Mary match the ages they would be if they were Irish John and his mother Mary. It has been thought that Mary came over with Irish George. But, given this new information it appears that the possibility exists that John stayed with his mother until she was ready to come to America. This would explain John's delay, but not his absence from the 1850 census in Clearfield county. Records show that he arrived July 4, 1849. The census is blank for him in 1850. Where was he? One possibility is found in the fact that on the same ship that brought John and Mary to the states, was a Rebecca Butler. It is not known if Rebecca was from our family. If she was, and John and Rebecca stayed with friends or relatives in Philadelphia or it's environs, then it would appear that Rebecca stayed there, because of marriage or some other factor not known. It is known that within three years of his arrival in the U.S. Irish John took over the property that Irish George had been living on in Mt. Joy. He lived there the rest of his years.
Irish John married Rebecca Maria Conklin in 1860 and had seven children. Jefferson D. b. 1864, Rebecca b. 1868, Sarah b. 186-, Mary b. 186-, Infant b. 186-, William b. 1869 and Thadeus b. 1872. There is a small headstone in the old Clearfield graveyard not six feet from that of Irish John and his wife's headstones that contains the names of three or four children by the name of Butler. At the time of examination in the late 1970's the name Butler and the name Mary were barely discernable. Although it is obvious that there are two or three more names and dates of birth and death for each of the children, the letters are illegible. This headstone is almost certainly for Sarah, Mary, William and the infant all of whom died in childhood. In 1879 Irish John died after a bout with Typhoid Fever.
Irish George married Margaret Frances Mulhearn in Ireland. This took place approximately in 1843. she was known by her family and friends in the United States as Fanny. In Ireland, her family referred to her as Peggy or Aunt Peggy. George and Fanny had eight children. Robert b. 1845, John b. 1847, (there is some doubt as to this date for John. Some evidence exists to put his birth date in 1844.) Mary b. 1851, Elizabeth b. 1855, Margaret b. 1863, Thomas b. 1857, Thomas b. 1864, (census records suggests that George and Fanny had two children named Thomas, it was relatively common practice to name a sibling of a recently departed child by the same name) Stephen b. 1859. Thomas or Thomas's and Stephen died in childhood. After moving from his Mt. Joy farm in 1852, George bought a farm in Boggs township in the Stoneville vicinity. He remained there for some years before moving to a farm nearer Clearfield but still close by the Old Erie Turnpike.
It was in 1879, while still living on this farm that Irish George decided to move to Virginia. The farm that he bought was about 3 miles from Farmville, in the extreme southeast corner of Buckingham County, Virginia. Irish George died of a heart attack on May 17, 1882. His age at the time was described as 69 years, 4 months and 23 days old. It is probable that this was telegraphed to Clearfield since his obituary appeared in the Clearfield Republican a mere two days later. The date arrived at after subtracting his age from the date he died, would have put his birth on December 25, 1812. It has never been discovered where in Buckingham County he is buried.
The following episode in the Inishowen Butler's story will be covered in this outline in a more complete fashion, because of the direct effect it has had on the Clearfield branch and to clear up any misconceptions that may have accumulated over the many years.
Irish George's son, Robert, had married Lucy Heisler in Clearfield, before the move to Virginia. He had 4 children. Anne b. 1873, Francis b. 1876, Catherine b. 1878, and George b. 1879. Records indicate that Lucy's family were living at Riverview on the west side of the river, across from Reedsville, at the time of her marriage. Robert didn't spend much time in Virginia. He was there no longer than a year. Sometime in late 1880 or early 1881 Robert moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania and went to work as a laborer in the Cambria Iron and Steel Works. During the years in Clearfield County he had worked as a clerk in a store and it is assumed he liked towns better than farm life. He lived at 4th and Broad in Cambria City, (an independent borough connected to Johnstown) for several years, and then bought a house located at 8th and Broad in the same borough.
Life in Johnstown at this time was bustling. The Cambria Iron and Steel Works was producing at record levels and both the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads had major freight depots operating in Johnstown. Nearly everyone had either natural gas or electricity in their homes, and telephones were becoming ever more common around town. Opportunity was everywhere. It was a model of the American city in expansion during the industrial revolution.
About 1885 or 86 he leased the Pennsylvania Railroad Hotel and Tavern in Millville, (another independent borough wedged between Cambria City and Johnstown). He was in business for himself. Beside saving his earnings from working as a labourer in Johnstown, Robert had equity from his share of the farm in Virginia to put toward going into business. He evidently needed more money to get started and he turned to his brother for a loan. Family lore relates that Robert's brother John was not at all pleased that Robert was to be selling liquor. But, there is evidence that indicates that John loaned Robert the money.
Robert's mother Fanny and his sister Mary, along with her husband. Franklin Fers moved to Johnstown to be with Robert's family in late 1882 or early 83. Mary had married Franklin Fers in Virginia on May 24, 1882. Fers was supposedly born in Clearfield County. What he was doing in the immediate vicinity of the Butlers in Virginia is not known. It is thought that Robert's mother Fanny, and Mary, and her husband Frank, left for Johnstown shortly after Mary's marriage to help in Robert's household. This was because Robert's wife Lucy, was ill. Mary and Franklin had one child, Elizabeth. She died in infancy in 1888.
Robert's wife Lucy died in 1887. She had been bedridden for several years and had a psychologically induced loss of voice. The loss of voice appears to have been due to witnessing the death of several neighborhood children in a fire. Her body was shipped by train for burial in Altoona, where her mother was living at the time. It is suspected that Robert's sister Elizabeth accompanied her sister and mother to Johnstown. This is evidenced by a photo of her by a Johnstown photographer. Her sister Margaret evidently had mental problems of one sort or another, as is evidenced by a lien against her estate in 1890 for arrears due the Virginia State Asylum. She likely died there in late 1887 or sometime in 1888. This is deduced by the fact that there are records that show in 1887, Elizabeth selling Margaret her share of the Virginia farm for a token five dollars, or as the document puts it, her dower. Court records show that neither Margaret or Elizabeth were living in 1890. Elizabeth also evidently died in the same time period as Margaret.
