Throwback Thursday: The Butler Company in the John Martin Smith Collection

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Today let’s look at the Butler Company, a Butler business that built everything from buggies to bikes.


The Butler Company’s story is tied to the rise and fall of another business: the Butler Manufacturing Company, which produced wind engines and water tanks until its failure in 1899. When the company failed, seven men bought its assets and incorporated them into their own business: the Butler Company.


Eager to adapt to changing times, the Butler Company tried manufacturing a variety of products. From 1896 to 1902, they produced and sold the Record, a bicycle with wooden handlebars and wheel rims, metal spokes, and no coaster brakes. Buggies, and eventually automobiles, were added to the line-up. In 1930, the company even built a prototype bi-plane, which they dubbed the Yellow Jacket.

Buggy 2

During the Great Depression, they went back to their Butler Manufacturing Company roots, producing only windmills and water storage equipment. By the 1950s, they functioned solely as a supply house, providing access to plumbing and electrical materials, tools, seals, and glazes. There was no longer any manufacturing.

To learn more, click here and search for “John Martin Smith” and “The Butler Company.”

-Written by Genealogy Intern Chelsea


About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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