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SOLOMON D. BUTCHER
Kearney, Jefferson & Custer County, Nebraska

Portrait of Solomon D. Butcher


In 1886 Solomon D. Butcher of Custer County, Nebraska set out to produce a photographic history of his home. Over the next 15 years, he produced 1,500 images, hundreds of stories and a remarkable record of a remarkable time in the history of Nebraska and the United States.

Butcher had homesteaded with his father and younger brother in central Nebraska in 1880. Like many early settlers, they built a dug-out, one-room house out of sod. In his early adulthood, Solomon went back to Minnesota and studied medicine, married a nurse from the hospital, but never became a doctor. Instead he and his wife Lillie went back to Nebraska. He taught school for a time and then opened a photographic gallery in northern Custer County.

Although not doing well financially, Butcher decided to produce a photographic history of Custer County. He surmised that he was living in a time and place that were important to the history of the country. So beginning in 1886, Butcher began to travel all across Custer county by horse and wagon, taking photographs of his friends and neighbors. He also collected pioneer stories. As he traveled, he supported himself with subscriptions and donations that various citizens made to the project and by selling his photographs. During the next seven years, he produced over 1,500 images of Custer County alone.

Butcher continued to photograph, and by 1911, the sheer size and weight of his numerous glass plate negatives was too great for him to continue to maintain. He offered to sell the collection to the Nebraska State Historical Society. It took three years to get the funds from the Legislature, but the collection is now one of the major sources of primary material of Nebraska history.

His Yellowstone images all appear to be from a single visit in 1909. These are not stereoviews in the traditional sense, but rather stereoview postcards. They measure approximately 3" by 5" in size. Today they are extremely rare. The evidence suggests that Butcher produced a 100 card set of Yellowstone views.


Nat'l Archives Photo

no. 2090. Giant Geyser, Y.N.P.
Copyrighted by S. D. Butcher & Son '09.

Pictured above is the standard style of all Butcher Yellowstone stereoview postcards. The scene is of a group of tourists at Giant Geyser Cone in the Upper Geyser Basin.


SOLOMON D. BUTCHER VIEWLIST


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