Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 54 & 55
submitted by Jean Theobald, Aug. 28, 2007


Daily Journal, April 23, 1874 (hand-written)---- This forenoon the following melancholy dispatch reached this city:

    Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, April 23,

    To Alex. Jackson:
    Mr Butler died this morning, Look for Mrs. Butler this evening, via. Fairfield. I remain to bring the body to-marrow.
    S. E. Whicher.

A few hours later we received the following:

    Special to the Muscatine Journal.
    Mt. Pleasant, April 23, 1874
    Hon.Jacob Butler died at 8 o’clock this morning of acute menegitis.

    Since his attack the course of the malady had been variable, with occasional lulls in his disease, such as to give hope of a successful weathering of the storm. He was transiently conscious of passing events-cogizant of his friends and appreciative of their devoted attention-but the neuter symptoms of the disease were only instigated to intensity and did not kindly yield to treatment.
    S. E. Whicher.

Thus has passed away one who was more prominently and intimately connected with the history of Muscatine, than anyone who ever lived in it.

JACOB BUTLER was born in Franklin, in Franklin county, O., (opposite Columbus,) Aug. 14th, 1817, and was therefore in his 57th year. He was the son of a carpenter, and in early life developed an ambitious and enterprising spirit. At the age of 16 he undertook the sale of a stock of books at St. Louis. Subsequently he graduated in Miami College, at Oxford, O., there being among his classmates John G. Deshler, now a prominent citizen of Buffalo, N. Y., and C. S. Foster, late clerk of this county. All three afterwards located at Bloomington (now Muscatine). Mr. Butler had previously studied law in the office of Judge Swann, at Columbus, who took a deep interest in the aspiring young man, and gave him $150 with which to make a start in the world. He first went to New Orleans, but finding nothing to do there or at St. Louis finally took up his abode at this place, then (1841) a promising town of a few hundred inhabitants. Though making slow progress for a while, he gradually rose to prominence and affluence. He was the Iowa agent ofLyne Starling, of Columbus, who had large landed interests throughout the State. In transacting business for Mr. Starling, Mr. Butler laid the foundation of his subsequent wealth. He was the leading spirit in nearly all the public business enterprises of the city. Possessing a quick and penetrating judgment, his opinion was generally deferred to, and his fellow-citizens were always disposed to adopt his mature counsel. He was for 3 ½ years President of the Muscatine National Bank, President of the Gas Company, & c. He served this county in the General Assembly in 1853, being Speaker of the House, and at several times was favorably regarded for higher and more honorable political stations. In religion, Mr. Butler affiliated with the Congregational church, of which he was a long time a member in this city.

Mr. Butler was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of Charles Cummings, D. D. She died in 1848, about a year after her marriage, leaving an infant, who grew to manhood, but died several years ago. His second wife was Miss Ester Maynard, daughter Of Judge Maynard, of Corning, N. Y. She survives him. Eight children also survive-four having died. The oldest daughter is in Europe, perfecting her musical education. The oldest son has been attending Yale College, but is now in Chicago with the remaining children.

The funeral, it is understood, will be on Saturday in this city.

P. S. Mrs. Butler missed the train and will not be here till to-marrow morning.


April 23 –1874 (hand written)

At a large meeting of citizens (called by word of mouth) at the Mayor’s office this afternoon, to take action concerning Mr. Butler’s death, Joseph Bridgman was called to preside. On taking the chair, Mr. B. said it was no ordinary purpose for which the meeting was called. One whom we have know long years has passed away. The event reminds us, as has often been said, that our numbers are growing less. He deemed it unnecessary to make remarks on the character of the deceased, and suggested that arrangements be made for the funeral.

Mr. Van Horne moved the appointment of a committee on resolutions, which being carried, the chair appointed

G. W. Van Horne
W. F. Brannan
Moses Couch
F. H. Stone.

While the committee was out, D. C. Cloud spoke feelingly of deceased, saying that to him his death is one of the most sad events. Mr. Butler had his peculiarities, yet in his inner life he had that which would commend him. He was genial, companionable, and at heart an honest man.

R. M. Burnett spoke of the deep sympathetic feeling of the deceased, which he had experienced from him when suffering bereavement. He expressed sincere regret that Mr. B. ever left us as a citizen.

Judge Brannan said it was manifest that a deep sense of sorrow weighted upon the heart of every one present. He paid an eloquent and beautiful tribute to the character of the deceased. There were sharp-edges in his character, but warm places in his heart. He was a Positive character-imperious and self-willed-but beneath all was a warm heart, possessed of some of the best qualities that dignify and adorn human nature.

F. L. Underwood said he he had been in more than usual close intimacy with the deceased, and saw him in a light in which but few could sea him. He knew that it was a matter of great regret with the deceased about the time he left Muscatine that he had been misunderstood. His ambition to do right and to be truly loved by his fellow-citizens was greater than any personal ambition. He once expressed his gratification that he had been unsuccessful in certain political aspirations.

