"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

BUTLER, Edward Solomon "Sol"

From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search

BUTLER, Edward Solomon "Sol." (Wichita, KS, Mar. 3, 1895--Chicago, IL, Dec. 1, 1954).Butler learned to play football in the seventh grade in Hutchison, Kansas. (1) By the time he entered high school there in 1912 he was also outstanding in track and field. (2) In 1913 he moved to Rock Island, Illinois where for the next two years he was selected all-state quarterback. (3) In 1914, he broke the National Interscholastic record for the 60-yard dash. (4)

An outstanding college athlete, Butler quarterbacked the German College football team to its 125-0 trouncing of Buena Vista College in 1916. Butler was credited with averaging twenty-five yards per carry. During his freshman year, Butler led the college to a 13-7 win over St. Joseph College (now LORAS COLLEGE) before a crowd estimated to be seven thousand. (5) At the end of that year, a banquet was held at the JULIEN HOTEL to honor letter winners. Previously some sporting teams and musical groups had been denied the ability to eat at the hotel because of having black members. Breaking that record, Butler ate at the hotel and was one of the athletes to deliver a speech. (6)

During his college career at German College (now the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE), Butler set seven school athletic records while collecting 186 medals. In all he won 12 letters on various Dubuque University teams. (7) Butler also found time to sing in the glee club and hold membership in the Philophnonia Literary Society. (8)

In 1919 Butler won both the 100-yard dash and broad jump at the Penn Relays. (9) Entering military service as a soldier in WORLD WAR I he represented the U.S. Army in the Inter-Allied Games in Paris. He won the broad jump and placed in the 100-meter dash. (10) With the Olympic Games scheduled for renewal in 1920 after the wartime interruption in 1916, Butler was rated as a heavy favorite for the championship. His winning jump at Paris, 24-9 1/2, was only two inches from the Olympic record and set the American record. King Nicholas of Montenegro, the official dignitary of the event congratulated Butler and conferred upon him the Medal of the Fourth Class of the of the Order of Danillo. (11)


On January 1, 1920 the Amateur Athletic Union announced their choices for the all-American athletic teams for 1919. Butler was named to the all-American and all-College teams for the running broad jump. (12) In the 1920 Olympic tryouts, his jump of 24 feet 8 inches surpassed the record set in 1900. (13) On his first qualification round, however, Butler pulled a leg muscle that resulted in the end of his competition. That injury-hampered effort was a shade under 21-8. He had been considered the favorite for the gold medal. He won the National Amateur Athletic Union championship that same year by broad jumping 24-8.(14)

In 1931 Butler was a member of the Gilkerson's Colored Giants which was considered one of the best basketball road teams in the nation. On March 4, 1931 the team played the Blawk Hawks at ST. MARY'S CASINO. (15)

Butler went on to a career in professional football playing for the:

Hammond Pros 1923

Rock Island Independents 1923

Akron Pros 1924

Hammond Pros 1925-26

Canton Bulldogs 1926

Butler eventually entered youth work in the black districts of Chicago's south side. He had small parts in several Tarzan movies and worked for the Chicago Parks and Recreation Department (16)

In Pappy's Lounge, a Chicago tavern where he was employed, Butler met his death on December 1, 1954. A man named Jimmy Hill, a patron of the tavern, reportedly had been annoying a waitress. Butler ejected the disturber. Hill came back with a gun and shot the former star twice. Butler died in Chicago's Provident Hospital. (17) It was then discovered that all of Butlers medals and other awards were missing. They were never recovered. (18)

"Sol"Butler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVEDUcV4Aws



1. McGrane, Bert. "Sol Butler," Des Moines Register. Online: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/19580330/SPORTS11/50624012/Sol-Butler-Dubuque-1958

2. "Sol Butler, Colored Athlete, Has Many Trophies, Telegraph Herald, Nov. 21, 1915, p. 24. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oThiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AHcNAAAAIBAJ&pg=2416,2234393&dq=sol+butler+dubuque&hl=en

3. McGrane, Bert

4. Ibid.

5. Crimmins, Roger. "Sol Butler Nearly Brought Fame of Olympic Medal to Dubuque," Telegraph Herald, Aug. 5, 1984, p. 14 Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=PIVFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-bwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3754,526715&dq=sol+butler+dubuque&hl=en.

6. Reese, Kayli, "Uncovering Black History," Telegraph Herald, February 7, 2021, p. 1A

7. McGrane, Bert.

8. Crimmins, Roger,

9. McGrane, Bert

10. Ibid.

11. Crimmins, Roger.

12. "Famous Colored Star is Honored," Telegraph Herald, January 1, 1920, p. 10

13. Crimmins, Roger

14. McGrane, Bert.

15. "Dusky Forward," The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 4, 1931, p. 25

16. Crimmins, Roger.

17. "First Pro Football Player Fatally Shot," Baltimore Pro African, Dec. 7, 1954, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Dc0lAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kfUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1130,2762328&dq=sol+butler+dubuque&hl=en

18. Ibid.