1886 October 5 - 1987 June 20
Biographical or Historical Note
- Frederick B. Butler, (born October 5, 1886, California--died June 20,
1987, California), cartographer and Army engineer, who was appointed assistant
topographer for the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition. After
graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1918, Butler had a
long career in the Army until his retirement ca. 1954.
Frederick Butler was born in California on October 5, 1886. He graduated from the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1918 and from the U.S. Army Engineer
School ca. 1921 (1, 2). In 1925, First Lieutenant Butler was a cartographer with
the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. He had been recently married and stationed in
Tianjin (Tientsin), China, when he was appointed assistant topographer for the
1925 field season of the Third Central Asiatic Expedition led by Roy Chapman
Andrews. Butler worked as part of a three-member topographic team headed by
Chief topographer, Major L. B. Roberts. Butler and his team left Peking
(Beijing), China for Mongolia on April 11, 1925. The topographic team traveled a
couple days in advance of the rest of the expedition to conduct topographical
surveys of the area. The team recorded the expedition route and located on the
maps places of particular scientific interest. During the trip, Butler also
interacted with Mongolian natives and took note of the changing political times.
The trip ended in August of 1925 and Butler returned to Tientsin. He went on to
write a report on the trip for his Army superiors, a published article on his
cartographic work, and gave lectures on his experiences.
After the expedition, Butler returned to West Point as an instructor in the
department of tactics (3). In the 1930s, Butler worked as Assistant Director of
Public Buildings and Parks in Washington D.C. while his wife worked as a White
House secretary. Both Butler and his wife worked in close contact with President
Herbert Hoover and the first lady (4). Butler and his wife moved back San
Francisco after Hoover’s presidency, where he helped build Treasure Island, an
artificial island for the 1939–1940 Golden Gate International Exposition (5).
Butler served as Brigadier General during World War II and was involved in the
African and Italian campaigns and the invasion of Southern France. He received
the Distinguished Service Cross and the Legion of Merit. After retiring from the
Army ca. 1954, Butler became manager of the San Francisco International Airport
(6). He died on June 20, 1987.
(1) "Frederic Bates Butler," Military Times, accessed November 22,
(2) George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and
Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York Since its
Establishment in 1802, Volume VI-B, (Saginaw, MI: Seemann & Peters, 1920 ),
accessed November 22, 2013,
(3) Official Register of Officers and Cadets of the United States
Military Academy for 1922, (West Point, NY: United States Military Academy
Printing Office, 1922), accessed November 22, 2013,
(4) Frederic B. Butler, interview by Raymond Henle, Herbert Hoover
Presidential Library,October 6, 1967, transcript, accessed November 22, 2013,
(5) John Bernard McGloin, "Symphonies in Steel: Bay Bridge and the
Golden Gate," The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, 1978, accessed
November 22, 2013, http://www.sfmuseum.net/hist9/mcgloin.html
(6) San Mateo Times (San Mateo, CA), August 25, 1954, accessed November
22, 2013, http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/51877856/
- October 05, 1886: Born.
- 1918: Graduated from the United States Military Academy at West
- 1921: Graduated from United States Army Engineer School.
- 1924: Married Philippi Harding.
- 1925: Assistant topographer on the Third Asiatic Expedition.
- 1926: Daughter, Patricia, born.
- 1926 - 1927: Instructor in the department of tactics at the United States Military
Academy at West Point.
- 1929: Son, William, born.
- 1929 - 1933: Assistant Director of Public Buildings and Parks.
- 1935: Daughter, Philippa "Popsy" born.
- 1939: Engineer for Golden Gate International Exposition.
- 1941 - 1945: Brigadier General during World War II.
- 1951 - 1952: Commander of Fort McCoy, training center during the Korean
- 1954 - 1960: Manager of the San Francisco International Airport.
- June 20, 1987: Died.
- United States
Butler was born and died in the San Francisco area and lived here
intermittently throughout his life.
- Tianjin (China)
Butler was stationed in Tianjin as a lieutenant in the Army.
Butler was assistant topographer on the 1925 field season of the Third
- Washington (D.C.)
Butler worked as Assistant Director of Public Buildings and Parks.