New York, USA
|Death: ||Jul. 9, 1866|
Born in New York, the son of William and Chriscilda Smith Butts. He was named for his paternal Grandfather Capt. Simeon Butts. Around 1836 he moved with his family to Branch County, MI where he grew up.
Simeon married Lettisa A. Kellam July 2, 1854 in Branch County. She was the daughter of Ephraim and Rebecca W. Morgan Kellam. They had four children: Anna M., Adelaide, Frederick and Virginia.
During the Civil War, he joined the Union Army. Enlisted in Company D, 11th Infantry Regiment, Michigan on August 15, 1862. He then transferred to the 12th US Regiment, Company A, Veteran Reserve Corps. as a 2nd Lieut. and he was made Brevet Captain March 13, 1865. He suffered several bouts of pneumonia during his service. After the war, he was assigned to the Freedmen's Bureau in the Winn Parish area. He was brutally killed by the Nightriders for the payroll money he was carrying. The place he was shot in Winn Parish is still referred to as Yankee Springs. A church and cemetery were later established nearby.
His medical records show that he was born in Shelby, NY, was 5' 10" tall, blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion.
Capt. James McCleery reported to the Freedmen's Bureau in 1866 that he had tried to get Lieut. Butts' body and give it a decent burial and marker, but he was alone and the local citizens were afraid to help.
The Ouachita Telegraph (Monroe, LA)
September 13, 1866
Page 2, Column 4
We learn from a letter from Hon. E.E. Kidd, of Jackson parish, published in the North Louisianian, that recently a dead body was found in Winn parish which answers pretty well to the description of Lieut. Butts, who, it has been alleged, was killed in Jackson parish. Lieut. Butts had gone to Natchitoches, it seems, aided with money and means by some of the best citizens of Jackson; and upon his return through a country notoriously infested with Confederate deserters who espoused the strong side when they saw the Confederacy waning, he is supposed to have been foully murdered for his horse, a very fine one, and his money. Not only Jackson and Winn parishes disown such characters, but every community abhors them, and has reason to dread them as they prey upon all alike. Our people do not travel through these infested districts alone; but Lieut. Butts presuming too far on the protection which he thought his uniform would afford, has doubtless pain the penalty of his recklessness with the forfeiture of his life. He is represented to have been a good officer and had the people's confidence, which in these corrupt times renders his loss a greater affliction to the people he served than to those who will moan loudest over his fate.
Four years later, the Nightriders were wiped out and another article cleared up the mystery:
The Ouachita Telegraph (Monroe, LA)
Saturday, May 28, 1870
Page 2, Column 1
[Excerpt from article headlined, Mystery and Retribution in Winn Parish]
Among these victims, it now turns out, was a Lieutenant Butts of the Federal army, whose unaccountable disappearance in 1866, while en route from Natchitoches to Vernon where he was detailed as a Bureau agent, excited at the time the virtuous indignation of the people of Jackson parish, and was the cause of calumny in Northern prints upon the reputation of that people, the New York Tribune taking the lead in the work of denunciation. Mrs. West and a man named Dean, one of West's accomplices, now clear up the mystery of the Lieutenant's death. He was killed by West not far from the Saline Mills in Winn parish. Information had been conveyed to West that the Lieutenant had drawn $2,700 at Natchitoches, and this sum West desired to obtain and did obtain from the Lieutenant's person after his murder. West, Dean and another man [NOTE: rumor and legend have said that Laws and Bill Kimbrel may have been involved.] overtook Butts on the road, and to allay suspicion told him they were hunting cattle. Riding on, they came to a point near where there is a fine spring. Butts was induced to turn off to the spring to get some water. — While drinking from the spring, West deliberately shot the unsuspecting man through the head. His bones were some time after discovered, but until now the manner of his death was a profound mystery.
Two books have been written about the Nightriders, each with a chapter detailing Lieut. Butts' death: Nightriders: Inside Story of the West and Kimbrell Clan by Richard Briley III, c. 1963, and the more recent The Nightrider Chronicles by Jack Peebles, c. 2005.
William Butts (1808 - 1853)
Chriscilda Smith Butts (____ - 1890)
Lettisa A. Kellam Amidon (1840 - 1917)*
Anna Mary Butts Crawford (1859 - 1937)*
Adelaide E Blass (1861 - 1930)*
Frederick William Butts (1862 - 1930)*
Virginia Butts Leonard (1865 - 1897)*
Note: He is not buried in the actual cemetery, but across the road from the church, buried where he was found. The exact spot is lost to history.
Yankee Springs Cemetery
Created by: Lora Peppers
Record added: Nov 02, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 61031065