The Real Butler Story
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****** UPDATE January 2010****
Thought you had a "Straight Butler" longhorn? Bought a longhorn that the owner claimed as "Straight Butler?" Tired of being lied to? Find out all about Butler longhorn pedigrees in "The Real Butler Story" by Don Limb.
Listed below is just a small part of the information you will learn about Butler pedigrees, and those that make that claim. The following transcription is from an interview with F.M. "Blackie" Graves given in 1992. It details his beginning in the Longhorn business and the genetic lineage of the cattle that formed the nucleus of his herd.
F.M. Graves: "O.K., I am F.M. Graves and uh, live in Dayton, Texas and I got in the longhorn business about 1962 and got my first cattle from...the first bull from the Butlers and the first cow from Partlows... is the way I got ‘em. They both gave ‘em to me."
Interviewer: "Is that right?"
F.M. Graves: "uh-hmmm"
Interviewer: "Mr. Dode?"
F.M. Graves: "Huh?"
Interviewer: "Mr. Dode?"
F.M. Graves: "No, Sam"
Interviewer: "Oh, Sam"
F.M. Graves: "Sam, and them give me....Henry brought me a bull, and uh, Henry Butler. And uh, and Sam gave me my first cow. You couldn’t buy no cows back then. Mr. Butler wouldn’t sell you any. And uh,"
Interviewer: "What year was that? About?"
F.M. Graves: "That’s about 1962"
F.M. Graves: "yea"
F.M. Graves: "And then Mr. Starks had some WR cattle over in Orange, and when he passed away I bought a bunch of his cattle. That was the Starks cattle, they was WR cattle. And then finally Mr. Butler went to sell me some cattle...after he got to know me better. And, and uh, then when he passed away well they dispersed his cattle when I bought a good many cattle then."
It's An Undeniable Fact: The "Miss Dayton" longhorn cows with Stark pedigrees originated from the Wichita Wildlife Refuge (WR), not Milby Butler's herd.
This website allows you to view excerpts from The Real Butler Story. If this page displays only titles of chapters in the book and no other text, click one time on the title to read an excerpt from that chapter.
Don Limb has fanatically attacked the sketchy facts and fiction of the whole Butler tribe with unquestioned detail. His never tiring search for court records, auction receipts, wills, registration certificates, interviews and years of partially revealed details exhumed even more than anyone would have believed.
Not only has Limb created an investigative approach to this early pioneering Texas family, he also dug into a can of worms that have crawled every conceivable direction. The subject of choice was a Texas original family that fought like cats tied over a clothesline. Yet, their one common interest, and battle, was Texas Longhorn cattle.
Now, sit back and enjoy “The Real Butler Story” as it has never been assembled before.
The Texas Longhorn industry is at a point where the individuality of breed genetics and the inheritable traits of each of the original seven families have become so diluted that we are now often using the term “blend genetics” to describe the bloodlines of our cattle.
Much has been written and rewritten about the history of Milby Butler and his Longhorns, but these stories have also become somewhat “diluted”. Time has a way of distorting the facts
My research included conversations with some of the early cattlemen who raised Butler Longhorns; reviewing old photographs; studying articles, early registration documents, consignor comments and pedigrees in sale catalogs; and also submitting DNA and blood samples for parentage verification. I have spent nearly twenty years collecting this information and have built a database consisting of possibly all of the Longhorns Milby Butler ever registered and over a thousand head of cattle that descended from this bloodline.
Chapter One: Breeding Strategies
Pedigrees are a valuable tool in the Texas Longhorn industry because not only do these ancestral records provide the history of a breeding program, but also the knowledge necessary for predicting future progeny performance. Breeding programs can be directed toward goals by selecting seed stock that excel in those traits for which the herd needs improvement.
My research revealed that the early Texas Longhorn breeders were not as much concerned with the pedigree of a Longhorn as we are today. They were basically breeding for a quality animal but had limited sources of outside genetics to select from. The unavailability of other genetics caused many breeders to resort to their only other choice; which was inbreeding.
