To get lost! In Vernon County: Sherry-Butt House | Columns
Vernon S. Quatch Contributing Writer
Hi. Vern here. So apparently there’s a whole bunch of humans reading these Vern stories week after week who are big fans of me. They call themselves “Vern-heads”. Have you met them? Well, if you’re reading this, you might be one of them, whether you like it or not.
And today, dear Vern-heads, I would like to tell you a little about where I got lost, how I found myself there, what is the link with the other thing and why it is like that. This week is no different than any other week in terms of winding up until we really get to the heart of the story, then here we go! Got a little lost on my way to Walmart in Viroqua and ended up at the historic Sherry-Butt House just off Main Street. It is one of the oldest houses in Viroqua built for Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus Marion Butt, his wife Margaret and their five children.
Butt practiced law in Viroqua, but when duty called, he was the first human from Vernon County to enlist for service in the Civil War. He rose through the ranks since he was first lieutenant, then captain, then major and reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel! When Butt returned to Vernon County after the war, he continued his law practice and devoted himself to public service. He was elected Vernon County Treasurer, State Senator, Mayor, County Judge, and also served as Vernon County Asylum Trustee. Cyrus and Margaret Butt left the house to their daughter Jane. Jane Butt was an amazing singer and actress and very well played and sung with the rococo square piano that still hangs in the Sherry-Butt House. (You can’t hear me playing sticks on this thing!)
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Jane ends up selling the family home to Orbec and Hilda Sherry. Orbec was born in a log cabin on Belgium Ridge Road and lived on that farm until they bought the Butt house. On this farm he had a mixed dairy operation and began acquiring his famous Brown Swiss herd in 1924. One cow born from this operation was named Jane of Vernon. This “Queen Mother” cow was something else too! Jane of Vernon held a world record producing 23,569 pounds of milk and 1,075 pounds of butterfat in one year!
Orbec Sherry began exhibiting Jane of Vernon nationwide and developed markets in the United States and South America for her excellent stock. Jane of Vernon won the National Dairy Show Grand Champion in Dallas, Texas as a yearling. And get this! Most of the Brown Swiss cows alive today can be traced back to – yes, our very own Jane of Vernon! Isn’t that nice?
Well, if you want to know more about these fascinating humans and cows from our past and this fascinating house, I heard there was a Strawberry Party at the Sherry-Butt House on the 4th of July. And I bet you a strawberry shortcake you might meet another Vern face there, just by saying.
Vernon County Economic Development Coordinator Christina Dollhausen will share with Vernon County View readers the adventures of Vernon S. Quatch.