Sometime in April or early May 1889 Robert and several others in the family were laid up with the flu. there was a flu epidemic sweeping the country at this time. But, everybody recovered and the picture looked bright for the Johnstown branch of the Inishowen Butlers. Robert had a profitable saloon and hotel business, plus $71.10 on deposit at the Johnstown Building and Loan (this was the equivelant of almost 3 months labourer's wages). He had a life insurance policy for $263.00, a valuable liquor license and $9.00 in rent due from his hotel guests. All of this and the ownership of a house and property in nearby Cambria City. He must have felt fairly satisfied for a man so recently a landless farm worker.
On May 10 or 11 work was completed on a two story addition to the house Robert owned in Cambria City. This consisted of one room on each floor and two fireplaces with the chimney built from the ground up. For this he paid the huge sum of $140.00. It would have been slightly more, but Robert had elected to do the painting himself.
The people in Johnstown had long been aware of the danger of the dam breaking at Lake Conemaugh. In 1881, during a flash flood, rumors spread that it was ready to let go because this was the first year that such a head of water had been put to bear on the earthen dam. The Cambria Iron Company sent a group of men up to the lake to inspect the dam and report it's holding abilities. Although the water was barely two feet from the Crest, the men reported that the dam seemed to be in good repair and well able to handle the water it held. Never-the-less the people in the lower end of town, in Millville and the area of The Point were frightened. Many of them did not sleep that night.
But, dawn came and all things were as normal, Excitement evaporated and the people went about their regular lives. As the years progressed the routine repeated itself whenever the water got too high, until by 1889 the thought of the dam breaking became more of a joke than a fear that anything would actually happen. They all agreed it would happen one day, but not to them. People had gotten tired of hearing about a disaster that never happened. By the spring of 1889 it was as common to joke about the dam breaking as it was to comment on the bad weather.
Lake Conemaugh had been created originally to provide sufficient water for the Canal from Johnstown to Pittsburgh. The funds for it had been approved by the state legislature in 1836. Work was begun on the dame in 1838 and the job was finished after many delays in 1852. Two years later, the canal was made obsolete by a more comprehensive railroad network in the state. Soon afterward the State sold the property to the Pennsylvania Railroad as part of the package of the canal system. The railroad could use the canal beds as right of way. In 1879 a group of rich men from Pittsburgh purchased the lake property to start a resort for vacationing Pittsburgh tycoons. The dam itself was 930 feet wide with a spillway 72 feet wide. The thickness on top was 20 feet wide graduating down to 270 feet. It was constructed of individual layers of clay and coated on its outer face with large loose rocks and smaller rocks on its inner face. The lake covered about 450 acres and was close to 72 feet deep in places. by 1889, sixteen cottages had been built by the lake with boathouses and stables.
May 30, 1889, Thursday, was Memorial Day. In the morning, most people in town went to the cemeteries to pay respect to their departed loved ones and it is likely that Robert and his family had done that very thing. After returning from the cemetery there was the Memorial Day Parade to look forward to. Since the parade took place only 3 or 4 blocks from where Robert lived, it's a good bet that Robert and family walked over to join the crowd. Parades then and for many years afterwards were a tremendous draw for people. It was a major social event that was not to be missed, particularly for the children.
The parade got underway about two-thirty. It progressed up Main Street for the entire length of the town and then turned to go as far as Sandy Vale where the war dead were buried (a distance of 3 miles). The fire department marched, the Morrellville Odd Fellows, the Austrian Music Society, The Hornertown Drum Corps, the Grand Army Veterans, and the Sons of Veterans, and half a dozen other gourps of various designations. there were 30,000 people living in the valley at this time and a great many of them had come to see the parade.
After the parade everybody drifted home to relax and get ready for their evening meal. A light rain started to fall about four o'clock. It was not welcomed by anyone. There had already been a hundred days of rain that year. The rivers were already swollen with eleven days of rain that month, not to mention fourteen inches of snow that fell in April. It wasn't as if Johnstown hadn't gotten used to spring flooding every year. It was a common thing to have the water up to the top doorstep and sometimes to the first floor windows. Many times cellars had to be dug out to get rid of the mud from rising waters. It was just that everybody hoped that they wouldn't have to deal with it again this spring.
Happily the rain stopped about five. The Butlers had their meal and after an evening of chores and usual conversation they went to bed.Meanwhile, the rain started again at nine o'clock that evening. It was light as before but, about ten it came in a downpour. This continued throughout the night.By morning, the rain had slowed down and was little more than a drizzle. but, the rivers were swollen and rising better than a foot an hour. When the morning crew showed up for work at the mills at seven, they were told to go home and see to their families. School had been let out and the children were making the most of the situation by sailing homemade toy boats and generally amusing themselves with the then passive high waters. Some conservative minded individuals moved their families to the mountainsides just to be sure. Others were busy moving furniture and other valuables to the second floor and readying themselves for another of their almost yearly spring floods. Meanwhile, up at the Lake Conemaugh Dam, the engineer hired by the club to look after the dam and grounds, 24-year-old John Parke, had gotten up at six thirty that morning and set out immediately to inspect the lake's level. He took a small rowboat and rowed to the various inlets of the lake to see what kind of level the streams had reached. To his horror he noted that the lake was rising about an inch every ten minutes. He calculated that the water would be going over the crest of the dam in only a matter of hours at this rate.
Upon arriving back at the South Forks Hunt Club he was summoned to the dam itself. When he arrived, he was met by a small crowd of men. The water was only two feet from the crest. The men were unsuccessfully trying to bolster the dam with added earth and also trying to cut a new spillway in to the tough shale of the mountainside.To compound the situation the spillway that ordinarily relieved the dam of its excess water was badly clogged with stumps, pieces of logs and all other sort of debris. The general manager of the South Forks Hunt Club, Colonel Unger was present and helping with the feverish work being done. John Bucannon, a South Fork resident, was there too and he tried to convince Colonel Unger to remove the bridge above the existing spillway and tear out the screens that were being clogged. Colonel Unger would not do it. When he did agree to do it a short time later, it was too late. The screens were unmoveable, the pressure on the huge amount of debris was like a padlock.
