Nebraska Authors

Solomon Devore Butcher

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

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

Buried
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

Keywords

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

Education

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

Occupation

Traveling Salesman
Homesteader
Teacher
Farmer
Postmaster
Photographer
Writer
Inventor

Places Worked

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

Honors

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

Bibliography

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.

We appreciate corrections and additions to our information about authors, but please read the following guidelines and caveats carefully.

  • The Nebraska Authors database is based on publicly available sources. Unless you are the author contacting us in person, it helps us if you cite the source or sources of your information. We cannot include unsourced information in the database.
  • We may be appreciative of information we choose not to include in the publicly available database.
  • To include an image on an author profile, please send jpg attachment to nebraskaauthors@lincolnlibraries.org. A photo-release agreement is required before the image will be published on this site.
  • Because of the way we are staffed, expect corrections or additions to take time, sometimes up to three months.
  • While we initially included some actual links to external URLs in the database, we will in the future no longer provide functioning links. We will instead record the presence of specific external materials in language that we hope will help intelligent users find it themselves. Web rot, in which actual materials remain online but undergo changes in their URLs, is too demanding in terms of staff time for us to hope to keep external links current.

Do you have corrections for the above information or other information to add?