Susan Elizabeth Redd Butler was born on 14 December 1880 in New Harmony, Utah. She was the eighth of 14 children belonging to Lemuel Hardison Redd and Sariah Louisa Chamberlin. As a young child she and her family moved from Harmony to Bluff, Utah, a journey that brought with it some trouble. When the family ran out of water, they didn’t know what else to do but pray. Not long after their prayer, it rained, and they were able to refill their empty kegs. After moving to Colonia Juárez, Mexico, Susan attended and graduated from the Juárez Stake Academy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On 12 February 1902, in Colonia Juárez, she married John Topham Butler, and together they had 7 children, Marita, John Wendell, Olga, Karl Douglas Butler, Sr., Hazel, Louise, and Elbert Merwin. They moved to Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico, where they helped to settle the area and she had her first child, Marita. After some time there, the family endured flash flooding, which washed away much of their crops, and which destroyed many homes and household goods in the town. Left destitute, Susan and her family moved from Colonia Morelos to Douglas, Arizona, and then to Lehi, Arizona in 1914, where they ran a store in addition to their farm work. Unfortunately, the store burned down. Moving to Mesa, Arizona, the family planted cotton in hopes of finding success, but that proved to bring bad luck, too, as the market for cotton dropped dramatically, leaving them destitute and in debt again. Next, they tried a dairy farm, until that failed as well. After all this hardship, and 6 more children, tragedy struck once more, and Susan lost her husband, John, to a fire, in 1940. The important thing to Susan through all of her bad luck was how she met her misfortune. Susan developed a love for playing piano while she was in Douglas. She struck a deal with a neighbor, paying for lessons with milk from her family’s cow, and eventually, through her hard work, was able to play hymns for Sunday School, often with a baby on her lap. Eventually, she became good enough to start teaching lessons of her own. In her old age, after all her children had grown up and moved out, she spent her time traveling around the country, in an effort to expand her knowledge and experiences, and visiting every LDS Temple in the world at the time. She died on 25 March 1977 in Mesa, Arizona, at the age of 96.
This collection is comprised of 3 folders, the first containing 27 pages of construction paper, covered with newspaper clippings, invitations, photographs, and cards relevant to Susan and her family. The second contains an additional 31 pages of the same, and the third folder contains a handwritten school essay, entitled, “The Turtle: A Composition by Susie Redd, Colonia Jaurez, Mex. Mar. 25, 1894,” as well as a photocopy of some news articles about George and Mesia Romney, the mission president and his wife of the Northern States Mission at the time of the article’s publication. The folder also holds a collection of 15 pages of loose leaf notebook paper, with handwritten notes, including a copy of a letter sent to the secretary of agriculture, Washington 1963, as well as notes on lectures about storytelling, following the Spirit, and public speaking. The final piece in this folder is 9-page handwritten talk Susan gave in the Tempe Ward, 25 August 1955, detailing her then-recent travels around the country with her son, Wendell. She mentions a visit paid to her daughter, Olga, and her husband, Jack Hicks Hopper. She also describes a painting known as “The Crucifixion,” by Jan Styka, and the Hill Cumorah Pageant, as she witnessed it in Palmyra, New York.