Wister and Butler Families Papers

The Wister and Butler families were prominent in Philadelphia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and had ties to numerous other prominent families in the Philadelphia region, Georgia, and Great Britain. The bulk of the collection concerns Pierce (Mease) Butler and his daughters Sarah Butler...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Authors: Butler, Pierce 1807-1867. (Creator), Leigh, Frances Butler 1838-1910. (Creator), Wister, Sarah Butler 1835-1908. (Creator)
Collection:Wister and Butler Families Papers
Collection Number:1962
Format: Manuscript
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Online Access:Link to finding aid
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LEADER 12869ntc a2200853 u 4500
001 ead-1962
008 181112i xx eng d
040 |e dacs 
041 0 |a eng 
099 |a 1962 
100 1 |a Butler, Pierce  |d 1807-1867.  |e creator 
245 1 |a Wister and Butler Families Papers  |f 1700-2004, undated; bulk: 1848-1907 
300 |a 21.5 Linear feet  |f ; 46 boxes, 55 volumes, 17 flat files 
351 |b This collection is divided into ten series: 1. Major Pierce Butler, 1758-1854, undated, 1.4 linear feet 2. Thomas Butler, 1776-circa 1868, undated, 0.4 linear feet 3. Pierce (Mease) Butler, 1782-1905, undated, 4 linear feet 4. Frances Anne Kemble (Butler) (Fanny Kemble), 1836-1933, undated, 0.8 linear feet 5. Frances Anne Butler Leigh, 1857-1925, undated, 1 linear foot 6. Sarah Butler Wister, circa 1853-2004, undated, 6.5 linear feet 7. Dr. Owen J. Wister, 1768-1893, undated, 0.3 linear feet 8. Owen Wister, circa 1874-1930, undated, 0.8 linear feet 9. Mary Channing Wister, 1876-1913, undated, 0.2 linear feet 10. Miscellaneous Family Papers, 1700-1936, undated, 5.8 linear feet 
520 |a The Wister and Butler families were prominent in Philadelphia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and had ties to numerous other prominent families in the Philadelphia region, Georgia, and Great Britain. The bulk of the collection concerns Pierce (Mease) Butler and his daughters Sarah Butler Wister and Frances Anne Butler Leigh. Butler's former wife Frances Anne Kemble (Butler), known as Fanny Kemble, and various other family members are also represented. The bulk of the collection is correspondence and estate papers; it also includes diaries, newspapers and newspaper clippings, business papers, real estate papers, ledgers and other financial documents, photographs, and other miscellaneous papers. The collection provides insights into a wide variety of topics, including women's history, the Civil War, African American history, family history, politics, culture, and the life of actress Fanny Kemble and her daughters. The materials concerning the Butler plantations both before and after the Civil War are particularly interesting.  
520 |a This collection contains the papers of Pierce (Mease) Butler, his daughters Sarah Butler Wister and Frances Anne Butler Leigh, and many other members of the Butler, Wister, and related families. The collection contains primarily correspondence and estate papers, but it also includes diaries; newspapers and newspaper clippings; business papers; real estate papers; ledgers and other financial documents; photographs; and a variety of miscellaneous papers. The collection is arranged in ten series, preserving an earlier arrangement schema that grouped materials by family member. This plan may have been created by Florence Bayard Kane, a private librarian hired by Owen Wister in the 1930s to arrange the family papers. Kane left brief annotations on slips of paper throughout the collection. Note that the divisions between family members' papers are not always tidy, and researchers may find relevant materials in multiple series. Family members who did not warrant their own grouping in that older arrangement schema have been arranged alphabetically in Series 10 (Miscellaneous family papers). Volumes are arranged alphabetically by family member, and then chronologically within each series. 
524 8 |a Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Wister and Butler Families Papers (Collection 1962), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 
535 1 |a A portion of Major Pierce Butler's correspondence (Series 1, Box 20) was microfilmed in 1996 and is available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for researcher use. (MFilm Z 6616 .A2 B883 1996) 
540 1 |a This collection is open for research. 
