|The surrey on the Butts farm, ca.1930|
Elizabeth Butts Casey Case was the granddaughter of Elias Butts, a farmer who had migrated from New Jersey to settle on South Hill in Avon Township before the Civil War. Elizabeth, or "Lizzie," as she was locally known, was also the second wife of Rochester hardware merchant Charles W. Case.
The Butts surrey has ties not only to families prominent in Rochester's history, but also to the history of the automotive industry. The surrey was manufactured by the Dunlap Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, which was launched in August 1898 as an offshoot of the Pontiac Buggy Company. Dunlap was meant to produce lighter-duty carriages, while Pontiac Buggy concentrated on the heavy-duty vehicles. The Dunlap company lasted only ten years; in 1908 it was merged back into the Pontiac Buggy Company. Pontiac Buggy, in turn, was one of several concerns that were merged to form the Oakland Motor Car Company. In 1909, Oakland Motor Car became part of General Motors, and was the ancestor of the Pontiac brand.
|The surrey on its way to restoration in 2014|
Rochester Avon Historical Society is working to return the Butts surrey to the streets of Rochester. The surrey has been transported to northern Indiana where an Amish carriage maker will undertake the repair and restoration of the vehicle. When it returns home in a few months, it will look much as it did when the Butts family was using it on the streets of Rochester about 115 years ago.
RAHS is currently raising funds to complete this project. If you would like to contribute to the restoration of the Butts surrey, visit rochesteravonhistoricalsociety.org and click the "Save the Surrey" link to make an online donation, or send your check to Rochester-Avon Historical Society, P.O. Box 80783, Rochester, MI 48308-0783. Please note the word "surrey" on your check or online donation.
For the complete history of the Butts surrey from the RAHS web site, click here. For more pictures of the surrey before restoration, click here.