Skip to main content

Weston Wagons West - Ep. W8 - Roger Weston followed career of Percival Butler

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Adjutant General Pierce Butler of Kentucky

Percival (Pierce) Butler

Percival (Pierce) Butler

Pierce Butler was the fourth of the Butler brothers

Pierce (given name Percival) Butler was born to Thomas and Eleanor Butler in Carlisle, PA, in April of 1760. This was the same month and place that Roger Weston married Polly Armstrong. On the 1st of September, 1777, Pierce Butler, when he was aged seventeen years and five months, was commissioned First Lieutenant in Colonel Thomas Craig's Regiment of the Third Pennsylvania. His older brothers, Richard and Thomas, also served in this regiment. He served in all action of this regiment throughout the war. He was at the siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown, his regiment was one of the battalions held in reserve at the storming of the redoubts that assured the fall of Cornwallis. At the close of the war, he was brevetted Captain.

After the close of the war, Butler went to Kentucky on business for the government. When the army was reduced, in 1785, he remained in what became Jessamine County as a planter. Many Virginians were crossing the mountains to settle there after the war. Percival (Pierce) Butler married Mildred Hawkins (a direct descendant of Sir John Hawkins), of Lexington, KY, on April 30, 1786.

When Pierce Butler described the opportunities he saw in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in letters to Roger Weston and his family, it sparked great interest in Roger's second son, John, who had reached age 21 early in 1785. In the summer of 1786 John Weston made the move to Jessamine County, Kentucky, himself, to seek his own way in the world, as his ancestors had done before him. He left it to his younger brother, Lewis, to continue to work with his father, Roger, in Carlisle.

Carrollton was originally Port William

Modern downtown Carrollton, Kentucky, with Ohio River Valley in background

Modern downtown Carrollton, Kentucky, with Ohio River Valley in background

Changes came in Kentucky to the Butlers and the Westons

Pierce Butler found early success as a planter and merchant in the settlement at the mouth of Hickman Creek, in Jessamine County, as the area grew. He and Mildred became parents of a daughter, that they named Eleanor after his mother, in May of 1787. Their first son, Thomas Langford Butler, was born there in April, 1789. Their third child, a second son they named William Orlando Butler, was born in April 1791. On June 1st of 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state of the United States. Later that year, in September, RIchard Parker Butler was born as the 4th child of Pierce and Mildred Butler. Isaac Shelby, a military veteran from Virginia was elected the first governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The fifth child of Pierce and Mildred, another son they named Percival (Pierce) Butler, was born in October of 1794. Their sixth child was a girl then named Frances Maria Butler, was born in April 1796, just before they moved to Port Williams

John Weston was quickly able to establish his farrier and blacksmith business in Jessamine County with the influx of new settlers and the rapid growth of the economy as statehood approached. In June of 1788, he married Jane Fairfax, part of a family who had moved in from Virginia the year before. Their first son, Adam Weston, was born in March of 1791, just a month before William Orlando Butler. As Governor Shelby set about making appointments to get the government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky organized, he appointed Percival (Pierce) Butler as the first Adjutant General of the state with the rank of Colonel, and as a military aide.

Serving as Adjutant General, Butler organized the Kentucky command for General Anthony Wayne's successful campaign against the Indians in 1794, as well as other campaigns in the Northwest Territory. This continued into the War of 1812 period.

In 1796, Butler moved his wife and six children to Port William, where the Kentucky river entered the Ohio River to enhance his business opportunities. They also added five more children to their family there. John Weston, along with his wife, Jane, and their five-year-old son, Adam, decided to make the move, as well, and established his business at Port William (later Carrollton).

William got his education at Transylvania in Lexington

Transylvania Lawn on campus of Transylvania University, founded in 1780

Transylvania Lawn on campus of Transylvania University, founded in 1780

William Orlando Butler exhibited strong characteristics, including leadership, at an early age

Because young Adam Weston was always at this father's side as he was growing up, and learning his farrier and blacksmithing trade, he was familiar with both Pierce Butler, the father, and William Orland Butler, the son, who was about the same age as Adam. They were not of the same social or economic class, of course. Being America, "class" was not a formal designation, of course, but economics still made a difference. Adam and his father, John, were of the middle, working class. William, and his father, were of the affluent and politically connected class. As Adam pursued his skills development, William was sent off to Transylvania College, at Lexington, and received "the rudiments of his superb education" (it was later written).

At age 21, William Orlando Butler, in 1812, chose law as his profession. He began reading Coke and Blackstone with Robert Wickliffe in Lexington. When news of the outbreak of the War of 1812 reached Lexington, Butler immediately volunteered for service and and enlisted in Captain Hart's Company of volunteers. His father, Adjutant General Butler, reviewed the troops on parade. Seeing his gallant son in the ranks, the old soldier stopped, tapped the youth (destined for great renown) on the shoulder and said, "Young man, you have room for promotion." Respectfully, but firmly, he is said to have replied, "Yes, sir, and I mean to get it."

[Major General William Orlando Butler would become commander-in-chief of the American forces at the end of the Mexican War as well as the democratic nominee for Vice-President of the United States - grounds for future stories in this series.]

Back in Port Williams (later renamed Carrollton), Pierce Butler had been elected unanimously as Clerk of Gallatin County. He split his time between his duties as Adjutant General, Clerk and his business interests, as was not uncommon in those days. In 1816, the legislature passed a law requiring the Adjutant General to reside in the state capital. In response, Butler resigned, remained on his plantation near Port Williams, and served as County Clerk until his death in September of 1821.

Historical note by the author

As with prior Weston Wagon West episodes, all members of the Weston family, their spouses and children, are fictional. All other characters and places are based on actual historical figures and places, used fictionally while retaining their historical detail as closely as feasible based on known historical records. For example, the author is a 2nd Cousin, 4 times (generations) removed of William Orlando Butler.

Much of the detail of the Butler family in this episode relied on the 1904 book, "The Butler Family in America," complied by William David Butler of St. Louis, MO, John Cromwell Butler, late of Denver, CO, and Joseph Marion Butler, of Chicago, IL. Other material was drawn from Wikipedia articles and extended family history and genealogy research of the author, supported by his wife, and other family contributors.

Related Articles