Isaac Butterfield, American Patriot?
Before we jump into the story of Isaac Butterfield, let me start off by saying one of my goals for this year is to apply for membership to the DAR, daughters of the American Revolution. I have a few reasons for this:
-I love history and have always loved digging into my own Ancestry
-I am an avid Gilmore GIrls fan and the DAR gives me major college Rory vibes that I just love.
-I think it would be really cool to join a new organization, serve my community, and learn more about our country’s history.
So, with that being said, this past week I signed up for a 14-day free trial on Ancestry.com. I thought I would start looking at who my ancestors were that would make me eligible to apply for membership into the DAR. See, you have to be able to prove that one of your ancestors was an American patriot during the time of the American Revolution. There are a wide variety of types of service that qualify as patriotism during this time, but the easiest is having an ancestor that actively fought in the American Revolution.
My family also has a family Bible, kept by my grandmother, that details her Father’s direct line all the way back to the actual Mayflower. Given this knowledge, I’m assuming someone in that line fought in the Revolution.
So, on Saturday, aided by homemade cinnamon rolls and my dear Mom, we got clicking away on Ancestry.com. Pretty quickly, we made it all the way back to Isaac Butterfield who indeed fought in the American Revolution. My grandmother’s maiden name is Butterfield – who knew those Butterfields went back so far??
Ancestry.com provided a source that recorded Revolutionary War service and soon I found myself reading online the original document that detailed Isaac’s service as a major in the Revolutionary War. But I couldn’t help but notice that the document stated he only served for 9 days. 9 days? Immediately my interest was piqued. My imagination immediately cooked up stories of his valiant fighting and ultimate death on the battlefield, his widowed wife, and stories of his bravery. But when I did my own digging into his story, that couldn’t have been further from the truth…unfortunately.
The Tale of Isaac Butterfield
After a little digging I discovered the real story of Isaac Butterfield. See, he was marching into Canada with his Colonel, Timothy Bedel, who ended up defying orders and leaving Isaac in charge of the group. So Isaac was left in charge of the group, and the British were encroaching. Isaac, being the patriot that he was, surrendered immediately, without engaging in combat, to the British. All the Americans were briefly taken in as prisoners of war before their release was negotiated as part of a prisoner of war bartering agreement.
Benedict Arnold removed both Timothy Bedel and Isaac Butterfield from command shortly after.
So that’s my brave patriot, friends! I laughed so hard I cried when I read that story. Don’t know if that’s gonna fly with the DAR!
Either way, the story of Isaac Butterfield got me thinking: we often have high expectations for the people we revere, and those expectations aren’t necessarily good. Let me give you a few examples:
The men of Israel were waiting for a strong and mighty warrior to take down Goliath – when they got a shepherd boy named David, they thought they were done for.
When the Jews were looking for someone to save them during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus, no one expected a woman. When Esther stepped on the scene, no one was prepared for what she would do to save them all.
When an angel told Sarah and Abraham they would have children as numerous as the stars in the sky, they probably thought it was happening soon, given that Abraham was already so old. Waiting 90 more years caused them both to lose hope, but indeed Abraham became the father of nations, just as it was promised.
And perhaps the most poignant Biblical example of all, the Jews expected their Messiah to be a mighty warrior who would tear down authority and free them from oppression. When their Messiah entered on a donkey, many lost hope in his ability.
Isaac Butterfield Teaches Me to Be Expectant…Without Expectations
If these stories teach me anything, it’s that looking and waiting expectantly sometimes requires me to drop my own expectations. When we have expectations of how something has to look, it can be easy to overlook something truly special that lies beneath the surface.
So, as for Isaac, I’m excited to look more into his life. Maybe he really does leave much to be desired, but I also know that he had 10 children, a wife he seemed to care for deeply, and left some sort of positive legacy, since three generations past him named children after him.
Let the (hilarious) story of Isaac be an encouragement to all of us today: Being expectant means we sometimes have to drop our own expectations. Everyone has something special that sets them apart. Everyone has a calling from God to do something impactful in this world. Let’s not let our own expectations cause us to overlook what lies beneath the surface in people. With Isaac and with everyone around me today, my prayer is that God will help me see them how He does – full of potential, as His children, and bearing His own image of glory.