There are also several documented instances where Milby Butler did seek other Longhorn family bloodlines to enhance the limited genetic pool found in his cattle.
Chapter Two: Pure Bred of Full Blood?
Today’s Texas Longhorn breeders are especially interested in the pedigrees of their cattle. This interest is a catalyst in developing a sound breeding program, and ultimately raising a functional and profitable animal. Accurate recording of the pedigrees is essential to determine which genetics we want in our cattle.
Exclusively using the “straight” Butler bloodline in a Longhorn breeding program is basically just continuing the same inbreeding and line breeding strategies the Butlers followed many years ago, or is it? What is “straight” Butler?
Actually, as my research progressed I realized the source of true, full blood, 100% Butler genetics is not widely known or available.
Chapter Three: The Original Butler Longhorns
Much has been written about the Butlers and their Longhorns, however there still remain some missing links to this story. Questions still arise today about the Longhorns they raised, the use of other Texas Longhorn family bloodlines, and interestingly, their color.
There are many conflicting stories that try to explain the origin of the Butler Longhorns. I have read many versions, some even contradicted by the same author, which has led to this confusion.
In order to consider a Longhorn “straight” or full-blood Butler, every generation must trace directly back to this same gene pool. Anything less can then be considered “Pure-bred” or “blended”.
I have spent many hours researching these questions. To my dismay, I have discovered that most of the information pertaining to Milby and Henry Butler, their Longhorns and the men that kept his breeding alive is derived from few credible sources. Much has been written, but since the date of the original articles written by Darol Dickinson, the more recent versions are basically an elementary attempt at plagiarism.
In the following chapters, I will present factual information that documents who acquired Butler Longhorns, before and after his death in 1971.
Questions abound! I believe you will find the following chapters very interesting, and revealing.
Chapter Four: The Butler Brands
The history of the Butler family and their cattle date back to the mid 1800’s.
All Butler brands were recorded for use in Galveston County, and after Milby’s death in 1971; his “TO” brand was recorded in Liberty County.
Chapter Five: Colors of the Original Butler Longhorns
Little information is available that can confirm the colors of the Butler Longhorns prior to 1965.
When Milby registered his Longhorns in 1965, their colors ranged from predominately; red (37%), white (37%), brown (14%), dun (9%), and the remaining 3% were black.
Somehow the myth that there aren’t any true, black colored Longhorns in the Butler bloodline has grown completely out of proportion. A few misinformed Butler breeders even reject straight Butler Longhorns only because they have some black coloration. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Chapter Six: Milby Butler; Committed to Excellence
Without a doubt, Milby Butler was committed to developing superior cattle, regardless whether they were Brahmans or Texas Longhorns. If it took other Longhorn family bloodlines to add to his breeding program, this did not deter him.
Milby’s quest to add other Longhorn genetics to his herd is well documented.
Milby’s breeding strategy sounds very similar to today’s use of the “blend genetics” terminology; selecting only the best genetics available to produce the best Longhorns. In my opinion, if Milby were still alive today, he would probably comment that his long-term plan is not complete but has gone astray.
Chapter Seven: Milby Butler, The Final Years
Milby Butler, the Man
At times, Milby could have been tough, but he could also be your best friend, giving you cattle to start a breeding program with.
Trouble in League City
This might have been the greatest single event that saved this Texas Longhorn family bloodline from extinction. As you read through the following series of events, you will most likely come to the same conclusion.
The Death of Milby Butler
At the age of 82, Milby Butler died on Saturday, October 16, 1971 while in the Galveston County Memorial Hospital.
While Milby’s health was declining, he was introduced to Wiley and Pauline Russell, who were acquaintances of Sam Partlow.
Through this friendship, especially after Milby’s death, Pauline became inextricably entangled in the Butler family’s personal business for many years.
Liberty County Cattle Dispersal
As sale date neared, the Longhorns were rounded up from Milby’s Ames pasture and taken to the Raywood Livestock Auction in Raywood, Texas. On Monday, June 12, 1972, all of the Butler Longhorns were sold and the gross average sale price was....
