HISTORY MYSTERY: Earl Butterfield
Earl Butterfield, our 49th Town Supervisor, is shown in this picture with his granddaughter Jody, son Gary who is mayor of North Syracuse ,and his wife Maureen. Earl accepted from the town on October 2, 2017 a Proclamation of his service to the Town of Clay.
I was fortunate to catch him in town after he celebrated his 97th birthday and was heading for California for a reunion of the remaining members of the Jolly Rogers 90th Bomber group, who served in WWII, to celebrate his birthday with them. Colonel Rogers was their commanding officer. After that they headed for Orlando, Florida for the winter, which he had been doing since 1980.
Earl was born on October 6, 1915 to Earl N. and Lucy Turo Butterfield and graduated from North Syracuse High School in 1932. From 1937 to 1951, he was a Railway postal clerk. However, during WWII, while serving as Captain on Active Duty Rack in the US Army Air Force, he piloted B24’s on 56 combat missions in the south West Pacific with the Jolly Rogers and earned the Distinguished Cross. In the US Air Force Reserve, he was Lt. Col. Butterfield. Earl married his wife of 57 years in 1947, Maxine A. Cole. They had a daughter, Kristin and a son, Gary. His present wife BeeJay he met at a reunion when the remains of her brother, also in the Jolly Rogers, were found after being lost in action in New Guinea for 64 years.
A lifelong member of the North Syracuse Baptist Church, he gave land to them in memory of Howard Golden of the Jolly Rogers who was killed in action. He founded Butterfield Homes, Inc. developed Butterfield Circle, served as President of the Home Builders Association of CNY, was a member of the NYS Realtors Association, past president of North Syracuse Rotary, oldest member of the North Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, named Today’s Patriot by the North Syracuse Knights of Columbus. and inducted in the CNS Wall of Fame in 1990 and Military Honor Roll in 1916. As town of Clay Supervisor (1970-1971), he hired Ron Hongo, CPA, who introduced computers to the town of Clay offices. Earl Had many more accomplishments before he passed away on August 20, 2018. What I remember are his “Memories of Clay in the 20’s and 30’s”* in his own words.
“In 1925, my family moved to Buckley Road when I was nine years old. They bought a farm just north of present day Taft Road where Kirstin Road and Butterfield Circle are now. Buckley Road and Taft Road (then called Fayetteville road) were lined with working vegetable farms. We were in the Brown School, Brown School being a two-room school where Buckley Road Baptist Church now stands. It had no plumbing or electricity. The annual school meeting was sort of a social affair and many people brought lanterns for light. One of the teachers, Miss mastriano roomed at our house and paid my mother $3.50 a week for room and board. Two of the neighboring families and us, comprising six kids, chose to pay tuition to go to the brand new North Syracuse School. In good weather we rode our bicycles to school and in bad weather our parents formed a car pool to take us. I started in fifth grade in the fall of 1925. Wilford Down was principal.
“Most of the farms were run with horsepower, but a few had tractors. Hafner Brothers had a Cletract Crawler and Jake Kaestle had a Fordson. George Hafner, Churck’s father, could mark the straightest rows with his horse of anyone around. As soon as I was old enough, I started to peddle the Syracuse Journal on Fayetteville road. One of my favorite customers was Hinerwadel’s. They are the only people I can think of that are in the same business now as they were then. The papers came on the trolley and they droped off at stop 6 at the intersection of Fayetteville and Brewerton Roads. If the trolley didn’t have to stop for passengers, the motor man kicked the bundle of papers out the door. Occasionally, they would get sucked under the car and spread papers everywhere. There was a footpath from Brewerton Road to the trolley shelter, as Taft Road wasn’t cut through then. I later expanded my route to include Pleasant Avenue and Melrose Drive.
“When we moved to the farm, Buckley Road north of Fayetteville and Taft (Vine Street) west of Buckley were plain dirt roads. A road improvement project was begun on Buckley to make an all-weather gravel road. Some of the teamsters on the project stayed at our house. Not long after that, Vine was paved with concrete. Because of the Depression. Caughdenoy Road was paved with concrete on one side only for years. It was called the Half Road.”
*June 5, 2002 Eagle 175th Clay Anniversary issue.
Dorothy Heller, Historian