History & Traditions

What’s in a name? | Butts Station Road, Chesapeake

When he died in 1676, he left his land to four sons and his wife.

In England, the surname Butt with and without the “s” was not at all uncommon, wrote Wingfield Butt.

According to a 1931 treatise, A History of Surnames of the British Isles, men’s surnames were borne from the descriptions of their land holdings: Butts were abutting strips of farmland.

As to the Butts Station Road’s exact origins, it’s quite possible the name stemmed from one of Robert Butt’s descendants, but which one is unknown.

Jeannette Selan, volunteer with the Norfolk County Historical Society in the Wallace Memorial Room of the Chesapeake Central Library, said the station was named for a landowner from the area – the Butt family owned tracts of land near the station, as seen on an 1887 map. But it’s not clear for whom exactly the station was named.

Stuart Smith, former president of the Norfolk County Historical Society, said the road likely preceded the station.

“A lot of times they named the roads after the main family that lived in the area,” he said.

Butts Station was one of five along the railroad where county residents hopped on the Norfolk Southern passenger trains to go shopping in downtown Norfolk. Other stops were at Northwest, St. Brides, Hickory Ground, and Centreville, according to “Chesapeake: A Pictorial History.”

Robert Hitchings, head archivist of the Sargeant Memorial Room, contributed to this report.