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Guide to the Adherble T.D. Button Collection, San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Legal Status
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California. Department of Parks and Recreation. Adherble T.D. Button Collection, San Juan Bautista State Historic Park,
    Date (inclusive): 1848-1905
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1880-1886).
    Collection number: 411.1
    Collector: California State Parks
    Extent: 3.75 cubic ft. (7 boxes)
    Repository: California State Parks
    San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
    P.O. Box 787
    San Juan Bautista, CA 95045-0787
    Abstract: The Adherble T. D. Button Collection consists of correspondence both to and from A.T.D. Button, and illuminates a particular period of history in San Benito County that has long since disappeared, the mining of quicksilver in support of the gold mining operations of the Sierras in the great decades of the Gold Rush in California, 1849-1879.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please contact the Monterey District Museum Curator at 831-649-7118.
    Language: English.

    Legal Status


    Administrative Information


    The collections are open for research by appointment only. Appointments may be made by calling 831-623-4526.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the California Department of Parks and Recreation, San Juan Bautista State Historic Park.

    Preferred Citation

    Suggested citation of these records is: [Identification of item], California State Parks, Adherble T.D. Button Collection, San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, San Juan Bautista, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    The papers were donated to San Juan Bautista State Historic Park by Mr. S. Grant Button in a series of eight accessions btween the years 1940-1944.

    Processing History

    Prior to the State hiring an archivist, the Button papers had some good organization work done by a park volunteer. Each item was individually housed in a mylar sleeve and a typed transcript made for each letter. The items were then housed in individual hanging folders and filed in a filing cabinet according to accession. Three binders with copies of each of the typed transcriptions were made as a finding aid. The binders of transcriptions were arranged chronologically.
    The archivist took each item out of the individual hanging folders and rearranged them to match the chronological arrangement of the typed transcriptions in the binders. Correspondence for each year in the chronology was foldered and the total was placed in 7 archival document cases. A proper finding aid was produced.


    Adherble Thomas Dale Button (1832-1904), a native of Covenant, Erie County, Pennsylvania, was among the earliest settlers of the Hernandez Valley, San Benito County, California. In the late 1850s, Button left Pennsylvania for California, leaving behind his wife Lucelia, who joined him at a later date. He ended up initially in Placer County, possibly working as a foreman for a mining company until the mid-1860s. While in the gold country he and his wife produced four sons, Ira, Ival, Carroll and Grant. In the mid to late 1860s he moved his family to San Mateo County where he lived and worked in San Mateo and Redwood City. His son J. Edward was born in San Mateo and a daughter, May, followed a few years later. While living in Redwood City, Button worked for the Corte Madera Water Company, a firm that supplied water to the Atherton area. Assorted documents show that he came to San Benito County sometime in the 1870s. He either homesteaded or bought land in the Hernandez Valley. He worked as superintendent of the re-opened Picacho Quicksilver Mine in the 1870s and 1880s and became an established and respected figure in the county, serving on the board of the local school district and as postmaster of the local Post Office. Button was twice elected Justice of the Peace in 1875 and 1877. He was instrumental in naming Erie Township, San Benito County, after his Pennsylvania birthplace. A long time member of the International Order of Oddfellows, Button died in 1904 at the age of 72 and is buried in the old Oddfellows cemetery in Hollister, along with most of his family.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    The Adherble T.D. Button Collection at San Juan Bautista State Historic Park consists of correspondence to and from Adherble T.D. Button, a pioneer of southern San Benito County who arrived in California from his native Pennsylvania in the early 1850s. The correspondence dates between the years 1848-1904. The collection contains a good selection of correspondence relating to his work as superintendent of the Picacho Quicksilver Mine in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as correspondence from his family members who remained in Pennsylvania. A trio of letters in the collection from 1905 is addressed to his wife and deal with the disposition of the estate after Button's death. The bulk of the collection is dated between 1880 and 1886. There are a number of interesting letters from a brother of Button who relates his trials and challenges in joining his brother in California, including a few letters from the voyage by sea around Cape Horn. In addition, the correspondence to Button from the New York investor/owners of the Picacho mine are interesting for their insight into the expectations and demands of the far-flung moneyed interests in the mining riches of California.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in a library's online public access catalog:
    Library of Congress Subject Headings

    Personal Names:

    Button, Adherble Thomas Dale, 1832 - 1904.


    Courts--California--San Benito County--History.
    Mines and mining-California--San Benito County--History.
    San Benito County (Calif.)--Biography.
    San Benito County (Calif.)--History.


    Additional information about A.T.D. Button may be found in the following publications:
    Frusetta, Peter C. Beyond the Pinnacles. Tres Pinos, CA: Peter C. Frusetta, 1990.
    Thomas, Mark. Wielding the Gavel: the story of the courts of San Benito County from 1874 through 1994. San Jose, CA: Alma Press, 1996.