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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Abolitionist Butterworth Helped Shape Warren County

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 27 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 207
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"He was somewhat eccentric, but his peculiarities of thought and action generally attracted attention and sometimes ridicule simply because he was in advance of his generation, and it learned in time that he was right."
The above statement is how a late journalist described Henry Thomas Butterworth. The description is in direct relationship regarding Mr. Butterworth's work in the abolition movement. Hundreds of runaway slaves were sheltered and assisted by him in their flight to Canada and free soil territory.
Mr. Butterworth was born on the Fincastle Road, six miles south of Lynchburg, Virginia, on the 4th day of June 1809. He was the son of Benjamin and Rachel Butterworth, and the youngest of five sisters and eight brothers.
In the year 1812 his father exchanged his Virginia farm for a tract of wild land of one thousand acres, lying between what is now Foster and Loveland on the Little Miami River.
At this time his father moved his family in wagons to the new country, which was at the time called the "far west."
Benjamin's newly acquired land was a wild and unsettled tract. Seeing no immediate future improvements, he established a home near Waynesville. Gradually, his attention turned toward his acreage along the Little Miami, and in due time all the family settled there. The only improvements on the land, previous to Benjamin Butterworth's acquisition, was a log cabin structured by a squatter named Cook, who for 20 years prior had cleared and cultivated about five acres.
Henry Thomas Butterworth's life was one of toil. The densely packed forest, the habitation of bears, panthers, wildcats and wolves, the constant deadening, grubbing and clearing of the forest, all took its toll on his physical being.
His opportunities to excel were centered around a log cabin schoolhouse. The puncheon floor, greased paper for window glass, fireplace for heating, children studying aloud, the teacher hardly unable to control the students, was an almost negative environment in which to advance.
At the age of twenty-one, Henry married Nancy Wales, six months his junior, at the Grove Meeting House of Friends near Harveysburg, Ohio. The wedding was a double one with Nancy's sister, Jane, uniting in marriage to Valentine Nicholson. Henry and Nancy, after the wedding, resided at the old homestead caring for his parents until the day of their death.
Henry Thomas and Nancy were the parents of eleven children, seven of whom survived him. They are: Jane W.B. Foster, Mary, Ann B. Thatcher, Isaac W., Emma B. Danforth, Rachel M.B. Bayless, and Caroline B. Lawrence.
Mr. Butterworth was a mechanic by trade, but his circumstances caused him to be a farmer. Nevertheless, he was a success in all his undertakings.
He had some peculiarities, which tended to make his mannerisms of a somewhat skeptical nature. This trait often handicapped him, thus giving a wrong impression of his real character. His deeds toward the public were one of the improvements of the country or community. One such accomplishment was his interest in the Montgomery Pike in which he gave his undivided support. Another undertaking was his interest in the building of the Little Miami Railroad. His offer of giving the right-of-way through his farm, and the use of his water tank was another public minded effort.
The new railroad had its difficulties in the beginning, but Mr. Butterworth stood by the company and watched it flourish. For his part in the venture, he and his wife received lifetime passes over the road and all its branches.
He was instrumental in building the Foster's Loveland pike. His school promotions and his interest in higher education led to his founding of the Maineville Academy.
The Butterworth's continued in the abolition movement until the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. His upholding of the anti-slavery movement was, in his opinion, a right that without question was a proper moral judgment.
Henry was brought up as a Friend in its strictest belief; however, the church disowned him when he witnessed the marriage of his eldest daughter performed by a "hireling minister." The event was considered contrary to the rules of the Quakers. He was thus freed from the Quaker's belief and allowed to think and act for himself. His belief wandered toward the so-called modern spiritualism.
A strengthening of his own convictions and a belief encouraged by many of his own experiences never wavered for the remainder of his forty years of life.


FOOTNOTES: [a place to add additional information that you might want to submit]

Frank L. Butterworth, III
25 January 2008

I am a direct descendent of Henry Thomas and Nancy Butterworth of Warren County Ohio and currently reside in Upland, Indiana. I just read with great interest your page on rootsweb.com entitled “Abolitionist Butterworth Helped Shape Warren County”.

I wish to express sincerest gratitude for your efforts to record the history of Warren County and recognition of Henry Thomas Butterworth. I visited the Butterworth farm in Loveland as a child during a family reunion, but have not returned as no further reunions have been organized since to my knowledge. I intend to visit in the near future with my aging father of 80 years Frank L. Butterworth, Jr. and the youngest of our line, my son Frank L. Butterworth, IV.

My grandfather was Frank L. Butterworth, Sr., great grandfather Gilbert P. Butterworth, and second great grandfather Isaac W. Butterworth, son of Henry Thomas and Nancy Butterworth of Warren County.


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This page created 27 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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