Galveston County Cattle Dispersal
On September 30, 1972, Henry hauled the cattle to the Angleton Livestock Commission, Co. located in Angleton
Final Estate Settlement
Inside this box he kept the historical archives and records describing the Butler family efforts to build a cattle program that would last for over a century.
Chapter Eight: All in the (Butler) Family
There is no doubt that without the incredible efforts taken by some of the early Texas Longhorn breeders, the Butler Longhorn family bloodline would have surely become extinct by now. It was through a few farsighted breeders, this bloodline has thrived to a point where it is known to be the main source for horn producing genetics found in Texas Longhorns.
I have read many stories relating to the pioneers of the Butler bloodline. These stories began to unravel like pulling on a loose thread the closer I got to exposing the genetic foundation of the Longhorns they raised. The myth and misconceptions will be revealed in the following chapters.
In order to get to the root of each foundation herd genetics, my goal was to “reverse engineer” the pedigrees of each pioneer breeder’s Longhorns to determine if they actually came from the original Butler herd, or not. The only way to accurately determine the foundation genetics within their herd is from the Longhorns they originally registered. Some might have been Butler, but it is impossible to determine their actual genetic contributions without being registered as such.
Let the facts speak for themselves.
Chapter Nine: "All in the Family" Trees
The source of foundation genetics of select pioneer breeders.
Chapter Ten: Who's Your Daddy?
The very foundation of the Texas Longhorn industry has been built upon the honesty and integrity of its breeders when registering their cattle. The commercial potential of a breeding animal and its progeny depend upon the accuracy of these records. Due to this fact, many cattle and horse associations require bloodtyping and/or DNA testing for parentage verification prior to acceptance into their registry. Although this requirement has not impacted our industry yet, it may in the near future.
The question then must be asked; is the current popularity in the Butler Longhorn family bloodline causing some breeders, with a financial motivation, to register and misrepresent their Longhorns as “straight” Butler, when in fact they aren’t?
Chapter Eleven: My Remembrances
During one visit, I found several of these gates in a stack by the old horse stalls and got permission from G.I. to take a couple. Several years later I gave these gates to DeWitt Meshell because of his contribution and dedication to perpetuating the Butler bloodline.
To my amazement, the gates that Milby so meticulously fashioned and engineered are still standing after at least 40 years of constant use! From one of his gates, Milby's famous "TO" brand is depicted as the book cover
What is a straight Butler cow?
The current, strictly enforced criterion of a “straight Butler” Longhorn is defined as having an extended pedigree that traces back to a Longhorn originating from Milby Butler’s herd. If this definition is the baseline of pedigree purity, then the majority of cattle promoted and sold as straight Butler do not fit this standard. For some breeders who consider themselves “purists”, the infusion of other Texas Longhorn bloodlines into the Butler family pedigree may seem unacceptable. But careful study of history will reveal that “pure” Butler breeding, in the strictest sense, doesn’t exist and never has.
If you were to analyze the cattle sold in longhorn auctions emphasizing a straight Butler bloodline for the last five years, some of these animals' extended pedigree would not support the claim.
The purpose of this analysis is not to disparage any program designed to concentrate on “straight” Butler genetics, but to give a better understanding of what Butler genetics really are. This book has revealed that many “straight” Butler pedigrees contain other Longhorn bloodlines.
Comments from Readers
"Your book is great. I only wish I knew about these facts twenty years ago."
"Being a Butler influenced breeder, I was amazed how many others are as well, but did not know it. This no-spin book reveals the facts about what really is and is not a straight Butler animal. You may not like what you read, but the truth can set you free."
"An amazing addition to the armamentarium of the knowledgeable readers of pedigrees."
Thank you for your interest in The Real Butler Story. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, send a check in the amount of $16.95 plus $2.95 for shipping and handling to Limb Cattle Co., 8375 Lone Star Rd., Washington, TX 77880-5205. We will ship the book to the address printed on the check, unless other shipping instructions are necessary. Volume buyers can contact us at 936-878-2988 to discuss discounted shipping prices!
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