William Hartley originally intended to write a biography of John Lowe Butler just for the Butler family organization. At the urging of colleagues at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History; he has fortunately made available to a much broader audience his highly readable account of Butler’s life. Using two versions of Butler’s autobiography as core documents included in a sixty-five-page appendix, Hartley thoughtfully reconstructs Butler’s life and provides fresh perspectives and new insights into a number of neglected areas of Mormon history.
John Lowe Butler, an early convert from Kentucky; figured prominently in the Gallatin voting riot, participated as a Danite in the Missouri conflict, fled with the Saints to Illinois, served two brief missions to the Sioux, and practiced polygamy beginning in Nauvoo. He became a member of the James Emmett and George Miller companies, traveled to Utah in 1852, served as a bishop of Spanish Fork during the Reformation and the Utah War, and died in 1860 at the age of fifty-two. Hartley’s careful research expands on each of these experiences, using them as springboards to examine Butler’s life in its broader historical context.