genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
GABRIEL C. BUTTS, the popular and efficient Postmaster of Pana, is an honored veteran of the late war, who entered the service as a valiant defender of the Union, and throughout the struggle was always found at his post of duty, guarding the Stars and Stripes.

He was born in New Philadelphia, Ohio, July 17, 1837, and is a son of Jacob and Mary (Cryder) Butts, the former a native of Pennsylvania, and the latter of Ohio. When a lad of eight years the father removed to the Buckeye State with his father, William Butts, formerly of Somerset County, Pa.

The mother of our subject died when he was eleven years old, and for about seven years he lived with an uncle near New Philadelphia.

Prompted by patriotic impulses, he enlisted July 26, 1861, as a member of Company G , Forty-first Illinois Infantry.

In 1850, he had accompanied his uncle to Bureau County, Ill., and after a year went to Ogle County, Ill. Three years later he went to Iowa, and in 1857 to Kansas, residing in Lawrence, Douglas County, for a time, and later in Coffey County. In 1860, he removed to Missouri.

During these various removals he lived with his father. In 1861, he returned to Illinois and settled on Buckeye Prairie, Christian County, where he remained until he entered the service. Three sons of the Butts family served in the war. While at Paducah, our subject was visited by his father, who then returned home and resided in Locust Township until his death, which occurred May 24, 1865, at the age of sixty-three. His second wife, whom he married in Virginia, is still living in Somerset County, Pa., and their daughter makes her home in the Old Dominion.

Dies Butts, the brother of our subject, served in the same company and regiment as Gabriel, and is now a teacher in Pana. Elisha, who had been a sailor in early life, enlisted in Philadelphia in the Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry, and served through the war. He had previously been in the regular army for three years on a man-of-war. He made his home in Christian County from 1865 until 1871, then removed to Nebraska, and is now living in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mr. Butts whose name heads this record enlisted at Taylorville, and joined the regiment which was organized at Decatur, with F. M. Long as Captain and Col. I. C. Pugh at the head of the troops. They were ordered to St. Louis, then to Bird s Point, and on to Paducah, which was then under the immediate command of Gen. Grant. In February, 1862, they went on the steamer "Minnehaha" to Ft. Henry, and the Forty-first Illinois was the first to open the battle at Ft. Donelson, where they lost about two hundred men. Proceeding to Pittsburg Landing, they were the first to set foot on that historic field. They became a part of the famous Fourth Division under Stephen A. Hulburt, and as such took part in the battle of Shiloh. They held the key to that battle, having been stationed at Peach Orchard, where charge after charge was repulsed. The Forty-first did good service in that terrible encounter,
and was in the last line of defense when the final charge was made by the enemy. Mr. Butts was wounded on the first day by a minie-ball, and by the aid of a comrade made his way to the rear. He was forced to remain in Savannah, Tenn., for four weeks, was then sent to the hospital in Quincy, Ill., for five weeks, and subsequently to Paducah. After an absence of four months, he rejoined his regiment at Memphis.

With his command, Mr. Butts then took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and while making a charge at Jackson, Miss., was captured by the enemy. He was incarcerated at Atlanta and Columbus, S. C., spent one day and night in Libby Prison, and was later sent to Belle Isle, remaining for one hundred days. He was then paroled and sent to City Point and Annapolis, and thence to Benton Barracks, Mo., where he was exchanged six months later. In the spring of 1864, he rejoined his regiment in Nashville, and took part in the Sherman campaign up to the time of the killing of Gen. McPherson, when his regiment was detailed to escort the remains back to Louisville, Ky. Our subject then went to Springfield, Ill., where he remained until mustered out, September 26, 1864, after three years and three months of service. He was detailed for special service at Vicksburg with the Fifth Ohio Battery, having charge of a twenty-six pound gun and two field pieces. He carried a one hundred and sixty-four pound shell to the gun, which was stationed upon a high elevation, about half a mile from the court house.

After his return home, Mr. Butts engaged in operating a threshing-machine, and in November, 1864, went to St. Louis, where he spent two years learning photography. He then spent some six months in Bureau County, Ill., after which he returned to Christian County, and in the succeeding fall located in Pana, where he entered a drug store as clerk. He was afterwards with Mr. Coyner, a druggist, and subsequently with Sumner, Brown & Co., of Nokomis, for a month, and then returned to Mr. Coyner, remaining with him until January 1, 1882, when he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, under the firm name of Butts & Shaffer.

Enos W. Shaffer died May 22, 1893, at the age of forty-two, but business is still carried on under the old name. Mr. Shaffer was born in Carlisle, Pa., and entered the drug store with Mr. Butts in 1882. He was a modest, unassuming man, highly respected, and was buried under the auspices of the Knights of Pythias Lodge, of which he was an honored member. He was quite popular and had a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

On the 30th of November, 1871, in Pana, our subject married Miss Leah, daughter of John Shaffer, a farmer and carpenter. She was born in Cumberland County, Pa., and by her marriage has become the mother of three sons: Claude, a druggist, who aids his father in the store; Freeman, who is clerking in the post office; and Benton, who is yet attending school. The family is one of prominence in the community and its members rank high in social circles.

On the 1st of March, 1890, Mr. Butts was appointed Postmaster of Pana, and has since served in that office with credit to himself and satisfaction to the community. He is a stanch Republican and an inflexible adherent of the principles of his party, doing all in his power to promote its growth and insure its success. He served eight years as Alderman and also as Town Clerk. He holds membership with the Grand Army Post of Pana. Prominent in business circles, he is honored by all as a man of sterling worth and strict integrity. His faithful service during the late war has been followed by faithful performance of duty during his official career, and it is said of Mr. Butts that he is true to every public and private trust.


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