Richland Co., Ohio
Village of Butler
source: Bellville Messenger (undated), as reprinted from the Mansfield Sunday News.
Clipping from the D.W. Garber scrapbook
It was Originally Named Independence
Butler is a thriving village in Worthington township, nineteen miles south of Mansfield, on the B. & O. railroad. The town was originally called "Independence" but was changed to "Butler" some years ago to agree with the name of the postoffice named after Gen. William O. Butler, of Kentucky, who was a hero of the Mexican war, and a candidate for vice president on the ticket with Gen. Lewis Cass, in 1848. The post office was established before the town was laid out, and was kept at the residence of 'Squire T.B. Andrews the first postmaster.
Independence was laid out on the northwest quarter of section 20, Jan. 12, 1848, by Daniel Spohn. The place was familiarly called Spohntown for a number of years by the people of that vicinity.
The extension of the Mansfield and Sandusky City railroad to Newark caused Independence to be laid out on its line and as the business men of Bellville were jealous of having a rival town spring up within the limits of their trade T.B. Andrews suggested that the new town be called "independence" in defiance of the attitude of Bellville. The town was therefore christened according to 'Squire Andrews' suggestion, and was called Independence over 40 years ere it was changed to Butler.
The Spohn land upon which Butler stands was entered by William Simmons May 13, 1820. The town was surveyed by Joseph Hastings.
The first business place in the town was started by William Lamley, who kept groceries and dry goods, the latter being very much in demand during the construction of the railroad. The grocery was situate near where William Shively now lives. Lamley afterwards put up a larger structure farther up the railroad, where he conducted a grocery and hotel for a number of years. The first public house was erected by Joseph Geary; the building has since been enlarged, and is now kept by Mr. Wise.
In 1850, Gen. G.A. Jones and others of Mt. Vernon, erected a warehouse, bought grain and conducted a general merchandise for several years, making Independence a grain market. The name of the firm was Robinson, Jones & Co.
Pearce, Mix & Severns succeeded Robinson & Jones and conducted the business for a number of years. The warehouse was destroyed by fire some years ago, and a handsome two-story business building now occupies the old warehouse site.
Downing & Son have a dry goods store in the Lamley building and Mr. Downing is one of the old residents of the place.
Daniel Garber was the first shoemaker in the town; John Diltz the first carpenter; John Daugherty the first wagon maker and Daniel Loose the first cabinetmaker. Garber and Loose married daughters of Richard Oldfield, who was an early settler and prominent resident of Jefferson Township.
John Wilson lives on the Spohn farm, which he now owns, adjoining the town. Wilson married a daughter of the late Thomas B. Andrews, who wa one of the most prominent men in his day in that part of Richland County.
'Squire Andrews was county commissioner two terms and was a justice of the peace for many years. Wilson has seen considerable of the world. He went to California overland in 1851 and remained several years. Upon his return he erected the finest business building in town. Later, he served his country in the war of 1861-5.
In the early history of the town John Wilson was the best dressed young man in the village and keeps up his old reputation in that line today.
David Taylor and John Ramsey were county commissioners and the latter was a justice of the peace. They were not residents of the village, but lived upon farms near by and were identified with the place. The Craig and Phipps families were also prominent people in that community.
D.J. Rummel built the Rummel grist mill on the Clearfork below the town in about 1850, and it is still in operation and is one of the most successful country mills in the county. The same can be said of the Kanaga mills (now Plank's) a mile above the town. While other country mills have gone to the walls these have kept up with the times in all modern improvements and have prospered.
Henry Greer is the village blacksmith. Prior to locating in Butler, and prior to the platting of the town, Henry worked at his trade in Pinhook and was the best-dressed man in that south part of the county. His suits were "tailor-made" in Mansfield and his plug-hats were of the most approved and latest style and shape. His gold watch chain was massive and long and his cane was slender and gold-headed. He was very popular with the young ladies of the neighborhood, but was not so popular with the young men; for he took their best girls from them and many a whipping he was threatened -- when he was not present -- but they never mentioned the matter to Greer himself, as no one seemed to fancy getting into contact with his Vulcan-like arm and sledge-hammer strokes. Henry is still fastidious in dress and always gives his old friends a glad welcome.
William A. Traxler was a school teacher back in the "fifties" and served his country as a soldier in the war of the rebellion. He married a daughter of the late Rev. Mr. Berry who at the time of his death was a merchant at Waterford. William is a conservative and respected citizen of Butler, is a loyal friend, and leaves the latch-strong out whenever an old pupil of his is in town.
John Newcomer always has pleasnt greetings for old-time friends and can interestingly recall the times of other years.
Daniel Spayde has prospered and the world seems to go well with him. Dan was a soldier and enjoys meeting the "boys" who also wore the blue.
Of the old families of the vicinity of Butler, the Spohns were among the earliest and most prominent. They came from Washington County, Pennsylvania and were of the Dunkard faith. Daniel Spohn, the founder of the town of Butler, was the great-grandfather of Leiut. Martin Spohn Bevington of the United States Navy, and B.L. Bevington, manager of the Chicago branch of the ______ Taylor company.
C.M. Wise is a merchant who from a small beginning, has increased his trade so largely that he now carries a stock of goods seemingly sufficient for even a much larger town.
Among the recent acquisitions is a bank, in its own substantial brick building, on a corner of two of the principal streets. And the people also "point with pride" to the new depot recently erected.
Butler is well represented in all lines of business and trade and her fine school and church buildings speak well for the village.
There are many other worthy people and features of the town -- too many to mention them all.
Worthington Township was named for Thomas Worthington, who was governor of Ohio in 1814-16. The surface is broken and hilly, especially along the Clearfork, where in many places the scenery is picturesque and beautiful. Two tributaries enter the Clearfork near Butler -- Andrews' run from the southwest and Gold run from the southeast.
Butler is situate at the great bend of the B. & O. road where a number of railroad accidents have occurred, the most notable of which was the terrible collision in September, 1872, during the first state fair at Mansfield.
-- A.J. Baughman
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