1862: Eliza (Tucker) Butler to Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler

Eliza (Lida) Butler

This letter was written to Lt. Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler (1829-1914) by his wife Eliza (“Lida”) Tucker Butler (1840-1927).

Benjamin Franklin Butler was born in Cornville, Maine, June 3, 1829, to Benjamin and Hannah (Hilton) Butler. He settled in Anoka, Minnesota Territory, in 1856. In 1858/1859 he moved to Fairhaven (Stearns County, Minnesota Territory) and bought a farm. He married Eliza Tucker in 1860, and lived in Fairhaven where he worked as a farmer, carpenter, and millwright.

On October 8, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, 4th Minnesota Regiment, as a First Lieutenant. Company D was ordered to Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory, until March, 1862 when they were relocated to Mississippi. He resigned from the military November 4, 1862, and returned to Fairhaven. In 1874 he moved to Minneapolis, continuing his work as a millwright.

He died at his home at 3206 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, on February 5, 1914. He was buried in Fairhaven Cemetery. He was survived by one daughter, Mrs. Lena Hall, and one grandson, Arthur Butler Hall. Eliza Tucker Butler (born 1840) died in 1927.

The officers of Company D were:

Captain Elder Thomas E. Inman: Inman, age 47, was a Baptist minister when he was mustered 10 October 1861 as Captain of Company D. He was wounded in action, assigned Chaplain of Fort Abercrombie 30 April 1863 and later died 18 May 1882 at the town of Inman, Minnesota.

First Lieutenant Benjamin F. Butler: Butler, age 32, was mustered 8 October 1861 and resigned in November 1862.

Second Lieutenant Harrison M. Stanton: Stanton, age 29, was mustered 10 October 1861 and died 8 June 1862 at Benton Barracks, Missouri.

Second Lieutenant Andoniram (Adoniram) J. Whitney: Whitney, age 21, was mustered as Sergeant 10 October 1861 and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 18 December 1864. He reenlisted 1 January 1864 and mustered out 19 July 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.

Lieutenant Chessman Gould: Gould , age 50, enlisted as Second Lieutenant 2 December 1862, transferred to Company B 29 January 1864 as 1st Lieutenant and mustered out 19 July 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.

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St. Anthony, Minnesota
June 25th 1862

Dearest Frank,

I received two letters from you today — one written the 6th, one the 7th. They were received with pleasure, I assure you. I was very glad to hear your health was so good but I am afraid you will be the next one that will be sick. I presume you have heard of the death of Lt. [Harrison M.] Stanton — poor man. Does it seem possible he can be dead? When I think how healthy he was last winter, it don’t seem possible. He was such a good man too. I am expecting a letter from Mrs. Prince this week; then I shall know all the particulars.

Mr. Bently from Red River was here Sunday evening. He told me he saw Stanton’s death in the paper. He died the 8th of this month. I hope his wife got there before he died. Think she did — poor woman. How bad she does feel. I know her heart will break. She is so tender-hearted and poor little Willie left without a father. I feel so bad I can’t bare to think of it.

Ma wrote me that [Francisca V.] DeCoster was in the hospital. Poor fellow. I hope it isn’t so. I hope DeCoster will be spared. Brose is know better. He says he don’t think he ever will be any better as long as he stays there. I am going to write to him to get a furlough and come home. You write to him to get one and perhaps he will try. I am afraid he will wait until it is too late. You said there were several sick! Who are they? How is that [Quartus B.] Farwell boy? We also heard Adoniram Whitney was sick.

I have got me a new bonnet & cape. I attended Church last Sunday[:] in the forenoon[,] the Universalist [; in the] afternoon, the Congregational [;] in the evening the Episcopal. I am going home after the Fourth of July. I don’t think they will have any celebration here. It is most as dull here as it is in Fairhaven.

Lt. Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler

I am going to have a large photograph taken from the one you sent me. It is up to the degarian office now. I can get the picture and a very handsome frame for four dollars. I shall be proud of it, I tell you. As soon as I get my silk done, I am going to have my photograph taken.

