Sunday, 5 March 2017

Immigrant Ancestor and Brick Wall -- Thomas Butler (1781-aft 1819?)

Sometimes are more challenging than others when writing about my immigrant ancestors. This is one of those times. In fact it's a brick wall.

I don't have a record of the death of my 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Butler, but he probably died in Nova Scotia after moving there with my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Southwick (1788-1865) some time after their 1806 Massachusetts marriage. Their son Samuel my 2nd great grandfather, was born in Halifax on 16 Mar 1816. That date is relied on by many researchers, but I'm still looking for more confirmation of that. Perhaps it comes from a long ago family bible.

Back to Thomas. He was born, like so many of my ancestors, on Cape Cod, in Falmouth. His parents were Captain (he was a sea captain) John Butler (1751-1794) and Parnel (also spelled as Parnal) Hatch (1759-1842). He was their eldest son. John, according to one story, was lost at sea, serving with the British Navy. Thomas was the only one of his siblings to go to Nova Scotia, so far as I know. A few years ago, I found a listing of the births of John and Parnel's children, with Thomas as the eldest listed first.

Falmouth, Massachusetts vital records, 1750-1831, v2
I've never found Nova Scotia arrival records for Thomas Butler and Mary Southwick, and I've never found a record of Thomas' death. Several researchers say that in addition to my 2nd great grandfather, Samuel, that Thomas and Mary possibly had three other sons. No surviving source information on any of them seems to exist (and I've looked), aside from their names and possible birth dates: Thomas b 1810, James b 1812 and Sames (?) b 1819. I've often thought that James and Sames are the same person. But apparently Sames does exist as a given name. James was the name of his grandfather, James Southwick, and following the generally accepted naming patterns of the time, it seems likely that this is fairly solid. But whatever happened to James Butler?

Mary Southwick Butler died in 1865, in Stewiacke, Colchester, Nova Scotia, likely in her son Samuel's home, which has always made me think that perhaps if Samuel did have brothers, they all died young.

I don't know Thomas' occupation -- was he a seaman like his father or a blacksmith like his son, or a farmer? I don't know where he died or where he's buried.

Some of my indirect Butler ancestors were United Empire Loyalists, a third cousin tells me. But not my direct Butler ancestors.

Despite all of these negatives, to end on a positive note, by fathering his son Samuel, Thomas was responsible for one of my several lines putting down Nova Scotia roots, so I do appreciate him for that. And Samuel? Well, he fathered 17 children (!) by two different wives. But that's another story for another time.

The never ending story continues.....

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