Edward L. Buttrick, nicknamed Ned, left his home in Clinton, N.Y., on October 7, 1842, to take work in Kentucky as an itinerant schoolteacher. His accepted his first position at Maysville, but in October, 1843, moved to Helena to teach at the Richland Academy. His sister Harriette joined him in Helena, and also worked as a teacher.
Buttrick was a true northerner, a graduate of Hamilton College, but he was captivated, not always favorably, by his new southern home. Although his exact age is not known, he was probably in his early twenties in 1843, for he refers (p.85) to shaving, where he "scraped off considerable dirt and very little hair." Regardless, whether viewing cigars chomping women or hog butchering, or commenting on slang, slavery, or Kentucky politics, Edward Buttrick dove into his new experiences with the enthusiasm of youth and the eye of a comedian.