IRA BUTLER 1845-1848

by William Urban

Incomplete research into Ira Butler's life shows these facts:

Ira Francis Marion Butler was born in Kentucky in 1812, the son of Peter Butler and Rachel Murphy. Peter Butler was among the first White inhabitants of Warren County. According to The Past and Present of Warren County (1877) he settled on the south side of Cedar Creek in the fall of 1829. At the time the entire territory of Warren, Henderson and Mercer counties had only thirty or forty families, but by the time the census was taken in 1830 there were 860 people there.

The family tree of the Butler family has not been written, but the several Butlers in Warren County are related. Peter Butler commanded the rangers raised from the Monmouth community during the Black Hawk War. In 1840 Peter Butler was between fifty and sixty, he had three sons (5-10, 10-15, 15-20), a wife fifty-sixty, and two daughters (10-15 and 15-20). In 1852 the Butler family would lead a wagon train from Monmouth to Oregon.

County records shows that he served the court four days as constable, and was paid $4 on June 28, 1835.

A cursory look through the land records in the Recorder's Office show several land transactions. Ira Butler purchased a lot in Monmouth at the special sale June 14, 1833; the deed was apparently delivered February 16, 1837; on January 18, 1839, this lot was sold to W. C. Butler. On April 11, 1839, he purchased a lot on the corner of Archer and 1st Street (lot 1 of block 11). On August 31, 1844, he purchased lot in the middle of the 100 block of North 3rd; he sold this to Draper Babcock, March 14, 1853. He sold his remaining property in that same month, apparently just before leaving for Oregon.

The Atlas reported Feb 24, 1847, that he married Acquillen Noe to Martha Ridless.

Upon concluding his term as mayor, Ira Butler was on the committee in 1849 that organized the new township form of government for the city. Two years later, however, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this action invalid, citing an insufficient number of voters approved it. In 1852 voters approved the establishment of a city government with a mayor and council.

The census of 1850 records that Ira F. M. Butler was born in Kentucky in 1812; his wife Mary Ann was born there in (22 April) 1814; Newton H was born in Illinois in 1837, a daughter Paradine in 1839, Asa D in 1841, Augustus P in 1846, and Mary E. in 1849. He was a farmer worth $4400. Later he left for Oregon, following the trail of Peter Butler and Mary's father, Elijah Barton Davidson (1782-1870) west to the Willamette Valley.

Covered Wagon Women Volume 6, Diaries from the Western Trail 1850, Edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes reports that Mary Ann Davidson, wife of Ira F. M. Butler, was married August 5, 1835. She had 5 children who traveled with them to Oregon: Newton 16, Paradine 14, Asa 10, Augustus 8, Margaret 1. Ira was a member of the Oregon Legislature for 3 terms; speaker of the House of Rep. 1857-8 and Polk Co. Judge 1878-82. Active in the founding of Monmouth, Oregon and a college in the area. 14 M i. Newton Homer BUTLER was born 10 Jan 1837 in Monmouth, Illinois. He died 29 Aug 1889 in Monmouth, Polk County, Oregon. 15 F ii. Parradine BUTLER was born 27 Mar 1839 in Monmouth, Illinois. She died 16 Jun 1859 in Oregon. Parradine married William T. REYNOLDS on 5 Jan 1859 in Monmouth, Illinois. 16 M iii. Cyrus BUTLER was born 7 Oct 1841 in Monmouth, Illinois. He died 1 May 1842. 17 M iv. Asa Douglas BUTLER was born 21 May 1843 in Illinois. He died 27 Oct 1923 in Napa County, California. 18 M v. August Peter BUTLER was born 17 Aug 1846 in Illinois. He died 26 Oct 1887 in Oregon. 19 F vi. Mary Elizabeth BUTLER was born 18 Jun 1849 in Monmouth, Illinois. She died 1852 in Monmouth, Illinois. 20 F vii. Margaret BUTLER was born 10 Mar 1852 in Monmouth, Illinois. She died 29 Jan 1939. 21 F viii. Alice BUTLER was born 6 Aug 1858 in Monmouth, Illinois.

When the town of Monmouth was founded in Oregon, he cast the deciding vote to select Monmouth over Dover. indicates that Ira F. M. Butler, the county clerk and county sheriff of Warren County had been the driving force behind the foundation of Monmouth College (now Western Oregon University). Since Monmouth College in Illinois had not been established yet, his model was Abington College in Abington, Illinois. Their primary goal for emigrating, aside from the 640 acres allotted to each family, but to established "an institution where men and women alike might be school in the science of living and in the fundamental principles of religion."

Three letters from Oregon are available on line:

The Census of 1880 notes that he was a judge, living with his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter; his wife died June 29, 1888. He was still alive in 1900, living with his daughters Margaret (born 1852 in Illinois) and Alice (born 1858 in Oregon).