A Migrant Story - William Butterfield

An excerpt from the 1880 U.S. Census for Portage Township that has William Butterfield's name on it.
William Butterfield, hotel keeper, and his family were enumerated in Portage Township, Houghton County, Michigan in the 1880 U.S. Census.

William Buttefield, 1880 U.S. Census, Portage Township, Michigan. NARA Image.

William W. Butterfield came to Houghton in 1857 at the age of 33. His first year in the Keweenaw was spent piloting the ferry C.C. Douglass between Houghton and Portage Entry. He married Mrs. Phebe J. Steele, a widow, aboard the steamer North Star in Copper Harbor. While working as a warehouse agent for R. Shelden & Co. in 1860, he began building the Butterfield House on Isle Royale Street in Houghton. This hotel was well-kept, although a comparison with the Douglass House found it "less pretentious in size and arrangements."

An illustrated map of a town with buildings next to a body of water.
The Butterfield House is highlighted in this 1872 birds-eye view artists rendering of Houghton, Michigan.

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Highlight of Butterfield House - NPS edit.

The Butterfields raised two children, George and Cora. George became a hotelier like his father for a while, operating another Butterfield House in Lake Linden before buying a farm near Lake Mine in Ontonagon County. William Butterfield died in Houghton in September of 1888 at the age of 64, marking the end of a migrant story.

Last updated: January 6, 2018

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