By eleven o'clock the water was level with the crest of the dam. Colonel Unger then told John Parke to ride to South Fork, a ten minute horseback ride, and telegraph Johnstown of the tragic situation. When Parke started that ride he didn't expect to see a dam when he returned.The message was telegraphed from South Fork to Johnstown. Two additional warnings were to be telegraphed that afternoon. None of the warnings received in Johnstown were taken seriously. In fact, there is no evidence that the information was even passed from the telegrapher in Johnstown to any authorities.When John Parke arrived back at the dam he was surprised to see it still standing. But, the water was spilling over the top. It was about six inches deep and growing. It was now shortly after noon.
John Parke was now faced with a grave decision. Should he cut spillways at the sides of the dam proper, where the softer earth and the pressure of the water itself would finish the job of cutting the spillways? This would get rid of the excess water in quick fashion without risking the collapse of the main section of the dam. But, it would mean the total destruction of the dam and a great deal of damage below. The club would be held accountable for any damage and loss of life that would result. There would be no way of proving that the dam would not have held. On the other hand, if nothing was done and the main section of the dam did break, the ensuing devastation would be many times worse and an enormous loss of life would result. If his first thought was put into action, he of course, would have to live with all the blame of the results. What man not knowing with absolute certainty what the future holds would have the courage to take on such a responsibility?
John Parke was not such a man. But, no one can blame him. Perhaps a person with hindsight would, but everyone knows how much hindsight is worth. Instead, Parke turned his horse and rode up to the club for his midday meal.When he returned to the dam, things had gotten worse, Several large rocks had fallen away from the face of the dam and the water had cut a hole into the dam about ten feet wide and four feet deep. Each minute the gap enlarged. All Parke and the other men could do was wait and hope.Soon afterward the first big chunk of dam seemed to dissolve into the rushing waters. It was described to be large enough for a train of cars to go through. The water then seemed to slice its way as a knife through soft butter. It wasn't more than several minutes later that the entire face of the dam seemed to move as a unit out into the mist shrouded gully in front of the dam and disappear into the white torrent that was sweeping all before it. It was now ten minutes after three o'clock.
In Johnstown, Robert Butler was finishing up the transfer of those articles he could move to the second floor and seeing to it that his family was gathered in their parlor. The water was up to the first floor windowsill and he was resigned to suffering more water damage to his premises than was usual but, he must have reasoned that his family was alright and all that was to be done was done. He had elected not to move the family to the nearby mountainside, so it appears he was not overly fearful.
Meanwhile, about 18 miles away, twenty million tons of water and thousands of tons of debris was hurtling down the Conemaugh Valley, leaving in it's path nothing but bare rocks and deep gauges in hard clay. It has been estimated that the water charged into the valley at a velocity and depth comparable to that of the Niagara River as it reaches Niagara Falls. Or to put it another way, the bursting of the South Fork dam was about like turning Niagara Falls into the valley for thirty minutes.To further complicate the situation, at various points in its plummet to Johnstown, the debris would clog up the path, forming a water tight dam. Then the pressure behind this accidental dam would build up until the whole thing burst as if dynamited. In effect, the mass of water charging toward Johnstown stopped every now and then to give an encore performance of the collapse at the South Forks dam. This meant that the speed and force of the onslaught didn't have a chance of dissipating it's energy.
The difference in elevation between the South Forks dam and Johnstown was 500 feet. It has been estimated that the theoretical speed which the wall of water could have achieved by the time it reached Johnstown was 90 miles an hour. Of course, the accidental damming and friction with objects in its path greatly reduced this. The speed of the water at most points was gauged at approximately forty miles per hour. The friction of the ground and the obstacles in the water's path caused the bottom part to move slower than the top. This forced the top part to slide over the bottom. The top then fell down in front of the wall of water, producing a huge hammering wave. Any person caught in the open, in front of this hammer and anvil like process, would be pounded deep into the mud.Railroad locomotives, boxcars, houses, and bridges were swept away without the slightest resistance. And so it was as the water roared into Johnstown at 4:07 p.m.
Afterwards, people had their own personal ways of describing the sound and sight of the wave as it hit Johnstown. To some it sounded like thousands of horses in a cavalry charge, to others, incessant thunder. Some people thought it looked like an immense carpet of undulating houses, trees, planks, humans, locomotives, frieght cars, and black water unrolling toward them at break-neck speed. But one thing everybody who saw agreed upon. This dark mist that preceded the wave, was later to be dubbed "the death mist". In front of the mist was a wind that set trees to waving and carried away the smaller wood structures that it hit.
The following is an excerpt from David G. McCullough's extremely interesting book, THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD. It gives the experience of one of the survivors, a boy of seventeen years, Victor Heiser. The Heisers lived about 5 blocks up from the Butlers, where the family had a grocery store and living quarters. It is probably typical of the situation that most people in Johnstown faced that day, with the single difference that Victor somehow survived, instead of becoming victim of the grisly fate that many suffered.
" The water in front of the Heiser store had been knee-deep since early in the afternoon, which was a record for that part of town. In the other floods over the years there had never been any water at all so far up on Washington Street.People had been coming in and out of the store most of the morning joking about the weather, buying this and that to tide them through the day. The floor was slick with mud from their boots, and the close, warm air inside the place smelled of tobacco and wet wool. George Heiser, wearing his usual old sweater, was too busy taking care of customers to pay much attention to what was going on outside.But by early afternoon, with the street out front under two feet of water, hardly anyone was about, and the Heiser family was left more or less to itself. A few visitors dropped in, family friends, and an occasional customer. Mrs. Lorentz, from Kernville, sat visiting with Mathilde Heiser upstairs. She had come by alone, without her husband, who was the town's weatherman, and no doubt a busy man that day.
