Avoiding Relationships

Benjamin Butler and his “children” are one of those situations where immediate entry into a genealogical database may be premature–especially when that genealogical database forces one to enter parent-child relationships. Benjamin was born about 1819 probably in New York State and spent most of his “reproductive life” in Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas at a time when those locations were not keeping civil birth records. The family were not members of any church that kept any sort of records and his probate only mentions his wife.

Census records provide information on Benjamin and his children. Benjamin’s penchant for moving also suggests that he may have left adult children behind after he moved on to a new area. All of Benjamin’s children may not have eventually followed him to Vernon County, Missouri. They could have remained in Michigan, Iowa, or where he lived in between.

Benjamin has been located in the following federal censuses:

  • 1850: St. Clair County, Michigan.
  • 1860: not located.
  • 1870: Davis County, Iowa.
  • 1880: Vernon County, Missouri.
The difficulty with pre-1880 census records is that relationships are not stated. The individuals in this chart are Butlers who appear as children in one of more of Benjamin Butler’s census enumerations. There are several challenges in completing this chart that I have to constantly remind myself of:
  • the common nature of the Butler surname
  • the fact that Benjamin had at least two wives (Margaret Stephens and Nancy Wolf), may have had a third and that these children do not all have the same mother
  • the possibility that one of these individuals, while enumerated with Benjamin in a census as a “Butler” may have actually been a step-child
  • the ages could be slightly off or the places of birth could be incorrect
  • these individuals (in later records where they are adults) may have consistently given information that was inconsistent with their census enumerations

The chart was meant to help organize my search for these individuals based upon their being enumerated with Benjamin in a census and was not meant to contain all the information on them. The goal was to locate additional information to confirm their parentage. Care has to be taken in later records to make certain that the “same person” has actually been located. That has been the difficulty with some of the children whose first names were more common.

This is a family where entering in all relationships into a database may be premature.


Name Approximate year of birth (source) Location (source) 1850 1870 1880 Know death location? Misc.
Alfred 1842 (1850) Canada (1850) yes St. Joseph Co. Michigan Probably the Alfred Butler who died in 1895 in St. Joseph County, Michigan. This Alfred married in 1891 and indicated his parents were Benjamin and Margaret (Stevens) Butler and was born approximately 1842.
Landen 1844 (1850) Canada (1850) yes Probably the Lee Butler (born 1848? In MI) living in Vernon County, MO. Vernon County, Missouri, or nearby? Very possibly is the Leander Butler who married Mrs. Mary Powell in Vernon Co. MO I 1878. This Leander is dead by 1910 (wife a widow in Vernon County, MO).
Mary 1846 (1850) Michigan (1850) yes
George 1848 (1850) Michigan (1850) yes Wapello County, Iowa Wapello County, Iowa 1910s. Married 1869 Davis County, IA.
Ellen 1854 (1860) Iowa (1870) Missouri (1880) Na Yes Yes (with her own family) Married 1870 Davis County, IA
Harriet 1856 (1860) Michigan (1870) Na Yes
Charles 1861 (1860) Kansas (1870) Na Yes
Benjamin F. 1865 (1870)

1864 (1880)

Illinois (1870, 1880) Na Yes Yes Vernon County, Missouri. Died November 1940 in Vernon County, Missouri
Alice 1868 (1870) Michigan (1880) Na Yes
Sarah 1872 (1880) Iowa (1880) Na Na Yes 1960 in Stanislaus County, CA as Sarah (Butler) Shaw Ray.
Lecta 1875 (1880) Iowa (1880) Na Na Yes Doniphan County, KS area. Died in 1968 in Kansas as Electa Painter-buried in Doniphan County.
Lila 1879 (1880) Nebraska (1880) Na Na Yes
Rebecca 1882 (1900) Missouri Na Na Na Died 1958 Nodaway County, Missouri

I’m still finding the chart helpful–even without the sources attached. I’ve got them, but this chart is meant to summarize and be  a quick reference for me. It is not meant to include every detail I’ve found.



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