Thomas Spafford Butler was born October 2, 1840, in Eaton Rapids, Eaton County, Michigan, the son of Chauncey (1793-1858) and Aurelia (Baldwin, 1798-1847).
Chauncey (born in New York) and Aurelia (born in Connecticut) were married in May of 1815 in Eaton Rapids, MIchigan but by 1821 were living in Conewango, Cattaraugus County, New York. By 1825 the family was in Sheffield, Ashtabula County, Ohio and by 1827 back in Eaton Rapids where they resided for a number of years. The moved to Kansas City, Missouri by late 1833 but by 1840 had returned to Eaton Rapids and were still living in Eaton Rapids when Aurelia died in 1847. The family was still living in Eaton Rapids in 1858 when Chauncey died.
By 1860 Thomas was a day laborer in Lansing’s Third Ward, Ingham County, and working for John Godley who kept a livery and stable in Lansing; he may also have worked as a printer in Lansing. When the war broke out Thomas joined the “Williams’ Rifles” of Lansing, a local militia company that would serve as the nucleus for Company G of the Third Michigan infantry.
Thomas stood 5’8” with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion, and was 20 years old and probably still living in Lansing (or Ingham County) when he enlisted in Company G with the consent of the Justice of the Peace on May 10, 1861. According to Frank Siverd of Company G, Thomas was in the “measles infirmary” shortly before the regiment left Michigan on June 13, 1861. (Siverd also reported that Regimental Surgeon D. W. Bliss, in order “to prevent the disease spreading, as soon as the first symptoms appear,” had all the measles cases “removed to the house of a physician, some three miles from camp.”)
It is also quite likely that Thomas was one of the three dozen or so men of the Third Michigan who were left behind in Grand Rapids to recover their health when the Regiment left for Washington in mid-June.
In any event, Thomas apparently recovered and eventually rejoined the Regiment in Virginia, but by late November of 1861 was again sick, suffering from “fever” and was presumably in the hospital. In fact, according to the War Department he was admitted to the Columbian College hospital on 14th Street in Washington, DC, on November 20, 1861, suffering from remittent fever, and was transferred on December 3, 1861. He was sick in April of 1862 suffering from “general debility” and typhoid fever in Chesapeake hospital at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and was sent home on May 24, 1862. In fact he entered Judiciary Square hospital in Washington on May 25 and was discharged from the army for general debility on June 12, 1862 at Judiciary Square hospital in Washington, DC.
He enlisted on September 4, 1864, at Jackson, Mississippi, in Company C, 2nd Regiment, Veterans Reserve Corps (VRC) and was honorably discharged from the VRC on November 11, 1865.
It is possible that Thomas returned to Michigan after his discharge. In any case he was probably living in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska where he married Omaha native Sarah H. Thompson on March 31, 1867; they had at least one child a daughter Eleanor (b. 1869).
They were still living in Omaha in 1869, and by 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and daughter in Bloomington or Grant, Franklin County, Nebraska. Thomas may have been living in St. Ignace, Mackinac County in 1883, but by the turn of the century he was residing in Los Angeles, California.
In 1879 he applied for and received pension no. 188,454 (dated 1879).
Thomas was living in Los Angeles when he died of consumption on July 10, 1905, and was buried in Santa Ana Cemetery, Orange County, California.
His widow was living in California in August of 1905 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 605335).