Sometime near four o'clock George Heiser had sent his son, Victor, out to the barn to see about the horses. The animals had been tied in their stalls, and George, worried that they might strangle if the water should get any higher, wanted them unfastened.The barn, like the store front, was a recent addition for the Heisers. It had a bright red tin roof and looked even bigger than it was, standing, as it did, upon higher ground at the rear of their lot. To get to it, Victor had left his shoes and socks behind and, with a pair of shorts on, went wading across through the pelting rain. It had taken him only a few minutes to see to the horses and he was on his way out the door when he heard the noise.
Terrified, he froze in the doorway. The roar kept getting louder and louder, and every few seconds he heard tremendous crashes. He looked across at the house and in the second story window saw his father motioning to him to get back into the barn and up the stairs. Just a few weeks earlier he and his father had cut a trap door through the barn roof, because his father had thought "it might be a good idea".The boy was through the door and onto the roof in a matter of seconds. Once there he could see across the top of the house, and on the other side, no more than two blocks away, was the source of all the racket. He could see no water, only an immense wall of rubbish, dark and squirming with rooftops, huge roots, and planks. It was coming at him very fast, ripping through Portage and Center streets. When it hit Washington Street, he saw his home crushed like an orange crate and swallowed up.
In the same instant the barn was wrenched from its footings and began to roll like a barrel, over and over. Running, stumbling, crawling hand over hand, clawing at tin and wood, Victor somehow managed to keep on top. Then he saw the house of their neighbor, Mrs. Fenn, loom up in front. The barn was being driven straight for it. At the precise moment of impact, he jumped, landing on the roof of the house just as the walls of the house began to give in and the whole roof started plunging downward. He clambered up the steep pitch roof, fighting to keep his balance. The noise was deafening and still he saw no water. Everything about him was cracking and splitting, and the air was filled with flying boards and glass. It was more like being in the middle of an explosion than anything else.
With the house and roof falling away beneath him, he caught hold of still another house that had jammed in on one side. Grabbing on to the eaves, he hung there, dangling, his feet swinging back and forth, reaching out, trying to get a toe hold. But there was none. All he could do was hang and swing. For years after he would have recurring nightmares in which it was happening to him all over again. If he let go he was finished. But in the end, he knew, when would have to let go. His fingernails dug deep into the water soaked shingles. Shooting pains ran through his hands and down his wrists.Then his grip gave out and he fell, backwards, sickenly, through the wet, filthy air, and slammed down on a big piece of red roof from the new barn. And now, for the first time, he saw the water; he was bumping across it, lying on his stomach, hanging on to the roof with every bit of strength left in him, riding with the wave as it smashed across Johnstown.
The things he heard and saw in the next moments would be remembered later only a gray, hideous blur, except for the one split-second glimpses which would stick in his mind for the rest of his life.He saw the whole Mussante family sailing by on what appeared to be a barn floor. Mussante was a fruit dealer on Washington Street, a small, dark Italian with a drooping mustache, who had been in Johnstown now perhaps three years. He had a pushcart at first, then opened the little place not far from the Heiser store. Victor knew him well, and his wife and two children. Now there they were speeding by with a Saratoga trunk open between them and every one of them busy packing things into it. And then a mass of wreckage heaved up out of the water and crushed them. But he had no time to think more about them or anything else. He was heading for a mound of wreckage lodged between the Methodist Church and a three story brick building on the other side of where Locust Street had been. The next thing he knew he was part of the jam. His roof had catapulted in amongst it, and there, as trees and beams shot up on one side or crashed down on the other, he went leaping back and forth, ducking and dodging, trying desperately to keep his footing, while more and more debris kept booming into the jam.
Then suddenly, a freight car reared up over his head. It looked like the biggest thing he had ever seen in his life. And this time he knew there could be no jumping out of the way. But just as it was about to crash on top of him, the brick building beside him broke apart, and his raft, as he would describe it later, "shot out from beneath the freight car like a bullet from a gun."
Now he was out onto comparatively open water, rushing across a clear space which he judged to be approximately where the park had been. He was moving at a rapid clip, but there seemed far less danger, and he took some time to look about. There were people struggling and dying everywhere around him. Every so often a familiar face would flash by. There was Mrs. Fenn, fat and awkward, balanced precariously on a tar barrel, well doused with its contents, and trying pathetically, to stay afloat. Then he saw the young negro who worked for Dr. Lee, down on his knees praying atop his employer's roof, stark naked, shivering and beseeching the Lord in a loud voice to have mercy on his soul.
Like the Mussante family, they were suddenly here and gone like faces in nightmares, or some sort of grotesque comedy, as unreal and as unbelievable as everything else that was happening. And there was nothing he could do for them, or anybody else. He was heading across town toward Stony Creek. As near as he could reckon later, he passed right by where Horace Rose's house had stood, then crossed Main and sailed over the Morrell lot and perhaps directly over where the Morrell greenhouse had been. Almost immediately after that, about the time he was crossing Lincoln Street, he got caught by the back-current.
Until then he had been keeping his eyes on the mountainside, which looked almost close enough to reach out and touch, and on the stone bridge. Both places looked to be possible landings, and either one would do as well as the other. But now his course changed sharply, from due west to due south. The current grabbed his raft and sent it racing across the Stony Creek a half mile or so, over into the Kernville section, and it was here that his voyage ended.
"I passed by a two-and-a-half-story brick dwelling which was still remaining on its foundations. Since my speed as I went up this second valley was about that of a subway train slowing for a stop, I was able to hop to the roof and join a small group of people already stranded there."
When he had been standing on the roof of his father's barn, looking across the housetops at the avalanche bearing down on Johnstown, he had taken his watch out of his pocket to look at the time. It was a big silver watch with a fancy-etched cover, which had been his fourteenth birthday present from his father. He had snapped it open, because, as he would say later, "I wanted to see just how long it was going to take for me to get from this world over into the next one."
