|Birth: ||Jan. 3, 1834|
County Wicklow, Ireland
|Death: ||Sep. 10, 1911|
St. Louis City
Edward Butler was the man behind the political machine in St. Louis for many years, in the late 19th century.
He was said to have been born in Ireland "in the Year of the Big Wind" which was 1839. His death certificate gave his birthdate as Jan 3, 1840, but there were other sources that differed with that. "The Book of St. Louisans" gave his birth year as 1838.
Update: His baptismal record has been located in Ireland. He was born Jan 3, 1834, and baptized 3 days later, at the Catholic Church in Rathdrum, Wicklow. His parents' address was given as "Garrymore."
There were a total of 5 children in this family, found in Rathdrum parish records. Baptismal dates were: Patt Butler March 19, 1820; Eliza Butler March 2, 1825; Catherine Butler Oct 11, 1830; Essy Butler April 15, 1832; and Edward Butler Jan 6, 1834.
Ed's sister Catherine was found in St. Louis, Missouri marriage records for St. Patrick's church, marriage to Daniel McCormack Nov 24, 1861. Edward was a witness.
His parents according to both his birth certificate and his death certificate were James Butler and Mary Coughlan who married on June 25, 1819, at the Catholic church in Rathdrum. The address given for James was Kilquade, and for Mary it was Garrymore. James the father may have come over to America, because there is an older man named James Butler, age 78, who died in 1866, who was buried in the same plot at Calvary as Ed.
Ed's occupation on his death cert. was recorded as Master Horse Shoer and Capitalist.
Ed Butler came to America as a young boy in his early teens, and lived in New York (one news article said Harlem which would have been the rural countryside in the mid 19th c.) where he learned the blacksmith and horse shoe trade. Ed eventually made his way to St. Louis where he was possibly spotted as early as the 1860 census working as a horse shoer. There was an Ed Butler recorded as age 26 that year in the census, so if that was him, he was a bit older than he should have been if his death certificate is accurate. (Yes, he would have been 26 that year, now we know, so that census record was most likely for him.)
A year or so later Ed married Ellen O'Neill on Oct 11, 1860 at St. John the Baptist in St. Louis, Missouri. They had a number of children over the years, including two whose graves at Calvary are listed on this site, James and Edward Jr. Another grave at Calvary is the one of their daughter Anastasia Linchey. Anastasia died at the age of 28 in 1896, a young wife to Peter Linchey, also buried in the large Butler gravesite.
"Boss Butler" as he was known, was written about extensively by Lincoln Steffens in muckraking articles of the time, because Col. Butler sent out his "Boodle Boys" (sometimes called "Butler's Indians") to influence the vote, and this became a national scandal.
Ed owned several horse shoe shops in St. Louis, and became a wealthy man over the years. His son Ed Jr. was quoted in the newspaper in about 1883 saying that ladies and the fire deparment would never wait a minute at the Butler shops to get their horses shoed. It was usually first come first served, except for the ladies and the fire department. The shops prided themselves on shoeing a horse in four minutes, and charged $2 a horse.
Boss Butler, though the subject of much political scandal during his career, had the largest funeral seen in St. Louis for many years, it was said in the newspapers of the time. He also had quietly helped many of the poor in St. Louis, which was not learned until after his death, when throngs lined the streets for his funeral procession. The crowd was estimated at 10,000.
He could perhaps be considered "Famous" for this website, but virtually no one today would know who he was.
As a side note, Ed's death certificate was signed, as most were in those days, by Max Starkloff, the coroner/medical examiner for the city of St. Louis. Max Starkloff was the brother of Irma Rombauer, who wrote one of the first of the great modern cookbooks, "The Joy of Cooking."
Ed Butler was in the horse business with Michael Butler (who was buried at St. Joseph's in Manchester, Mo.). They were once thought to be cousins by some in Michael's family, though perhaps they just knew each other from being in the same business, which does now seem to be the case, since their birth records have been located, and they did not come from the same Irish counties.
Ed Butler and Michael Butler jointly owned the Butler Stock Farm in Manchester, Mo., in the 1880s, boarding horses at Michael Butler's property, which Michael had bought from Ed's wife Ellen in 1884, and which remains in Michael's family to this day.
Ref: US census; St. Louis Post-Dispatch archives; Mo. death certificate; Irish church records.
James Butler (1788 - 1866)
Ellen O'Neill Butler (1840 - 1916)
James Joseph Butler (1862 - 1917)*
Katharine Butler Blackmore (1873 - 1928)*
Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum
St. Louis City
Plot: Lot 0210, Section 210
Created by: msand
Record added: Jan 27, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33300910
Added: Mar. 21, 2015
Added: Apr. 26, 2011