One of those four was Dorothy Butler who escaped from Kentucky at about the age of seven with her mother, Nellie, and older sister Sophie. The three women were brought to the Thomas house by a Colonel Wheeler. Dorothy and her mother were then placed with the family of Delamore Duncan, president of the Schoolcraft and Three Rivers Railroad Company, who was known to take part in Underground Railroad activities. Sophie, the fifteen year old, was sent to live with Jeanette Brown, a sister of Parmela Duncan, who lived on a farm a few miles west. The small family went on to spend most of their lives in Kalamazoo County.
As described as an adult, Dorothy Butler was a “tall spare woman with a sallow complexion and blond kinky hair, a brisk manner, and a hearty laugh.” She lived in Kalamazoo most of her adult life, was employed as a housekeeper “in some of the fine homes,” and was considered a marvelous cook. Judging from information found in the 1880 census, Dorothy and Nellie must have spent some time living with Sophie and her husband, George Bass, in Decatur. George is shown to have served in the Colored Infantry, Company 1 during the Civil War.
Dorothy, or Dolly as she was sometimes called, appears in the census records of 1910 as working in the home of Albert and Dora Gates, residents of South Street in Kalamazoo. Gates was president of C.H. Dutton. an engine manufacturing company.
Source: “The Underground Railroad” – Schoolcraft, Michigan by Ella Thomas, Kalamazoo Gazette, January 4, 1932. Photo from the Archives and Regional History Collection of Western Michigan University.