Butler-Turpin Historic House

Butler – Turpin House

While traveling to Northern Kentucky for Spring Break, I decided that we would make a stop at the Butler-Turpin House in General Butler State Park in Carrollton, KY. I had remembered seeing the home several years ago when visiting the park, but had not yet toured the home. Since we had planned to visit Dinsmore Homestead in the afternoon, I scheduled a tour for the morning.

The Butler Beginnings

While the history of the home begins in 1859, the history of the family in Kentucky begins in 1785 with Percival Pierce Butler.

Percival Pierce Butler / Photo Credit: Kentucky National Guard History

Percival, a soldier, Patriot of the Revolutionary War, and first Adjutant Attorney General of Kentucky, was born in 1760 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Thomas and Eleanor Parker Butler. Both Thomas and Eleanor were immigrants from Ireland.

Percival was a captain in the regular army when he entered the Revolutionary War as a lieutenant at the age of 18. He was with the most famous of Revolutionary War heroes; General George Washington at Valley Forge and General Lafayette at Yorktown.

In 1785, Percival moved into Jessamine County, Kentucky where he began his trade of farming. Just shortly after arriving in Kentucky, Percival married Miss Mildred Hawkins of Lexington. They had 10 children together. Five were born in Jessamine County, and five were born in Carroll County, after their move to the mouth of the Kentucky River in 1797, in what is present day Carrollton, Kentucky. Of their 10 children, four of their sons went on to become prominent men in Kentucky and in history.

William Orlando Butler

William Orlando Butler / Photo Credit: Military History Fandom

William Orlando Butler was one of the four prominent Butler sons. He was born in 1791 in Jessamine County, and was fortunate enough to be sent to Transylvania University to study law. But when the War of 1812 broke out, he eagerly joined the fight. He became an aide to General Andrew Jackson, and retired from the military in 1816.

He returned to the two room log family home in Kentucky that was built on the land his father had purchased years before. From there he returned to his study of law, and entered politics under the Democratic party.

The military was not yet done with him however, and in 1846 Butler was commissioned as Major General after the outbreak of the US-Mexican War. Once the war was over, he was nominated as the Democratic party’s candidate for vice-president.

In 1848, he lost the election and retired from public life. He again returned home to the family farm in Kentucky.

In 1859, William sold 127 acres of the western part of the family farm (now the General Butler State Park,) to his niece and her husband Phillip Osbourne Turpin. His niece, Mary Eleanor, was the daughter of his oldest brother, Thomas Langsford Butler.

Turpin Ownership

Phillip Osbourne Turpn / Photo Credit: Find a Grave

Phillip taking ownership of the land, began having the 2 story brick home we see today built. The home was Greek Revival style with Italianate influences, but was considered a farmhouse at the time. Today, it is designated as a mansion.

Once completed, Phillip and Ellen, along with their children, and Ellen’s father Thomas, moved into the home. Unfortunately, Ellen died only a year after the house was completed in 1861. Phillip and his children, along with his father-in-law continued to live in the home. Thomas died in 1880, and Phillip sold the home and its property shortly afterward.

State Park Ownership

As is all too common with Kentucky historical homes, it too passed through several hands before being purchased by the community members of Carrollton, who then donated the home to the Kentucky State Park system in 1931. It was donated to be used as a historic home museum.

Today, it still stands atop a rolling hill overlooking the Kentucky River. While the exterior needs a serious paint job, the interior mantels, wood trim and floors, along with the summer kitchen are all still true to the home and in great condition. Since the home and property are cared for by the State Park system, the home is not open regularly.

Our Visit

A few tips before making this trip: call ahead for the hours to make sure the home will be open, upon arrival go to the lodge to purchase tickets (tickets are not sold at the home), and be patient. I called the day before our trip and was told there were tours on the hour. We arrived shortly before 10 AM only to be told the tour guide was busy elsewhere in the park and wouldn’t be able to start our tour until 10:30. We arrived at the home at 10:30, but waited until 10:45 before the tour guide arrived. He was a wonderful, friendly, and a knowledgeable tour guide, but the experience was a bit frustrating since I had called ahead, and had an afternoon tour booked as well.

The home is beautiful, and reminded me a bit of the Farnsley-Moremen home in Jefferson County. The decor for the period and the architectural styles are very similar. The family cemetery is also on the property just up the road from the home. On this day we were unable to stop as we normally would, as we were scheduled for a tour later in the day and had to hit the highway to make it on time.

If you do find your way to this Northern Kentucky neck of the woods, it is worth a stop, and of course, every dollar helps keep this Kentucky treasure alive and well, just don’t forget to call before you go!

Until next time, Happy Travels!

Interesting Side Note: While researching for this post, I came across a document written by Thomas Langsford Butler to Silas Dinsmore, the uncle of James Dinsmore. We visited the Dinsmore Homestead as our second stop on this day. Click here to see the document.

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