Ole Peterson Succeeds in America


From: Portrait and Biographical Album of Livingston County, Illinois, 1888

Ole Peterson, of Sunbury Township, is one of the most enterprising representatives of his nationality in Livingston County. He bears the reputation of a praiseworthy and industrious citizen, one who attends strictly to his own concerns, and has thereby made a success both as a farmer and business man. He has been a resident of Illinois for over twenty years, and located upon a tract of land which had only been partially cultivated, and which he has transformed into one of the finest homesteads in Sunbury Township.

Mr. Peterson was born in Stavanger, Norway, July 4, 1830, and is the son of Peter and Anna Peterson, natives of the same country, who there spent their entire lives. He attended school during his childhood until fourteen years old, and at the same time assisted his father on the farm. The agricultural operations of the Norwegian farmer in his own country are very different from those of the present agriculturists of the Prairie State. The implements are of rude construction and the tiller of the soil in a country not exceedingly fertile has to contend with many disadvantages. The parents of our subject were people of modest means, and Ole, when a youth of sixteen, left the parental roof and started out in life for himself. He received, for hard work, rather poor fare, the munificent salary of $10 per year and a piece of cloth for a suit of clothes.

Young Peterson had always been a serious and reflective youth, and not being satisfied with his prospects and condition in his own country, determined to set sail for the New World, stories of which frequently reached him from across the water. Accordingly, on the 15th of May, 1860 [this event occurred in 1862.], he set sail from the port of Stavanger accompanied by his wife and child, he having been married in 1859. After a voyage of six weeks they landed in the city of Quebec, Canada, whence they came directly to the States and at once set out for Illinois. Mr. Peterson landed in Ottawa with $15 in his pocket, but soon found employment upon a farm at $18 a month - a vast improvement upon the sum he received for the same labor on his native soil. He lived economically, and with the help of his excellent wife, in the course of two years bought a little herd of cattle, and hiring a cheap man to look after them, continued working as before until enabled to secure a tract of land.

Mr. Peterson decided to locate in the northern part of Livingston County, which at that time was mostly open prairie, especially the districts including the townships of Nevada and Sunbury. This made a good range for stock, and Mr. Peterson, bringing his cattle hither, still continued hiring them herded and rented a tract of land upon which to raise corn and wheat. He operated upon rented land three years with excellent results, and then purchased eighty acres, which forms a part of his present homestead. For this he was to pay $1,280. He paid $320 cash, and gave his notes for the balance. One of his first duties was to put up a shelter for his family, and upon the completion of this he entered at once upon the cultivation of the land. He was successful from the beginning, the seasons proving favorable and the soil yielding plentifully to his worthy efforts. He invested his surplus capital in additional land, buying eighty acres adjoining, so that he now has a quarter section, and all in a fine state of cultivation. It is enclosed with neat and substantial fences, and the farm buildings will bear comparison with anything of the kind in this part of the country. In 1863, Mr. P. purchased a pair of colts which he has worked upon his farm ever since, and now, although twenty-seven years old, they retain many of the skittish ways of their youth, giving evidence of the care and kindness with which they have been treated since coming into the possession of their present owner. It is hardly necessary to say that Mr. Peterson will never part with these old friends who have served him so long and so faithfully.

The wife of our subject was, in her girlhood, Miss Bertha Johnson, and became the mother of six children: Annie was born in 1861; Tillie in 1863; Peter, in 1865; Bertha, in 1868 [actually born 1869]; Lena, in 1871 [actually born 1874]; John in 1879. The mother, after remaining the faithful and affectionate companion of her husband for a period of over twenty years, departed this life at her home in Sunbury Township in September, 1881 [actually died in 1882], and her remains were laid to rest in Sunbury Cemetery. Mr. Peterson was subsequently married to Miss Inger Rasmusson, of Esmen Township, their wedding taking place at the home of the bride. The present wife of our subject was born in August, 1835.

Mr. Peterson was reared in the doctrines of the Lutheran Church, to which he still loyally adheres, and although interesting himself comparatively little in politics, uniformly supports Republican principles, and votes upon occasions of general elections.


Death of Ole Peterson, The Pontiac Sentinel, Pontiac, Illinois - Friday, June 8, 1894
Last evening, at his home, on the south side, died Ole Peterson, at the age of 64 years. Mr. Peterson moved here with his family from Sunbury Township about March 1st, having been a successful farmer and resident of that township since 1865. He was an industrious, upright citizen, and a member of the Norwegian Lutheran Church. He had been sick but a short time, being taken with lung fever, which resulted in an abscess on one lung. He leaves a wife and six children living to mourn his departure. The funeral will take place Sunday and the burial at the Lutheran Cemetery at Rowe [burial was actually at the Sunbury Cemetery].


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