Butler, Frederick B.

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Exist Dates

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, 2013, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/24006/Roy-Chapman-Andrews
    (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, http://books.google.com/books?id=SSHcAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA2011&lpg=PA2011&dq=west+point+frederic+b+butler&source=bl&ots=yb0pS-2FhY&sig=S0ebTli2evCUdRqroDs-WH7OyNw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=d_1zUsO5AvK3sAT7x4HYBA&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
    (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, http://books.google.com/books?id=78Y3AQAAIAAJ&pg=RA5-PA8&lpg=RA5-PA8&dq=military+academy+department+of+tactics+frederic+butler&source=bl&ots=-2cd2EFbtE&sig=mdjlzuQpK1nDhr5MzJmVYve9AJY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Ag10UumVB5HJsQSRxoGgDQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
    (4) Frederic B. Butler, interview by Raymond Henle, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library,October 6, 1967, transcript, accessed November 22, 2013, http://web2.millercenter.org/hch/oralhistory/butler_frederic_1967_1006.pdf
    (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 Point.
  • 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 War.
  • 1954 - 1960: Manager of the San Francisco International Airport.
  • June 20, 1987: Died.


United States
San Francisco (Calif.)External link
Butler was born and died in the San Francisco area and lived here intermittently throughout his life.
Tianjin (China)External link
dates: 1924-1925

Butler was stationed in Tianjin as a lieutenant in the Army.
MongoliaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

dates: 1925

Butler was assistant topographer on the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition.
Washington (D.C.)External link
dates: 1929-1933

Butler worked as Assistant Director of Public Buildings and Parks.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Butler, Philippi H. (Philippi Harding), 1899-1984.External link
associated dates: 1924-1984

Frederick Butler's wife, Philippi, was in Tianjin (Tientsin), China, during the expedition. Later, she worked at the White House as personal secretary to First Lady Lou Hoover.
Butler, William H.
Frederick Butler's son.
Central Asiatic Expeditions (1921-1930)
Appointed assistant topographer for the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition, Butler worked as part of a three-member team to survey the area and map the expedition route.
Henderson, Mary (Mimi).
Frederick Butler's granddaughter.
Henderson, Philippa Butler.
Frederick Butler's daughter.
Henderson, R. Philip.
Frederick Butler's grandson.
Henderson, Robert.
Frederick Butler's grandson.
Reardon, Patricia Butler.
Frederick Butler's daughter.
Roberts, L. B.
As chief topographer, Major L. B. Roberts headed the topographic team.
Robinson, H. O.
Robinson worked as assistant topographer with Butler and Roberts.
Sesnon, Kathleen Henderson.
Frederick Butler's granddaughter.
United States Army. External link
associated dates: 1918-1953
United States Army. Infantry Regiment, 168th.External link
associated dates: 1942-1945

Butler commanded the 168th Infantry Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division in the North Africa and Italian campaigns of World War II.
United States Military Academy.External link
associated dates:

Butler graduated in 1918 and returned as an instructor briefly in the 1920s.

Related Resources

Frederick B. Butler collection on the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition, 1924-1927
associated dates:

Creator: Frederick B. Butler. Extent: 1 linear foot (3 boxes) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .B88
Central Asiatic Expeditions papers, circa 1919-1930s
associated dates: 1919-1930s

Creator: American Museum of Natural History. Extent: 7 linear feet (14 boxes) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .C446
Roy Chapman Andrews papers, 1912-1944
associated dates: 1912-1944

Creator: Roy Chapman Andrews Extent: 12 linear feet (20 boxes) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .A51-.A54
Philippi Harding Butler Papers, 1898-1976
associated dates: 1898-1976

Creator: Philippi Harding Butler Extent: 3 linear feet Repository: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Notable Material: Includes interview with Frederick Butler
Pogue Interview with Frederick Butler
Repository: The George C. Marshall Research Library http://www.marshallfoundation.org/library/pogue_tapes/butler_main.html

Written by: Laura Smith
Last modified:


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