Saturday, January 21, 2017

Finding Nace Butler, Jr., The Runaway Jesuit Slave

In November 1838, the Jesuits of Georgetown, sold 272 slaves to two plantation owners in Louisiana.  Fifteen of my family members, were sold and were shipped down river on the Katharine Jackson of Georgetown. My great-great-great-grandparents, Nace and Biby Butler, and their 13 children were on that ship  except one, Nace Butler, Jr.who ran away.

Our connection to the Jesuit slaves has been known for more than 12 years. It was first discovered in the spring of 2004 as the family was making plans for a reunion in New Orleans. I continued to look for Nace, Jr.,  having found a person I suspected was my ancestor buried in the St. Ignatius Church Cemetery, St. Mary's County, Maryland online on the church's website in 2007.  The website included photos of the church, St. Ignatius, and a list of the people buried in the cemetery.  An Ignatius Butler was listed on parchment in the church as well as Gladys Butler, Lucinda Butler and Johnston Butler.

The search for Nace, Jr. took on a new life after the Georgetown Memory Project(GMP) was formed. In November 2015, Richard Cellini, an alumnus of Georgetown University,  founded the GMP to identify the the slaves sold in 1838 and to located their living descendants. As a member of that organization a new search was launched, first by me and then by a member of the Butler Research Team. We came to the same conclusion: Ignatius Butler who is buried at  St. Ignatius is our Nace Butler, Jr., the runaway.

I thought that we were on the right track when an Ignatius "Nace" Butler along with a wife and children  were located on the 1870 census  in the St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County, Maryland.  His birth date was estimated to be 1818.  In the Jesuit Plantation Project records which include the profiles of the slaves, Nace Butler birth date is 1818.  

In December 2016, I was contacted by Glendon Stubbs, the great-great-great grandson of  Ignatius Butler.  He provided me with a descendant chart for Ignatius Butler constructed by Malissa Ruffner, a professional genealogist hired by the GMP. Her research confirmed what we found: Ignatius Butler is the runaway who was born in 1818 and died

  to be continued


  1. Hi Pat

    This research is truly a blessing! I have been doing research on my family myself, but had reached a brick wall. My great-great grandfather was William Woolfolk who was the product of a relationship of Bridget Butler, daughter of Martha Ann and A Woolfolk. I would love to share my research as well as hope to learn more from you with the information you have available! I could not find your email. Can you please contact me:

  2. This is amazing! I'm helping my grandfather research his family tree and I was wondering if we could possibly share information. His family tree has a line of Butlers from St. Mary's county. Any information you have would be a great help.

  3. My sister and I are a DNA match to the Georgetown project on We have great grandparents who are Butlers and Hawkins and we cannot find a connection. I am beginning to think that it may have been thru marriage and we just share some DNA. I show connection to cousins who are decendants to Nace and Bibby.

    1. Martha Hawkins is my 3rd generation grandmother who married George Harris jr. Martha's mother was Mary A.Jackson Hawkins & Austin Hawkins email me

    2. Dear Lorraine,

      Who are your Butler grandparents? I am not sure if Unknown is your post, too. Check it out; it comes after yours. If this is not you who are your Hawkins grandparents? Need more information.

  4. Hi,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Hello everyone I am Glendon D. Stubbs the 4th great grandson of nace & biby butler anyone can contract me at

  6. I'm also related to the Butler.. And I'm trying to find out more information on Maggie Butler and Ozema Trosclair who are their children and the names... I'm also related to Eleanor Butler known as Irish Nell if u have any information at all I would greatly appreciate it..