Back to Previous Page

History Lives Here Text

WilliamG. Butler and His Land Grants

Asmore public records become available on the web, interesting facts are comingto light about the land purchases of William G. Butler, who, with his wife,Mary, and two children were the first settlers in Allegan County, and thefounders of Saugatuck.


Williamwas born September 28, 1799, in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Jonathan andElizabeth (Gay) Butler. He was married in 1 826 (or possibly 1827) to MaryWells, also originally of Hartford, but they were married at Dundaff, a smalltown near the southern boundary of Susquehanna County in northeastPennsylvania, where William was a merchant.


Movingwest, they may have stopped first at Elkhart, Indiana. It is quite likely thatthey traveled up the St. Joseph River to its mouth, and there boarded theschooner that brought them to the mouth of the Kalamazoo in May of 1830. Atleast one of their children arrived with them. They camped at the mouth whileWilliam built a raft, and poled or rowed it upriver to a flat area near wherethe river widened into a lake. He built a log house, and waited whilegovernment surveyors worked to get the land ready to put on the market. To getgroceries and dry goods he walked along the beach back to St. Joseph where anold account book shows visits on May 14, June 4, June 10 and November 18, 1834,and April 4, 1835. Purchases included coffee, tea, sugar, fabric, and doorlatches.


Whenthe surveyors were finished, in 1833, Butler went to White Pigeon Prairie wherethe General Land Office was located. Now called White Pigeon, the small townjust north of the Indiana border, in St. Joseph County, south of Three Riversand west of Sturgis, still exists, and the building that housed the Land Officein 1833 has recently been restored, and is open to visitors.


William'sfirst land entry, interestingly, is not Saugatuck. but a small tract of 1.59acres . about where South Haven was later located on section 10 in Van BurenCounty. On May 20,1$34, he purchased the three tracts that would become part ofSaugatuck, but November 6 of that year he was back at White Pigeon to buy alarger, 83.85 acre site near South Haven in section 3, South Haven Township,Van Buren County. Besides the two Van Buren County plots, there was one, in1856, which was located in Valley Township near the juncture of Swan Creek andthe Kalamazoo River, and another, in 1834, in Spring Lake Township, OttawaCounty, near the mouth of the Grand River. The other 12 purchases were inSaugatuck or nearby Laketown townships, and are described on the followingpages:

WILLIAMGAY BUTLER of Allegan County, Michigan Territory


Purchasedat White Pigeon Prairie

Aug.15, 1833       1.59 acres  NW sec 10 South Haven Twp. Van Buren Co.


May20, 1834        83.83 acres NESW sec. 9Saugatuck Twp Allegan Co.

SENWsec.9 "

NWSEsec.9 "


Nov. 6, 1834 -83.85 acres W1/2S1/2sec. 3 South Haven Twp. Van Buren Co

Nov. 6,1834 -118.6 acres NW sec. 20Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.

Nov. 6,1834. -113.06 acres SW sec. 20Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.


Nov.6, 1834  -32. acres SWNE sec. 4 SaugatuckTwp. Allegan Co.


Nov. 6, 1834 -22. acres- S1/2NE sec. 20 Spring Lake Twp. Ottawa Co.


Dec.1, 1835- 1.78 acres -NE sec. 15 Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.


Dec. 1, 1835  -40 acres -SESEsec. 8 Saugatuck Twp, Allegan Co.


Dec. 1, 1835 - 23.24 acres- NW sec. 14 Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.


Dec. 1, 1835  -80 acres -W1/2SEsec. 3 Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.

(with Rensselaer Rose Crosby and Edwin S. Jonnott)


Purchasedat Bronson

Sept.10, 1838 -80 acres -E1/2SE sec. 27 Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co. (with WilliamPlummer)


Purchasedat ionic

Dec. 15, 1855    40 acres -NENEsec. 9 Laketown Twp. Allegan Co.


March10, 1856 -160 acres NESE sec. 9 Laketown Twp, Allegan Co.

SE N E sec. 9 -"

W1/2NEsec. 10 -"

Purchasedat Kalamazoo


March10, 1856 -40 acres SWNW sec. 15 Saugatuck Twp. Allegan Co.


March 10, 1856-40 acres SWNW sec. 9 Valley Twp. Allegan Co.

Theland purchases of William G. Butler in Saugatuck and Laketown townships,Allegan County, are marked with diagonal lines in shaded areas. He purchasedthree separate lots, a total of 83.63 acres in the middle of section 9, whichincluded most of the center portion of the section, on both sides of theKalamazoo River. In addition to the land entered at the General Land Office,early atlases show that he purchased a great deal of other land in AlleganCounty, including pine lands upriver on Silver Lake and the small lake inLaketown Township later called Gilliguana Lake. The records are found at


BackPage: A copy of the Letters of Patent for most of the site of Saugatuck. Notein the upper left hand corner that it is land he was privileged to purchasebecause of a preemption. He had, prior to entering it, lived on the land andimproved it.