From Soldier to Settler: Processing the Butler correspondence subseries 1759-1854

Wilkes University Archives is excited to share that Conrad Middleton, a Sophomore History major with a focus on Public History and Digital History, has transcribed and described the Butler Correspondence, 1759-1854, subseries. Conrad hopes to do archival work in the future.

This processed and digitized subseries can be found on our Archivesspace catalog found here.

Below is Conrad’s blog post on the subseries.

The Butler Correspondence subseries contains correspondence and other various documents which relate to various Butler families in the United States. The collection mostly consists of items centered around Zebulon Butler, showcasing his impact on the Revolutionary War, Susquehanna Controversy, and the settling of Wilkes-Barre; however the collection also contains items pertaining to Zebulon’s children and grandchildren, especially former Pennsylvania House of Representative member, Chester Pierce Butler, and Zebulon’s grandson from his oldest son, Lord Nelson Butler Sr.

These materials were donated to Wilkes after the death of Gilbert Stuart McClintock in 1959. This subseries seems to stand out in comparison to the rest of the McClintock materials however, as he must have held a very close personal relationship with it, more specifically with Chester Pierce Butler, who was his step-great-grandfather. Although we are unable to determine the collecting decisions of Gilbert Stuart McClintock, it is very likely that his interest in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area was sparked by his ancestral roots in the Butler family. This would explain why there are so many documents related to the figure within our possession. Below is a family tree showing how McClintock was related to Chester Pierce Butler.

When researching the materials within this collection, it is very beneficial to have an understanding of Zebulon Butler, and why he is considered to be an important figure in Wyoming Valley history. One of the best sources of information on the figure is his biography written by James Williamson and Linda Fossler, Zebulon Butler: Hero of the Revolutionary Frontier. This book in particular played an integral role in my own research on the figure and it will be referenced fairly often within this blog post. 

Zebulon Butler was born on January 23, 1731 in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and was the oldest son of his parents, John and Hannah Perkins Butler. The youth of the figure was mostly inconsequential, as his parents were relatively successful farmers and real estate holders. What is important is that he moved to Connecticut at a very young age, and that he received a high level of education, as Butler likely had some form of private schooling demonstrated by his exceptional penmanship for the time.

It is very easy to see how well educated Butler was in this area just by examining correspondence between him and his allies. Take for example these two segments of transcriptions of pieces from our collection; the first is from William Stewart, and the second is by the hand of Zebulon Butler.

“I could not gat [sic] aney [sic] for love or money to go up. (I thought it Best to gat [sic] the flour on the Way Befour [sic] I left these parts which was not in my power till this Day to gat [sic] it to the River, and then go myself if I could not gat [sic] one). I shall set off tow [sic] small Boats Loadet [sic] with flour a tusday [sic] morning for Wyoming, you will plese [sic] to send sume [sic] men to meat [sic] them at mountgumarys please as I dont no that the Boatmen will like to go all the way the 9th or 10th of this mounth [sic] I shall have one Boat Load Redey [sic] if I can gat [sic] men to Taek [sic] it up and perhaps sume [sic] Whiskey. I shall Sit you By the Boatmen.”

A letter within our collection written by Zebulon Butler to the Board of War on July 10, 1778. This letter is a perfect example of the sheer skills that Butler had in writing and grammar when compared to Stewart, who likely did not receive a similar level of education.

“The Inhabitants had seven Forts, extending about Few miles on the river, for the security of their women & children and too many men would stay in them to care for them; but after collecting about three Hundred of the most spirited militia including Capt Hewitt company I held a council with the Officers who were all agree it was best to attack the enemy before they got any further. We accordingly marched found their situation -formed a front of the same extension of the enemy’s and attacked from right to left at the same time. Our men stood the fire well for three or four shots tile some part of the enemy gave way, but unfortunately for us through some mistake the word retreat was understood from some offices on the left which take so quick that it was not in the power of the Officers to form them again, though I believe if they have stood three minutes longer the enemy would have been beaten.”

Zebulon Butler began his adulthood and working life in navigation and surveying before moving towards a career in the military which began with his service in the French and Indian War. The most notable aspect of his service in this war is how quickly he rose through the ranks; within a two year period he was promoted from a simple ensign to captain. We do not hold many pieces related to this period of Butler’s life, however we do hold a payroll of a regiment that he controlled in 1759 which shows the progression of his career.

