The subject of this sketch was born February 1, 1825, near
the great manufacturing City of Birmingham, England, and was the thirteenth
child of Joseph and Fanny (Garrington) Butler. There was one child younger,
and of the fourteen but three are now living. The family was in good
circumstances and the children were well reared, receiving a good education
and being practically fitted for life. The father dying, a portion of the
family emigrated to America, landing in Boston, June 29, 1844. Thomas very
soon came to Chester county, Pennsylvania, to meet an older brother, William,
who had come to America before him, and whom he supposed to be there engaged
in a rolling-mill. Upon arriving he found, however, that he had left. Although
disappointed he went to work in the mill, getting $100 bonus, and remained
there three months. He then went to Troy, New York, where he worked at
puddling for the famous iron firm of Henry Burden & Co. While there, in
1846, he sent to England for a young lady, a neighbor, whom he had known all
of his life and to whom he was affianced. He met this young lady, Miss
Elizabeth Darby, in New York, and was married to her in Troy, July 18, 1846,
the ceremony being performed at St. Paul's Episcopal church, by the Rev. Dr.
Van Kleeck. After his marriage he moved to Boston, and while at work there was
hired with others by the Brady's Bend Iron Company, and upon March 18, 1847,
arrived at their works, which were the third in the United States to torn out
T rails. Mr. Butler was a thoroughly skilled workman, as good as the best in
the country, and he very soon quit puddling and took a contract for running
four heating furnaces. This was a responsible and a remunerative position, and
although a very young man he filled it to the entire satisfaction of the mill
owners, and held it continuously from 1847 to 1872. While prospering
financially, he was, however, destined to suffer a great domestic sorrow, for
his young wife died September 12, 1847, and was followed to the grave only a
week later by her infant child. He married as his second wife Miss Martha
Wassell, who like himself was a native of England and had come to America at
the same time, though upon another ship. They were united in wedlock April 22,
1849. A short time before this marriage Mr. Butler, seeking a safe investment
for the little money he earned by his industry and economically saved, bought
the farm where he now lives in Brady's Bend township. He built a house upon
this farm and improved the property by degrees, but did not go there to
permanently reside until 1875. In 1879 this farm was found to be rich in
petroleum, and Mr. Butler leased it in parcels to H. L. Taylor & Co. and
other operators, receiving certain proportions of the production as royalties.
The land which he had secured by the proceeds of his labor thus gave him an
independency, which he now enjoys in well earned ease and contentment. Mr.
Butler is a fine example of what a man may make himself by earnest
well-directed endeavor and by habits of thrift and providence. His energies
were by no means monopolized by his arduous labor, but he sought by every
means at hand to advance in knowledge, and became a great reader of the best
works of classical and current literature. He has taken a deep interest in
public affairs and measures for the general good, and is known as a man of
practical benevolence and an active, useful citizen. His reputation is an
enviable one and his character one worthy of emulation for those who like
himself have made the start in life with no capital but honesty and industry.
In politics be is a strong republican, and in religious life a firm adherent
of the Episcopal church. He is a member of Kittanning Lodge, No. 244, F. and
A. M., and stands high in the fraternity in this county.
Mr. Butler has one son, William, surviving of the two born of his second
marriage. The other son, Horace Mann, of most estimable character, was killed
September 30, 1875, by an explosion of glycerine which by some accident bad
been left in the pipe of a torpedo-case which had been sent as junk to the
ironmill where he was working in Pittsburgh.
Source: Page(s) 607-608, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by
Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed December 2000 by Jeffrey Bish for the Armstrong County Smith
Contributed by Jeffrey Bish for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project
Armstrong County Genealogy Project Notice:
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