The second book in my Grooms with Honor series, Fergus' Honor, debuted recently. I sketched the main character, Fergus Reagan, after reading about Solomon D. Butcher, a well-known photographer who took photographs of Nebraska homesteaders in the 1880s.
Here's Mr. Butcher's biography and samples of his work from the Nebraska State Historical Society.
"Nebraska photographer Solomon D. Butcher produced, over the course of nearly forty years, a record of the settlement of the Great Plains that is both unique and remarkable. Born in 1856 in what was to become the state of West Virginia after the Civil War, Butcher came with his family to the plains of Nebraska in 1880.
This restless young man soon found that he was not up to the rigors of a homesteader's life. He had tasted just enough of it, however, to develop a profound admiration for those with the grit to survive and prosper on the Nebraska prairies. In 1886 Butcher was struck with an idea that was inspired.
Realizing that the period of settlement would soon be over, he set out to create a photographic history of pioneer life. Between 1886 and 1912 Butcher generated a collection of more than 3,000 photographs.
Though he died in 1927 believing himself a total failure, Solomon D. Butcher's work has survived to become the most important chronicle of the saga of homesteading in America."
"The Shores family, near Westerville, Custer County, Nebraska, 1887. Jerry Shores was one of a number of former slaves to settle in Custer County. He took a claim adjacent to that of his brothers, Moses Speese and Henry Webb (each had taken the name of his former owner)."
"The David Hilton family near Sargent, Nebraska. Mrs. Hilton and her eldest daughter were adamant that they not be photographed in front of their sod house, because they wished to send copies of the picture to friends and relatives elsewhere and thought it embarrassing to be seen living in a house of dirt. But they did want to be seen with their new pump organ, so they made Mr. Hilton and the photographer drag the organ out of the house for the photographs, then drag it back in again. "
Butcher's photographs portray frontier life, which future generations would have been hard to imagine. I'm glad they were preserved for us to show what the homesteaders life was like starting over on the Kansas prairie.
Here's the description and order link for Fergus' Honor.
He's at the right place at the right time to save a woman from falling to her death...but she hadn't planned to survive. Can he convince her life is worth living, with him?
Fergus Reagan's fascination with photography led him to a career of recording people's lives. While in Nebraska photographing homesteaders in front of their humble sod houses, he's at the right place at the right time to save a young woman.
Iris Kerns' suicide attempt was supposed to end her engagement to an abusive man, but her rescuer shows her life is worth living when Fergus takes her home to Clear Creek, Kansas, to help with his new photography studio.
But, the past catches up with Iris, drawing danger to her, Fergus, and his family.
The Grooms with Honor series showcases the six sons of Pastor and Kaitlyn Reagan. The family was first featured in the 1873 year-based Brides with Grit series. Besides the Reagan brothers, the series features other men in their community.
"Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, be faithful unto her as long as you both shall live?"
The young men have heard Pastor Reagan say these words to many couples over the years, and they vow to treat all women this way as they walk through life.
Many thanks from the Kansas prairie...