"Solomon D. Butcher was a pioneer who photographed pioneers. He has left a legacy of nearly four thousand prints and negatives that bring us face to face with the generation that settled the vast prairie lands of Nebraska.
It was land, raw and powerful and new, that brought people west. There was lots of land--millions of acres--and people were hungry for land. A strong national ethos grew around the dynamic interaction between people and land. Solomon D. Butcher. . .captured these people and their land. His work stands today as the major visual chronicle of that moment in the American epoch."
Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream
University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE (1985)
Solomon D. Butcher took the bulk of his photographs in Custer County where he lived most of his life and where he is buried. The Nebraska State Historical Society owns the existing Butcher negatives and has made his work available to the American public. The Custer County Historical Society owns many original prints donated by the families pictured therein, families who--in many cases--still live on the land Butcher photographed, in homes whose walls are still made warmer by "an original Butcher."
For a taste of these remarkable works--all that other than a full-size print can offer--visit our online Butcher Gallery. As you study shot after shot of stubborn families posed in front of their sod house, set against a backdrop of endless, treeless prairie, you begin to understand that S.D. Butcher did much more than take pictures of people. He captured the tenuous relationship between these true pioneers and the untamed prairie they had become a part of.