By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996


(Page 60)

Late in his life Dr. William E. Butler divided much of his Jackson property into residential lots in what was known as the "Butler Division." His last will was probated in the Madison County Court, January 10, 1882; in it he devised several parcels and lots of real estate to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Will Book A, pages 303-304: (abstract)

WILLIAM E. BUTLER, Feb. 15, 1879
Granddau Mrs. Martha A. Chandler lots 5, 6, 7, block 15 in Jackson, Tn. and part of lots 9, 10, all of lot 11, block 15 in same. Mrs. Narcisa Gentry lots 7, 8, block 3 with double tenement on same and lot 17, block 3. Mrs. Sue P. Butler the Atwater house lot, 14, lot 12, M. B. Smith house. Miss Delia Butler all lot 1, block 14, Caroline Crews house. Thomas Talbot Butler west 1/2 of lot 6, block 14. Johnnie Butler, houae, lot now occupied by Willis Johnson and house, lot abt 1 mile from the depot on no. side of Mobile and Ohio RB. Mrs. Norah Butler Collins the no. part of lot 1, block 16. Son William O. Butler the east 1/2 of lot 4, block 18 and no. 1/2 of lot 3, block 19. Great-grandch Willie Henderson 2 lots no.of lot given to Della Butler now occupied as a schoolhouse. Great-grandch Tommie Henderson a brick tenement house and lots 17, 18 (no block stated). Grandch Mrs. Mary Henderson lot 8, block 5. My good servant Pleasant Lancaster (colored) the west 1/2 of lot 4, block 18. Remainder of est to be div eq to son Col. W. O. Butler, Mrs. Mary Henderson, Mrs. Martha Chandler, Mrs. Sue P. Butler. B. Richmond exec. Wits A. W. Jones, James O'Conner, Mary O. Henderson, B. Richmond.

[Martha A. Chandler above should have been written Martha A. Chancellor.]


(Page 61)

A grandson, Thomas T. Butler, contested the validity of the will in March 1882 with a plan to carry the estate into the Madison County Chancery Court. (Madison County Court Minute Book 16, page 105) There was a lull in the litigation that resulted from this action with an agreement among the heirs that Thomas T. Butler would be responsible for collecting the rents on the land his grandfather had held, during the period the estate was being administered. Due to there being numerous debts due the estate and several outstanding debts in the estate itself, Benjamin Richmond, executor, filed a claim for insolvency for the estate in April 1884. (IBID., page 446)

The litigation went into Chancery Court with the case styled, Benjamin Richmond and others vs C. W. Chancellor and wife, Martha. In July 1885 it was clearly shown that some of the land locations devised by Dr. Butler in his will were incorrectly described; that although he died the owner of considerable real estate there were "large debts against the estate." He had little cash resources. The heirs listed in the case were W. E. Butler, Jr. (a grandson) and wife, Sue P.; M. O. Henderson; Thomas T. Butler; John R. Butler; Napoleon Gentry and wife, Narcissa; Delia Butler; D. W. Collins and wife, Nora; C. W. Chancellor and wife, Martha; being "all" Dr. Butler's heirs and devisees. (Madison County Chancery Court Minute Book 13, pages 272, 361)

It was clearly demonstrated that Dr. Butler died leaving $533.80 in cash assets. Among the debts that Benjamin Richmond had paid were the undertakers, Robinson and Umphletts' bill, $72; B. F. Howard was paid $10 for the carriage services in taking the body from the house to the cemetery; Dr. S. H. Chester was paid $89.50 for the old man's medical bill. (IBID., page 374) As of January 1886 $2104.25 cash had been collected, principally from the sale of lots with $1889.10 having been paid in debts, leaving a balance of $215.15 in the estate at that time. (IBID., page 377)

Benjamin Richmond had to go into local chancery court, taking several persons to account to pay for what they owed on land or debts due Dr. Butler. He had also held some property in Memphis, Tennessee which had to be sold and a case developed against a railroad interest in the Shelby County Chancery Court. By January 1891 Benjamin Richmond had died and his estate settled with Dr. Butler's and Henry Lynn was appointed to serve as executor of Dr. Butler's will and S. D. Hays, an attorney, was appointed to administer the estate generally. Hays chiefly took over responsibility for settling the estate.

Finally, as of November 21, 1892, ten years after Dr. Butler's demise, S. D. Hays reported that after all debts had been paid, modest disbursements made to the several heirs at different times, there was yet $418.62 in the estate. The Court ordered that these assets be divided: 1/4 to Martha A. Chancellor; 1/4 to Sue P. Butler; 1/4 to Will and Tom Henderson; 1/4 to the heirs of W. O. Butler. Mrs. Nora Collins had died without children so that her portion went to her siblings. Mrs. M. O. Henderson and William E. Butler, Jr. had sold their shares in their father, William O. Butler's interest in the estate to Thomas T. Butler. (IBID., Book 15, page 515)


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