D. C. Richman said the faults of the deceased seemed to sink into nothing when we come to measure his good deeds. He was positive-if he had a friend he know it; if he had an enemy he knew it. He was liberal in the use of his money and gave largely to charity, and without ostentation. He was especially liberal in the Christian enterprise know as the American Missionary Society, for the benefit of the freedmen.

G, W. Van Horne spoke of the deceased as the great friend of his life and said he was here not as his eulogist, but as a mourner -for speech is silver, silence is gold.

The memoriam resolutions were unanimously adopted, as follows:

IN MEMORIAM. April 23, 1874

The citizens of Muscatine meet in sympathy and sorrow at tidings of the death of Jacob Butler.

We desire to express in tenderest words our sense of the great loss which has fallen upon us.

Our city has known no greater bereavement than we are called upon this day to mourn. He who has been taken from us was the guest of all our hearts. Impetuous, passionate, willful, we loved him for even these eccentricities, and blessed him for those qualities, so abounding in his nature, which make the whole world kin.

From the earliest records of Muscatine, Jacob Butler has been an essential part of her history. The years 1841 to 1874 mark the period of his life and works in our midst. At our ea list infancy, and at every stage of her progress, he has impressed his genius and character upon her institutions, and contributed of his matchless energy to the success of her enterprises. His distinguished talents have been honored in the legislative halls of our State and in her lending institutions of religion and learning, and the country has heard of his name in politics and the higher walks of his profession.

But we choose to-day to speak of him as our own. As an expression of our grief, and as a testimonial of our city to the eminent worth of the life and services of Jacob Butler, we pass the following.


    Resolved, That in the death of Jacob Butler Muscatine mourns the loss of one who was one of her most distinguished citizens, eminently worthy of every homage which gratitude and friendship can bestow upon the memory of the dead.

    Resolved, That as citizens of Muscatine we deeply sympathise with the bereaved family, Whose beau circle has thus been so suddenly overcast by the death of a loved husband and father.

    Resolved, That a copy of this memoriam and resolutions be forwarded to the family of deceased , and that the same be furnished to the papers of the city for publication.

    Resolved, That a committee of four be appointed to assist in the reception of the remains, and to act with committees of societies, in providing proper arrangements for the obsequies.

The chair appointed the following committee in complince with the last resolution:

F. H. Stone
D. C. Cloud
H. W. Moore
J. G. Gordon.

Mr. Burnett moved that the citizens generally be requested to join in the procession to the cemetery. Carried, ---- Meeting adjourned at 4 p. m .

*** continued on page 55 ***

April 25, 1874 (hand written)

Under the sod, where the beautiful monument erected by his hand overlooks the valley, we have laid him to rest.

At two o’clock, yesterday afternoon, a large company assembled at the residence of Alexander Jackson, where the remains were laying in waiting. A short prayer was offered by the Rev. Dr. Robbins, the casket was borne to the hearse, and attended by the numerous body of pall bearers, and followed by the mourning family and friends, the solemn march was begun to the church. As the procession descended the hill, the bell which had called him to the house of prayer so many years tolled now the requiem of the dead. At the corner of Chestnut street a large crowd was assembled, manifesting by the solemnity of its bearing a sorrow, personal to all.. The church was densely filled at the arrival of the procession except in the seats reserved for the family and escort. Never had there been so impressive a scene in that church, as the solemn procession, led By Dr. Robbins, moved slowly up the center aisle, bearing the casket and its sacred dust to the altar.

The Choir softly intoned the chant:

“Thy will be done.”

With voice tender with emotion this pastor of thirty years intimate relations with the dead, prayed for God’s help to the living.

The Psalm read from Holy word was a continuation of the prayer:

“Lord make me to know mine end.”

A second hymn was rendered by the choir, and Dr. Robbins arose to the delivery of his sacred message. The sermon was delicately brief, to spare the weary and stricken wife and family too Extended an experience of so sad an occasion. The text and sermon were as follows:

    “And they came to Jesus, and found the man **** sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.” - Luke,8:35.

    We gather to-day, in sadness, to honor, by these services, a much loved, the now dead, husband and father and brother. We come in recognition of the passing away of another an d noble member of the rapidly decreasing remnant of the old settlers of Muscatine, and one who has ever held an influential and marked prominence in many positions among us. We regard him as having only, for a short season, sojourned anywhere else but with us, and as coming home to be with us at the last. To me he was a personal friend, of the same age in years; and, for many of the most vigorous and marked of these years a hearty shared in common opinions and common duties. Ever an attentive and regular and sympathetic hearer – with his whole family, in God’s house, on the L0rd’s day, at least.

    I am not able to speak anything but tender and kind words of truth – so far as relating to him personally. But standing here as I do, knowing as you know, I feel inclined to believe and say that then only are any of us “clothed and in our right mind” when we are sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ – the Elder Brother - the Savior – the King of the children of Heaven. The only few lucid, really clear, becoming, reasonable moments, days, years, in any man’s life are those in which, recognising the relation he holds to the Son of God, he holds, at least, in honest intention, his whole fife, in all its parts, in simple hearted reference to that relation.

