I’ve started this post many times but have found myself unable to complete the task. What is so difficult you might ask? Well, I find it hard to write about a man that I see as a user, a deceiver, a man who abandoned his family. And I think it is that last item that bothers me the most. I abhor the idea of men and women, mothers and fathers abandoning their children and when I find it happening in my family as I research my ancestors it bothers me.
Hiram Erastus Butler was born July 1841 in Lee, Oneida County, New York to Solomon Butler and Sarah Duel. He grew up on a farm in Oneida County and had little formal education. Hiram was the first cousin of George Robinson Duel, my 3rd great-grandfather. Although George might have known of Hiram, I see no evidence that they would have ever met.
Hiram, or H.E. Butler as he was also known, served in the U.S. Army during the American Civil War. He suffered some kind of injury because he is in a hospital in Pennsylvania where he is nursed by one Sophia Agnes Wilson, they marry about 1864. Their son Elmer is born in Pennsylvania in 1865, daughter Olla Elutheria is born in Delaware in 1867, and daughter Sophia Agnes is born in Pennsylvania in 1870. And in 1870, H.E. Butler has left his family and is living in New York beginning his new life as an Occultist and Spiritual leader. For a scholarly and more in depth look at H.E. Butler and his beliefs read Mark Demarest’s blog at http://ehbritten.blogspot.com/.
H.E. Butler created the Society for Esoteric Culture and preyed on women first in Boston and run out of that town for what the local newspaper euphemistically alleges as sexually assaulting the students, he heads next for San Francisco and tries once more. It is the 1890’s and so his previous dealings in Boston are quickly found out causing H.E. Butler to leave town once more and so he finds himself in Applegate, Placer County, California. Near Sacramento, Placer County is the home of the 1849 Gold Rush and in the 1890’s is still a wild, unsettled place. Here Hiram purchases land and creates his lasting legacy, The Esoteric Fraternity. What? You’ve never heard of it? I promise that you have most likely participated in it at some time. Don’t believe me?
Hiram Erastus Butler, user, deceiver, abandoner, maybe even a rapist, wrote a book in 1897 entitled, “Solar Biology” and that book and his beliefs are the foundation for today’s horoscope as found in most daily newspapers and many magazines in the United States. H. E. Butler left his children to grow up in a Home for Abandoned Children, apparently thinking only of himself, I think he has received his “just desserts” in that he created something that is used around the world and yet no one today remembers his name.