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Weston Wagons West - Ep. W6 - The Butler and the Weston families grew and moved on

Updated on December 23, 2014
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Wayne led the storming of Stony Point

Anthony Wayne in the Revolutionary War
Anthony Wayne in the Revolutionary War | Source

Roger Weston carefully kept up a correspondence with each of the eight Butler cousins

While the local news reports had regular stories of the exploits of the four, and later five, sons of Thomas Butler, the gunsmith, there was little information about the other three Butlers, the nephews of Thomas (sons of James). However, Roger did his best to continue to communicate with each of them, as best he could. Roger knew Thomas, the eldest of the three nephews, as a man about five feet six inches in height, stocky, dark complexioned, dark eyes. He had married Ann Dalrymple, in 1765, when he was 25. She was a woman of light complexion, blue eyes, very tall, nearly six feet, said to be of Scotch ancestry. He had found work as an iron foundry man, moving from place to place as the supply of lumber to make charcoal was exhausted. Thomas, and eventually each of his six sons, were "Colliers" or furnace men. James, his eldest son, became one of the most widely known furnace men of Eastern Pennsylvania over the years. Thomas became active in the local militia and was often involved when called out to "chase the Indians away from the neighborhood." He served as a private in the Pennsylvania line from the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and was at Valley Forge with his kinsmen in the Winter of 1777-1778.

Roger was able to follow the military exploits of Sgt. William Butler a little more closely. He knew that William served for seven years and four months, according his correspondence. Before the war, he had married Eleanor Douglas, and they had two sons, James, born in 1770, and William, born in 1772. William Butler enlisted for 12 months on April 12, 1776, in the Pennsylvania line. He was involved in the Battles of Flatbush and Long Island. His regiment was also involved in the Battle of White Plains. In December of 1776, he was one of the heroic band of patriots that took part in the crossing of the Delaware River, led by General George Washington, to capture the Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey. He was also in the Battles of Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. He was with his brothers and cousins at Valley Forge in the Winter of 1777-1778. The following summer he was at the Battle of Monmouth, and he earned his Sergeant's stripes at the storming of Stony Point, New York, under General Anthony Wayne.

At Stony Point, he was in the van, waded through water up to his armpits in the swamp, rushed through the brushwood and cut down the abates of the fort. In this charge, seventeen of the twenty were killed and wounded. His cousin, Colonel Richard Butler, led the left wing that completed the storming of the fort, so well begun by William and his daring companions. He had re-enlisted on January 1, 1778, for three years or the duration of the war. His regiment moved to Virginia where he served under Lafayette. He was at the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, in October, 1781. During this time he had the honor, along with others, of serving as part of the guard of honor or special bodyguard to General Lafayette. He was also one who served as sentinel guarding General Washington's tent. William Butler was twice wounded, and at the end of the war received a pension from the State of Pennsylvania and 200 acres of bounty land from the United States government.

After the war, William and his family settled in Northumberland (later Clinton) County, in Bald Eagle Township, near the site of the city of Lock Haven on the west branch of the Susquehanna River. Two of the Colonels he had served under went into the iron business, there, and he worked in their furnace businesses along with his sons.

William's younger brother, John, continued in the militia service in western Pennsylvania after the war. He was not a good correspondent. [He eventually followed his various militia units across northern Ohio to Detroit, where he was in 1812. Pick up that story in Episode T4.]

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Josiah Harmar led the First American Regiment

Josiah Harmar in the Revolutionary War
Josiah Harmar in the Revolutionary War | Source

The Weston family of Roger and Polly grew; as did the Butlers

Roger and Polly Weston became the parents of a third son, Lewis, in April of 1766, followed by two daughters before 1770. Each of the sons followed in the family tradition of apprenticeships in farrier and blacksmithing skills as well as wagon building. The oldest son, Carl, had completed his training at age 16, in 1778, and followed his friend, Edward Butler, the youngest of the Butler sons of Thomas, the gunmaker, into the Continental Army. At the end of the war, and with the resignation of General George Washington, the Congress desired to see the "standing army" disbanded as the new nation entered peacetime in 1783.

However, they allowed one regiment to continue in existence, known for a time as the First American Regiment, based in Pennsylvania under the command of Josiah Harmar. Edward Butler continued to serve in that unit. Young Carl Weston continued to provided services to his friend, Edward Butler, as a civilian, and also worked for this father, in Carlisle, Roger Weston. In June of 1784 Carl Weston married a long-time friend, in Carlisle, Jenny Stanwyx, a member of another founding family of the community of Carlisle. Their first son, Evan, was born in March of 1786

Edward Butler, now a Captain, married Isabella Fowler in July of 1787. Isabella was the daughter of Captain George Fowler, of the British Grenadiers, who had led three of the charges against the American patriots at Bunker Hill. They were soon parents of a son, Anthony Wayne Butler, and a daughter, Carolina. Another daughter, Eliza Eleanor, was born in 1789. [Anthony Wayne graduated from Yale College and died aboard a ship and was buried at sea in 1824. Carolina married Robert Bell of Louisiana, they lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and had no children. Eliza Eleanor married John Donelson of Alabama, a nephew of Mrs. Andrew Jackson - Mr. Donelson was a prominent figure in the life of Andrew Jackson - a story for another day.]

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Native Americans led by Little Turtle

Little Turtle - lithograph based on a painting
Little Turtle - lithograph based on a painting | Source

Edward Butler served in the Northwest Indian Wars

In 1789, the First American Regiment was renamed the Regiment of Infantry and expanded slightly as the need for military action in the Northwest Territory, especially in Ohio and Indiana, grew. In 1790, Harmar, now a general, led 320 regulars and over 1,000 militia on the disastrous Harmar Campaign.

The primary objective of the Harmar Campaign was to destroy a Miami Indian village at the site of what now is Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the St. Joseph and St. Mary's Rivers join to form the Maumee River. British forces had not abandoned their forts at Detroit or other strategic sites, and were agitating the Native Americans against the United States settlers and militia. In a series of battles, the Native Americas led by Little Turtle inflicted sufficient loss of life and wounded on the Harmar forces to cause Harmar to withdraw his regulars and militia back to Fort Washington for the winter. It was the worst defeat of U.S. forces by the Indians to that time.

The following year, the regiment was redesigned as the 1st Infantry, under General Arthur St. Clair, and sent to "pacify" the Native American forces in what came to be called the Northwest Indian War. Edward Butler was a part of this action, as well.

Historical note by the author

As with prior Weston Wagon West episodes, all members of the Weston family, their spouses and children, are fictional. All other characters and places are based on actual historical figures and places, used fictionally while retaining their historical detail as closely as feasible based on known historical records. For example, John Butler, son of James, born in 1745, was a 3rd great-grandfather of the author. The author is also a 4 times Great-Grandnephew of Thomas Butler.

Much of the detail of the Butler family in this episode relied on the 1904 book, "The Butler Family in America," complied by William David Butler of St. Louis, MO, John Cromwell Butler, late of Denver, CO, and Joseph Marion Butler, of Chicago, IL. Other material was drawn from Wikipedia articles and extend family history and genealogy research of the author, supported by his wife, and other family contributors.

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fictions stories

Video Book Trailer


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