Rev. William R. Butcher. Page 617-618 Peoria Co. Portrait and Bio Album 1890
Rev. William R. Butcher. To all believing in the immortality of the soul, the calling of a minister is looked upon as one of the utmost responsibility, requiring the exercise of the highest faculties of which mind and heart are capable, and needing for its successful prosecution the tack which will make a man wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Although there have been worthy men who have won many souls to Christ by means only of their religious zeal and natural aptitude for the presentation of Gospel truths, it is generally conceded that a thorough education is a weapon that should be used in the Gospel warfare. The man who combines with an earnest faith the knowledge of literature which will enable him to cull illustrations from many climes and seasons, and to connect revelation with nature and science, possesses a lever with which to move some hearts which might otherwise remain untouched.
The subject of this sketch, a well-known minister of Elmwood, was prepared in excellent schools, to carry on the work to which his natural inclinations and abiding interest in the cause of Christianity led him. He is of English birth, having opened his eyes to the light September 25, 1841, in a town in the mother country. His parents, William and Sophia A. (Chapell) Butcher, likewise natives of England, emigrated to America in 1847, coming directly to Illinois. They settled in McLean County, but in 1851 removed to Knox County where they are still living. The aged couple are the parents seven children, three of whom have been spared to the present time. Of these, the subject of our notice is the oldest. These are L.G. a resident of Cass County, Iowa and W. J. whose home is in Galesburg, this state.
After some fundamental instruction, he of whom we write entered Knox Academy at Galesburg, whence he at length departed to Montreal, Canada to become a student in McGill University. He left the University at the close of his junior year and spent some months in England. Returning to Illinois he engaged in farming, with the variety of school teaching during two winters, until a change in his life plans directed him toward the Christian ministry and he entered the Chicago Theological Seminary, from which he was graduated in 1869. The American Home Missionary society desired to send ministers to the Far West and was looking about for such as possessed the necessary qualifications to carry on the work in a new field. While yet in the Theological Seminary, Mr. Butcher was selected as one fitted for such a position. He was ordained in Galesburg, IL June 15, 1869, and went west the following August.
For seven years Mr. Butcher remained on the Pacific slope, during that time being pastor of a congregational Church at Albany, Oregon, and subsequently of one at The Dalles. He put the whole strength of his mind and body into his work and was abundantly blest by the love and confidence of his people and by the increase of the religious bodies under his charge. He returned to Illinois in 1876 and in this State has since remained with the exception of two and one-half years, still laboring in the Master's vineyard and garnering sheaves for his kingdom. He has been stationed at Hisdale, Wataga and Elmwood, his charge in the latter lace having been assumed some three years since. Kokomo, Indiana was the field of his labors during the period which he has passed outside of Illinois since his return from the West.
The Congregational Church at Elmwood, over which our subject has pastoral are and oversight, has been in existence since 1854. The congregation numbers about two hundred, carries on a great deal of benevolent work, and is an important factor in the moral education of the young as well as the spiritual welfare of those that are old enough to decide the great question, "whom will ye serve."
Mr. Butcher is an able speaker, not only on Bible topics, which he eloquently expounds, but on other subjects of both social and national import. He frequently delivers orations on Decoration Day and the fourth of July, the announcement that he is to speak never failing to attract many listeners. He is well known as a strong advocate of Temperance, although not a third party man, his political affiliation being with the Republican party. His first Presidential vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln at this second candidacy. Thoroughly posted on various political issues, Mr. Butcher has not only weighed well and calmly decided upon their merits, but he is able to clearly express his convictions to others.
The household of our subject includes a wife and five children, the most important member of the circle being a devoted christian woman who bore the maiden of Mary Avery. She became the wife our subject in 1869, and by her appreciation of his efforts and entire sympathy with his aspirations, as well as by the peace which she has secured to his home life, has been an efficient aid to him in the work which he has undertaken. Her parents, George and S.P.M. (Phelps) Avery, were members of the first colony in Galesburg, where the daughter was born August 13, 1844. She was a student at Knox Seminary and has ever been much interested in the prosperity of her Alma Mater, as are all lovers of learning. Her father was a native of New York and her mother of Massachusetts.
The children of Mr. And Mrs. Butcher are: harry E., Mary Zelle, Etha, William A., and Irene Louise. The older son has just entered Knox College and the others are students still in the common and high schools.
Submitted by Londie Benson.