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Groups Want Marker Set Near Nebraska Home Of Noted Sculptor

CAIRO, Neb. (AP) — Two groups want to erect a historical marker near the home of a Hall County pioneer who later became a noted sculptor of frontier life in the American West.

Members of the Hall County Historical Society and the Cairo Roots group visited a spot northwest of Cairo on Thursday where Solon Borglum lived while ranching on his father’s land in the 1880s. Borglum got his start there as an artist carving the likenesses of Native Americans.

Solon Borglum was the younger brother of Gutzon Borglum and uncle of Lincoln Borglum, the two men credited with the carvings at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

“Originally, he was a rancher,” said Jean Lukesh, who has written a book about Solon Borglum, “Secret Brother, The Story of Solon Borglum, ‘Sculptor of the Prairie.'”

“He was just out here ranching, but he always did sketches. He was doing sketches from the time he was a little kid. Always cowboys, Indians, horses, cattle and those sort of things,” Lukesh said.

The Borglum land now is owned by Charles Kemptar, who guided Thursday’s visitors to where Borglum lived in a dugout dwelling and to the bluffs where he carved into the clay soil.

The carvings “would last about four or five years and then they would wash out,” Kemptar said.

When Gutzon Borglum visited his younger brother in 1893 he was impressed with Solon’s development as artistic skills and asked him to move to California with him so he could teach him to be an artist.

That’s when Solon Borglum left the ranch and went on to win acclaim and major international awards for his art, Lukesh said. He died in 1922.

Annette Davis with the historical society said the groups have raised nearly $4,000 of the $6,000 needed for a marker along Nebraska Highway 2.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent,