Butler Family - Table of Contents

History - The Butler Family of Buffalo, New York

Edward H. Butler I

429 Linwood Avenue,
where Butler lived

672 Delaware Avenue,
where Butler lived
and then his son and
daughter-in-law lived

Edward H. Butler Jr.

Kate Robinson Butler

Butler Mausoleum,
Forest Lawn Cemetery

Edward H. Butler I
Text below is excerpted from
Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families
By Edward T. Dunn
Pub. by
Canisius College Press, 2003

The Williams House, 672 Delaware Avenue
George and Annie Williams moved into their palace [672 Delaware Avenue] in 1899. On September 6, 1901, they were to host a dinner party for President McKinley after his visit to the Pan-American Exposition of which Williams was treasurer. Their house was the obvious setting for an event to which the elite of Buffalo were invited. But the president was shot at the exposition by an anarchist, dinner was called off, and McKinley died on September 14.

In 1908 Williams sold his mansion to Edward Hubert Butler who had been living at #522 Delaware. Williams moved to New York in 1909 where he died in 1918 in his apartment on Central Park West.

Edward H.  Butler
[Edward Hubert] Butler was born in Leroy in 1850. He was educated in the public schools and by private tutors. As a teenager he worked for the Leroy Gazette, then was city editor first of the Scranton Times, then of the Post. At twenty-two he took his savings to Buffalo and in 1873 came out with his own paper, the Buffalo Sunday News, which was a success.

On October 11, 1880, his weekday paper, the Buffalo Evening News, came out and sold more than 7,000 copies on the street alone. It cost only a cent, whereas most contemporary dailies cost two or three cents. Circulation boomed to 20,000, and soon the News enjoyed the largest circulation of any paper between New York and Chicago.

[In 1896, a new building was built for the newspaper operations at 218 Main St.]

Butler was given to leading crusades, including discipline at the Elmira Reformatory, enlargement of the Erie Canal, and a new building for the State Normal School in Buffalo.

He was an original member of the Grade Crossing Commission and continued on it for twenty-six years. He never ran for public office but was a dominant figure in the state G.O.P.

His wife was Mary E. Barber of Pittston, Pennsylvania, who died in 1893. Two children survived their father, one of whom, Edward H. Butler, Jr., succeeded when Edward, I, died in 1914.

Edward H. Butler, Jr.
Text below is excerpted from
Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families
By Edward T. Dunn
Pub. by
Canisius College Press, 2003

The younger Butler was born in Buffalo in 1883, educated at Nichols and the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Yale in 1907. A Republican like his father, he was a Presbyterian, and a member of the Buffalo, Saturn, University, Athletic, and Country clubs in Buffalo, and the Yale Club in New York. 

In 1909 he married Kate M. Robinson and by her had two children, Edward Hubert born in 1915 who died young [in 1919], and Kate Robinson born in 1921 [later Mrs.  Bruce E. Wallis].

[He became editor and publisher on the death of his father in 1914.]

Butler, the publisher, died in 1956 and was succeeded as president by his widow. In 1971 she became both president and publisher. She died in 1974.

Edward H. Butler Jr.

Born in Buffalo in 1883, three years after his father started the Evening News, Edward H. Butler Jr. from the start was marked to be his father’s successor. After graduation from Yale, he began preparing for the day he would take over.

His father had made the good life available to him. The younger Butler had the best cars and horses and opportunities for travel. But he was no dilettante. After leaving Yale, he took business courses at Bryant & Stratton Business Institute. He worked in a variety of jobs in all of The News departments. He knew the operation and he knew the people who made it work. He had been lectured and instructed by his father in every facet of the business.

There was an uncommon attachment between Butler Jr. and his father. His mother died in 1893 when the younger Butler was 10 years old. He was 30 years old when his father died and he became proprietor of The News.

In the early 1920s, Butler was a pioneer in presenting news by radio; he broke a radio monopoly in Buffalo in 1930, when he fought for a station license. After extensive hearings, the old radio Commission authorized WBEN to go on the air. In 1936, he bought WBER and succeeded in bringing Blue Network programs to Buffalo. (The station was sold in 1942.)

After World War II, while others were “watching developments,” Butler and The News brought television to Buffalo. WBEN-TV went on the air May 14, 1948, and for five years was Western New York’s only television station. To improve reception, Butler authorized construction of a 1,000-foot antenna at Colden, then one of the three highest structures in the world.

For 38 years, Butler was chairman of the board of Buffalo State Teachers College. He and a former mayor collaborated to locate the school on its Elmwood Avenue site.

In an age when some newspaper owners crossed the line to political activism, Butler was a thorough-going Republican. He was a delegate to every Republican national convention from 1916 to 1948. In 1928, he put large ads in the Kansas City Star, helping persuade Republican delegates to nominate Herbert Hoover for president. Serious efforts were made in 1928 and again in 1938 to persuade Butler to become a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, but he stopped both movements cold as quickly as he could do so.

Butler died on Feb. 19, 1956, at the age of 67.

The son’s first task: closing the Sunday News
Pub. in The Buffalo News on November 5, 2015

After the death of News founder Edward H. Butler Sr. in March 1914, his son’s first task was an unpleasant one. Ever-changing reader habits had made the daily Evening News more prosperous. But the Sunday News had become anemic.