Now, on the rooftop in Kernville, realizing that he had perhaps a very good chance of staying on a little longer in this world, he pulled out the watch a second time.Amazingly enough, It was still running, and he discovered with astonishment that everything that had happened since he had seen his home vanish had taken place in less than ten minutes.
Victor was soon to discover that neither his father or mother had survived and in searching for the remains of the household he came upon a standup closet with his father's civil war uniform in it. In looking through the pockets he found a penny. this was the bulk of his inheritance.
About 5 blocks south from where Victor Heisler started his eventful voyage and just about the same time it started, Robert Butler was at the second floor window of his living quarters at the rear of the hotel, having a casual conversation across the alley with his friend of nine years, Thomas Broderick. The rest of Robert's family were in the room with him. Most of Robert's hotel residents were in their rooms.
Thomas Broderick lived across Cinder Alley from Robert, approximately 16 feet away. They were talking about the flood waters which by now had reached the first floor windows.
All of a sudden Robert heard a sound that caused his eyes to dart to the north. His face turned a deathly white color and he uttered the words "Oh my God!". At that moment his hotel was struck by the wave that was flattening Johnstown. As Broderick later reported the sight, "the hotel just seemed to collapse, breaking into pieces", it then disappeared into the mass of twisted wreckage and black water.
Thomas Broderick miraculously survived that initial hammering wave and later made his way to the mountainside and safety.
Chances are great that Robert and his family got caught in the tremendous pile up at the Stone bridge. The Pennsylvania Railroad had a bridge for its trains to cross the Conemaugh River at the lower end of town. This bridge figured large in the stories that would be told about the Johnstown Flood. All the debris and water had but one way to go from Johnstown. The bridge was it. The mountains at the southwest corner of town graduate down to the river and form what might best be described as a funnel mouth for any water coming from upstream.
Sixteen acres of debris piled up above this bridge during this disaster. Even after hundreds were crushed or drowned by the fantastic amount of water and debris that battered into that bridge, hundreds of others were pinned down and burned to death from the fires of natural gas vents and other flammable agents that were present.
There was a gap that opened up on the Johnstown side of the bridge that allowed part of the torrent to carry innumerable houses and other debris downstream to Cambria City.
What Robert and his family's fate was, will never be known. No trace has ever been found of them. Franklin Fers body was discovered. But, it is not known where he is buried.
Webmasters note: I encourage anyone to visit this website. The Butlers are clearly listed among the missing, and there are additional photographs, and eyewitness accounts of this devastating tragedy.
History of the Johnstown Flood
A list of flood victims, including their ages, addresses and burial places
It would have been a day or two before Robert's brother John would have been made aware of the great tragedy. Clearfield County as well as the entire northeastern United States had quite a flood situation to deal with themselves. It was nothing even approaching the Johnstown situation, but never-the-less great inconvenience, property loss and to a much lesser degree, loss of life was a great deal to handle before news of other town's tragedies filtered through to the remote areas. Clearfield itself had suffered one of its greatest floods and was busy digging out of the mud.
It is not yet perfectly clear where John was living. In records relating to the settling of Robert's estate, it is stated that John was a resident of Punxatauney, Pennsylvania. This was possibly a broad reference to his location at the farm he later bought at Troutville. The only thing wrong with this is that Dubois is closer and would have been a more accurate description of his location.
Imagine if you will, unsuccessfully telegraphing, trying to get word as to the status of Robert and his family, and not being able to get through. For nearly a week all the telegraph lines were being used to send out messages for the business of recovery and for newspaper accounts. His next move would be to go to Johnstown as fast as he could to learn what had happened to his family.
John appears to have been accompanied by his cousin, John Derrick Butler, (Your webmasters Great Great Grandfather) Irish Robert's son. Chances are that John stopped by Clearfield on his way to Johnstown and John D. volunteered to go with him.
It is sure that he was in Johnstown at least six or seven days after the flood. Court records with dates within two weeks after the flood describe his pursuing the administration of his brothers estate.
On the way to Johnstown they were probably on horseback and encountering refugees filtering out from Johnstown, disheveled and still dazed by what they had seen. Perhaps they met the 10-year-old who when asked what happened in Johnstown, answered that "If I was the biggest liar in the world, I couldn't tell you the half of it".
They would have needed to get a pass from the military guards around Johnstown in order to get into town. Sightseers and relic hunters had plagued the city immediately after the flood, so the military had cordoned off the city and to gain admittance a person had to have legitimate business.
Once they arrived, they would have been greeted by a horrifying sight. Johnstown proper would have appeared like the world's largest junk yard, with several huge swaths of bare ground leading up to the still smoking sixteen acres of debris. There were some houses still standing, but the immense stretches of clear mud flats where city had once been, had to send a chill down the spine of anybody who had seen Johnstown before the flood.
While making inquiry at the main headquarters for the disaster, the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot, just a block and a half from where Robert's hotel had been, John would note that where his brother's hotel had stood was the fringe of the huge pile of debris. He would then know that Robert's hotel had been in the main path of the murderous wave. John probably hoped that Robert and family had gone to the mountainside before the flood.
Walking around the few streets that were passable with their trousers tucked into their boots, the two cousins would have searched from one temporary morgue to another hoping to find the bodies of Robert's family, or word of their survival, but without success. After a day or two of agonizing search he would probably have realized there was no hope. His family was gone.
According to court records, John did find about $300 or $400 worth of personal property belonging to Robert. This suggests that perhaps he located at least a section of the hotel. If he did, and where it finally came to rest is not known.
John wrote his mother's family in Inishowen (just north of Muff) to let them know of the disaster and of his mother's passing and to the Culdaff Butlers about his family and the tragedy in general. He gave the house that Robert owned in Cambria City as a return address. Whether the house was habitable or not is not known, since much of Cambria City had suffered a fate similar to Johnstown's.
