An Indiana-based author traces his family history in this genealogical study.
The title of this work is drawn from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, which begins: “Consider the rock from which you were hewn.” Reynolds (The Harmonious Echo, 2015) cleverly proceeds to do just that by first introducing his ancestors, the Butlers, as they sit around the table for Christmas dinner in 1929. He draws a sketch of each family member, beginning with Edwin Butler, a “handsome man,” “an outdoorsman,” and “photographer.” Beside him is his wife, Clarice, a “ ‘lady,’ in the proper old sense of the word.” After establishing a sense of intimacy, the author delves into the past to find the origins of the Butler name, which has a predominantly British heritage. Reynolds finds that his ancestors fought with the Scottish warrior William Wallace and “were part of the pageantry” when King James I of England was crowned. The author’s family tree reveals a bounty of captivating individuals, from an indentured servant who was sent to America to John Butland, who changed his name to Butler to avoid being associated with a family of the same name with a bad reputation, and the intrepid Winnie Butler, whose travels took her to Alaska, Norway, Rome, and beyond. Reynolds embroiders his family’s story into the more expansive fabric of history beautifully at times. For example, when portraying the youthful Clarice, he describes the fashions of the age: “When Clarice Hawkins was a young girl, the beau ideal of a young woman was the Gibson Girl, the creation of pen-and-ink artist Charles Dana Gibson.” This startlingly detailed background information allows readers to consider all of the family members as distinct products of their eras. The passionately written and painstakingly researched book contains a wealth of intriguing information and is richly illustrated using family photographs, lithographs, maps, and pedigree charts. Reynolds’ study should be a source of great interest and inspiration to readers keen on investigating their ancestors’ histories.
A far-reaching, animated, and thoroughly enjoyable account of a family’s roots.