The above item is a photostat of a payroll within the collection addressed to Zebulon Butler’s Company, 1759. During this time Butler controlled the Fourth Continental Regiment, with this document showing that during this time, just two years after his enlisting, he had already reached the rank of Captain. The original document is no longer in our possession as it was donated to the Connecticut Historical Society in 1958.

The only other notable aspect of Butler’s service in the French and Indian War is the way that it ended. On August 13, 1762, Butler participated in a siege of Havana which resulted in the British taking a mass amount of gold and silver bullion from the city which was valued at £637,184 pounds. This money was very unevenly distributed among those involved in the siege, and according to Historians Williamson and Fossler upon receiving his “prize money,” Butler returned home and was discharged from active duty only a day after his arrival.

Several years after the war ended, Butler began playing his role in what is commonly known as the Pennamite–Yankee Wars or Yankee–Pennamite Wars; however for simplicity’s sake these events will be referred to as the Susquehanna Controversy from this point onwards. The conflict which spanned throughout the second half of the eighteenth century was at its heart centered around how Connecticut claimed to own an entire third of Pennsylvania. 

The area was particularly important to the Susquehanna Company. The company was an organization that was formed by Connecticut settlers in 1753 with the intention of settling the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania. The controversy with this organization is ultimately centered around the Wyoming Valley, as the Company had acquired the land from an Iroquois delegation in 1754, claiming it for Connecticut. Butler was deeply tied to the company and its controversy, even becoming the director of it in the 1770’s.

In 1769, Butler cemented himself into Wyoming Valley history by leading a group of Connecticut settlers into the area, serving as their leader for a large portion of his life and an equally large portion of the Susquehanna Controversy. Butler was an adamant supporter of Connecticut during these events, representing the state throughout his life despite living in what we would now consider Pennsylvania. This part of Butler’s life is not a focus of the collection however; for those who are looking for further information on this topic, especially in relation to Butler, it can be found here at the Wilkes University Archives in its own separate collection, Subseries II: Susquehanna Controversy.

This image sourced from Wikimedia demonstrates the land dispute between PA and CT which was at the heart of the Susquehanna Controversy. Accessed March 21, 2022

Despite the collection’s lack of coverage of this period in Zebulon’s life, it is important to note some of his major life events occurred during this time. Butler played a part in the first Pennamite War (1769–1771), as he was involved in the Pennamite surrender at Fort Wyoming in 1771, one of the final events in the war. After their surrender, Butler took control of the settlement, directing, expanding, and defending it. Butler’s life continued like this until the beginning of the Revolutionary War. While the Patriots were fighting the British for independence, the conflict between Pennamites and Connecticut settlers continued when the Second Pennamite War began in 1774. The end of this war would eventually lead to one of the valley’s most infamous events, intersecting with Butler’s service during the Revolution: the Battle of Wyoming.

“Disastre de Vioming,” originally painted by possibly Hendrick Van der Burgh (1769-1858) or his son, Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879), who were both Dutch landscape painters. Engraved by Lemaitre, date unknown, found within the McClintock collection.

The collection holds a truly exceptional item written by Zebulon Butler on July 10, 1778. Those who are familiar with the major historical events of the Wyoming Valley may notice that this letter was written exactly one week after the Battle of Wyoming, popularly referred to as the Wyoming Massacre. Addressed to the “Board of War,” the letter is a retelling of the events which unfolded on that fateful day. It is extremely interesting to compare his understanding of the details of the battle to modern understanding, as with hindsight we are able to see that it was much worse than what he thought. 

An image of the letter which is being described above

In the letter, Zebulon states “…in the whole about two hundred men lost their lives …on our side what number of the enemy is yet uncertain though I believe my men intimidated the Inhabitants.” Unfortunately this is not the case, as a modern understanding of how many casualties were suffered on Zebulon’s side estimates numbers closer to 350. At the time, Zebulon stated, “I believe my men intimidated the Inhabitants,” however this most likely was not the case as the Loyalists and Iriquois on the opposing side reportedly only lost three men; two Loyalists, and one Iriquois. 

A zoomed in section of the passage described above, although it may be rather difficult to read.

On the topic of the Wyoming Massacre, now would be the best time to address the figure who led the opposition during this battle; John Butler. This Butler, not to be confused with Zebulon’s father of the same name, ironically led the opposing Pennamite Loyalists during this battle; it seems that John holds no relation to Zebulon. This deserves to be mentioned not only because of the irony which surrounds this situation, but also because it seems as if the collection holds an item which surrounds the figure.