541 1 |a Gift of the Wister family, 1969. 
544 |a Colonial Society of Massachusetts collection 1710-1939. (Ms N-407) Massachusetts Historical Society. Kemble, Frances Anne papers 1824-1892. The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Wister family papers. Connelly Library Special Collections, LaSalle University. http://www.lasalle.edu/library/speccoll/wister.php (accessed 7/29/10). Wister, Owen papers 1829-1966 (bulk 1890-1930). (Mss 46177) Library of Congress. 
544 |a Butler family papers. (Collections 109A, 109B, 1447) Butler, Pierce letterbooks. (Call number Am .0368) Drayton family papers. (Collection 1584) Logan-Fisher-Fox family papers. (Collection 1960) Wister family papers. (Collections 1625A, 1625B) Wister, Frances Anne lantern slides collection. (Collection V16) Wister, James W. family papers. (Collection 729) Wister, John receipt book. (Call number Amb .9765) Wister, John and Charles cashbook. (Call number Amb .97655) Wister, Sarah journal. (Call number Am .1925) Wister, William papers. (Collection 2009) Wurts and Wister family papers. (Collection 3338) 
545 |a Both the Wister and Butler families were prominent in Philadelphia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and had ties to numerous other prominent families in the Philadelphia region, Georgia, and Great Britain. Major Pierce Butler (1744-1822) was born in Ireland, the son of Sir Richard Butler, the fifth baronet of Cloughrenan, and Lady Henrietta Percy Butler. He first came to the United States in 1758 to fight for the British during the French and Indian War. In 1772, he married Mary Middleton, the daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter, and resigned from the British Army. In his new life as a Southern planter, Butler eventually built up his land holdings to more than 10,000 acres. His primary holding was Butler's Island plantation, a large producer of rice located near the Altamaha River off the southeastern coast of Georgia. Butler spent the rest of his life concerned with planting and politics. He served as a representative from South Carolina in the Second Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the U.S. Senate, and the South Carolina Legislature. He also served a short stint in the South Carolina Militia to fight off the Redcoats during the Revolutionary War. Butler and his wife had eight children, five of whom lived to adulthood: Sarah (circa 1772-1831), twins Anne Elizabeth (Eliza) (1774-1854) and Frances (1774-1836), Harriot Percy (circa 1775-1815), and Thomas (1778-1838). After Mary Middleton Butler's death in 1790, the family lived primarily in Philadelphia and at a summer home on Old York Road in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Butler became estranged from daughter Sarah and son Thomas. His other daughters never married, and Butler relied on Frances to administer the family's plantations and other properties. She was treated generously in her father's will and served as executor of his large estate. Butler included a provision in his will to allow Sarah's three sons to inherit part of his estate, but only if they changed their last names to Butler. Sarah's son Pierce (Mease) Butler (1810-1867) did so in 1827 as a teenager, and his brother John (Mease) Butler (1806-1847) belatedly followed suit five years later. In 1834, Pierce married well-known British actress Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble (1809-1893). Fanny was the daughter of Charles Kemble, a noted English actor and sometime manager of London's Covent Garden, and Marie Theresa de Camp Kemble. Her uncle John Philip Kemble and aunt Sarah Kemble Siddons were also well-known actors. Fanny joined the family business reluctantly, but was an immediate success. She met Pierce during an acting tour of the U.S. that she and her father undertook in 1832. Pierce and Fanny married in 1834, but their marriage was plagued by rumors of infidelity on his part and disagreements over the Butlers' reliance on slavery. As described in her 1863 memoir, Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, Fanny was appalled at the fact that nearly everything around her was produced by the toil of enslaved people. She left Pierce in 1845 to return to her native England, and they divorced in 1849. By the late 1850s, Pierce had nearly bankrupted the plantation, and sold off nearly half of the 1000 enslaved people he owned. Despite his mishandling of the plantation business, the land remained in Butler family hands until the 1920s, when it was sold to land developers. Before they divorced, Pierce and Fanny had two children, Sarah (1835-1908) and Frances (1838-1910). Frances shared her father's pro-slavery views, and moved with him to Georgia at the end of the Civil War to attempt to rejuvenate the family's plantations. After his death in 1867, she continued those efforts alone. She married Rev. James Wentworth Leigh in 1871, and had one daughter live to adulthood, Alice Dudley Leigh. In 1877, after years of frustrations with the plantation and continual quarrels with Sarah and her husband about the way in which the estate should be managed, Frances and her family left Georgia for parish life in England. Her sister Sarah married Dr. Owen J. Wister of Germantown in 1859. Sarah and her husband disagreed with Pierce's and Frances' pro-slavery views, and sided with the Union during the Civil War. Sarah had one child, Owen ("Dan") Wister (1860-1938). The younger Owen Wister later went on to write the celebrated Western novel, The Virginian. In 1898, he married his cousin Mary Channing ("Molly") Wister (1869-1913). The two had six children. 
