Bio: Peterson, Peter O. & Gilbertson, Caroline #2 (Looking Back)
Contact: Duane Horn
Email: capperhorn@centurytel.net

Surnames: Peterson, Gilbertson, Noble, Emerson, Mikkleson, Best, Perry, Giere, Benson

----Source: The Banner Journal (Black River Falls, Jacskon County, Wis.) November 6, 1996, Page 7B

Looking Back: Peterson - Gilbertson Wedding 100 years ago

"Fifty years later at the same home Mr. and Mrs. Peterson were guests of honor at their golden wedding celebration. Over 200 guests registered for that occasion.

"The Peterson's were married by Rev. N. A. Giere and their attendants were Andrew Gilbertson and Carrie Peterson, Anton Gilbertson and Gina Gilbertson, Henry Peterson and Julia Benson. Of the original wedding party only Henry Peterson and Andrew Gilbertson were alive to be with them 10 years ago for the Golden anniversary and it is especially interesting to know that they were also present Sunday for the 60th anniversary.

"A wide circle of friends and acquaintances join with the family in extending congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Peterson and are hoping that they will continue to celebrate still more happy anniversaries. Sixty years of being happily married is a most wonderful accomplishment."

The farm to which "Big Pete" brought his new bride, Caroline, to on Oct. 28, 1896, had been developed by his Norwegian immigrant parents, Peter Olas and Berthe (Bertha) Peterson. The father Peterson was also known as Big Pete.

The hardships of Peter and Bertha in establishing the Peterson farm was chronicled in Bertha's obituary, written in February 1919 by a long-time friend, Judge George Milson Perry of Black River Falls.

Present-day readers perhaps can not comprehend what the early settlers of Jackson County endured in establishing homes in the then "wilderness."

Judge Perry begins his chronicle by stating Bertha was born in Norway in June 1845 to John and Gonent Mikkelson. Perry states: "John and Gonent Mikkelson, husband and wife, with a family of children embarked in a sailing vessel for America, that being the only way of crossing the Atlantic Ocean at that time, requiring long, weary months to make the journey. This was in 1851, and they stopped in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, March 25, 1852, where they left the railroad and conveyed their worldly effects with oxen teams, linch-pin wagons and walked most of the way themselves.

"While crossing a stream on a ferry boat the boat sank and their floor and other eatables were lost and only the wagon and team saved. Food was scarce and difficult to obtain and a return trip was made to get flour.

"Here in the Wisconsin wilderness, infested with wolves, bears, deer and wild birds, Mr. Mikkleson constructed a rail hut with nothing but mother earth for a floor and poor covering to protect his family from the storms and inclemency of the weather. They were miles from neighbors and the only road to the outer world was a trail blazed through the woods and country.

"For some time for want of flour they used bran and for years their chief meat was venison and this kind of food kept starvation from the hut and later a cabin.

"Bertha Mikkleson had the good fortune to have her name changed by marrying Peter Peterson. This young couple then purchased what was then known as the Walter Best farm, about four miles southwest of this city (Black River Falls), a log house, stabling, some rail fencing, and a small amount of breaking constituted the improvements and farmed the same.

"Children came to bless their home and bring happiness and comfort to these young people, but sorrows and tribulations and trouble also came. One dark night in June 1866, Mrs. Peterson and two children were suddenly aroused from their sleep by thunder, lightning flash and torrents of rain such as never before witnessed here by whites and probably has never been since.

"Springing from their bed, dressed and rushing out doors they found the waters rushing down the hill back of the house from the high ground above in such torrents that no time could be lost to save their lives. Just as Mother Peterson, with her two children in her arms, stepped out of the house it started to move from its foundations and was soon carried by the flood several rods to the bottom lands below where it was completely covered with earth excepting one small corner of gabling to the house.

"Not dressed nor discouraged, the Petersons set immediately to work to repair their losses by gathering up fragments, building a new home, and continuing their improvements while health and strength remained, and now when their footsteps and voices are no longer heard on earth, the old home is still owned in the Peterson family. The only son, Peter O. Peterson, being the owner and possessor. (In October 1996 this farm is still owned by a descendant of Bertha and Peter Peterson).

"Peter and Betsy Peterson were careful, industrious people. They were members of the church (Little Norway) and took a leading part in the formation of and building the church edifice and of keeping and maintaining the same while they lived.

"Peter Peterson died Dec. 14, 1890, and left his wife, with a large farm and stock thereon and business connected therewith, with children to care for, which duties she performed ably and well in all directions, indoors and out-of-doors.

"She was a quick, active, energetic worker. She made provisions out of the farm and property to aid and assist her children while she lived and visited among them frequently.

"She was outspoken about matters that concerned or interested her, and yet did not indulge in tones of voice that brought hard feelings, ill will or unkind thoughts. She never saw one in distress without doing all in her power to alleviate their sorrows and suffering. A pleasant smile and a kind word was always in store for those she met at home or abroad."

Caroline and "Big Pete" were community leaders. They, as well as their children and grandchildren have been active members of Little Norway Lutheran Church. Recently, when the stained glass windows at Little Norway needed replacing, grandson David Emerson conceived the idea of having a window in her memory and solicited financial help from her descendants.

In his letter to them he said: "Grandma Caroline was the first Sunday School Superintendent at little Norway. During the 1920s she worked diligently to persuade the congregation that the idea of a religious teaching program on Sunday morning was a better system than six weeks of Norwegian parochial school in the summer months.

"Many families, by report, were skeptical about religion which was not taught in Norwegian. In 1929, however, she succeeded. A lifetime member of Little Norway, her efforts extended into Ladies Aid and every phase of congregational activity which women were allowed, at that time, to pursue."

Editor Harriet Noble wrote. "Big Pete" always had a pleasant smile and kind words for those he met. His association with horses will always be remembered for through the years he raised some of the best horses and had more dealing involving horses that possibly any other man in our community. He served many years with the Jackson County Fair Association as Superintendent of the Horse Department.

"We find his name mentioned many times in our early volumes in connection with the fair and horse shows. We also find that he was one of the first farmers in the county to operate a threshing machine."

The Aug. 18, 1904 Banner states: "Big Pete Peterson has received a new threshing outfit consisting of a rood engine and a landis eclipse threshing machine with self feeder and wind stacker. It is said to be the best and most modern machine ever brought to this country."

"Big Pete" died Feb. 20, 1957, and Caroline died Aug. 7, 1961.

 

 


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