One of the stories that has evolved over the years is that the lawyer handling the management of the probate for John absconded with the entire inheritance. This was supposed to have been an extremely large amount of money.
The net inheritance according to court records only amounted to $2,500.00. Of course, in 1889 this was a great deal of money. Whether the lawyer did take off with it or not is not certain, but John seems to have had enough capital left over to purchase a farm and buy Robert's house from his estate as soon as six months after the flood.
The following fall, while accompanied by his wife Patty, John completed the work on Robert's estate.
John's exact age is not known. In the records, his birth varies from 1844 (which would have made him older than his brother Robert) to 1847. These are the dates best relied on, but an even wider range has been shown in the various census's over the years. It seems that John's mother was anxious to give all her children a break on age, since the practice of shaving off years was applied to her other children as well.
We can be assured that the latest possible date he was born was in early 1847, because the cousin that accompanied Irish George to Londonderry reported that George's wife had two small infants with her. One of them, supposedly the smallest one, was crying the whole way, wanting to go home, instead of on a strange journey to who knows where.
Although John was born in Ireland, his early age at entry into the U.S. would have made him very American in outlook while growing up. Most of his boyhood companions and their parents were born in this country and the area around Clearfield was extremely provincial.
It was the practice in many Irish families, because they repeated the same names in alternate generations, to give a nickname to specifically identify one from another. John's nickname was Black John. This was derived from his dark hair.
According to records, both he and Robert appear to have attended school at least until the age of fourteen or fifteen. John is known to have worked in the lumber camps in Clearfield County during the winters, as did many farmers. In the summer, he worked with his father on the farm.
In 1882, with both his father and his brother gone, John became the man of the house, and worked the farm for his mother in Virginia..
He married Patty Brown (born with the given name of Ellen) who lived in adjoining Cumberland County on Dec. 4th 1882. Patty was the daughter of Edwin L. Brown and Emmiline Pollard. Edwin had been killed in a railroad accident in 1865. Farmville was just several miles from both of their farms and it is assumed they met there.
Since John was now married, and his wife was keeping house for him, it made it all the easier for his mother Fanny to move with her daughter Mary and her husband to Johnstown to join Robert and his family. Meanwhile, Patty's sister Martha or Mary (it is recorded interchangeably in various documents) had married a widower, Thomas Wells, 4l-years-old, a native of Farmville, on May 24, 1882. Mary or Martha was 26-years-old at the time. It's interesting to note at this point that all marriages that were performed for the Butler family in Virginia, as well as that of Martha Brown's, were officiated by J. V. Crute.
Martha and Thomas had a child named William in 1883. Within a very short time Martha became ill and it became obvious that she would die. On her deathbed she requested that Patty take charge of William and raise him. Patty agreed to this and suddenly John had a son.
John and Patty's first natural child was Fanny, named after her grandmother. She was born Sept. 1, 1884.
Benjamin Franklin Butler was born to John and Patty in September 1886. Joseph followed in November 1888.
The farm was located about a mile north of the James River and about 2 1/2 miles from Farmville. It occupied 406 acres, but there is no way to tell how much of it was cleared for planting. The soil was none too rich and the topography was one of a gently rolling nature. The farm never had more than 6 cows and 3 horses, some years less.
Originally, the farm had been bought from a man named McCracken who lived in Clearfield County. And, coincidentally, it was sold to a man from Clearfield County. Abraham Varner traded his farm outside Troutville for the farm in Virginia, with a small additional amount of money thrown in by him. The final transference took place January 1, l890.
The house and barn in Virginia stood until the early 1970's, when they were torn down for their lumber. There is almost no evidence of their existence today and the entire area around the house and barn is medium growth woods from the nearby road back to a small stream about thirty yards behind where they once stood.
John settled his family on the farm outside Troutville and Robert was born on July 12, 1892. The family lived there until about 1900 when he and Patty separated.
Patty moved about this time to Dubois for a short time and then she settled just outside Clearfield on the farm that Joseph later would buy for himself to live on. In between Patty's occupying the farm and Joseph's purchase of it, a family by the name of Wall lived there. Nora Wall, one of the children, would go on to be a writer of life in China, and gained a renowned reputation for it, second only to that of Pearl Buck, the author of THE GOOD EARTH.
John decided to homestead in Canada in 1903. He transferred his property to his daughter Fanny before setting out. He arranged to meet his two youngest sons, Robert and Joseph on the road leading down from the farm outside Clearfield. It was at this meeting that he said his good-byes and promised to send for them, once he was settled in Canada.
Less than a year later, while making his way upriver, accompanied by an indian guide, above Ft. Edmonton in Saskatchewan, Canada, he had a heart attack and fell out of his boat. The Canadian Mounted Police buried him and notified his survivors of the death.
Patty moved from the farm outside Clearfield to Clearfield proper, into a house on Clearfield Street, on the west side, about 1907.
She married Henry Kuntz and was ever after referred to as Grandma Kuntz. Patty divorced Henry after several years and lived the rest of her years in her house on Turnpike Avenue between Clearfield and Nichols Streets.
This brings us to the point that most living Butlers are most familiar with, the 20th century. There is little I could write about, that most older Butlers would not be more familiar with than I am. I leave it to them to inform those that are interested about the family in this century.
The following is an overview of the outline, meant to give the reader a sense of our ancestor's place in society and the reasons for that place. It is also meant to brainstorm (for those interested in such things) with some facts and perhaps give some answers otherwise unattainable.
From all records that are available it would appear that both our oldest known ancestor Thomas, and his son, Robert were of the Yeoman class of farmer (a yeoman was a farmer with at least a small farm, that he farmed himself, large enough and fertile enough to give him a noticeable profit. He was considered not quite a gentleman, but, just below that station in life).
This is assumed, principally because of George I's position in the early English settlement of Inishowen. For George to have been able to get the lease of 80 acres of land, it would have necessitated being the son of a farmer higher placed in money and position, than that of the common laborer or poor farmer with several acres to eke out a mere subsistence living.
