Having at one stage
leased land from the Macarthurs, Stephen and his family left Camden about 1863 after sufferring the devastating effects of the plant disease 'rust' on their crops. He took up his 200 acre grant (approximately 81 hectares) at
Crookwell in 1866.
After he moved to Crookwell, Stephen, along with three other gentlemen, purchased land
and had a hall and officer's quarters built to establish
The Salvation Army in the township during 1884.
The publication 'Uplands Pastures' 3(p.51) elaborates further:
In the early 1880's The Salvation Army was established in Crookwell.
It first met in the Crookwell Temperance Hall. Barracks of weatherboard were built
in 1884, making five churches in Crookwell at that time. The founders were
Stephen Butt, George Gilby, Abel Arnold and John Gibson who, between them,
purchased the land and had the hall and officer's quarters built.
Some members of the Butt family still serve with The Salvation Army.
'The War Cry', 5 November 1898
A ride of eight miles brought Ensign Simms of Crookwell to Brother Stephen Butt's residence. The old gentleman was there discovered seated by the fireside, his well thumbed Testament in hand, and himself eagerly scanning the Word of Life. "Good day Brother Butt" said the Ensign, and then after friendly greetings had been exchanged, he continued. "I am commissioned by the 'War Cry' to examine and receive your personal experience of God's dealing with yourself and others. Have you any objection to giving evidence if the court is constituted?". "None", replied the old man with a smile.
"You seem to be going down the hill of time".
"Yes, I am eighty three years of age. I was born in Dorsetshire, England in 1815 and came to New South Wales in 1837. The colony was not much then".
"You have been saved a good many years, I believe?"
"Yes, thank God. I was seventeen years of age when I gave myself to Him and received the assurance that He had pardoned me. I took my stand for Him as soon as we came to the district and for years I walked thirty miles and preached three times of a Sunday".
"I have heard that you were the first to move for the Army to come to Crookwell, is that so?"
"Oh yes, you see friends used to send me the 'Christian Mission Magazine', and sometimes I received letters from the General and Mr Bramwell Booth, with whom I had occasionally corresponded. In one of his letters the General told me that he hoped to come to Australia some day. Thank God that day came. I was awfully surprised when I got the first copy of the 'War Cry', and couldn't make head or tail of it. I showed it to Brother Arnold, who was then a great friend of mine, and soon the news spread all throught the district that war had broken out in England. When the Army came to Australia, I put forth every effort to get Crookwell opened, and after a lot of letter writing to Headquarters, an Officer was sent to spy out the land. Unfortunately, he saw giants here. He took back a very unfavourable report".
"Did you give up then?"
"No fear. I set to work with two friends to put up a building that would hold three hundred people. It was the largest in town and believing for Officers, we built a nice house for them to live also. Then when we had finished I said 'If they don't send Officers now, I will write to the General'. But the Officers came and a wonderful soul saving work began which has been continued to the present day. Many who got converted in the meetings are Officers in the field today. Ensign Bensley is one of the number. My wife was a real warrior for God and the Army. She joined the blood-washed throng a few years after the Army came to Crookwell".
"And now, how are you in your soul?"
"Never better, thank God. After sixty six years of service I have a clear knowledge of my acceptance with him as ever I had. I am just waiting for the Master's call".
Stephen Butt was called to his Master's House on 16 June 1904. His wife Martha died on 18 January 1889. Both died at Crookwell. Seventeen years later in 1915, Army Headquarters in Sydney sent a senior Officer to interview Stephen Butt's family regarding his relationship with the Booth family in England. They were obviously trying to establish whether Stephen was the first person in Australia to serve in an Army Corp that was being formed at Crookwell.
The following is an account of that meeting, written by a family member:
Grandfather Butt some years before the Army opened in Australia, corresponded with
General William Booth in London and asked him to send Officers to Crookwell. The General wrote back that Crookwell would be one of the first Corps opened when the Army started in Australia. He later (Treas. Butt) had a vision of three wells; two church wells were empty, the third was The Salvation Army and it was overflowing.
Grandfather received the 'War Cry' from London for years. About 1915 (Commander Baskin) went out to Pejar and asked Mrs Butt about the matter.
"Did Grandfather Butt receive letters from General Booth in his own handwriting?"
"Yes" said Mrs Butt.
"With the Army crest on them?"
"Yes". I asked "Where are they now?".
The reply was "Burnt".
"Has any Army Officer asked about them before?"
"No" she replied, "You're the first one that has made any enquiries". 6
For a listing of Stephen and Martha's descendants,
For a listing of Stephen and Martha's parents and siblings,