Part 1-No shortage of inconsistencies, 10 June 2011
A collection of inconsistent information written about about William Preston, the first sheriff of Williams County, Ohio.
Part 2-Driven to a more historical account (
Genealogy is a journey. The second article in this series presents particular information we used to break down our brick wall. The various postings mention how the records were discovered, questioned and evaluated to better identify Sheriff William Preston.
2.01 William and his Miss Butler (marriage)
2.02 He survives (census)
2.03 The Butler did it! (identifying our Butler family)
2.04 I do declare, and he did! (declaration)
2.05 Death plus 30 (probate)
2.06 Of brothers and soldiers (about John Preston)
2.07 You do the math (about William C. Preston and the King)
2.08 One good deed (and the long road home)
2.09 Through the peep hole (the larger family)
2.10 Rummaging about Rumney
Part 3-Putting it all together - Part 3A
PART 2-Driven to a more historical account
2.03 The Butler did it!
A Butler connection
In 1997, genealogists in Williams County called our attention to a 1947 news clipping about the death of a Revolutionary War veteran, John Butler (1830). This John Butler's estate had been administered a William Preston. Hopeful this John Butler might be related to Asenath (Butler) Preston, cousin William Smith ordered the probate file. The file called out John Butler's widow, Lena, but didn't directly directly provide other details about John or William. Or did it....
Published notices of the same death, often the same estate led us to John's Revolutionary War pension file (file no. S46,461, BLWt 1505-100) and provided an insight into John's larger family, sometimes called the "Fighting Butlers."
No if, ands or buts--when one source referred to or was derived from another, whether obvious or not, we wanted want to review that second source.
One patriot's record and a bit of Irish luck
We learned a bit more about John from his Revolutionary War pension file. To the point of this case, the file reported John Butler's "discharge [from military service] was Last at the time General Hull surrendered Detroit." By comparison, William's wife, Asenath, was said to have resided Detroit at the time of that surrender. [History of Jones County, Iowa (1910) 2: 92-93] (Detroit had a population of about 600 persons in 1812. ["Siege of Detroit," Wikipedia])
John's application made reference to the location of his current residence. As luck would have it, that record had to be altered to read, "Richland town[ship]." The file includes separate remarks about the alterations, saying it was, "necessary to alter the name of the county as Henry is attached to Williams [for government]." A strike through in the document (see the graphic above) can be interpreted to place John at "Snaketown" (now Florida, Ohio). These locations, Snaketown or Florida (Ohio), correlate favorably with historical accounts saying William's wife, "Miss Butler," had brothers living on the Maumee River, not far from Defiance. [History of Defiance (1883), p. 157]
We never stopped asking each other to explain the reason why any particular document or entry should be considered more than coincidental or something other than "the name's the same."
Documents located later named Asenath's father as John Butler, but the pension file alone (including reference to Hull's surrender and the Snaketown location) suggested a family relationship was quite possible between the two Butlers. More to the point of this case, however, researchers concluded Sheriff William was almost certainly the man who administered this John Butler's estate.
Evidence connecting the good sheriff to John Butler was important, because another document in the pension file provided us identifying first hand information about William Preston ....