Ovid Butler

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Ovid Butler
Ovid Butler.jpg
BornFebruary 7, 1801
DiedJuly 12, 1881(1881-07-12) (aged 80)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
OccupationLawyer, newspaper publisher
Known forNamesake of Butler University

Ovid Butler (February 7, 1801 – July 12, 1881) was an attorney, newspaper publisher, abolitionist, and university founder from the state of Indiana, United States. Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, is named after him.

Personal life[edit]

Ovid Butler was born in Augusta, New York on February 7, 1801. His father, Chancey Butler, moved the family west to Jennings County, Indiana, in 1817. The elder Butler became one of the first Restoration Movement or Stone-Campbell Movement preachers in Indiana. Ovid studied law and practiced as an attorney in Shelbyville, Indiana, from 1825-1836. He was also an abolitionist. Butler University was dedicated to him in 1855. During this time he married Cordelia Cole.

In 1836, the entire family moved to Indianapolis. Soon after, Ovid's wife, Cordelia, died in 1838. He remarried Mrs. Elizabeth A. Elgin, daughter of one Thomas McOuat. Mrs. Elizabeth A. Elgin died in 1919.

Ovid Butler died on July 12, 1881.


In Indianapolis, Ovid established a law firm with partners Calvin Fletcher, Simon Yandes and future Indianapolis mayor, Horatio C. Newcomb. Butler became interested and active in political and social issues. In 1849, Butler established the political and abolitionist newspaper Free Soil Banner. Due to bad health, Butler gave up his law practice in 1849, seeking retirement.

Butler University[edit]

As a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Butler sought to establish a university for that Christian movement. On January 15, 1850, the Indiana General Assembly approved the university. On November 1, 1855, the North Western Christian University opened. Ovid Butler served as the head of the Board of Directors until 1871. He became Chancellor of the University and, in 1877, the school became Butler University. Butler is also the namesake of the Ovid Butler Society, a recognition society for Butler University's most generous donors.[1]


Butler's summer months were spent at Indiana's Lake Wawasee where he had a residence in the vicinity of Vawter Park Village.[2]


  1. ^ Ovid Butler Society
  2. ^ Lilly, Eli. Early Wawasee Days. Indianapolis: Studio Press Inc., 1960.

External links[edit]