Biography of Joseph A. Butler

Joseph A. Butler, prominent and well known in local politics in Kansas City, Kansas, had been a factor in the business life of that city for many years and is proprietor of a complete service and equipment as an undertaker at 749-753 Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mr. Butler had lived in Kansas since he was nine months of age. He was born June 21, 1870, in the City of Cleveland, Ohio. He is the sixth in a family of eight children, all but one still living. Five are in the State of Kansas, one in Missouri and one in Wyoming. The parents were Jeremiah J. and Laura (Campbell) Butler, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of England. Jeremiah Butler was a cooper by trade. He married in England and at once brought his bride to America, landing in Philadelphia, where he lived for some years. In search of better opportunities for himself and for his family he came West and located in Kansas City, Kansas, where he secured work at his trade and in 1870 sent for his wife and children. The old home of the Butler family was on the site now occupied by the offices of Armour & Company. When Jeremiah Butler came to Kansas City, Kansas, the entire County of Wyandot had not more than 10,000 people. He always had the greatest satisfaction in reviewing the rapid growth and development of Kansas City from a small town or suburb until it was the recognized metropolis of Kansas. He followed his trade until he retired a few years before his death in 1903. Though he never got rich and at the best was in no more than moderate circumstances, he saw to it that his children were provided with every possible advantage and were well schooled. He was an active member of the Catholic Church.

Joseph A. Butler grew up in what is now Kansas City, Kansas, attended the common schools as they were then conducted, and he and three of his brothers learned the trade of cooper under the direction of their father. This trade Mr. Butler worked at and earned his living thereby until he was about twenty-five years of age.

Already he had become something of a leader in local democratic politics and at the urging of his friends he was elected marshal of South City Court for the years 1897-98. In 1899 he was chosen representative of the old Ninth District, now the Seventh, and served through the Legislature of 1900. He brought a number of measures before that body for consideration, and was very active in behalf of his constituency. From 1902 to 1904 Mr. Butler was county commissioner of Wyandot County. That service it will be recalled covered the period of the disastrous flood of 1903. In that critical time Mr. Butler rendered what was doubtless his greatest public service. He was chairman of the board of commissioners, and he proved his ability as an organizer and administrator of the chaotic conditions which followed the high waters of that year.

Since leaving the office of county commissioner Mr. Butler had steadfastly declined all offices or political honors, but still continues active in the party for the benefit of his friends and for the cause of good government. He left office to enter the undertaking business, and for twelve years had been one of the leading members of that profession in the city. He is a member of the Kansas Funeral Directors’ Association. Mr. Butler owned considerable real estate and is a director of the Riverview State Bank.

On February 8, 1893, he married Mary E. Nichols, who was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, daughter of Patrick J. Nichols. Her father was for many years superintendent of the Kingan Packing Plant at Indianapolis and later of Kansas City, and he died in Kansas City in 1914. They are the parents of four children; Loretto, a graduate of Mount St. Scholastica Academy at Atchison; Marie, a graduate of the Catholic High School; Joseph A., Jr., a student in the Christian Brothers School at Kansas City, Missouri; and Dorothy, in the Catholic High School. Another member of the home of Mr. Butler is Mrs. Butler’s nephew, Harry Butler Burns, the son of Mrs. Butler’s sister. Her sister died when this child was six weeks of age and since then he had been in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Butler.

Mr. Butler had shown commendable public spirit and liberality in connection with every movement for the general good in Kansas City, Kansas. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Woodmen of the World, the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association, the Knights and Ladies of Security, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is one of the prominent members of the local Catholic Church. He also belongs to the Kansas City, Kansas, Mercantile Club.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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