Theodore Wilson Butler Obituary

DEATH NOTICE: (Lamar Democrat, Lamar, MO. Wednesday, October 22, 1941)


Aged Citizen had Arisen some Time in the Night After 12 O'clock, Gone Outside the House and Made his way to A Well in the Back of the lot. 

--Removed the Covering over A hole in the Curb, and plunged into the deep water. 

--His Son-in-law, Will Travis Had been up at Midnight and Seen that Mr. Butler was all Right 

-- When Will Arose, and found the Room Empty, He went outside, Observed the Gate Leading to the Back Part of the Lot had been Opened and he saw the covering Had Been Removed from the top of the well

--He felt that he knew His Wife's Father was at the Bottom of That Well 

-- And His Fatal Surmise Was Found to Be Correct 

-- Mrs. Butler Died Last February, After they Had Lived Together for 70 Years 

-- Had often Expressed a Desire to Join Her 

-- Was Born in Pennsylvania Ninety Two Years ago 

-- Father Moved to Cole County and There he and Jane Elliott were Married More than Seventy Years ago 

-- They Came to Barton County and Settled near Iantha in 1894 

-- He was for Thirty years, Justice of the Peace at Iantha -- Came to Lamar Three Years ago.

- - -

The body of Theodore Butler, 92 years old, long a resident of Barton County, was found at the bottom of forty feet of water in a well in the backyard at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Will Travis, his son and daughter-in-law, at 7 o'clock Wednesday morning. Mrs. Travis had spent the night with relatives at Iantha.

Mr. Butler had urged her to go. Will, he said, is a good cook and we'll get along fine.

Mr. Butler listened to the radio for a time Tuesday evening and retired to his room about 7:25. Mr. Travis was awake at midnight and he got up, went to his father-in-law's door and looked in. He was in bed apparently sleeping.

Mr. Travis arose about 6'30 Wednesday morning, built a fire, made preliminary preparations for breakfast and went to call Mr. Butler. He was startled when he saw his father-in-law was not in his room. He stepped out in the yard and as he came to the north side of the house he observed that a gate in the fence that ran from the north side of the lot had been opened, and was leaned back against the post instead of being closed and fastened as Will knew he had left it. The well, forty feed deep and full of water, is about in the center of the back yard. When Will saw the gate had been opened he also saw the top had been removed from over the opening in the curb and he felt mortally certain that the body of his wife's father was in it. He called to Lee VanPelt, his nearest neighbor to the south, to get a rope and grab hook.

Earl Kunkler lowered the hook to the bottom of the well, forty feet below the surface, and soon felt, that the hook had caught in some object. He kept pulling and presently the body of Mr. Butler was brought to the surface.

Coroner Raymond River was called. He was quite sure death had occurred from three to four hours before the finding of the body.

The body was taken to the Konantz Funeral Home to be prepared for burial.

The time for the funeral had not been fixed at this writing.

Mrs. Butler died last February. She and her husband at the time of her death lacked only a few weeks of having been married seventy years. Mr. Butler told the folks at the time he wished he could go at that instant and be buried in the same grave with her. He has upon more than one occasion remarked that he wanted to go. His mate was gone. All of the intimates of his own generation had passed on and he felt the weakness and the infirmition of age along with a great loneliness.

The well in which he met his death was covered with a curb made of boards not more than a foot above the ground. There was an opening in the well perhaps two feet square. This was covered by boards nailed to crosspieces, making a single piece amply large to cover the opening.

It is worthy of remark that during the hot weather, Mrs. Travis sometimes lowered milk and butter into the well to keep them cool. She feels quite sure that her father was reaching down below the opening in the curb, trying to get his hand on a rope holding milk or butter and that he lost his balance and fell in.

Theodore Butler was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, May 8,1849, so he was some months past his 92nd birthday. His father, John E. Butler evidently moved to Missouri when Theodore was a lad. In Cole County, Missouri, March 9, 1871, Theodore married Jane E. Elliot. They lived in Cole county until in 1894, when they moved to Barton County and went on a farm near Iantha.

There Mr. Butler served Central township as Justice of the Peace for 30 years.

About three years ago, they moved to Lamar.

He leaves three sons and one daughter, John E. Butler of Iantha, George W. Butler of North Bend, Oregon, Benjamin F. Butler of Ponca City, and Mrs. Will Travis of this city.

He also leaves nineteen grandchildren, twenty seven great-grandchildren and one great, great grandchild.

Mr. Butler was a man who always inspired the confidence and respect of his neighbors. He had character, integrity and common sense. In his long life he saw changes more potent and more magical than any of the stories of the Arabian Nights.

He grew weary, lay down to put aside his burden and fell to sleep in the long dreamless sleep from which no man awakens to mundane sights or sounds.

Submitted by Maxine Schell on June 7, 2002.

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