Light on the Prairie: Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska's Pioneer Days

Light on the Prairie: Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska's Pioneer Days

by Nancy Plain


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Once President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted 160 acres of free land to anyone with the grit to farm it for five years, the rush to the Great Plains was on. Solomon D. Butcher was there to document it, amassing more than three thousand photographs and compiling the most complete record of the sod house era ever made.

Butcher (1856–1927) staked his claim on the plains in 1880. He didn’t like farming, but he found another way to thrive. He had learned the art of photography as a teenager, and he began taking pictures of his friends and neighbors. Butcher noticed how fast the vast land was “settling up,” so he formed the plan that would become his life’s work—to record the frontier days in words and images.

Alongside sixty-two of Butcher’s iconic photographs, Light on the Prairie conveys the irrepressible spirit of a man whose passion would give us a firsthand look at the men and women who settled the Great Plains. Like his subjects, Butcher was a pioneer, even though he held a camera more often than a plow.

Watch an interview with the author.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803235205
Publisher: Bison Original
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Nancy Plain is the author of nine children’s books, including With One Sky Above Us: The Story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians, winner of the 2010 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction, and Sagebrush and Paintbrush: The Story of Charlie Russell, the Cowboy Artist, winner of the 2008 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction. Her books have also won the Carter G. Woodson Honor award and First Place in Children’s Nonfiction from the National Federation of Press Women.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

A Note on Terminology xi

Introduction: A Tenderfoot Goes West 1

The Great American Desert 9

Solomon Butcher, Sodbuster 19

"Eureka!" 32

Attack of the Grasshoppers 47

Desperadoes 60

Years of Trial, Years of Change 72

Pioneer History of Custer County 84

Sweet Nebraska Land 95

Where to Find Solomon Butcher's Photographs 103

Notes 105

Bibliography 111

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