I have been washing this forenoon so I feel kinder stupid. Don’t feel very much in the writing mood. I will send you another sheet of paper and one or two postage stamps. Don’t like to send many at a time for fear you wouldn’t get them. I wish I could see you today. I bet it would be a happy meeting. If I could only see you five minutes, it would be such a privilege, but it is a privilege that we must be deprived of the Lord only knows how long. I hope you won’t get homesick. If I thought you was, I should feel bad. You must keep up good courage. Hope it won’t be long before this horrid war will close. You know hope will buoy up the soul in trying hours.

Mr. Bently has gone to St. Cloud. Expects to meet Mr. Harris there. Is going to return tomorrow. He says he would call here with Mr. Harris. It seems like old times to see the [Fort] Abercrombie folks. They are going to have a celebration up there. Lavia is there now with Mrs. Stone. Dr. Brown’s family has gone up there and Lt. Carevion’s wife. Lt. C is a Georgetown. The Second Lt. was Quarter Master. Mr. Bently says it is lonesome up there this summer after having such good times last winter. If we could all be back there (Stanton living! poor man), I would be willing to live there as long as Uncle Sam says. Who do you think will be Second Lieut? I hope DeCoster will get an office. He is such a god fellow. I presume though Sargent Brown will be Lieut. That will make him feel nice enough and make some of the boys cross I expect.

I believe I wrote you Web Merritt had enlisted and was Quarter Master Sergeant. He has got quite a good position. I had a letter from Aaron. He wanted to know how to direct to you. I think you ought to write to him. He thought so much of you. I don’t suppose you have much time to write.

How does Capt. Inman get along? and Lt. Murphy? How I would like to see Murphy and hear him play the guitar! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t acquainted with anyone. Then I wouldn’t want to see so many. How does Sea_grant prosper? Does he hold St. C___ as bad as ever? Where is Warner now?

You asked how our cow got along. She was well when I left. Mrs. Libby’s people are all well. Old Joe is at home now; is going back next week. I don’t suppose he can leave his squaw any longer.

We had a letter from our Cousin Olive in Yarmouth. She wrote her husband had sent her three silk dresses. He is at Europe. Can’t get home until the war closes. I shall be obliged to bring my scribbling to a close. I am making my dress; will send you a piece of it. See if it isn’t as pretty as some of those I have sent you. You can direct to Fairhaven for I shall be at home before you could answer my letter and get here. I am enjoying myself as well as I can under the circumstances. If you was at home, it would be all right. I aint going to trouble for trouble comes fast enough without borrowing any.

Write when you have an opportunity. I will send you a sheet of paper when you see Charles again. Give him my regards. I wish I could see him. Good bye, — Lida Butler

P. S. I am going over to see Addie Hull before I go home. It rains this morning. It hasn’t rained but once for two months. If DeCoster is sick, see that he has good care.


Harrison M. Stanton was born on 20 December 1832. He was the son of Amos C. Stanton and Azubah Duncan. Harrison married Alida Parker. He died on 7 June 1862 at St. Louis, MO. He died at Benton Barracks while serving his country in the Civil War.

2 responses to “1862: Eliza (Tucker) Butler to Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler

  • Linda Bryan

    “I attended Church last Sunday[:] in the forenoon[,] the Universalist [; in the] afternoon the Congregational [misspelled] [;] in the Evening the Episcopal.” p. 2 All of these items are connected with that bonnet and cape–she is a young woman of stylish standing, at least in her own estimation.

    This is fascinating stuff if you know the context. In a few months, she will have excitement enough–the letter is written in the run-up to the Dakota War and the unpleasantness at the Crow Wing Indian Agency. St. Cloud and environs would soon be filled with worried settlers and squabbling militia units in late August through September. Fort Abercrombie was attacked by Dakota warriors and the young soldiers would see real battle, privation, and death.

  • 1862: Thirza (Wakefield) Tucker to Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler – Spared & Shared 15

    […] also — 1862: Eliza (Tucker) Butler to Benjamin Franklin Butler and The Benjamin Franklin and Eliza Butler Collection at the Minnesota Historical […]

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