He Was Useful in His Day

I’ve finally tackled some folders of newspaper clippings and other items that I scanned in years past. I ran across this obituary today which made me laugh.

As a child, I spent a lot of time around my Carroll County, Tennessee relatives. I remember that they were always very careful not to overstate a thing. It was very important to moderate all statements, or to re-purpose an adjective if the more obvious term could be considered too strong. I mean, these people were seriously laid-back. Bless their hearts (in a good way!)

In Carroll County, no one was ever deathly ill, but you might be a little “puny.” People were never dead boring or annoying, but they might be “tedious.” And every declarative statement was preceded by “insofar as I know” or “to the best of my recollection.”

It “tickles me to death” when I read old documents and see that over a century ago, people in that area talked exactly the same way. My 3rd great-grandfather, Alexander Butler’s brief obituary in the Carroll County Democrat is a good example. He had five wives, at least a dozen kids, was a Union soldier in a Confederate state, and survived a stint in Andersonville prison, for heaven’s sake. His “chronic ailment” was dyspepsia, or intestinal ulcers, which he said on a pension application that he had acquired as a POW fifty years before.

The man just wouldn’t quit. Yet his obituary merely says that he was “useful in his day.” High praise, perhaps? 🙂

AT Butler Dead

After a Long Illness and Much Suffering He Passes Away

A.T. Butler died in his home in East Huntingdon last Wednesday afternoon about 6 o’clock. Mr Butler had been sick with some chronic ailment for a long time and his death had been expected for several days.

“Uncle Alec” as he was familiarly called was about 75 years old, a member of the Baptist church, and a christian man, useful in his day. He has many friends and relatives in the county who will regret his death and sympathize with his wife and children in their loss.

The burial occurred yesterday at the Humble burying ground after funeral services by Elds. Marshall and Newsome Joyner.


Alexander T Butler Cavalry copy
Alec Butler in his 7th Tennessee Cavalry USA uniform.


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