Butler district, which lies in the southeastern part of the county, borders on the state of Kentucky with the Big Sandy River as the dividing line. The surface is diversified, bottom land on the east with rolling hills in the western part. It is said good building stone abound in the entire district.
Many years ago coal was mined in the vicinity of Hubbardstown and conveyed to market by barges on the Big Sandy River. It is said that a vein ranging from 2 1/2 to four feet was found there, while below the surface a vein from 8 to 9 feet was found.
Salt was made in this district in the first quarter of the 19th century. Butler district was at one time covered with fine timber, mostly oak, which was used in the building of ships, but at present, timbering is not an industry.
The first settler seems to have been Samuel Short who built his cabin where the town of Fort Gay now stands about the year 1796. Robert Tabor, who followed him, patented a tract of land embracing 2,500 acres in 1798. Others who followed as settlers were Thomas Short, Samuel Hatten, William Adams, Peyton and Joseph Newman, John and Richard Grayson, Thomas Vaughan, Peter Loar, Benjamin Sperry and William Artrip. All these men seem to have found homes in Butler before the year 1800. Others who came in later years were Michael Burke, John Smith, Pleasant Workman, Joel Ferguson, James Bartram, William and Solomon Perry, Joseph Fulkerson, John Breedon, Jess Cyrus, John Deering, Jesse Stith, Goodwin Lycan, Samuel Smiley, John Thompson and Abraham Queen.
The first child born in Butler district was John Short, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Breeden) Short, born 1801, while the first marriage was that of Samuel Hatten and Nancy Campbell, in 1802; Rev. Darby Kelly, a Methodist minister, performed the ceremony. The bride's parents lived in Kentucky, and it is said that the ceremony was performed on a sand bar in the middle of Big Sandy River. The second marriage was that of John Smith and Elizabeth Vaughn, on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1813. The groom was dressed in a tow-linen cloth suit and a pair of moccasins made by his own hands. He afterward became very wealthy.
The first grist mill was built by William Thompson on the banks of Mill Creek, one-half mile from Fort Gay, and the first saw mill was built by Solomon Perry on Big Hurricane. Perry was a local Methodist preacher, carpenter and millwright.
A building for school purposes was erected in 1805 on the banks of Mill Creek, one-half mile from where Fort Gay now stands.
Who preached the first sermon cannot be learned, but Peyton Newman, John Lee and Marcus Lindsey were among the first ministers. These men, the first two Baptists, and the latter Methodist, were instrumental in organizing the first churches, many of which still survive.
Cassville was the first town incorporated and is now known as Fort Gay. A fire visited it in 1883 and laid almost the entire business section in ashes. Cassville was incorporated the 13th day of November, 1875. Jas. H. Marcum was the first mayor, John C. Romans, recorder, and William H. Frasher, Samuel Short, Calahan Beaire, Stephen M. Marcum and Wayne Ferguson, councilmen.
Butler district's wealth lies in its farms. It has as good farm lands as are found anywhere in the county. Its school buildings compare with any in the county and the district is only waiting the coming of better roads that it might be developed into a first class farming community.
Mrs. Amanda Osburn, well known local woman, celebrated her ninetieth birthday Saturday. Despite her advanced years, "Aunt" Amanda is one of the most active women of the community. She has been a resident of the county all her live and vividly recalls the Civil War days when business was suspended and the veterans answered the call to arms. She is a staunch supporter of Jeffersonian Democracy, and has kept in close touch with the political and social developments of the county.
Transcription by June White
Wayne County News