William D. Butner

WILLIAM D. BUTNER. It has been well said that "our civilization rests at bottom on the wholesomeness, the attractiveness and the completeness, as well as the prosperity of life in the country. The men and women on the farms stand for what is fundamentally best and most needed in our American life."

One of the progressive Kansans who have exemplified and put into practice this statement of theory is William D. Butner, of Dover Township, Shawnee County. Mr. Butner has never been content to make his farm pay profits as a business enterprise without regard to the environment of the farm itself or the home in which he and his family live. Business men are coming to realize that a factory not only represents an investment in machinery, but also a place where the human welfare of the employes be safeguarded and the working hours spent there must be made as attractive and wholesome as possible. The same thing is true as applied to a farm. The farm is more than a workshop, it is a home, and the money spent on its improvement does not always yield returns in so much per cent but also in what is more valuable, the comfort, the well being, the contentment of those who occupy it as a home.

With these things in view Mr. Butner has contrived to make one of the finest country homes and best kept farms in Shawnee County. It is true that such a farm costs more in taxes, but that is more than made up in the returns of such a place as a home for the family. The important thing is not the price one pays, but the value received from an investment.

William D. Butner is a native of North Carolina, where he was born October 20, 1866, and his early youth was one of many limitations, and with a realization of what he himself lacked as a boy he has directed his energies to supply his own children with the best advantages at home and in school. His parents, William and Irene Butner, had four children, one of whom is now deceased. When William Butner was twelve years of age he was left an orphan, and from that time was reared on a farm and in the home of neighboring planters.

At the age of fifteen with an older brother Robert S. he came west in Indiana, and found employment there as a farmer in Putnam and Hendricks counties.

When he was about twenty years of age, in 1886, Mr. Butner came to Shawnee County, Kansas, and lived there for about five years, farming as a renter in Auburn Township about 4 1/2 miles from Dover. In 1891 he went back to Indiana and in Putnam County married Carrie Waln, a daughter of Samuel Waln. Immediately following their marriage they came to Kansas, and since then Mr. Butner has made this state his permanent home. For a time he continued his work as a renter, but with such means as he had been able to accumulate he bought in 1889 his present farm in Dover Township. He formerly owned 320 acres, but his fine farm now comprised 160 acres.

Many years ago Mr. Butner realized that livestock was the vital adjunct of agriculture, and both for himself and the community he has set an excellent example as a stock raiser. Shorthorn cattle, thoroughbred, are his specialty, and he has also made a specialty of Jersey red swine. In every detail Mr. Butner is an up-to-date modern farmer, and his home and farm attest his industry and success.

Politically he is a republican. For two terms he held the office of justice of the peace but has never sought political honors, and his work as a farmer and home builder has been of incalculably greater value than he could have rendered through any public office. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he and his wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

To their marriage six children have been born: Jesse W., Vernie G., William Curtis, Julia Irene, Roscoe A., and Charles O. This happy family reside on what is known as Cedar Lawn Farm.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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