There aren’t many people in the Homewood-Flossmoor area who haven’t passed over Butterfield Creek while driving down Dixie Highway. Flossmoor also has a Butterfield Road and a Butterfield Lane.
Although many are familiar with the name, most people probably don’t know its significance.
Benjamin Butterfield was one of the earliest settlers in the area today we know as Flossmoor. His biography is that of a true pioneer. He is one who Horace Greeley’s famous quote “go west, young man …”
aptly applies to even though Butterfield heeded this mantra decades before Greeley wrote it.
Butterfield was born June 11, 1794, in Washington County, New York. His father died before he was born, so he was reared by an uncle. He married Martha Mary Morrison in 1817.
The couple set up housekeeping and farmed in New York until 1818.
After the birth of their second child the urge to move west became too strong for Butterfield, and the young family moved to Ohio, where they spent two years.
Then they packed up and moved to Parke County, Indiana, about 1821. The Butterfields were some of the first settlers in that area.
Not content to stay put, they moved west again, crossing the state line into Illinois and settled in Newell Township, Vermilion County, near present day Danville, in late February 1825.
By the end of 1830, Martha had died and Benjamin was married to Elizabeth Scott.
He developed the “itch” to be on the move again. He traveled to Will County and in November of 1830 purchased 80 acres in what is now Lockport Township.
The couple had several more children there. On the frontier, the family had to seek safety at Fort Dearborn during the Black Hawk War in the spring and summer of 1832.
A normal life for the Butterfields was to be on the move, and move they did in 1834.
This time to the east along the scenic creek that bears the family name, which runs through Homewood and Flossmoor.
Their original homestead here comprises much of Idlewild Country Club today. Here, the Butterields had three more children.
Butterfield eventually owned 400 acres in what was to become Bloom Township and in addition to farming, he ran a well-known “Hoosier” tavern and inn along the Chicago-Vincennes Road, the historic Hubbard’s Trail which is now Dixie Highway.
The Butterfields lived here for 21 years and were well respected. After Bloom Township was organized, Ben was elected to the post of overseer of the poor.
By 1855, Butterfield turned 60, an old age for many men of his time, but not for Butterfield. He and Elizabeth joined a son and his family on another move west.
This time the Butterfields became one of the pioneer families settling in Reeve Township in Franklin County, Iowa.
The first years following this move were not kind to the family. In March 1856, Ben received word that his oldest son had died back in Vermilion County. To compound his sorrow, the son whom Butterfield lived with in Iowa died in January 1857.
Despite these travails, Benjamin and Elizabeth lived a full life in Iowa. Butterfield died on April 28, 1878, and Elizabeth passed away on Aug. 22, 1883. Both died in their 83rd year and are buried in Franklin County.
Though long removed from the south suburbs, their name is still well known here.