MADISON COUNTY TENNESSEE
BIOGRAPHIES of Madison County TN

Dr. William E. Butler

Dr. William E. Butler (1789-1882) has justly been called the "Father of Jackson." He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in medicine. He moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee and set up a medical practice. Dr. Butler married Patsy Thompson Hays in 1813. His wife was a niece of Mrs. Andrew Jackson. During the War of 1812 Butler served on the staff of Thomas Hart Benton of the Second Regiment of Infantry under General Andrew Jackson. He accompanied the units to the scene of the Battle of New Orleans on keelboats which floated down the Mississippi River. Dr. Butler's brother Robert was secretary to the commis­sioners who signed the Chickasaw Treaty in 1818, and Andrew Jackson was one of the diplomats who negoti­ated the treaty. Thus, Butler had an inside track to land grants in the Western District and became one of the many prospectors who quickly came to these lands.

In 1821, Dr. Butler loaded his family and belongings on a flatboat, floated down the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Mississippi to the mouth of the Forked Deer. He pushed and poled his way to the headwaters of the river, located a fine spring near the old tannery in south Jackson, and built a double log cabin on the land that was included in the 640 acres entered in his name. That year he planted his first crop of cotton and ginned it in the gin he had brought from Davidson County. He donated over thirty acres of land on which Jackson was to be located. He donated the land upon which the Memphis Conference Female Institute was built, and he gave land for the oldM. and O. railroad shops on Chester Street. He served as an agent of the old State Bank, and he served on the building committee for the construction of an early Presbyterian church in 1830. He signed the Articles of Association of St. Luke's church in 1832, served on the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Male Academy in 1825, and was a member of the county court which conducted the business of the day for the frontier community.

One of Dr. Butler's frequent visitors to his home on Royal Street was David Crockett, his political enemy. Dr. Butler decided to challenge Crockett for the state legislature, and stories of this campaign are numerous. One story tells that Butler had a beautiful, well written speech which he delivered several times. In those days, opposing candidates spoke to the same crowd on the same afternoon. Dr. Butler usually spoke first, but one afternoon Davy persuaded the doctor to let him speak first, and with a twinkle in his eye and mischief in his heart he began with "My fellow citizens" and proceeded to give Dr. Butler's speech word by word. Alas! when time came for Dr. Butler to give his speech he was speechless. (For further colorful stories on Dr. Butler see Williams, Historic Madison)

Emma Inman Williams /Marion B. Smothers / Mitch Carter - Excerpts of Jackson & Madison Pictorial History 1988

William E. Butler married Martha "Patsey" Thompson Hays 15 May 1811 in Davidson Co., TN/ Children are: Martha , William Ormonde 19 Jun 1814, Mary Jane 9 Jul 1816 died 12 Sep 1824. All are buried at Riverside Cemetery.