But, even though this may describe George's father's sociological position, and George's in earlier life, there is no explanation for George's sociological position in later life. Of course, there are many possible explanations for this, but which one it may be is not now known.
The case may be that George's father was better off than is suspected and that after he died, George inherited the bulk of his estate. Another possibility is that after his father died, his mother remarried a well to do man and she inherited his estate and upon her death passed this onto George (there are actually some leads to suggest that this may be the case). Still another possibility is that through ambitious and intelligent endeavor George managed to gather the means, both political and financial to (more gradually than is apparent) enlarge his land holdings and work his way up to the thousands of acres he enjoyed in the middle 1650's. In George's middle and later life he appears to have been the predominant gentry in the Culdaff area and one of two main families in northern Inishowen. The Carys of Moville, being the other family.
This would be a good place to explain how a person's economic place in Irish society was determined in the period from the 1600' to the late 1800's.
Economic historians have determined that the level a farmer in Ireland fell into roughly agreed with the following:
Proprietors were those privileged few that enjoyed the possession of great amounts of land directly from the crown, sometimes entire baronies.
Middlemen were the next step down. They leased anywhere from hundreds to thousands of acres from the proprietors and in turn rented this land out.
Strong farmers rented anywhere from thirty to hundreds of acres from the middlemen. They in turn would rent a portion of this to the next level of farmer.
Middling farmers rented from 10 acres to 30 acres and farmed it all.
Below this and the next thing to being an ordinary laborer was the Smallholder. The true peasant of the land. He held from 2 to 10 acres of and. Barely enough to grow enough food for his family.
Before we get to far along with the progress of the Butlers of Inishowen, it might be useful to explain that Butlers in the north half of Ireland were a rare commodity. There was a small sprinkling of them around the Belfast area in the early and middle 1600's and of course, the noted settler Sir Stephen Butler of the Belturbet area in Cavan. But outside of those just mentioned, the remainder of the Butler population of Ireland lived in the southern half of Ireland. This were the descendants of the Butler that came to Ireland in the early 1200's with the invading army of King John. From him came the line of earls of Ormond that ruled for the crown in southern Ireland. They were one of the two dominant English families in Ireland for hundreds of years. The FitzGeralds being the other one.
After being in Ireland for many years, the FitzGeralds, became, as has often been quoted, "more Irish than the Irish".
This led to feuds between the two families and eventually by the middle 1500's the FitzGerald's lost most of their power from the Crown of England. This left the Butlers of southern Ireland with even greater influence from the Crown and by the middle 1600's to a Dukedom for the inheriting Butler.
No blood connection has ever been found to tie the Inishowen Butlers with these Butlers.
This geographical information has been mentioned to stress the point that any Butlers in Inishowen up until the present, with the exception of a few government officials that were in residence only temporarily, were descended from Captain George Butler. Being a peninsula, Inishowen would not have received accidental migration as occurred in other parts of Ireland. Anybody who went there did so purposely. Although beautiful and in certain sections fertile, given the remote quality that Inishowen had, there would have been little reason to relocate there. The soil in many parts of Inishowen was poor and the soil that was fertile was tightly held by the ruling protestant families.
One of the major factors that led to a gradual lessening of influence on the part of the Butlers can be attributed to the fact that neither of the elder sons of Captain George Butler I remained in the area. If George II had remained in the area, there is little doubt that with his inheritance, he and his descendants could have expanded George I's holdings and probably would have been a major political and economic power in Inishowen, if not all of Donegal.
The drain on George I's land holdings by inheritance to George II and William had to devastate his holdings. Even so, James, George I's third son, our direct ancestor, seems to have had enough land left over to have made him a landowner in the category of Middleman.
We have no way of knowing how many children James had. There is great suspicion that the George Butler that witnessed Elizabeth Young's will in 1707 was one of his sons, but we have no way of being sure of this. And his name does not appear to come up in any other records before or after this date.
There is a record of a James Butler marrying a Mary Butler in Donegal in 1690, but again there is no proof that either of these Butlers were children of James. The male in this marriage seems unlikely to have been his son, because he undoubtedly would have been older than Stephen of Foxborough, and Stephen unquestionably got the bulk of James's estate. There is still the possibility that the Mary Butler in this marriage was his daughter, but this is not clear either.
Stephen had quite a few sons. This should have led to more Butler families in the Inishowen area than it did. One possible reason was that all the children did not live to maturity. Another possibility was some could have immigrated. The 1700's was the century that the first large emigrations from Ireland and principally Ulster, started taking place. Several famines and a discontentment on the part of Ulster Presbyterians were causes for great numbers of Northern Protestants to immigrate to North America, England and Scotland. The small portion of immigrants that went to Scotland and England were principally Catholic. The proportion of Catholics that went to North America also was small in the 1700's.
The Catholic Irish seemed welded to Ireland and it was going to take a great deal more than periodic famines to loosen them from their ancestral land. The Anglicans, Presbyterians and the rest of the Protestant denominations did not have this binding tie to the land and they moved when it seemed to be the thing to do.
There is evidence that several of the Butler families in Inishowen switched to the Presbyterian faith in this century as well to that of Catholic. The pattern of these conversions seemed to be of, marriage by the male Butlers to Catholic or Presbyterian women. This was followed by the male Butler either converting or allowing his wife to raise the children in her faith. It is not known how many of these male Butlers making a break with their traditional religion of Anglican did so, on an individual conscience level, before marriage, but, it appears to have been rather small..
More than likely, the first Butlers to immigrate to the United States and Canada were those that converted to the Presbyterian faith. This would have followed the trend of immigration in Ulster. Those that did turn to the Catholic faith, likely followed the actions of the rest of the Catholic faith in Ireland, and didn't immigrate, at least in the 1700ís.
The first Catholics in the Butlers of Inishowen that have been found in the records were those of the Butler family living at Ardanary in 1782. This is a small farm immediately beside Lisdaragan. His first name and his wife's have been omitted in the records. There is a second Butler (not catholic) listed as living at Ardanary at the same time. He is said to have had a wife and one child. This quite possibly could have been George of Cloncha.
