Butler County was named in honor of General William Orlando Butler, a Kentucky statesman, officer in the Mexican War and a unsuccessful candidate for the vice presidency in 1848.
In 1853 a full staff of county officials was elected to start governing. Because the office positions were not considered sufficiently lucrative, a trip to Independence to swear in the officials was never made, and the office holders failed to qualify.
In August 1854, elections were held again, and the officials this time took the oath of office.
The first courthouse was constructed at Clarksville in 1858. The two-story courthouse was constructed of bricks and cost approximately $20,000 to complete.
Soon after this building was completed there were numerous battles over the removal of the county seat. The most prominent of those battles came from the town of Butler Center. An election was held in April 1858, in which Butler Center won by only 21 votes. The citizens of Clarksville then obtained an injunction blocking the removal of the county seat. In July of 1859 the district court found irregularities in the election and issued an order voiding the election. A second election was then held in April 1860. Again Butler Center won, but this time by a majority of 80 votes. So, in 1860 the county seat was removed to Butler Center for a period of 20 years. The old courthouse was sold to the local school district for $2,800.
Butler Center erected a simple, two-story frame courthouse that cost only $2,000. The two-acre site of land was donated by Arthur Mullarkey.
The residents of Butler County became disenchanted with the town of Butler Center as their county seat. It was removed to the city of Allison in 1881 after several elections. It was there where the county constructed its third courthouse. The residents of Allison donated $7,000 to the $10,000 project. In 1903 an addition was added to the courthouse at a cost of $5,000, and in 1937 a second addition was completed. It cost approximately $9,000. Finally, $5,000 was used to remodel the courtroom in 1959. In the mid-1970s, an attorney expressed interest in buying the courthouse, dismantling it, and moving it to California to use as a law office. The deal fell through, but this courthouse was replaced by the current courthouse in 1974.
The present courthouse is located just south of the previous courthouse’s location. Total cost of the project was $936,950.84, just under the $940,000 that was allowed by the bond election in 1973. This building was officially dedicated on December 14, 1975.
On November 25, 1975 a Iowa National Guard helicopter lifted the 94-year-old cupola off of the courthouse and placed it on the grounds. Today it sits as a historic display and a hall of fame of Butler County residents.
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