Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Butt families –
early settlers in Union
Union County was
two years old when the first county-wide census was ordered in 1834. A
good pastime for those interested in first families and historical
research of family names is to study the first census of an area and
see who the early settlers were.
Gilliland was the first census taker. He registered the population in
1834 as 903. John Butt, Jr. and his wife were the only Butts registered
in that census.
By 1840, the
second Union County
census, John Butt, Jr. and his wife were
still in the county. Their household had grown to two males under 5
years of age, one male 5 to 10 years of age, John Butt, Jr., himself,
between the ages of 30-40, 1 female under five, and his wife, between
20 and 30. John Butt, Jr. was the census taker. The population in 1840
numbered 3, 152 for Union County. The
county was geographically large at that time, and still within its
boundaries were portions of land that would be designated to Fannin County in
1854 and to Towns County in
Two other Butt
families were in Union County by
1840. John Butt, Sr, whose age was between
50 and 60, a male between 15 and 20, a male between 30 and 40, Mrs.
Butt, between 50 and 60, and one female between 20 and 30. This family
was the parents of John Butt, Jr. and his brothers and sister still at
home in 1840. The other Butt family was that of Alfred, between the
ages of 20 and 30, and his wife, between the ages of 15 and 20. We find
from other sources that Alfred was also a son of John Butt, Sr.
First, a word
about the Butt surname. Some researchers have traced
the first Butt settlers in America to
Dutch origin, with the name spelled Butz.
However, in a reliable source entitled Names through the Ages (NY:
Berkeley, 1999), the name is seen as English, derived from Butler,
meaning "keeper of the bottles." In time, the final syllable, er, was dropped and another t added, making it
Butt; then, in more recent years, probably going back to the Dutch
sound of Butz, the surname has a common
spelling of Butts.
Butt, Jr. and his wife were the first Butt family
to settle in Union County,
this column will seek to trace their family history. It is interesting
to note that he owned four slaves in 1840, and by 1850 he owned 8
slaves. Since farming was his main occupation, these assisted him on
the farm, and they helped Mrs. Butt with caring for the children and
John Butt, Jr.
was born in South
Carolina December 6, 1806. His
parents were John Butt, Sr. (1780-1843) and Sarah Rider Butt
John Butt, Jr.
was married twice. His first wife was Sarah Gordon Butt (April 17,
1816- February 13, 1864). John, Jr. and Sarah Gordon Butt had twelve
(1) Thomas J.
Butt (April 13, 1834-March 6, 1895) married Ella McCraney.
He was active in establishing early schools in Union County.
Their son, Virge, became a medical doctor
in North Carolina.
Butt (1836-?). He evidently left Union County, for
he was not in the 1870 census.
(Feb. 17, 1838-June 17, 1906) married John England. They had five
children: Gus, Lush, Dollie, Alice and
(4) James Allen
Butt, Sr. (April 6, 1840-Dec. 10, 1905) married Carrie Goodrum Bagwell. James, Sr. fought for the
Confederacy during the Civil War and was wounded twice, first in Virginia and
then in the Battle of Atlanta. Their children were James Allen, Jr.,
Ed, Lelah, Nina and Fleeta.
(5) John Butt,
Jr. and Sarah's fifth child, born in 1842, was John Gordon Butt (his
middle name was his mother Sarah's maiden name). He married Sallie
Weaver. They evidently left the county; their children are not traced.
(6) Eugene W.
Butt (May 1, 1844-Feb. 12, 1921) married on February 12, 1872 to a
lady listed in the Union marriage records as F. G. Reid. She died in
childbirth with their first child, a daughter. Eugene took
care of the child by making her a bed he could swing onto his plow as
he tended his crops. His second marriage was to a Miss Erwin. They had
four children, Cora, Garnett, Jewell and Grovie.
Eugene Butt was once termed the wealthiest man in Union County due
to his large land holdings. He reportedly gave each of his children
$10,000 upon their leaving home.
(7) Georgia Ann
Butt (1846) married Edwin W. Watkins on Jan. 25, 1866.
They evidently moved from Union County.
(8) Andrew J.
Butt (1848) married Matilda C. Gaddis on Sept. 29, 1872,
with the Rev. Alfred Corn performing the ceremony. This couple moved to
(9) Sarah E.
Butt (called "Sallie, 1851-June 23, 1875) married John L. Logan on Aug. 6, 1868. By
1870, they had one child, a girl named Sallie. Sarah died at age 24 and
was buried in the new Blairsville Cemetery.
(10) Samuel F.
Butt (b. 1853) married Rosa Pless on Jan. 2, 1879.
Their children were Forrest, John, Arnold, Alice and
(11) Virgil R.
Butt (b. 1855) was at home with his parents in the 1870 census. No
further information is available about him.
(12) Alice E.
Butt (b. about 1857, according to census age) evidently did not marry.
A grave in the new Blairsville Cemetery
lists Alice as
born in 1853 and died in 1886. She is possibly the Alice
whose parents were John, Jr. and Sarah Gordon Butt.
Sarah Butt died
13, 1864, during the Civil War. She was
buried in the new Blairsville Cemetery.
John Butt, Jr. married the second time to Rebecca Fleming on Nov. 30, 1869.
John and Rebecca had two children, Paul and Orrin, bringing the number
of children of John Butt, Jr. to fourteen.
John Butt, Jr.
made a living for his large family by farming bottom lands along the Nottley River. He
was one of the first representatives to the Georgia Legislature from
the new county, along with John Thomas. The naming of the county Union,
"because there are none but Union men there" was attributed to John
Thomas. But both John Butt, Jr. and John Thomas agreed to this name.
descendants of John Butt, Jr. have contributed to growth and
development of Union County and
have gone to other places to make their mark there.
Early census records of Union County:
1834, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870. Marriage
Records of Union County, 1833-1897, compiled by Viola H. Jones, 1992. Cemetery Records of Union County, GA, Union County Historical
The Heritage of
Union County, GA,
1832-1994, UCHS, 1994.)
c2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 22, 2008 in The Union
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
Updated June 7, 2008
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