Annette Blount: Discovery of local woman’s 1800s books a genealogical treasure

Annette Blount

A few years ago I received a telephone call from the Johnson County History Museum Library. The lady on the phone asked if we had a particular book by Rachel Quick Buttz. Rachel was a native of Bartholomew County. I was not familiar with her at the time, but I looked in our catalog and found that we did not have the book in question. They were weeding their collection and wanted to send us the book. I told the lady on the phone I would take it. The book is a collection of poetry titled “Blades and Blossoms” published in 1911. This made me curious about Rachel Quick Buttz. Who was she and what could I find out about her?

I was slightly familiar with the name Tunis Quick. Tunis Quick was a judge in Bartholomew County. He lived in Flat Rock Township and Rachel was his daughter. Most of the family is buried in Flat Rock Baptist Cemetery. The house the family lived in is still standing today. I wondered if Rachel wrote any other books besides the book of poetry I was sent. I found an online copy, through Google Books, of a book Rachel wrote about her childhood and about becoming a young woman in Bartholomew County, Indiana. The book is titled “A Hoosier Girlhood.” It is a wonderful portrait of what it was like to grow up in the mid- to late 1800s in Bartholomew County.

Rachel Nelson Quick Buttz was born December 19, 1847, in Bartholomew County. She died here in September 6, 1923 at age 75. She wrote “A Hoosier Girlhood” for her daughter. Rachel wanted to give her daughter a glimpse into her childhood. The publication of the book in 1924 allows us to share that glimpse of Rachel’s childhood in Bartholomew County before we were here to experience it.

She tells of her experiences at North-Western Christian University, which we know as Butler University. She speaks about and describes Cormantown, which was a little town near the area where Owens Bend Park is now. Rachel tells us of the Flat Rock Baptist Church, which used to stand near the cemetery. She tells of her trip to Missouri after her marriage to “Mr. Buttz”. I know how long that trip seems going across Illinois and Missouri on my way to Oklahoma in a car. I can only imagine what it was like going to Illinois and then on to Missouri in a horse drawn wagon. What a trip! Those are just some of the topics included in her book.

Not only is Rachel’s book a wonderful find for local history but it is also a great contribution for the genealogist. One of the families she speaks of being close to is the Brevoort family. Dr. Jason Brevoort lived south of Walesboro in Wayne Township in Bartholomew County. His family is primarily buried in Daugherty Cemetery. Rachel speaks about William, Edwin and Frank, the three Brevoort sons, with great fondness. It was a special time for the children to visit the home of their friends in Wayne Township and for their friends to come and visit them in Flat Rock Township. Edwin at one time was Rachel’s teacher. She speaks of the Brevoort family quite a bit in her book.

One of the most unexpected finds I had from reading Rachel’s book was discovering the cause of death of young Frank Brevoort. In 1868 tragedy struck the Brevoort family when Frank drowned in the river. Rachel describes the loss in her book. There were no death records in 1868, so the account of Frank’s death in Rachel’s book is a genealogy treasure for someone researching the Brevoort family. I have uploaded the account of Frank’s death from Rachel’s book to Frank’s Find a Grave memorial page.

Since the book was published in 1924 the copyright is no longer an issue and Albert Francis “Frank” Brevoort (Memorial #91923027) has more than a death date on his Find a Grave page. His story is recorded in Rachel’s book so others now can know what happened to him.

We are not always fortunate enough to find out what happened to our ancestors. We don’t always have a friend write a book and include our story in it, but as I have always heard at every conference and every meeting I have been to: leave no stone unturned. You never know where you might find the answer you are looking for. Who would have thought to look for the story of Frank Brevoort’s death in a book titled “A Hoosier Girlhood?” Also, sometimes it is helpful to look at sources you looked at before to see if the information has been updated. Frank’s memorial was originally posted in 2012. I added the pages about his death in December 2022. Sometimes updates are added and it might be worth it to look again. I know it might seem like a waste of time, but it can be worth the little bit of extra time you spend looking at it again.

If you would like to read a copy of Rachel’s book, “A Hoosier Girlhood,” you might be able to Interlibrary loan a copy. If you cannot Interlibrary loan a copy, you will have to settle for a digital copy on Google Books. Our library does not own a physical copy of the book but aren’t you glad in this digital age you can still access a copy?

Annette Blount is the genealogy librarian at the Bartholomew County Public Library. Send comments to [email protected].