A portrait of John Butler sourced from the U.S. National Park Service. Accessed March 22, 2022
A letter within the collection written by Captain Calville written on April 17, 1781 which is addressed to Captain Brant.

This item stood out to me while I was processing the collection because it did not seem to correlate to any of the figures or themes which were common throughout the rest of the documents from the time, and upon doing research on the figures referenced within the letter it became apparent why this was the case: almost everyone involved with the letter was a Loyalist. 

Starting off, the Captain Brant that the letter is addressed to is likely none other than Joseph Brant, also known by his Indian name Thayendanegea. Brant, an Anglican church convert and Loyalist, was a crucial figure in the Revolutionary War due to him leading two thirds of the Iroquois nations against the Patriots. An example of the power that he wielded can be seen quite easily through the Battle of Oriskany which occurred on August 6, 1777, where Brant commanded his Iroquois forces alongside John Butler and his troops against the Patriots, with the resulting battle going down in history as one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution.

A painting of Joseph Brant, sourced from the National Gallery of Canada, which was created by George Romney in 1776, very close to the Battle of Oriskany. Accessed March 22, 2022

Continuing with this theme, the letter contains the name “Sir. John”. This is in reference to Sir. John Johnson, another Loyalist which played a militaristic role in the battles of the Revolution. The thing that stands out about this figure is that he also served as one of the leaders of the Loyalists in the Battle of Oriskany right alongside Brant and John Butler.

An image of Sir John Johnson sourced from Battlefields. Accessed March 22, 2022

Upon researching the two above figures, it became glaringly apparent that the Butler referenced in this letter is not Zebulon, but John Butler. The first name of the Col. Butler referenced in the letter is never explicitly mentioned, and the added context of the shared relationship between John Butler, Sir. John Johnson, and Joseph Brant leads me to believe without a doubt in my mind it is about John Butler.

The collection contains many manuscripts that reveal Butler’s role during the American Revolution, spanning from 1777 until his resignation in 1783. Butler served as a Colonel during the war, and it is through these pieces that we are able to see his regiment’s struggles and have some amazing primary descriptions of several battles and major events which unfolded here in the Wyoming Valley.

Unfortunately, the war did not have a good start for Butler and the people underneath him, as one of the very first major events to cross their paths was the Battle of Wyoming. After this event life never became easier due the conditions that Zebulon Butler and the Wyoming Garrison placed under; after reading through the correspondence from the collection, it is very apparent that this was a period in his life characterized by struggles. For the majority of the war, Butler was in command of the Wyoming Garrison, specifically as a provisions supplier. The collection contains many pieces which provide firsthand accounts of the struggles that the people who were situated in this location underwent. 

Other than the Battle of Wyoming, Zebulon Butler also played a role in a number of other moments in the Revolution which are worth noting. According to Williamson and Fossler’s biography of Zebulon Butler, one of these was the Hartley Expedition of 1778, an expedition which covered the west portion of the Susquehanna River against the Iroquois. Following this, Butler took part in the Sullivan Expedition which was ordered by George Washington. This was yet another campaign which focused on inflicting damage to the Iroquois adversaries of the Patriots. After this campaign ended, Butler returned to Wyoming, resuming the defense of the garrison. 

This map, sourced from Long House, depicts the route taken on the Sullivan Expedition by Butler. The expedition did not last very long, spanning from June of 1779 to October of the same year.

Conflict with the Natives was a fear that had been constantly growing for Wyoming Valley settlers since before the Revolutionary War. Frontier life in Pennsylvania during the 18th century was  brutal due to violent attacks that occurred between indigenous groups and the settlers. In quite a few cases however, the instigator would be settler, ultimately tainting their relationships and leading to fears like those in the Wyoming settlement. Take for example the Paxton controversy, an event from 1763 to 1764 in which a group of settlers from Paxton, Pennsylvania murdered several unarmed neighboring Indians. In other cases, historian David L. Preston places the blame for growing tensions on a feeling of betrayal sparked by the Seven Years War, and exacerbated by Pontiac’s War (1763-1764) and the American Revolution.

The earliest account of troubles with Native Americans can be found within the item below, dated June 10, 1778. The letter by Massachusetts House of Representatives member Joseph Bradley Varnum seems to be in response to another letter sent by Zebulon Butler concerning troubles with Native Americans.

A letter within the collection written by Joseph Bradley Varnum to Zebulon Butler on June 10, 1778.
“It gives me great Pain to find that the Indians and others are so troublesome to your settlement. I have applied to his Excellency frequently upon the subject.”

