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(Mss 1026)



Biographical/Historical Note
Scope and Content Note
Index Terms


Size.16.5 linear feet.

Geographic locations.Louisiana; Mississippi; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington D.C.; Tennessee; Alabama; Georgia

Inclusive dates. 1663-1950.

Bulk dates. 1813-1915.

Languages. English; French; Spanish.

Summary. Financial papers, correspondence, legal documents, personal papers and surveys document the family life and business of the Butler family, prominent cotton and sugar planters in Louisiana through the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. Photographs depict Butler family members and properties owned by the Butlers. Printed items pertain primarily to religious involvement and worship in the Episcopal Church.

Related collection. Butler (Thomas and Family) Papers (Mss. #2850)

Citation. Butler Family Papers, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Biographical/Historical Note The Butlers were cotton and sugar planters centered in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana at a home called The Cottage. Judge Thomas Butler (1785-1847), born in Pennsylvania moved to Pinckneyville, Mississippi Territory in 1809. An attorney, Butler worked for many of the merchants in Southwest Mississippi and in the Feliciana Parishes. In 1813, he was appointed judge of the Louisiana Third District Court after moving to West Feliciana Parish near St. Francisville and later was elected to the United States Congress, serving as a representative from 1818 to 1821. Butler was a Louisiana gubernatorial candidate twice in the 1820's and lost both elections.

In the late 1830's he began to develop cotton and sugar plantations in West Feliciana and Terrebonne Parishes. Butler's interests extended also to higher education, and he served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Louisiana College at Jackson, Louisiana. He was also a member of the Louisiana Historical Society.

Thomas Butler married Ann Ellis (d. 1878) daughter of Abram Ellis in 1813, and they lived at The Cottage with their children Pierce (d. 1888), Richard (d.1908), Robert (d. 1874), Edward (d.1887), Margaret (d. 1890), Sarah (d. 1888), Anna (d. 1902) and Mary (d. 1914). After Thomas Butler's death in 1847 wife Ann and son Pierce continued to operate the sugar plantations.

Anna Butler spent a year in Washington D.C. at the White House where she met foreign dignitaries and politicians, and she attended Congressional sessions where she heard debates on the major issues of the day, particularly states' rights, fugitive slaves and abolition.

Edward Butler and Thomas Butler's grandsons Thomas Butler and James P. Butler served in the Confederate Army as officers, the latter under Braxton Bragg in the Gulf Coast states and in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Scope and Content Note

The Butler Family Papers consist of correspondence, legal papers, manuscript writings, financial papers, printed items, records and photographs which chronicle the lives of the Butler family members from their arrival in Mississippi and Louisiana in 1809 through the mid-twentieth century.

Early documents such as depositions, legal papers and correspondence pertain primarily to the political and judicial career of Thomas Butler, a Congressional representative, an attorney and a judge. Highlights of the early material include correspondence from Jacques Villere, William C.C. Claiborne and Henry Clay and a Spanish land grant and proclamation signed by Carondelet.

Other antebellum material, family and business correspondence, records and financial papers, reflects social life and customs and the economics of the planter and slave-owning class.

Records include slave lists and a deposition on the health of a slave. Financial papers consist of accounts, receipt, bills and acts of sale for both land and slaves. Correspondence relates primarily to family news and plantation business. One letter from a slave owner to a slave woman whom he had sold reflects the relationship between owner and slave and the breaking up of families in slave sales.

Letters written by Anna Butler to her family between 1849 and 1850 discuss life at the White House, where she lived during Zachary Taylor's administration. She attended Congressional sessions, and in her letters to families she comments on the debates raging in both houses as well as the major political personalities.

Civil War letters from Confederate officers to Butler family members provide personal narratives of the war on the Gulf Coast and in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Tennessee. One Butler served under General Braxton Bragg. He and his wife were family friends, and several letters by the Braggs are in the collection.

