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Butler, Missouri is the county seat of Bates County. Laid out in 1852, and named for William Orlando Butler, John C. Kennett was the first settler in the new town. When a large portion of Bates County was split off to form Vernon County in 1855, its county seat of Papinville was no longer near the geographical center of the county, so Butler was chosen to be the seat of government in 1856. Its brick courthouse was destroyed by arson, along with much of Butler’s downtown district, by a volunteer Kansas cavalry squad under orders to Colonel James Montgomery, a jayhawker working with the Union army. Butler was occupied for much of 1862, and in October of that year, the Union 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers and a scouting element from the 5th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry engaged Confederate troops in an area known as Hog Island, near Butler, marking the first time that African-American troops engaged Confederate forces during the Civil War. Butler, along with all of Bates County, Cass, Jackson, and Vernon, came under the controversial Order Number 11, which required the evacuation of all rural residents, regardless of their allegiance, or face imprisonment. When residents returned, the town and much of the county had been burned and looted by Union forces and their sympathizers. Butler was incorporated as a village in 1872, and a city in 1879.

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