Individual Stories

Catherine M. Butler


Stenographer Catherine Butler was born in Minnesota in 1877 of Irish parents. She and her brother Joseph lived at this address with their parents. She worked in Butler-Ryan's office and Joseph worked on the Capitol as a bricklayer. Catherine married Edward Kannary and she lived a long life in St. Paul dying in 1978 at the age of 101!

Cooley Butler


Cooley Butler was the fifth Butler Brother. Born in 1868, he held the positions of company vice president from 1902-1927, president from 1927-1936, and chairman of the board in 1936. The address listed here was of the Astoria Hotel which was the address Cooley Butler used as his residence.

Emmett Butler


Emmett Butler was the youngest of the Butler Brothers. Born in Minnesota in 1870, he held the positions of manager of the Butler's Mesabi Range mining operations, general manager of Butler Brothers Construction Company from 1927 to 1936, and became president in 1936. However, when the Minnesota State Capitol was built, he was not yet a partner in the firm and he did brick and stone work on the project and would have been a member of Bricklayers Local 1.

John Butler


John Butler was the second Butler Brother. Born in Minnesota in 1861, was secretary of the Butler Brothers Construction Company. He was involved in many of the company's more prominent projects including the quarrying activities for the marble facing on the Minnesota State Capitol Building. John Butler's (1861-1926) official position was secretary of the Company during the construction. In 1898 he moved to Tate, Georgia and managed the quarrying of the marble for the Capitol. John Butler passed away in 1926.

Joseph J. Butler


1905 Payroll, 1901 and 1904 City Directories. Joseph Butler, a bricklayer, was born in Minnesota in 1879. He was still working for the company in 1918. He and his sister, Catherine, who worked for Butler-Ryan as a stenographer, lived at this address with their parents. Joseph joined the Bricklayers Union in August of 1899. He worked all his life as a bricklayer and died in St. Paul in 1943.

Mary Ann Butler

Mary Ann Butler, nee Gaffney, was born in Dublin, Ireland on June 24, 1830. She immigrated to the US with her parents in 1848, settling in Galena, Illinois, where she met Patrick Butler. She married in February 1855 and was the mother of nine children. She moved with her husband and infant daughter to Minnesota in 1856 and the next year to Lakeville, Minnesota. She died in 1915. 

Patrick Butler

Patrick Butler, Sr. was the patriarch of the Butler Family. Born on March 17, 1823 in Wicklow, Balinhinch, Killmurry, Ireland, he immigrated to the US in 1852, first settling in Pennsylvania, but eventually moving to Galena, Illinois in 1853. It was in Galena that Butler met and married Mary Ann Gaffney. She was also an Irish immigrant having been born in Dublin, Ireland on June 24, 1830. She immigrated with her parents in 1848 and married Patrick Butler in February 1855. The family's first child, Catherine, was born on November 26, 1855.

Pierce Butler


Pierce Butler was the sixth of the nine Butler children and was born in a log cabin in Pine Bend (Rosemount), Dakota County, Minnesota. He graduated from Carleton College and afterwards read law and was admitted to the bar in 1888.  Butler practiced law in Saint Paul and held several elected positions there. He also worked for the Butler Brothers construction company as their legal counsel. In 1923 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, a position he held until his death in 1938. He is buried in Calvarly Cemetary in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Thomas J. Butler


1905 Payroll, 1900 St.Paul City Directory and Census. Thomas J., was born in 1883 to Irish parents. and his brother, John Butler Jr., was born in Minnesota in 1876 . Their father, John Butler Sr. (1824-1900) was a brother of Patrick Butler (1823-1900), father of the Butler Bros., contractors of the Capitol. In the 1900 Census both John and his brother Thomas, also a bricklayer and Capitol worker, lived with their parents and siblings at this address.

Walter B. Butler


Walter Butler was the oldest Butler brother and the first president of the Butler Brothers Construction Company, the general contractor for the construction of the Capitol. Born in 1858, he began as a bricklayer and union activist in the Bricklayer's Union, having served as union president of the Bricklayer's Benevolent Union Local 1 in 1884 and 1885. As the employer of the capitol project, he would not have been an active union member at that time.