The SouthWest office recently received the following e-mail message:
“Hello, I was wondering if you could give me some help in tracking down records from Verdun United Church. A distant relative had his funeral and attended long ago and we would like to track down our relatives. He was Esau Butler from Newfoundland. He had a son, Norman Butler who continued to live in Montreal after his father’s death. I appreciate any help you could offer. Greg Butler. “
I wrote back to Greg explaining that we still had all the registers from Verdun United and it would be very helpful if he could tell me the year of Esau Butler’s death.
Greg wrote back:
“I have the following details of the person I am looking for. I am particularly interested in any information on Norman Butler who was Esau's son and any descendants he might have had who stayed on in the church. Esau was my grandfather's 2nd cousin. I wonder if my Great Grandmother Emma Butler might have attended your church. She moved to join us in Toronto, but she used to live in Verdun and attended the United Church there.
Here is a quote about Esau's death (around November 1926) and his surviving family.
"Born on February 4, 1837, the year in which Queen Victoria ascended the Throne - Esau BUTLER, at the age of nearly 90 years, passed away on Saturday morning at his home, 3900 LaSalle Boulevard, Verdun. He is survived by his widow, nee Catherine MacDONALD, one daughter, Mrs. O. J. HARWOOD of Revelstroke, B.C., and two sons, Norman of Montreal and John D., of Boston; also by a sister, Mrs. Mary WINDSOR, Manuels, Nfld. The funeral took place on Monday morning from the parlours of D. A. COLLINS, Wellington Street, to Mount Royal Cemetery, Rev. Isaac NORMAN of Verdun United Church officiating."
Thanks again for your assistance! Greg”
November, 1926! Just one year after the United Church of Canada came into being. Armed with a month and year I was able to quickly track down the record in question. It is written in fountain pen by a hand that crosses T’s with great flourish and reads:
Esau Butler, of the city of Verdun in the District of Montreal of the Province of Quebec, gentleman, died on the thirtieth day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Twenty Six and was buried by me on the first day of November in the said year in Mount Royal Cemetery in the presence of the subscribing witnesses.
Isaac Norman, Officiating Minister
There are two witnesses’ signatures at the bottom, one of which definitely has the surname Butler, and could possibly be Norman. We made a photocopy of the page and created an official certificate of death with our church seal and Rev. David’s signature to send to Greg Butler.
I wrote to him that while it was possible Norman Butler continued on at Verdun United until his own death, if we didn’t have a year for that, it would be very difficult to find him. I told Greg that I would share his questions with the SouthWest community and see if anyone remembered Norman, or Greg’s grandmother Emma Butler.
So what about it? Norman himself probably would have died in the 1940s or 1950s. Anybody’s memory go back that far?
I really enjoy doing this bookish detective work for families. As I explained to Greg Butler though, he caught us just in time. Very soon all our registers and records from before amalgamation (2007) will be going to the UCC National Archives. They will be kept safe there and people doing genealogical searches will have to get in touch with the archivist for Nakonha:ka Regional Council, Beverly Anderson-Levine. In theory, all records from closed United churches as well as some Methodist and Presbyterian charges, are in the Archives.
Find out more here.