We also have pieces in the collection written by Zebulon Butler which describe these troubles in more detail.

A letter within the collection sent by Zebulon Butler to George Washington on April 2, 1780

In the above letter, Butler describes seven men under his command that were kidnapped and another four were killed by a local tribe within the span of just a few days. 

 “ … on the 27 March on Three men were at work about three miles above the Garrison by the River they were taken on the 28 early in the morning as two men were marching shugar (sic) about Eight miles down the River one was killed and the other Taken on the 29 Early in the Morning about twenty miles further Down on Fishing Creek three men were killed and three Taken on the same Day in the afternoon.” 

Zebulon Butler eventually discovers the location of the Natives, and confiscates their weapons including “Indian guns” and tomahawks. The letter ends by Butler stating to Washington that he “Will be abel (sic) to judge what is Necessary for the Defence of the Frontiers in these parts…”

Through examining these letters, it is quite easy to see the unrelenting violence between Patriot settlers and indigenous peoples in the Wyoming Valley during the 18th century. Constant raids and attacks on their settlement caused Butler and his men to consistently face supply and ration issues. There are many letters in the collection which reveal Zebulon Butler’s dire need for flour and other supplies for his soldiers and settlers. 

A letter within the collection written by Zebulon Butler on December 18, 1780 to the “President of the Board of War”. Although not noted by name, at this point in time the letter would have been received by General Horatio Lloyd Gates.

In the above item we are able to see that this lack of food was not exclusive to the men who served under Butler, but also the settlers protected by them, and even animals. The letter speaks of a shortage of supplies from beginning to end, describing the basic necessities which they require.

This section of the letter shows how a lack of supplies was not purely caused by natural use, but also through robbery. The section above reads,

 “A Party came on some Familys [sic] that had moved out about four miles from the garrison took seven men left the women and children Unhurt Rob’d them only of necessary provisions and clothing to take them along this was Done without the Fiering [sic] of a gun”

The section following this part of the letter describes a dire need of food for their horses, as Zebulon begins with, “we can get no forage for the few continental horses that are hear [sic] which is all the expense that the Publick [sic] has to pay for…”. For those unfamiliar, the word forage can be used to describe a type of bulky grass which is used to feed certain livestock including horses. Within the letter, Butler speaks about how they need forage for their horses, describing how inexpensive it is:  “Forrage [sic] can be Purchased at as cheep a rate as any Place and much larger quantyties [sic] than what is wanted.” The repeated use of “forage” in this letter demonstrates how crucial it was that they receive a supply of it.

Hunger and lack of supplies was a common topic in letters sent by Butler during this period of time. Butler must not have felt that his requests for provisions were taken seriously, as over the course of time, we are able to see a progression of him corresponding with someone higher and higher in rank as time passed by. Initially, he wrote letters to William Stewart, the hired overseer at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and he eventually wrote one final letter directly to General George Washington which seemed to solve his issues. 

A section of a letter within the collection written by Zebulon Butler on January 22, 1781 addressed to the Board of War.

The above section of this item is a great example of how hunger particularly affected Butler’s men, as Butler states “I wish it could be done that the Troops mite [sic] march without Grumbling.”

A letter within the collection written by Zebulon Butler on February 24, 1781 addressed to George Washington.

“Captain Mitchell on the 22d of January 1781 Immediately sent to Philadelphia for clothing for the soldiers, urging the Nessity [sic] of their Being Supplied Quick, as it was Impossible for them to March without those…it was not in my Power to have them March, sonner and now they march without Blankets”

This item is the final one within the collection which speaks of needed supplies. There is a reason for this which can be seen through a letter contained in a separate subseries.

An Image of a letter written by George Washington to Zebulon Butler on December 29, 1780. The item can be found within the Presidents of the United States subseries, 1777-1959, 1986-2002.

Although not contained within the Butler subseries, we have a letter within the Presidents of the United States subseries from General George Washington which orders Butler and his troops to leave due to rising tensions between the people of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. In the letter Washington explains that he is replacing Butler’s Wyoming Garrison with troops from the Continental Army, who were “not belonging to the line of Pennsylvania or Connecticut or Citizens of either of the Said States” in order to remain unbiased during these land conflicts. 

This was not the only reason however, as Butler’s persistent correspondence regarding supplies began to irritate people. On December 18, 1780, Butler wrote to Colonial Blaine, 

“[I sent] A letter to Colo Hunter to know if his orders Continued in Force Respecting Stopping Provisions coming to this Post he informed me they did but if I could Produce him an order from Congress it would be his safety for Letting it pass.”

