Hon. John E. Butler, one of the early pioneers and representative citizens of Sacramento county, was born in Devonshire, England, April 12, 1828, a son of John and Mary Butler, both also natives of that place. The mother died when her son John was but a child, and the father afterward married again. With his wife and two children, the sister of our subject being Mrs. R. T. Mills, of Sacramento, he came to America and established his home in Rock Island, Illinois, where he died during the boyhood of John W. Butler. The latter subsequently found a home in the family of Hon. John W. Spencer, a prominent citizen and one of the founders of Rock Island. In that city he received a common-school education and prepared himself for life's future duties. Soon after the news of the discovery in California was received Mr. Butler became inbued with a strong desire to try his fortune upon the Pacific slope. He made the journey over the plains in 1850, and after his arrival mined for gold on the Yuba river above Marysville, also residing for a time in Sacramento, where he conducted a stock yard and livery stable. This business, however, was destroyed in the fire of 1852, and shortly after this disastrous event the memorable flood came, during which time the citizens of Sacramento were obliged to go from place to place in row boats. While the flood was still at its height Mr. Butler returned east by the isthmus route to Rock Island, Illinois, where he remained until the following spring. Again crossing the plains to the Golden state, this being in the year 1854, he with two others brought a band of cattle, but en route they were detained by the heavy snows in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the summer had passed ere they reached their destination. During a portion of the years 1855-56 Mr. Butler was engaged in the butchering business near Folsom, and subsequently for a time followed the dairy industry in Yolo county, but returned thence to Sacramento county in 1863 he has ever since resided within its borders. In that year he was the proprietor of a hotel, but the sheep industry has claimed the principal part of his time and attention for the past thirty-five years, and on his large ranch of twelve hundred acres he is now carrying on that business on an extensive scale.

On the 9th of March, 1875, Mr. Butler married Miss Electa DeWolf, a native of Ohio, and to them have been born four children, John W. S., a well known attorney of Sacramento; Drury D., a mining engineer of Colorado; Myrtle M., who is a prominent and successful school teacher in Sacramento county; and Frank, deceased. In his political affiliations Mr. Butler is a Republican, warmly endorsing its principles, and in the fall of 1892 on its ticket he was elected as an assemblyman for Sacramento county, in which position he served for one term. He has also served as a delegate to the Republican county conventions held at Sacramento, and in many ways has proved himself an active factor in the public life of his community. He is a member of American River Grange No. 172, also held membership relations with Clarksville Grange in Eldorado county, being one of its charter members, is a member of Granite Lodge No., 62, I. O. O. F., at Folsom, and has been a past grand of the order for over forty years. He is numbered among the honored and highly esteemed citizens of Sacramento county, and enjoys the good will and confidence of all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance.

Source: History of the New California - Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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