Nebraska Authors

Solomon Devore Butcher

Born 1856-01-24 Burton, VA (USA)

Died 1927-03-18
Greeley, CO (USA)

Custer County, NE (USA)
Gates Cemetery

Early settler and homesteader Solomon D. Butcher is remembered for his remarkable collections of photographs that depict early pioneer life in Custer County, Nebraska from the late 1800s to early 1900s. When Butcher came to Nebraska in 1880 with his father and brother, he discovered that the life of a homesteader and farmer on the prairies of Nebraska was not for him: "I soon came to the conclusion that any man that would leave the luxuries of a boarding house, where they had hash every day, and a salary of $125 a month to lay Nebraska sod for 75 cents a day... was a fool." He left Nebraska for Minnesota to attend Medical School but dropped out after only two semesters. Bringing his young bride Lillie home to Custer County, he worked as a school teacher to earn enough money to start his own business as a photographer, opening the first photography studio in Custer County. Butcher came up with the idea of photographing all of the pioneers in Custer County and writing a book about their history, something he referred to as his "history scheme." Nearly 4,000 photographs later, Solomon Butcher is remembered for his pioneering efforts to photograph a place and time so that the history would not be lost to furture generations. All of Butcher's glass plate negatives were sold to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1913 for a mere $600. Although Solomon Butcher did not achieve commercial success during his lifetime, his legacy remains in the vast collection of photographs and written descriptions that reside in Lincoln, Nebraska at the State Historical Society.

Places Lived

Burton, VA
LaSalle County, IL
Custer County, NE (1880; 1882-
Walworth, NE
Broken Bow, NE
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Kearney, NE

Author Of

  • Nonfiction


Custer County, Nebraska --History; Nebraska--History; Photography; Sod Houses


Henry Military School, Henry, IL
Medical School, Minneapolis, MN


Traveling Salesman

Places Worked

Butcher Photography Studio, Custer County, NE
Post Office, Walworth, NE
Photography Studio, Kearney, NE
Standard Land Company


“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 31 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans


Pioneer History of Custer County: And Short Sketches of Early Days in Nebraska. 1901.
Sod Houses or the Development of the Great American Plains: A Pictorial History of the Men and Means that have Conquered this Wonderful Country. 1904.
Pioneer History of Custer County, Nebraska: With Which Is Combined Sod Houses of the Great American Plains. 1965.

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Solomon Devore Butcher

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)