Biography of Dr. Richard Lemuel Butt

Dr. Richard Lemuel Butt, the talented physician and surgeon at Midway, Bullock County, Ala., was born in Columbia county, Ga., November 1, 1824, a son of Moses and Priscilla (Banks) Butt – the former a native of Halifax county, N.C., born September 23, 1782, and the latter born September 20, 1802, in Elbert County, Ga. Moses Butt was reared a planter, was six feet high, well-proportioned, very strong and active as an acrobat. At the age of eighteen he left his native county with his parents for the state of Georgia, but on the way his father died in camp in the state of South Carolina. Moses, however, continued on his way, accompanied by his widowed mother, and settled in Columbia County, Ga., where he married, in 1822, acquired a fortune of $200,000, and died in his sixty-seventh year. He had attended school only six months in his life. He was scrupulously honest, industrious and genial; was devoted to his family, was devout, and a leader in church and social circles. He was a captain in the Florida war of 1836, but never sought public office or any sort of notoriety. His second wife, Miss Banks, died February 23, 1855. She was a daughter of Ralph Banks, a distinguished native of Georgia. Mr. Banks was a gentleman of noble qualities and exemplary habits, and an example of the highest type of Christian manhood. He married Mary Jones, a lady of exceptionally fine attainments, and to their union were born nine sons and four daughters, all noted for their honesty and virtue. Moses Butt, grandfather of Dr. Richard L., was a native of Wales and came to America about the year 1752, in company with five brothers, and settled on Tar River, N. C., where he successfully engaged in planting, but determined to seek more fertile country, and was on his way to Georgia when he was overtaken by death, as before related, while camping in South Carolina. He was an Episcopalian and a sincere Christian.

Dr. Richard Lemuel Butt is one of a family of five sons and three daughters, of whom his twin-brother, John H., died in 1883 – a merchant and planter. The doctor received his literary education at Wynnton academy and graduated in medicine from the University of the City of New York, March 11, 1846. He at once began practicing at Columbus, Ga., and July 29, of the same year, married Miss Eliza. C. Leonard, who was born in Morgan County, Ga., and who died in Memphis, Tenn., November 15, 1861, leaving six children, three of whom still survive, viz.: Frances P., wife of C. S. Tucker of Thayer, Mo.; Mary Virginia, widow of the late Michael Wood, of Las Vegas, N.M., and Richard L., Jr., a conductor on the Alabama Midland railroad. The second marriage of Dr. Butt was with Mrs. Martha J. Gamsnell, daughter of James Jackson and cousin of the famous Stonewall Jackson. This lady died August 12, 1870, and for his third wife, the doctor selected, November 22, 1876, Mrs. Mary E. Henderson, daughter of William Moss, a native of New York, and his wife Polly Beecher, who was born in Connecticut and was a relative of the cultivated divine, Henry Ward Beecher. William Moss moved from New York to Georgia, about the year 1819, by wagon, and settled in Elbert County, where he was engaged in planting and merchandising until his death, October 28, 1850, and in Elbert County was Mrs. Butt born and educated.

Dr. Butt practiced at Columbus, Ga., three years, then for three years at Talbotton, Ga., and in 1853 removed to Midway, Ala., where he followed his profession until 1858 when he went to Memphis, Tenn. While in that city, the war came on, and April 19, 1861, he was appointed surgeon in Gen. William Hicks Jackson’s staff, but was later transferred to Gen. Van Dorn’s staff, with whom he remained until the latter’s death, March 10, 1862; he was then appointed to Gen. Forrest’s staff, but by his own request was restored to the staff of Gen. Jackson. This position he held until the latter part of 1864, when, by the request of his wife, he was appointed to hospital duty at Columbus, Ga., where, April 19, 1865, he surrendered to Gen. Wilson. He then resumed practice at Memphis, but in July 1875, returned to Midway, where he is regarded as one of the most competent practitioners of the county, and peerless as a surgeon. He is devoted to his profession and has made specialties of surgery and obstetrics, some of his operations in both having been wonderfully successful. He stands high in the estimation of his fellow-practitioners and is a member of the National and State Medical Associations and was once president of the Bullock County Medical Society. He is devoted to his family and is an ardent member of the Methodist church, while his wife is a devout Baptist.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

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