Historical Review of Butler, Kentucky

From the Butler Enterprise, June 1, 1889

One of the first settlers here was Pope Williams, who owned and cultivated the land on which Butler now stands.

Butler was first called Fourth Lock, on account of it being the fourth lock and dam on the Licking River, being situated at this place at the time of the attempt to make the river navigable. Though the enterprise has been abandoned, the probability of it yet being completed is often discussed. The principal trouble lies, we are told, in the fact that there is such an accumulation at the mouth of the Licing River at Covington and consequent shallowness that the cost of its removal would be too great.

Perhaps very few Butlerites know that Butler is not the name first given. After the growing importance of the place demanded a more graceful name than Fourth Lock it was called Clayton, and about the year 1852-3, when the new railroad had been completed, an attempt was made to give Clayton a postoffice. There being another postoffice in the State by that name, it was changed to Butler. It was so named in 1852 or 1853 and not in 1836 as has been published. We have been informed that one Mr. Joel Ham, a contractor on the dam named the place Butler, in honor of Wm. O. Butler, a member of Congress from this district.

The first store was started by the Hams about 1837 and prospered as long as the works on the lock and dam continued.

The Ham brothers, who were also contractors, afterward moved to Cincinnati.

The next store was started by Uriah Kendall of Cincinnati, in 1848 in a part of his 14-roomed house, situated where now is the residence of Dr. W.H. Yelton. Merchant and Miller Kendall's orchard and pasture was where R.F. Shaw's store, residence and adjacent buildings now are. The next store was started by Messrs. Gus and Dan Yelton, which seemed to prosper several years. Another store was started also by Mr. Harry Stephenson, and operated by Mr. L.H. Armstrong, one of the shrewdest business men that Butler or northern Kentucky ever knew. Mr. Armstrong finally built a store of his own which is now the one owned by F.M. McClure, and occupied by the prosperous merchant, Mr. John A. Faris. Mr. Die Wheeler, however, had started a sotre about 1856, which was previous to the starting of one by Mr. Stephenson Mr. Kendall's saw and grist mill was built about 1847, but soon failed to prosper. The next one started was by the Hon. U.S. Patton, a clear-headed, conservative business gentleman. He was very successful, accumulated a fortune, was elected to the Legislature of Kentucky as a Representative from Pendleton County, in 18--. He afterward sold out his interest in the Butler lumber, flour and grist mills to Messrs. C.C. Hagemeyer & Co., who have so added to the buildings previously established, increased the capacity and improved, throughout that the firm now enjoys the reputation of bieng one of the most complete combined mills in the State.

Tobacco, which has become such a universal crop and such a staple article of commerce, and which has contributed much toward building Butler to its present size, was first prized in hogsheads by R.F. Shaw in an old orchard under an apple tree.

W.L. Barton was the first blacksmith in Butler, built the first and the last shop and still follows the occupation.

An attempt at teaching school was made in an old black smith shop shortly before 1860, when the first school house in Butler was built. It was a one-story, one-room frame building, and was used until about 1882 or 1883 when it was removed to where it now stands, opposite the residence of C.C. Hagemeyer. It is now occupied by Jno. T. Williams. Many of the residents of Butler who have since grown to men and women will ever remember many hallowed associations of school days past and gone that were spent in this old Butler school house.

The first graded school Butler had was under the Principlalship of Prof. T.M. Barton, the pioneer teacher of Pendleton County. This was before the new house was erected, and three rooms, or all of the upper story of the Armstrong - now the John Faris store was rented. The school jumped from one to four departments. Miss Kittie Storch, a highly accomplished graduate of Cincinnati, taught French, Latin, Elocation, etc. Mr. Marion Bradford, Penmanship, Book-keeping, Business forms, etc., while T.M. Barton and Miss Rouse taught the other departments. The present building was erected at a cost of $1,300 and is yet entirely inadequate for the number of children in the district. A plan is on foot at this time to build an addition of two rooms and otherwise fix up and beautify our public school building.

In 1871 the Butler Bridge was built at an immense cost, thus concentrating the business of the surrounding country at Butler, making it a place of permanent prosperity. In the same year was built the town hall, the church, and Masonic hall - all in one building. UP to this time there was no church organization, except that of the Methodists, who were few in numbers and who held meetings in the school house. UP to this time nothing like as much business was ever known in Butler, and it was an era of great pride.

The town was incorporated in 1856.

The Kentucky Central Railroad was completed about 1853, when was established the postoffice.

Judge J.J. Yelton was the first physician. Dr. F.M. Harris, a very prominent physician, formerly lived here, but now practices in Vincennes, Indiana. Judge J.J. Yelton has occupied various positions in the town, being for many years Police Judge, and has for 76 years lived in and around Butler.

At an election held in November, 1882, to decide whether or not whiskey should be retailed in BUtler, it was found the majority were opposed to its sale and ever since, Butler has been a temperance town. Before this, there were three saloons and no churches. Now, there are no saloons and three churches. Butler has always been noted for maintaining a high plane of morality. It is one of the most peaceful towns in the State, and the citizens law abiding and industrious.

In October 1882, the Railroad Company erected a very nice rail-road depot, which not only adds to the wealth of the town, but is a decided ornament.

The Butler Enterprise, a weekly newspaper devoted to the interests of Butler and vicinity, as well as of Pendleton County, begun several years ago by Leslie L. Barton, Editor and proprietor, was the first last and only paper Butler ever had. It was printed at Falmouth at the Guide book and job works, and edited and published at Butler. The Editor being but a youth, began its publication for experience more particularly than for lucrative compensation. It was issued weekly and regularly for a ehile, but the editor in time left for the west and the paper was suspended, but only temproarily. It started up again May 4, 1889, and has since been issued regularly on Saturday morning at the low price of 60 cents per year. Though Butler is scarcely large enough to support a paper, yet the liberality and public spirit of its citizens are maintaining it manfully.

Butler has a green grocery, a drug store, four general stores, two meat shops, three blacksmith and wagon shops, no saloons, one Odd Fellow's hall or police court, one masonic hall, three churches, one brick-kiln, two attorney's offices, three cooper shops, one barber shop, one photograph gallery, one stirrup factory, two millinery, and dry goods houses, three doctors offices, four hotels and boarding houses, two shoe shops, two carpenter shops, one flour and grist mill, one saw mill, one newspaper one public school building, two schools in session, and many residences of modern architecture.

Butler is situated on a slight elevation above the Licking River, surrounded by rather a rough, but by nature an exceedingly rich country.

The great fertility of the hills in this the edge of the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, have contributed to the wealth of the people and prosperity of Butler. It contains about 800 inhabitants and is situated on the left bank of the Licking River and on the K.C.R.R. about 28 miles south of Cincinnati, about 11 miles north of Falmouth the county seat and about 8 miles from the Ohio river. It is next to the largest town in Pendleton county, and one of the oldest.




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