Despite ever-growing deficits, the older Butler refused to kill the Sunday News, his first publishing venture in Buffalo and his first love.

The younger Butler closed the Sunday operation quietly at the beginning of 1915. It would be dormant for 63 years until new swings in reader habits created a demand for a new Sunday News, which made its appearance Nov. 13, 1977.

Kate M. Robinson Butler 
C. 1885-1974

Facts below culled from
"Mrs. Edward H. Butler, News Publisher, is Dead," Buffalo Evening News, August 5, 1974, p. 1

  • Like both her parents, Mrs. Butler was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Member of the Colonial Dames of America, eligible because the ancestry of both her parents

  • She was educated at Wesleyan Female College and Gunston Hall, Washington, D. C. Her education continued in Paris where she studied concert piano.
  • She was interested sports, especially skiing, skeet, shooting, fishing and skiing, in earlier years. She skied in the Adirondacks where she maintained a lodge and in Europe which she visited frequently For at time she held the record for bonefish caught off Marathon , Florida, and was especially proud of a 48-pound wahoo she landed.

  • In 1909, married Edward H. Butler Jr., son of the founder of The Buffalo News.
  • Elected president of The Buffalo Evening News after her husband's death in 1966.
  • In 1971, she assumed the title of publisher as well as president of The News.
  • She was vice president and director of WBEN and assumed the presidency in 1967.

  • She decided to allow a new building for the newspaper operations and personally chose the architect, Durrell Stone.  The building is considered one of the most beautiful newspaper offices in the country. Ironically, ill health prevented her from ever viewing the completed building.

  • 1920-1960 Member of the UB governing body, the University Council
  • Life member of the Buffalo fine Arts Academy
  • Past president of the Twentieth Century Club.
  • Member of the Women's Committee of the Orchestra Society. In 1958 she was named Woman of the year by the Buffalo Philharmonic Society.

  • Member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church where her funeral services were held.
  • Donated the Westminster clock in Hayes Hall and the chimes which ring from the tower in that building

  • Established the Edward H. Butler Fellowship Fund at Yale U., her husband's alma mater, for graduate philosophy students
  • Shortly after her husband's death in 1966, she founded the Edward H. Butler Foundation, a trust or religious, charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes

  • During W.W.II, she entertained Bob Hope and his entire cast when they were in Buffalo on Navy Relief Fund drives.

  • During W.W.II, many objects of of furniture and art objects placed in storage from hr Paris residence were commandeered by German Gen. Herman Goering and made a part of his famed salt mine collection. After the war, Andrew Ritchie, former curator of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, while a member of the US Commission to review the Goering collection, found and identified Mrs. Butlers possessions which wee eventually restored to her. Some of them were brought to the Delaware Ave. home.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Butler were overnight guests at the White House on several occasions The couple once traveled to Florida on Pres. Roosevelt's private railroad car and then went on a fishing trip with several presidents. Mrs. Butler was a guest of President Johnson for tea at the White House in 1964.

  • "Although she never publicly disclosed her age, she was in her 90s [when she died in 1974]." - Courier Express,  August 5, 1974
  • Survived by her daughter, Kate Robinson, two grandchildren, Mrs. Kate Righter Zammit and Edward Butler Righter, and one great-grandchild, Nicole Rand Righter.
The Butler spouse who ran The News
Pub. in The Buffalo News on November 5, 2015

Kate Maddox Robinson was a Southern belle from Atlanta who married newspaper heir Edward H. Butler Jr. in 1909. She led a life of social and civic leadership in Buffalo for the 47 years they were married, then led The News for 18 years after her husband’s death.

Before marrying Butler, she studied concert piano in Paris and became an accomplished musician. In Buffalo, she was one of the city’s outstanding hostesses. Among her guests were kings and queens and princes, Herbert Hoover and Alf Landon, Bob Hope and his entire cast.

She liked sports, especially riding, skeet shooting, fishing and skiing. She skied in the Adirondacks, where she maintained a lodge, and in Europe, which she visited frequently. For a time she held the record for bonefish caught off Marathon, Fla., and was especially proud of a 48-pound wahoo she landed.

During World War II, many items of furniture and art objects placed in storage from her Paris residence were commandeered by German Gen. Hermann Goering and made a part of his collection. After the war, Andrew Ritchie, former curator of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, found and identified Mrs. Butler’s possessions, which were eventually restored to her. Some of them were brought home to the Butler mansion on Delaware Avenue.

She became president of The News after her husband’s death in 1956 and added the title of publisher in 1971. (According to the book “From Butler to Buffett,” former Editor Murray Light’s history of The News, she added the publisher title after firing son-in-law James Righter, who was having an indiscreet affair.)

She delegated large responsibilities and authority to her editorial and business managers, but insisted on being fully informed. She bought the 40 percent of The News that was owned by a Butler cousin, giving her branch of the family full ownership. She completed the construction of a new printing plant that her husband had begun. And she reluctantly decided to build the current News building at Scott and Washington streets, leaving 218 Main St., where the Evening News had been almost from its beginning in 1880.

By the time The News moved to the new building in April 1973, failing health had confined Mrs. Butler to the mansion at Delaware and North streets. She never entered the building whose planning she had presided over. She died in 1974.

Special thanks to Patrick Kavanagh and also to the librarians in the Buffalo History section of the Buffalo Central Library for their assistance in research

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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