General Butler State Resort Park
The General Butler State Resort Park is named for early American General William O. Butler of Kentucky who fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The park was built on the grounds of the Butler family farm which was begun by General Butler’s father Percival Butler who fought in the Revolutionary War. Still standing is the Butler-Turpin House which was built in 1859 for Mary Eleanor Butler, niece of General Butler, and her husband Philip Turpin. Today the Butler-Turpin House is a museum open for guided tours and features pieces from the family’s history. The park also has a large lodge, campground, event center, and lake for visitors to explore.
Backstory and Context
The General Butler State Resort Park is built on the grounds of the former Butler family farm. The Butlers were a family of American military veterans, most famous among them being General William O. Butler who served in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. General Butler’s father, Percival Butler, moved to Kentucky in 1784 after serving in the Revolutionary War with his father and four brothers. Percival settled the land that would become the state park in 1797 with his wife Mildred Hawkins Butler.
One of nine Butler children, General Butler attended Transylvania University before joining the Kentucky Volunteers and served with his father who had been made an Adjunct-General. Butler fought in the Battle of River Raisin in 1813 and was one of a small number of American troops to survive and be marched to Fort Niagra. During the battle, Butler had sustained a wound to the chest. Released quickly, Butler spent the following year healing from his wounds before rejoining the army in Nashville. Butler would go on to fight in the Battle of New Orleans. From 1825 to 1846, Butler worked as a lawyer and served two terms in Congress. He was named a Major General by President Polk and sent to Mexico to fight in the Mexican-American War. After the war, Butler returned to the family lands and worked as a farmer and lawyer until his death in 1880.
The Butler-Turpin House was built on the grounds in 1859 for Philip Turpin and Mary Eleanor Butler who was General Butler’s niece. Thomas Butler, William’s older brother and Mary Eleanor’s father, served as sheriff and held office in the state legislature for two terms. Thomas resided with the couple after the construction of the home. Shortly before Turpin’s death in 1882, the home was sold to H.J. Whitehead and changed hands several times until it was purchased by Kentucky in 1931.
The site of the Butler family farm has become a historic park since being purchased by Kentucky. That year the Butler-Turpin House was converted to a museum featuring items from the Butler family’s history as well as other period pieces. A lodge was built on site in 1962 as a part of an expansion effort in the Commonwealth’s park network. The park has become a popular site for tourists interested in history and outdoor activities as it also offers a campground, lake, several trails, and an event center.
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