Later nineteenth and twentieth-century papers originated largely from Louise Butler, descendant of the planters and consists of printed religious items from the Episcopal Church, financial material concerning inheritances, estates and investments, and correspondence from notable persons including: Grace King, Cammie Henry, Francois Mignon, Lyle Saxon and Constance Rourke. Another significant correspondent is relative Gervase Butler, who wrote letters while fighting in the Second World War in North Africa.

Photographs in the collection depict various Butler family members, including Judge Thomas Butler and properties owned by the family.

Index Terms


Albry, Edward

Albumen prints

Bell, Caroline

Bills of lading--Louisiana

Bills of sale--Louisiana

Brackenridge, H.H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816

Bradford, James Morgan, 1778?-1837

Bragg, Braxton, 1817-1876

Butler, Ann Ellis

Butler, Anna

Butler, Anthony W.

Butler, Edward Gaillard

Butler Family

Butler, Gervase

Butler, James P.

Butler, Jarvis Orr.

Butler, Louise

Butler, Margaret

Butler, Marguerite

Butler, Mary

Butler, Pierce

Butler, Richard

Butler, Robert

Butler, Sarah Jane Duncan

Butler, Thomas, 1785-1847

Butler, Virginia

Butler, William

Camp Gladden

Camp Moore

Canal Bank (New Orleans, La.)

Carondelet, Francoise Luis Hector, baron de, 1748-1807


Chatanooga (Tn.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives

Christ Church (New Orleans, La.)

Claiborne, William C.C. (William Charles Cole), 1775-1817

Clark, Daniel, 1766-1813

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852

Confederate States of America Army


Cotton--Economic aspects--Louisiana


Davis, C.H. (Charles Henry), 1845-1921

Depositions--United States--Louisiana

Dorman, Caroline.

Duncan, Abner

Duncan, James

Duncan, John

Duncan, Stephen

Ellis, Eliza

Ellis, Richard

Episcopal church--Louisiana

Evans, Nathaniel, 1776-1819

Fischer, August, fl., 1881-1907

Fischer, Max

Flagg, Levi W.

Fort Macomb (La.)

Fort Pike (La.)

Fort Saint Phillip


Grace Episcopal Church (Saint Francisville, La.)

Graham, George, 1770-1830

Grand Caillou Plantation (La.)

Henry, Cammie

Hopkins, John Henry, bp., 1762-1868

Inheritance and succession

Insurance policies--Louisiana



Kemper, Reuben

Kenner, Duncan Farrar, 1813-1887

King, Grace Elizabeth, 1852-1932


Lewis, Seth, 1764-1848

Louisiana Historical Society

Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865-- Personal narratives, Confederate

McBride, R.R.

Mercer, William Newton, 1792-1874

Metcalfe, Anne

Mignon, Francois

Mississippi. Militia

Mobile (Ala.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives

Monroe, James, 1758-1831

Natchez (Miss.)



Pipes, David Washington, 1886-1968

Plantations--Economic aspects--Louisiana

Plantations--Louisiana--Terrebonne Parish

Plantation life--Louisiana--West Feliciana Parish

Plantation owners--Louisiana

Poindexter, George, 1779-1853


Poydras, Julien, 1746-1824

Promissory notes--Louisiana

Randolph, Edward



Ripley, Eleazer Wheelock, 1782-1839

Rourke, Constance, 1885-1941

Salt prints

Saxon, Lyle, 1891-1946

Slave bills of sale--Louisiana


Slaves--Health and hygeine--United States--Louisiana


Slaves--Louisiana--Family relationships

Slave lists--Louisiana

State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania




Tax returns--Louisiana

Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850

Terrebonne Parish (La.)

Toby, Edward

Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives

Villere, Jacques Philippe, 1761-1830

Washington, Jackson & Co.

West Feliciana Parish (La.)

West Feliciana Railroad

West Florida

Wilkinson County (Miss.)

Whig party

White House (Washington D.C.)

World War, 1939-1945--Africa, North

Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Co.

Young, Eliza