555 |a Finding Aid Available Online:  
546 |a Correspondence in Box 40, Folder 5 is written in French, and occasional other items throughout the collection are in French. A few items in the Dr. James Bradford papers (Box 27, folders 2-17) are in Chinese. 
600 1 7 |a Biddle, George W. (George Washington)  |d 1818-1897.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Butler, Frances  |d 1774-1836.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Butler, Louis  |d 1817-1890.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Butler, Pierce  |d 1744-1822.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Butler, Thomas  |d 1778-1838.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Cobbe, Frances Power  |d 1822-1904.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Fisher, Elizabeth Rodman  |d 1810-1875.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Hollis, P. C.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Howard, George James  |c Earl of Carlisle  |d 1843-1911.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Irwin, Agnes  |d 1841-1914.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a James, Henry  |d 1843-1916.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Kemble, Charles  |d 1775-1854.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Kemble, Fanny  |d 1809-1893.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Logan, James  |d 1674-1751.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Mease, James  |d 1771-1846.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Mease, Sarah Butler.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir)  |d 1829-1914.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Musgrave, Jeannie L.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Sartoris, Adelaide Kemble  |d circa 1814-1870.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Stevenson, Sara Yorke  |d 1847-1921.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, A. L. (Annis Lee)  |d 1830-1908.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Charles Jones  |d 1782-1865.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Charles Jones  |d 1822-1910.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Frances Anne.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Johannes  |d 1708-1789.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, John  |d 1776-1862.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Jones  |d 1813-1837.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Langhorne  |d 1834-1891.  |2 Local Sources 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Marina.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Mary Channing  |d 1869-1913.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Owen J. (Owen Jones)  |d 1825-1896.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Owen  |d 1860-1938.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Sarah Logan Fisher  |d 1806-1891.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, Sarah Whitesides  |d d. 1869.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, William Rotch  |d 1827-1911.  |2 NACO Authority File 
600 1 7 |a Wister, William  |d 1803-1881.  |2 NACO Authority File 
650 0 |a African Americans--Georgia. 
650 0 |a Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. 
650 0 |a Plantation life. 
650 0 |a Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--Georgia. 
650 0 |a Slavery--Georgia. 
650 0 |a Slavery--United States--History.  
651 0 |a United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865. 
655 7 |a Correspondence.  |2 Genre Terms: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloging 
655 0 |a Photographs. 
700 1 |a Leigh, Frances Butler  |d 1838-1910.  |e creator 
700 1 |a Wister, Sarah Butler  |d 1835-1908.  |e creator 
852 |a The Historical Society of Pennsylvania  |b Wister and Butler Families Papers  |l 1962 
856 4 2 |y Link to finding aid  |u http://www2.hsp.org/collections/manuscripts/w/WisterButler1962.html