Election Brawl Turns History

Etched clearly in early Daviess County history is the name of John Lowe Butler in connection with the Mormon War in Missouri. In June, 1994, his descendents converged on Gallatin on a history trip arranged by Butler’s biographer, Brigham Young University history professor William Hartley.

Etched clearly in early Daviess County history is the name of John Lowe Butler in connection with the Mormon War in Missouri. In June, 1994, his descendents converged on Gallatin on a history trip arranged by Butler’s biographer, Brigham Young University history professor William Hartley.

On Aug. 6, 1838, during an election brawl in Gallatin, John Lowe Butler picked up heart-of-oak staves and whacked a few non-Mormons to end a fight which had erupted on the southwest corner of where the courthouse now stands. That brawl turned an otherwise insignificant election into one of historical importance. The election brawl marked the beginning of what resulted in Mormons being forced from Missouri and their leaders jailed.

With old animosities long gone, a bus tour of John Lowe Butler descendants arrived in Gallatin to dine at McDonald Tea Room and view the site of that old election day skirmish. The stop in Gallatin was one on a 13-day Butler Family Heritage tour running from Nashville, TN to Omaha, NE.

While here, Butler family members presented a copy of a new biography of John Lowe Butler to the Daviess County Library.

The biography, “My Best for the Kingdom: History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, A Mormon Frontiersman,” is based on Butler’s 100-page autobiography which he penned in 1860. History Professor William Hartley of Brigham Young University wrote the biography, published last December by Aspen Books in Salt Lake City.

To tell John Butler’s life accurately, Hartley has written new history not previously known or understood about the Mormon War in Missouri. Four chapters deal with the Butlers in Missouri, who lived at Mirible Settlement and then at Marrowbone southeast of Winston. John Butler was part of the Mormon militia and a Danite, roles that the book deals with in some detail.

Last month the book received the prestigious Mormon History Association Best Biography Award. Two years ago Professor Hartley received a “Best Article” award from the Mormon History Association for his history article that explained, for the first time, details about the Mormons’ winter exodus from Missouri in 1838-39.

Among the 30 Butler descendants taking the tour is a namesake young man, John Lowe Butler IV. The group includes relatives from Connecticut, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, California, Oregon and Utah.

Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian