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The Missing Thomas Butler

The Missing Thomas Butler

One indisputable fact about plantation records is the same names appear again and again, often multiple times in a single generation. So what does it mean when a name is missing from a generation?

The Butler family papers from ProQuest History Vault contain just such a mystery. They include records of Judge Thomas Butler of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and his family. In addition to serving as judge in Louisiana's third judicial district and as a representative to the U.S. Congress (from 1818 to 1821), Thomas Butler owned several plantations, including "The Cottage" where he made his home.

Every generation represented in the Butler family papers, starting with Judge Butler's father, Col. Thomas Butler (1748-1805), had at least one Thomas Butler, except seemingly for one. And this Thomas may well have remained missing were it not for the funeral card, found in a folder of family letters and receipts, confirming the life and death of Thomas Butler Jr., son of Judge Thomas Butler (1785-1847).

For the full story of Thomas Butler, Jr., visit ProQuest's history blog,

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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