Butler is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and is located along the northern shore of Watauga Lake. Butler is served by a Post Office assigned zip code 37640. The community is part of the voting district # 4 area of the county, and the residents of this community vote at the Masonic Lodge in Butler. The current Commissioners representing this voting district are Rick Synder and Tommy Poore.
The settlement of what is now known as Butler began in 1768. The town was originally located on Roan Creek at its confluence with the Watauga River, and the community was originally called Smith’s Mill for the gristmill built on the bank of the Roan Creek in 1820. After the civil war, it was renamed in honor of Colonel Roderick R. Butler.
Aenon Seminary, a secondary school, was established in Butler in 1871. It later became Holly Springs College. In the 1906, it was purchased by the Watauga Baptist Association and renamed Watauga Academy. It operated under that name until 1948, when the town was inundated by the formation of Watauga Lake, and the town was relocated to higher ground to make way for the lake.
The original town is now known as “Old Butler” and is called “The Town That Wouldn’t Drown”. The history and relocation of Butler is documented at the Butler Museum, which has incredible exhibits and original pictures on display presenting the long history, the Appalachian culture and the relocation of the original town to its current location. There is also an annual “Old Trade Days” festival held in August every year to celebrate this resilient community.