The above mentioned Catholic Butler's children of course would have served as a foundation for many other Catholic Butlers in the following years. While maintaining a small presence in the Culdaff area, the Catholic Butlers in later years seemed to have polarized in and around the small villages of the east coast of Inishowen. Moville, Quigley's Point, Carrowkeel and Ture held the bulk of the Catholic Butlers in the 1800's. They were shopkeepers, bakers, fishermen or other town oriented workers.
Given religious attitudes of that period and even to a smaller degree today, it is likely that sons that strayed from the traditional Anglican religion were cut off without any inheritance. This would account for the comparatively small representation found in the farms surrounding Culdaff. One of the Catholic Butlers that did remain in the area was a Thomas Butler. He appears to have had a lease of land in the townland of Baskill during the early and middle 1800's.
His son, Charles Butler lived there until his death, sometime after 1901. In fact, by 1901 there were less than 10 Butlers in all of Inishowen of the Catholic faith. Some of these had left for the United States and returned.The Inishowen Butler Catholic population was devastated by the famines in the 1840's and 1870's when huge numbers immigrated to the United States and the British dominions.
During the famine of the 1840's the Inishowen Workhouse had a sizable representation of Catholic Butlers. This, of course, was because of the uneven position of most Catholics in Ireland. With no land upon which to grow subsistence foods and no work because of the current state of the country, they had nowhere else to turn. They had long ago grown apart from their more fortunate Protestant relatives, both because of their religious status and location. Both these groups were probably barely aware that they had any connection with each other.
The 1870's shows a marked drop in births of all the Butlers of Inishowen. The deaths that are listed reflect this as well. Almost all deaths registered during this period are for the elderly. This was not true during most years of the death entries. Babies and young adults were represented to a greater degree outside the period of the 1870's. Marriages also took a dramatic drop during the 1870's.
It was obvious that the Inishowen Butlers were leaving the area.
By 1800 and continuing throughout that century there was a fairly large group of Protestant Butlers that did not enjoy the holding of adequate lands to support their families in comfort. They had to resort to side occupations to supplement their incomes. When not working in the fields they were weavers, shoemakers, lighthouse keepers etc. They were probably not much better off than their Catholic cousins.
So, during the 1870's, it is no surprise that both groups of the Butlers of Inishowen followed the pattern of the rest of Ireland and took to immigration to relieve them of hard times.
However, since the 1700's there was a core of Protestant Butlers that would be described as "strong farmers". At least half of Stephen's sons were holding these amounts of land in the middle and late 1700's and at least one of them, Norton I, qualified as a Middleman and "gentleman" (a farmer holding enough land to allow him to live entirely off of the rents he charged the smaller farmers to farm on his land). By 1800 this prosperous group of Butlers seems to have been whittled down by immigration and death to a much smaller group. Norton II remained, as well as George of Cloncha and several others. As the 1800's progressed this was still further whittled down by Norton II's misfortunes as well as the continuing pattern of immigration.
Finally, by the mid 1800's the only Butlers that could be described as "strong farmers" were those of Lisdaragan and Claggin. Both of these families were of sons of George, John of Redford's brother.
The places that the Inishowen Butlers chose to immigrate were varied. The greater amount obviously went to ports frequented most by ships that departed from Londonderry. The port most frequented by ships out of Londonderry was Philadelphia. Whether this influenced Irish Robert to seek passage there is not known. It very well could have been because of an earlier immigrant settling in the Clearfield area. No early settler in the Clearfield area has yet to be traced back to the Culdaff area, but there are many names in the early records of Clearfield that match those from around the Culdaff area. Porter, Wallace, Long, Faulkner, Daugherty, Peoples, Beard, Young, Gillen, Bradley, Mitchell, Gallagher, McLauchlin, Orr, Crawford, Reed and many other names in the Clearfield area were direct reflections of names from around Culdaff.
Nova Scotia, Boston, New York, the Carolinas, New Orleans, not to mention various ports in South America (as Norton III`s immigration to Valpariso, Chile illustrates) were selected by the Inishowen Butlers to start a new life. As far as the British Isles were concerned, Scotland seemed to be the favorite place of immigration, for the Butlers around Culdaff. No doubt, this was because of the short distance to be traveled. Starting in the early and middle 1700's the name Butler starts to pop up in the records for the areas around Glasgow and Edinburgh in great numbers. Previous to this time, almost all, if not all, of the Butlers in Scotland could trace their family back to a Patrick Butler of Edinburgh in the 1500's. And, if anybody is wondering, there has been no evidence to connect this Patrick Butler with George I.
Not surprisingly, there was a large population of Butlers in southeastern Pennsylvania in the early and mid 1800's and some of these same families with the practice of naming alternate generations Stephen and George.
What connection they have with the Inishowen Butlers (if any) is not now known.
As a matter of fact, there was a George W. Butler with a wife named Fanny in the immediate area of Farmville, while Irish George was in Virginia. Research has shown that his family was from South Carolina where it is suspected that many Inishowen Butlers immigrated. It'll take a great deal of further research to connect those southeastern Pennsylvania and South Carolina Butlers with the Inishowen Butlers, if indeed it is possible.
Today, it would not be an exaggerated guess to say that there are descendants of Captain George Butler I in all the states of the United States. Not only descendants by blood, but descendants with the surname of Butler. They cover the majority of professions and rungs in the ladder of economic success.
What a treasure it would be to have the equivalent of a Reader's Digest account of all the lives of our ancestors back to Thomas, describing their important life experiences and the information that would allow us to know to some small degree what their lives were like. It's safe to say that there would be many attention riveting passages and surprises in such a collection.
It's often wondered by the writer, how many Butlers are as he once was, knowing only the name of their grandfather and a vague reference to his coming from somewhere in Northern Ireland.
Our Becton Family History