Hidden deep in the forested hills of Highland County, a worn down trail, barely visible beneath the fallen leaves, leads to the secret resting place of some of the county’s first pioneers. The gravesite sits untouched on a remote hill, wild violets carpeting the ground and climbing the stone grave markers. The headstones still display the names of six members of the Butler family.
Amazingly, the lineage of the Butlers has been preserved through historical documents and census reports. The original settlers, Leonard Butler and his wife Sarah, have descendants that stretched throughout the United States, some of which are living today. Unfortunately, some of the genealogy has been lost to history, suggesting that many more relatives of the Butlers exist today.
It all started with Leonard and Sarah Butler. Leonard is the oldest family member buried in the Butler Cemetery, born in 1792. The former Sarah Hart was born in Delaware in 1800, where she lived most of her early life. She met and married Leonard there, giving birth to her first son, Daniel Butler, at age 16. Two years later in 1818, Sarah gave birth to a baby girl, Rebecca Butler. Rebecca’s life is the most undocumented of all the Butlers buried in the cemetery. Her tombstone lists her birth year as 1818, but does not list a death date, suggesting that she died as an infant.
Another of Sarah and Leonard’s sons, Richard, was born in 1827. Richard served in Company G, 11th Ohio Calvary, from 1863 to 1866. The 11th Ohio Cavalry guarded the Overland Trail in the Dakota Territory. Sarah’s last child was William Butler, born in 1830. William eventually married Sarah Ellen Washburn, but any record of their children does not exist.
Daniel Butler, Sarah and Leonard’s first born, married Lydia Ann Bish Butler, also buried at the Butler Cemetery. Lydia was born in Virginia in 1820. Together they had four children — Sarah, Henry, Daniel and Frederick. Henry “Doc” Butler became a respected physician, and Daniel Butler Jr. became the proprietor of a general store and hotel at the sight of Butler Springs Christian Camp. Daniel’s family experienced great success in their business ventures. The hotel they owned was famed for its spring waters, thought to heal and regenerate any illness. This resort of sorts was often called “Butler Springs” for the family and the healing waters.
Frederick Butler, the youngest child of Daniel and Lydia Butler, married a woman named Lydia Anna Milburn Butler. They had four children — twins Dora and Cora and sons George and Andrew. Dora, George and Andrew all married, but their children are not known. Cora, however, married John Charles Edgington and had two boys — Earnest and Henry (census records list spellings as both “Ernest” and “Earnest” but the later appears more often). Henry, who went by his middle name Everett, married Margaret Ann Webster and they had a daughter, Mary Ann. Mary’s spouse is unknown, but she had two children.
Those two men are still living in Springfield, Ohio today and are grandfathers themselves.
The lineage of the Butler family is fascinating to uncover, and is well documented despite tracing back to the early 1800s. The legacy of the Butler family can still be seen today in the countless descendants of Leonard and Sarah Butler, many of which are still unknown.
All of the history behind the little cemetery hidden in the woods is just another example of how Highland County’s pioneers have influenced the county today.
Sources for this story included:
Isabella Warner is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.