Button Family

The Button Family
Button's Inn

In 1823, halfway between Barcelona Inn on Lake Erie and Mayville, the famous
Button's Inn was built. Throughout a period of almost 20 years, the Inn
gained the reputation as a prosperous tavern through which many travelers

The Inn was located on a hill on S. Portage St., appropriately entitled
"Button's Hill." In good weather, an excellent view of Lake Erie was
available for about five miles in either direction. The Inn welcomed many
sailors whose boats had docked at nearby "Portland Harbor," now known as

The Inn was built on land purchased from the Holland Land company by Moses
Chapman. He paid $2900 for about 102 acres of land. Later, Chapman sold the
property to Rufus Button in December of 1842. Afterwards, it became the
property of his son who ran the Inn until 1845.

Ira Button was the keeper of the Inn. It was built with the second story
overhanging the first, with front porches on both levels. The upper porch
was high enough so that one could view the countryside scenery for miles

The Inn was an important part of the community. The Town Board held their
meetings at the Tavern, and school children sometimes met there for class.
Preachers also spoke at the Inn.

The Inn was also the scene of Albion Winegar Tourgee's novel, "Button's
Inn." Mr. Tourgee of Mayville, was a writer of fiction, and centered his
novel around a beautiful young maiden in the Button family who becomes the
heroine of his novel.

Button's Inn existed in the time of stagecoaches and sailing ships, shortly
before the railroad came into existence. As such, it was the social center
for the community for the first and second generations of its existence.
There was an immense ball room off the second floor porch, and it was here
that many of the dancing parties took place.

Access to the Inn, however, was on unpaved roads, and often it presented
many problems. The history of the Inn tells of a true episode in which a
groom and bride were traveling up to the Tavern in the spring. There were
many holes in the road, and their wagon wheel fell into one of them. The
husband got out and tried to steer the horse out, but the horse broke the
harness and ran off, and his bride fell off the wagon and into the mud hole.

After Ira Button died in 1845, the Inn still continued. It was kept in the
family until 1932 when Dr. Arthur Cobb of Buffalo bought the property. By
the 1880's the Tavern had begun to fall apart, and later many of the boards
on the house were carried off.

Today, nothing remains to mark the place where the Button's Inn once stood,
although marks from the foundation can be found if one knows where to look.
The prosperous and flourishing days of an oldtime Inn have passed into
history, but have left many memories behind.

Loraine Smith
Ellery Historian

     One of the earliest settlers along the Portage Trail was Rufus BUTTON who
cleared land and built a cabin, where in 1812 his son, Ira Button, was
born. In 1823 the Buttons built an Inn along the Old French Road, half-way
between Barcelona and Mayville where travelers over the hill between the
lakes could stop and rest their horses and refresh themselves. The Inn was
known as "Buttons Inn."
     There are legends of suicide and murder connected with the Inn, but
mostly it was a place of merriment enjoyed by countless travelers for many
years. Because of the legends and a book by Albion Tourgee entitled "Buttons
Inn" it has become a well known historic site along the trail.

RUFUS BUTTON, born Nov. 6, 1775 in Canterbury, Conn.; died Aug. 15, 1854. He
married Feb. 8, 1801 Phoebe PAGE, born Feb. 8, 1864 in N. H.; died Jan. 8,
1864. They lived first in Middletown, Vt. where many, if not all of the
children were born. In 1827 they removed to Harmony, N. Y. Rufus became the
owner of the inn, from then known as Button's Inn, originally called the
Mountain House. It was located on the road from Mayville to Westfield and
atop the hill which became known as Button's Hill. Originally built,
possible as early as 1800, it was acquired by Rufus about 1842. It was later
operated by his son Ira, as the last proprietor, as a public house, after
Rufus' death.

1 Delinda (Linda), born Aug. 12, 1803. She married Mr. House and
lived in Wisc.
2 Cynthia, born Nov. 14, 1804. She married Mr. Fish, died ca. 1880
in Ore.
3 Harriet, born Apr. 6, 1807. She married Feb. 7, 1828 to her cousin
Benjamin (
4 Lester, born Oct. 6, 1808. He married and had several children,
living first in Ashtabula Co., O. and then near Bedford, Cuyahoga
Co., O.
5 Eliza, born Mar. 11, 1810. She married Sylvester Hammond of
N. Y.
*6 Ira, born Mar. 25, 1812.
7 Samuel, born Oct. 2, 1813. He married and moved to Wisc.
*8 William, born Nov. 24, 1815.
*9 Albert, born Sept. 19, 1817.
10 Orrin, born Sept. 7, 1819; died Feb. 27, 1820.
*11 Simeon, born Nov. 28, 1810.
12 Susan, born Dec. 10, 1822; died Jan. 27, 1850.
13 Phebe Ann, born May 21, 1825; died Oct. 15, 1826.
14 Edwin R., born Apr. 30, 1827; died June 28, 1845 of an epileptic
15 (???).

IRA BUTTON, born Mar. 25, 1812 in Vt.; died Oct. 6, 1866 at Harmony, N. Y.
He married Laura Knop, born ca. 1816 in N. Y.; died Aug. 14, 1895. They
lived at Harmony, N. Y., where he operated Button's Inn after the retirement
of his father, and until the coming of the railroad through the area made
operation of the inn unprofitable. He later was a farmer.

1 Clarissa B., born Oct. 28, 1837. She married Nov. 12, 1868
Jonathan Milks.
2 Sidney, born Mar. 23, 1838; died May 14, 1838.
3 Martha A., born Mar. 22, 1840. She married Sept. 14, 1854 Maxwell
Himes. (Refer to page 784.)
4 Noah, born Oct. 9, 1842; died Oct. 12, 1842.
*5 Francis M., born Jan. 4, 1843.
6 Phoebe V., born June 7, 1844.
*7 Noah Franklin, born Dec. 20, 1845.
8 Levi R., born July 8, 1848.
9 Atilla M., born Nov. 26, 1848/9. She married Dec. 16, 1849
Joseph Fitch, born Dec. 16, 1869, son of Turner and Electa
(Clark) Fitch.
10 Mary A., born ca. Jan. 1850; may have died young.
11 Johnny K., born May 9, 1853; died May 12, 1853.
*12 Fred C., born Jan. 4, 1855.
SOURCE:  From the Portage Trail Handbook; provided by Dee Davidson, 2003.