    “ God,” said the Apostle Paul, in a passage ever full of great interest to our brother, “hath made of one blood all nations of men,*** and hath determined *** the bounds of their habitation that they should seek the Lord, that hopingly they may feel after Him and find him.” Really blessed only are those who, having these lucid moments, use them to take hold, even never so feebly, upon this Jesus and his companionship and his Heaven.

    I remember, as though it were but yesterday, when in 1855 in the month of March, but a few feet from where we are now, our brother, by taking his position by the side of children and others, as one with all his heart seeking after God, really began to find Him; in accordance with that blessed promise “ye shall seek me and find me when ye seek for me with all the heart.” A grandly simple and child like way of walking with Christ, illuminated then, seveval years, at least, of his pilgrimage. To that grandly simple and child like way of walking the christian’s path I have confidently expected his return; and had it not pleased our Father that the shadow, so sad, should have come so suddenly over him, I do not doubt it would have been seen. As it is, may we not cherish the hope, that the grasp of those few lucid years, the breathing for a season of so much of the very spirit of the Master, had the effect to send, through his whole life, much of that conscientious adherence to what seemed to him to be noble and honest and true? However and whenever he has differed from some of us, has it not been to him a differing because to him we, in his opinion were not true?

    Those who knew him best have, in their hearts, the conviction that very much of the power of that struggle, in which there came the dark days, consisted in the effort to secure to others rather than to himself, to others at the same time with himself, to himself nothing unless it could, with him, be also secured to others, those rights belonging to all. They have also the conviction that he felt himself to be working for God in that contest; and as sent to do a special work in favor of justice And truth in business life.

    And in the Hymn, a favorite one of our brother, read aloud by him only a day or two before leaving Chicago and read in response to kind solicitation as to the effect of the contest through which he was then passing, we have every reason to suppose where expressed his heart feelings. This hymn was written by Mrs. Stowe and may well be dear to every heart, tempest tossed, in our excited and exciting community.

    “When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean
    And billows wild, contend with angry roar,
    T’is said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
    That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.”

    “Far, far beneath, the noise of tempests dieth,
    And silver waves chime ever peacefully
    And no rude storm, how fierce so’er it flieth
    Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.”

    “So to the heart that knows thy love, Oh Purest,
    There is a temple, sacred evermore,
    And all the babble of life’s voices
    Dies in hushed stillness at its peaceful door.”

    “Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
    And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
    And no rude storm, how fierce so’er it flieth,
    Disturbs the soul that dwells, on Lord in thee.”

    “Oh, rest of rests; oh peace serene, eternal;
    Thou ever liveth, and thou changest never,
    And in secret of thy presence dwelleth
    Fulness of Joy, forever and forever.”

    “Sit my brother more frequently at the feet of Jesus! – Imbible more earnestly his gentle and self-denying spirit! – Be more content with such things as ye have! –Hear, with deference, my favorite, practical apostle James – “Go to, now ye that say to-day or to-marrow, we will go into such a city and continue there a year and buy, sell and get gain, whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow – for what is your life? It is even as the vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.”

    There may come to each of us many tender or stirring reminiscences as we look once more upon this familiar, yet changed countenance. We shall have only loving sympathy and reverent admiration for this crushed yet brave heart that has for so many years been so strong and true; and, up to the very last moment, has not suffered herself to yield to sorrow or weariness or fear. We shall, with all our heart, commend to the God of the fatherless, each of those whether present or far away in a foreign land, who mourn in so large a grief. We shall not forget the wide circle of bereaved ones. And yet, more than usual, I think, does it become us to be admonished that whatever our position in life, our opportunities, our abilities, our physical strength, our promise of long life, the only wise, reasonable place for any man is near to the Lord Jesus, in sympathy with his spirit indirect effort to promote, in all things, his cause and Kingdom.

    “When the cloud was lifted up from over the tabernacle the sons of Israel set out in all their journeys, and if the cloud was not lifted up, then they did not set out till the day when it was lifted up.”

    God’s people now, as in olden time, are to walk in all things only as they have consciously his presence, and they are to look out of themselves up into the face of a personal God and an even present and helping and guiding Savior. And then, at the last, however much shadow and darkness there may seem to gather, “far, far beneath, there shall be peace – the peace of God.

After the singing of the beautiful hymn quoted in the sermon, the services closed, and the long procession was formed for the cemetery. We will not dwell upon this funeral pageant. Every livery and private team in the city was in line, and there were but few Muscatine homes not represented.

The ceremonies at the grave, were the funeral service read by the Pastor, and a hymn by the choir.

Shall we bedew this grave with our tears?

Weep? Yet wherefore – was’t not fitting
While He earth’s new robes put on –
Not forgetting tiniest leaflrt –
He should give unto his own,
Best beloved,
The white robe and starry crown?

Was’t not fitting, while so darkly
Dawned for him that stormy morn.
God should send His angel , whispering
Through the clouds and through the storm,
“Come up higher –
Here the tempests never coe.”

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