Pierce Butler was born in a log cabin on March 17, 1866, in Pine Bend, Minnesota. His parents, Patrick Butler and Mary Gaffney Butler, were devout Roman Catholics who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland after the potato famine of 1848. Their son Pierce, the sixth of eight children, was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Pierce’s father—though at first a tavern keeper in Illinois and later a farmer in Minnesota—was an educated man who had studied at Trinity College in Dublin and had traveled widely. He and his wife, Mary, communicated to their son Pierce the value of work and a devotion to the Catholic faith, traits that would help define the future justice over the course of his life.