According to Historians Williamson and Fossler, this letter ultimately would lead to supplies being sent to Wyoming, however it would also result in Washington sending the above letter to Butler, ultimately relieving him from the post. Butler was removed from this post partially because he was becoming a nuisance to the Continental Congress.

Although the Revolutionary War did not officially end in 1781, it was solidified that the Patriots had succeeded in their mission for independence through the Siege of Yorktown, the final battle of the Revolution which occurred that year. During this period of time, Zebulon Butler was away from Wilkes-Barre by the order of General Washington. According to Historians Williamson and Fossler, Butler and his men were stationed along the Hudson River on the Connecticut Line as he took command of the 4th Regiment of the Connecticut Line.

Butler would not return to his home in Wilkes-Barre until March 24, 1783, almost immediately retiring less than a month after on June 3, 1783. 

An image of the Zebulon Butler House sourced from the Times Leader. Accessed March 29, 2022

Butler’s house is still standing to this very day in Wilkes-Barre, known as the oldest building in the city, as it was originally constructed in 1773. The above image is not exactly what it would have looked like during Zebulon’s lifetime however, as his son Lord Butler worked on the foundation set by his father after his death to create what can be seen today, obviously without the modern amenities.

An item within the collection written by Capt. William Judd on September 15, 1783 to Zebulon Butler.

The above letter is the first item within the collection which was created after the official end of the Revolutionary War, marked by the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It begins by referencing some prominent military and political figures in the area; Mr. Gere, the Commander of the Upper Wilkes-Barre Company during the Battle of Wyoming, Colonel Eliphalet Dyer, and Colonel Jesse Root. All three figures were notable military figures throughout the Revolution, making the beginning of the letter seem as if it may be somewhat military related at a first glance, however the letter immediately transitions into discussing the Susquehanna Company, albeit nothing too notable. The inclusion of these names makes a lot of sense in reference to the company as they were all involved somewhat with it. Col. Dyer was especially crucial to Susquehanna Company, as he was a leading member of it since its creation in 1753. 

The most notable aspect of the letter has to be how truly close to the end of the Revolutionary War it was when it was written, as it shows a literal immediate switch to matters concerning the Susquehanna Company.

The next few chronological items within the collection begin only a few weeks after the previous letter, showing resistance from the people of Pennsylvania to the Susquehanna Company, and ultimately the beginnings of the Third Pennamite War. 

According to Historians Williamson and Fossler, these troubles had been brewing in the summer of 1783, as the Pennamites had begun harassing the local settlers from Connecticut. Upon his return in the autumn of that same year, Zebulon Butler reacted immediately against this harassment, protesting against the oppressive measures that the Pennamite soldiers took. This leads into the following item within our collection, a letter which describes the Pennamite reaction to his protests.

An item within the collection written by Zebulon Butler on October 4, 1783 addressed to Colonals Root and Dyer.

In this letter Butler discusses a very interesting turn of events, as he was arrested at his home in the Wyoming Valley on accounts of “treason against the state.” 

“Yours of the 12th Sept I Recd yesterday I was a Prisoner … when the Letter came I was taken on A writ for Treason against the state…”

The letter then goes on to describe how he was released from the jail to his house on the caveat that he would return to court. Somewhat humorously, the letter immediately moves into how Butler was arrested once again the second that he returned home.

“Immediately on my Arrival at Home I was taken by an under Sheriff for the same thing and the Sheriff is now waiting to take me Away.”

Butler would ultimately be released again after a short amount of time, and as indicated in Williamson and Fossler’s biography of Zebulon Butler, he was released on a whopping bail of 5,000 pounds, the equivalent of almost two and a half million USD today. This would not be the final arrest under his name however as he would be arrested yet again in November of that same year.

The next few letters in the collection follow this series of events within this controversial period of Butler’s life and the ongoing conflicts that arose between the Pennsylvanians and Connecticut settlers. It was around this time in 1784 that the Third Pennamite War began as the Pennsylvanians sought to force the settlers from Connecticut from their land. 

This was far from peaceful. According to Historians Williamson and Fossler, the Pennamites were extremely violent in their methods, forcefully arresting and subsequently ejecting settlers from their homes, many of whom were elderly.

A letter within the collection written by Zebulon Butler on January 4, 1784 addressed to Daniel Montgomery, a Northumberland County Elected Censor.

