Prairie Visions: The Life and Times of Solomon Butcher Summary

Pam Conrad


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Prairie Visions is a compilation of information about pioneer photographer Solomon Butcher and the Nebraska frontier on which he lived, as well as a look at some of the stories and anecdotes of pioneer life which he recorded. An integral part of the book is the inclusion of black-and-white photographs taken by Butcher of his Nebraska contemporaries and which are now part of the Butcher Collection at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Butcher first migrated to Nebraska in 1880 when he was a young man of twenty-four. He staked a claim along with other members of his family in Custer County and built a sod house as required by the Homestead Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1867. He did not stay in Nebraska, however, but returned to Minneapolis to attend medical school. He lasted only a year at medical training, but during this time he met and married Lillie Barber Hamilton and decided to return to Nebraska.

During the next several years, Butcher tried various schemes to support his growing family, but none of them succeeded as well as he envisioned. In 1886, he thought of yet another idea to bring him fame and fortune: he would create a photographic history of Custer County, a documentary of prairie life as it unfolded. He outfitted a wagon with the necessary supplies and traveled for the next several years throughout Custer County, taking more than fifteen hundred photographs of the county's pioneer families. He collected stories,...

(The entire section is 520 words.)