Ovid Butler
1801-1881

Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Ovid Butler

     Ovid Butler was born February 7, 1801 in Augusta, New York. His father Chancey Butler was one of the earliest preachers in the Restoration Movement in Indiana, as the family moved there in 1817 when Ovid was sixteen years of age. They settled in Jennings County, Indiana.  He studied law and became a lawyer practicing in Shelbyville, Indiana from 1825 to 1836. During this time he met and married Cordelia Cole. 

     The Butlers then moved to Indianapolis in 1836. Two years after arriving in Indianapolis Cordelia died. Later he married Mrs. Elizabeth A. Elgin, the daughter of Thomas McQuat. He established a law firm, where for the next eleven years he built a profitable business. He had three law partners: Calvin Fletcher, Simon Yanders and Horatio C. Newcomb. 

     He was very interested in the issues that plagued the day, namely slavery in the U.S. In 1849 he established a paper called, Free Soil Banner in Indianapolis. It was a political paper with much emphasis on anti-slavery. In 1849 due to bad health he gave up his law practice bringing an early retirement. 

     In addition to a love for the law, his pious spirit drove him to know and live for Jesus all his life. He preached the old time gospel and desired that education for young men and women in the ways of truth was a great need in society. Until that point churches of Christ had schools of preaching, and general Bible training schools, but as yet no university in the state. The Christian Record for December, 1847 recorded: "We, the undersigned, being a committee appointed at the last State meeting of the Church of Christ held at Greensburg, for the purpose of locating a college at some point in the State." Then it was signed by Ovid Butler, Elijah Goodwin, L.H. Jameson, and M.B. Hopkins, Committee" 

     On January 15, 1850 the Indiana General Assembly approved a school for the Christian Movement. Over the next five years Butler labored raising $75,000 for its establishment. He initially purchased some property on the outskirts of Indianapolis for $4000.00 that was approved by a board of directors including: John O'Kane, T. P. Connelly, J.M. Mathes and others. On November 1, 1855 the North Western Christian Christian University opened its doors.   Butler served as the head of the Board of Directors for the next sixteen years retiring because of bad health at the age of seventy, 1871. He was made Chancellor of the University. In his honor the University received a new name, Butler University after its loyal founder and builder on February 28, 1877. 

     He spent the last years of his life with his family at home.  Ovid Butler died July 12, 1881 in Indianapolis, Indiana and is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery. His second wife, Elizabeth died a year later in 1882.


North Western Christian University From 1855-1874


Home Of Butler University From 1875-1928


Home Of Butler University After 1928
Jordan Memorial Building


Butler University Today

Directions To The Grave Of Ovid Butler

Ovid Butler is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana. Traveling On I-65 North Out Of Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana Take The Dr. Martin Luther King Street Exit - Exit 117. (Note: If you cross White River, You Have Gone Too Far) Go North On Dr. Martin Luther King Street. Turn Right On West 32nd Street. Cemetery Will Be On Your Left. Go Until The Road Dead Ends Into Boulevard And Turn Left. There Will Be An Entrance To The Cemetery As You Cross The 34th Street Intersection. Turn Left Into The Cemetery. Lot 14, Section 6. Butler's grave is in the same section as son-in-law, Patrick H. Jameson. See map of cemetery here!

GPS Coordinates
N39 49.196' x W86 10.485'
Grave Facing East
Accuracy to 28ft.
Section 6, Lot 14
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Note Butler Plot To The Left

Note: Special thanks is extended to Terry J. Gardner of Indianapolis, Indiana for grave photos and supplying information of the final resting place of Ovid Butler.  Some information and the Butler University pictures were taken from Disciples Of Christ In Indiana, by Commodore Wesley Cauble c.1930

Crown Hill Cemetery Map

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