The above letter describes the condition of the Settlement after constant harassment from the Pennamites, resulting in Zebulon’s house being used as a makeshift hospital, showing the unfortunate situation that settlers of the area were placed into. Based on the content of the rest of the letter, it seems as if the events that unfolded came at one of the worst times possible for Butler, as he describes an extreme sickness suffered by his wife Phoebe; a sickness so powerful that he speaks as if she will die.

“Mrs. Butler was extremely sick and I had 20 soldiers 2 women & 2 children force into my House to Quarter [Injuries] and tears would have no effect there she must Dye [sic] with their noise and tumult if I had not taken this step.”

The above passage just creates this incredibly dismal image of life during this short period of time, as what Butler must have believed was his dying wife laid within their house, suffering, as this mass group of people surrounding her shared this common feeling of pain and sadness. Phoebe did not in fact die from this sickness however, and she would end up outliving her husband by almost 40 years, passing away in 1832. As for the people involved in the conflict, besides those cooped up in Butler’s residency the letter also describes that over 100 settlers were arrested and placed in Sunbury Jail.

For those interested in finding more information and primary sources on this aspect of the Wyoming Valley’s history, there is an entire subseries entirely dedicated to documenting events such as these, Subseries II: Susquehanna Controversy. Another absolutely phenomenal source regarding these events is the biography of Zebulon Butler which was written by Historians James R. Williamson and Linda A. Fossler, Zebulon Butler Hero of the Revolutionary Frontier. The book contains an extremely comprehensive description of the events which occurred during the Susquehanna Controversy, and has proved to be an invaluable source when doing research on the figure.

The final few items within the Zebulon Butler correspondence section of this collection which span from 1785 to 1789 are mostly inconsequential, however when viewed as a whole they provide us a look into what the final years before his retirement consisted of. Subject wise, the items concern topics including some further legal charges against Butler in 1786, politics surrounding the Susquehanna Claim and the Susquehanna Controversy, owed finances surrounding the Revolutionary War, and general correspondence between him and the settlers of Wyoming. 

The theme of owed dues from the Revolutionary War would continue even after his death, since as mentioned in the beginning of this post, the collection is not entirely made up of correspondence surrounding Zebulon Butler, it also has a section pertaining to his family.

This speech was given by John Jay, United States statesman and chief justice, sometime after the death of Zebulon in response to a petition made by Phoebe Butler which requested for Zebulon Butler’s family to be paid the wages due to him from the Revolutionary War. The most important takeaway from the speech is that Jay acknowledges the awful conditions that the Butler family had to endure throughout the war.

”The destitute situation in which she was apt with her family, and the privations which she and they endured, were proof too strong to be forgotten that those resources were nearly exhausted”

According to Williamson and Fossler, the end of Butler’s eventful and chaotic life came to a relatively peaceful end. In April of 1792 he had ordered the construction of a house along Coal Brook in Lackawanna County, a location which he would reside in with his family until his death on July 28, 1795. Butler would spend his remaining years at this property developing the land, only staying somewhat active in the public affairs of the time.

Despite Zebulon taking a backseat in local politics near the end of his life, his son, Lord Butler, certainly took up the role. Lord very quickly became one of the most respected and influential figures in Wilkes Barre during his life; becoming the first sheriff of Luzerne County, the first Postmaster of Wilkes Barre, the treasurer and county commissioner of Luzerne County, as well as a plethora of other roles in the area before taking a seat in the State Legislature. The Butler collection holds a number of items related to Lord such as one seen below which speaks about general finances.

A letter from Lord Butler to Ebenezar Bowman written on March 7, 1793.

The life of Zebulon Butler is cemented into the history of the Wyoming Valley and the Revolutionary War. Through his time as a soldier, a settler, and a public servant it is hard to ignore his impact. During his life, Butler proved to be a man who put his settlers and troops first, constantly vouching to improve their living conditions and lives, and the settlement which blossomed under his supervision set the foundations for the city which our University stands on today. The items which I have highlighted here are only a relatively small portion of the items pertaining to the figure, not only in this subseries, but the several others which include works by his hand. This subseries primarily focuses on his role in the American Revolution, however more information on his life can be found in Subseries II: Susquehanna Controversy, as well in Subseries I: Wilkes Barre Wyoming Valley Luzerne County. For anyone who is relatively interested in the history of the area, I implore you to take a peek into his life and this collection, as it becomes immediately obvious that you cannot separate Zebulon Butler from Wyoming Valley history.

One thought on “From Soldier to Settler: Processing the Butler correspondence subseries 1759-1854

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