(Feb. 21, 1844-Oct. 7, 1933). Born in Salem, Indiana, Butler attended Hanover College (1860-1863) before joining the 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, serving in telegraphy and army intelligence. Following the Civil War he read law with his father, John H. Butler, and Walter Q. Gresham, studied law at the University of Louisville (Kentucky), and joined his father’s New Albany law practice.

Morris-Butler House, 1989
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

In 1867 U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon E. Chase named him a registrar in bankruptcy in New Albany. Butler moved to Indianapolis in July 1879, to become clerk of the U. S. Circuit (until 1912) and District courts, a position he held until retiring in October 1922.

A nationally recognized authority on bankruptcy law, Butler lectured on federal jurisprudence at the Indiana Law School (1902-1928) and the law school at Indiana University. Known as both an orator and essayist, he contributed frequently to the American Law Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and other literary reviews.

Butler was one of the incorporators of the National (American) Red Cross, the Indiana chapter of which was established in his home. He was a member of the Indianapolis Literary Club, Columbia Club, and the American and Indiana bar associations. He died at his home at 1204 North Park Avenue, the Morris-Butler House, a historic house held by Indiana Landmarks, and was interred in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised February 2021
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