H. PETER PETERSON is one of the substantial men of Garfield Township, Pawnee County. He was born in the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, a part of Sweden, April 1, 1860, and is a son of the late Hans T. Peterson and a brother of Charles A. Peterson. Some of his early experiences and the experiences of his family in coming to the New World and in establishing a home on the plains of Western Kansas and their struggles to eke out a living from the soil are described on other pages.
The family came to America and settled in Pawnee County in 1881. H. Peter Peterson was then a young man of twenty-one, and his education had been acquired in Sweden and he had learned above everything else the value of honest toil as a means of getting ahead in the world. He was a part of the domestic economy of the Peterson home in Pawnee County until 1896.
When the family found it impossible to raise sufficient crops from the land Peter Peterson, like others, earned money by wage work. He did the work of a farm hand in McPherson County at $15 a month. Subsequently he was employed as a section hand with the Santa Fe Railway until 1884. In that year he made his first trial as an independent farmer. At first he was a renter. By wage work he had earned enough to supply himself with a team, wagon and harness and some seed. His honest efforts to coax crops from the soil failed. It was due not to lack of labor and attention on his part but to an almost total failure of moisture. Another affliction was the chinch bug, which ruined what little wheat came up through the ground. Mr. Peterson recalls that in those early days, scarce as were agricultural crops, they commanded almost no price in the open market. Butter sold at 5 cents a pound and eggs in the summer could be bought at 5 cents a dozen. Thus he was forced again and again to put his dependence upon wage earning. The winter of 1887-88 he spent in Kansas City and worked several months as a street car driver at $1.25 per day. Of this wage he paid $4 a week for board. After returning to Pawnee County he again tried farming. After many experiments, vicissitudes and failures, he reached a point where agriculture held out some promise of definite profit. But it was only about 1902 that Mr. Peterson began buying land. In that year he paid $2,200 for the northwest quarter of section 23, township 23, range 18. He bought it on time, and the land paid for itself with its grain crops. His next purchase was a quarter of the same section, the price being $3,000. A part of this was also a time purchase. That land likewise justified his confidence in it by more than paying for itself as a grain field. For his third quarter in section 14 Mr. Peterson paid a still higher price, and those three quarters constitute his landed possessions. He acquired lands when they were practically bare of improvements and everything substantial has been put on the lands by his own efforts. Of the total he now has 260 acres under cultivation. It is rather remarkable that a part of his farm timbered itself. Along the banks of the Arkansas a strip of volunteer timber appeared and has since developed into something like a forest, valuable for many purposes.
The best wheat yield in Mr. Peterson's experience was forty-two bushels per acre in 1905. His banner crop year was 1916. Probably never before in the world's history has the golden grain been more nearly gold in the commercial sense. He threshed between 5,000 and 6,000 bushels, and every bushel meant money. In contrast with the high prices of that year Mr. Peterson sold his wheat in 1902 for 45 cents a bushel.
While he has had his chief profits from grain farming Mr. Peterson has also kept stock and in sufficient numbers to graze his pasture lands. His grades are of Shorthorns and he has some thoroughbred Percheron horses.
As he is of foreign birth, Mr. Peterson took out his citizenship papers in 1883, and started to vote as a republican. His only exception to that party allegiance came when he supported Mr. Bryan in one campaign. He has given some time to public responsibilities as school director in District No. 8, and also as a road supervisor. His own children were educated in the public schools and in the Garfield High School. For nearly thirty years Mr. Peterson has been one of the trustees of the Lutheran Church of Garfield. He took the leading part in the campaign for raising money to erect their new edifice there. Through his own efforts between $5,000 and $6,000 were raised for that purpose. His only secret affiliation is with the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
On March 28, 1899, in Edwards County, Kansas, Mr. Peterson married Miss Amanda Carlson, daughter of Nels F. and Nellie (Smith) Carlson. Her parents were both natives of Sweden. Mr. Carlson on coming to America first located in Chicago, and in 1877 came out to Kansas and homesteaded a quarter section in Edwards County. He farmed there until his death in 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Carlson had the following children: Mrs. Peterson, who was born May 26, 1874; Charles, of Edwards County; John, who died as a young man; Fred, living in Oklahoma; Nellie, still at home; Andy of Hodgeman County, Kansas; and Julius and Anna.
Mr. and Mrs. Peterson have five children: Nellie, Carl, Lena, Myrtle and Henry. Nellie and Carl are now students in the high school at Garfield.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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