The family story was always that my great-grandparents, Carzy Clifford Cole and Ruth Esther Dickerson, both from Carroll County, Tennessee, were some how related. In fact, as the story goes, Carzy, one of the multitudinous Cole clan, told Ruth shortly after they started “walking out” he was so glad that he’d found someone in the county he could court who wasn’t kin! But then, when the preacher at their wedding asked if there were any objections to their marriage, someone stood up and said, “I object, because they are cousins!” Nevertheless, the ceremony continued and a long and happy marriage ensued.
Alexander T Butler was Ruth’s grandfather, and William S Butler was Carzy’s grandfather. Both were Butlers from the same part of Carroll County, so it stood to reason that they were some how connected. But these Carroll County Butlers are notoriously difficult to sort out. They weren’t big on wills, deeds of gift, or even using family names with any regularity. And there were so very many of them!
I posted before about how I thought my great-grandparents were probably third cousins, with the common ancestor being Elias Butler, early settler of Carroll County. Recently, I’ve tackled the subject again and new information has finally popped up that establishes that William S Butler and Alexander T Butler were in fact, brothers, both sons of Thomas Butler.
I already had feeling that Alexander’s father was Thomas Butler. So, in researching that connection, I dug up Thomas Butler’s estate file on Family Search. Lo and behold, a petition to divide the estate lists all the heirs, including Alexander T and William S. (see transcription, below).
Being an heir does not, of course prove that the person is a child of the deceased. However, there are other indicators, starting with the fact that both Thomas and Alexander lived near each other in Sandybridge, later known as Hollow Rock. All the census data over the years also matches up, as do birth dates and places. And, in 1867, Alexander was named guardian of his sister’s oldest children, James and Sophronia McAuley, when she went to Missouri with her new husband.
Finally, Alexander’s family Bible has an inscription stating that “mother” died on 1 September 1859 and a “grate Lite was seen in the Elements that nite.” As it turns out, there actually was a “great light.” A massive solar storm known as the Carrington Event caused auroras to be seen as far south as the Caribbean. They certainly would have been visible in rural Tennessee. This corresponds exactly with the death of Lavinia (possibly Thompson) the known wife of Thomas Butler. So, I am ready to call this a done deal.
Of course, this means that my great-grandparents were second cousins, because Thomas Butler was their mutual great-grandfather!
Alexander T Butler was a really interesting character, and writing up his story will be my next project. But my goodness, it’s nice to finally have these Butlers sorted out!
P T Butler et als
To the worshipful County Court of Carroll County sitting January term 1866
Your petitioners P T (Phillip Thompson) Butler, Eli H Butler, Catherine Butler who intermarried with Thomas Butler, (is this Thomas Butler’s second wife?), Priscilla McAuly who intermarried with James B McAuly, William S Butler, James C Butler, Alexander T Butler, Sarah L Benton who intermarried with William Benton, Catherine McArthur who intermarried with John M McArthur, [illegible] (Nettie) E McArthur who intermarried with William McArthur, + P J Butler, Admr of Wiley W Butler.
Your petitioners would state unto your worships that Thomas Butler departed this life in Carroll County, Tennessee intestate leaving the above named heirs as his heirs and only heirs at [illegible]
We would state to your worships that Thomas Butler left as his heirs and only heir at Law P T Butler, Eli H Butler, Catherine Butler who intermarried with Thomas Butler, Priscilla McAuly who intermarrried with James B MacAuly, William S Butler, James C Butler, Alexander T Butler, Sarah L Benton who intermarried with William McArthur + P J Admr of Wiley W Butler.
Your petitioners would state to your worships that [illegible] Estate was duly administered upon + settled up.
That said Thomas Butler died seized and [illegible] of about one hundred and fifty five acres of Land lying in Carroll County on the waters of Sandy River the deeds to which is herewith filed marked exhibit A, B, and C.
Your petitioners would state to your worships that they are of full age and could sell said Lands but that Wiley W Butler departed this life intestate and being an heir left as his heirs at Law Leanne Butler, Arthur, Simeon Jordan, Harriett, Catherine, Benjamin, and Leonard Butler who are minors except Leanne and have no regular guardian.
Your petitioners would further state to your worships that owing to the number of heirs and the quantity and quality of said Land the same could not be divided without greatly deprecating the value of the same.
That said will soon deprecate in value by renting the same + that it will be to the interest of the heirs that said lands be sold for partition among those entitled to receive the same.
We pray your worships therefore to make the heirs of Wiley W Butler [illegible] to this petition that copy [illegible] put over that on a final hearing of said Cause you will direct the sale of said Land upon such time and Terms as your worships may think proper and as in duty bound will ever [illegible]