Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 185
Albert Parks Butts (1888-    )
Papers, 1973, n.d.

Descriptive summary


Butts, Albert Parks (1888-    )




1973, n.d.


0.42 linear ft. (1 document boxes)

collection number:

MS 185


Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information


Open for research

publication rights:

Consult Head, Special Collections Department

preferred citation:

Albert Parks Butts Papers, MS 185, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Biographical note

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.)


Collection description

This collection (1973, n.d.) 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.

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.


Container list







Iowa's Golden Age: The Passing of an Era




Our Farm Life and Social,1899 to 1909




A Railroad Builder, R. B. Parks




Sabina Druschel Becker Kropf: A Calhoun County Pioneer




West Bound: I Leave Home