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Albert Parks Butts papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0185

Scope and Content

This collection (1973, undated) contains several manuscripts (many in draft form), most of them written by Albert Butts himself. The manuscripts recount tales of his childhood and adult years.

In Iowa’s Golden Age: The Passing of an Era, Butts includes memories of people and events during Butts’ long career as an interurban conductor for the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern railroad. West Bound: I Leave Home describes Butts' journey to Seattle in 1909 to obtain a job as a guard at the World Fair. However, on his way to Seattle, he stopped to visit his uncle in Iowa and stayed and built a career there. A Railroad Builder, R. B. Parks describes the career of Butts’ uncle, Rextor, with whom he worked. Sabina Druschel Becker Kropf: A Calhoun County Pioneer, written for the Calhoun County Historical Society, is a history of Butts’ wife, Sabina, and her family. Also included in the collection is Our Farm Life and Social, 1899 to 1909, which describes Albert’s childhood and was dedicated to his grandchildren.


  • Creation: 1973, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


A. P. (Albert Parks) Butts was born June 12, 1888 in Knox County, Illinois. He spent his early years on his maternal grandparent’s farm in Chariton County, Missouri. His mother had been widowed after only a few years of marriage, and taught school in the country nearby. Later, after his mother’s remarriage, the family moved to a farm near Angola, Indiana. Butts graduated from Indiana High School in Hamilton, Indiana and went to Valparaiso University for two years.

In 1909 he came to Boone, Iowa to visit his uncle, Rextor B. Parks. Parks was a railroad section foreman, laying track on a new section of the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railroad between Hope and Fort Dodge. Parks asked Butts to stay and work a few weeks. Butts was hired and put to work on his uncle’s train and what was intended to be a short visit soon became a career.

In March, 1910, the railroad was short on conductors, so Butts was made acting conductor to take a train to Lundgren, Iowa and then to the North Ogden Mine, also located in Iowa. His first regular run was between Rockwell City and Newton as a freight conductor. In October of 1911, he took the Rockwell City’s passenger conductor job until its discontinuance and then transferred to the Des Moines to Fort Dodge run. With all passenger service discontinued on August 31, 1955, Mr. Butts became a freight conductor on the Webster City branch till his retirement in 1956 with over forty-seven years of service. After his retirement, Butts began writing about railroading.

(Biographical information above paraphrased from The Story of the Fort Dodge Street Railway System by A. P. Butts.)


0.42 Linear Feet (1 document boxes)

Related collection materials

In addition to the material in this collection, the following items are also available:

Iowa Local History Collection (MS-80), Box 7a, File 2 in the Department of Special Collections: Butts, A. P. The Story of the Fort Dodge Street Railway System, Webster City: Grant Press, 1981.

Hamilton, Carl, editor. Pure Nostalgia: Memories of Early Iowa, Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1979. Includes a chapter written by Butts, "From Steam to Diesel." Call number CT234. P 87. Available in Library’s General Collection and in University Archives.

Butts, A.P. Walter Willson and his Crooked Creek Railroad, Webster City: F. Hahne Printing Company, 1976. Call number TF25. C 73. B 87. Available in Special Collections.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0185. Albert Parks Butts papers, 1973, undated
December 12, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672