Raggedy Ann & Andy by David Butler

Born on December 24, 1880 in Arcola was John Barton Gruelle. Johnny would go on to become an artist, political cartoonist and illustrator, but his most famous contribution would be a little doll. The story has been told that his daughter Marcella found a faceless ragdoll in the attic at her grandmother’s house on which Johnny drew a face with the famous Black eyes, red triangle nose and separated mouth. He called the doll “Raggedy Ann” and shared many stories with Marcella. The doll was such a popular toy with Marcella that Gruelle’s Raggedy Doll was patented on September 7, 1915. In the nearly 100 years since, Gruelle’s creation has touched the hearts and minds of millions of children that have played with Raggedy Ann and later Raggedy Andy as well as the many other characters that Gruelle created. In 2002 Raggedy Ann was elected to the National Toy Hall of Fame and was joined by Raggedy Andy in 2007.

Raggedy Ann has a storied history in Arcola. For 20 years, the community hosted the Raggedy Ann Festival drawing Raggedy enthusiasts from across the globe to Arcola. Joni Wannamaker, granddaughter of Johnny Gruelle, created and operated the Raggedy Ann Museum in Arcola for a number of years with her husband Tom. The Wannamakers were generous enough to donate a volume of historic family archives as well as Raggedy pieces to the Strong Museum of Play after closing the Arcola museum in 2009. An artist in her own right, Joni has illustrated children’s books and was invited by David Butler to participate in the painting of the mural. Tom and Joni both continue to reside in Arcola.

David Butler started to learn the sign painting craft in 1972 from Dutch Webster. A year later, Dutch moved on to other opportunities and helped David get set up with his own business. Since that time, David with the help and support of his wife Susie, have grown their business to incorporate more modern technology and have expanded the business to include graphic design, custom printed t-shirts and embroidery. David was a participant with the Letterhead group which led him to the first Walldog meet in Allerton, IA. Since that time, the Butlers have made an annual pilgrimage to participate in at least one meet every year.

Family is important to the Butlers as where you see David, you will find Susie. They have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. While in Arcola, their family expanded to a degree. Tom and Joni Wannamaker formally adopted the Butlers into the Raggedy Anne and Andy Family during a special ceremony Sunday morning of the Walldog meet.