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Lyman County, South Dakota  Genealogy

More on descendants of Peter Christian Peterson and Louise Nelson

First article submitted by Jim Peterson, great-grandson of Peter Christian Peterson     

Second article from  Second article submitted by Ron Albertson  

Updated Sunday, November 09, 2008

March 2008 -

Dear Barbara,
I want to thank you for all the work you have obviously put into the Lyman County genealogy/history site.

My family emigrated from Lyman County to Wisconsin in 1910, and I had used your site to look at 1900 census data in the past. I visited your site again this morning and just now ran across information from the Canadian branch of the family. I knew a little bit about that branch from my own family tradition, but the information from "Butch" Peterson certainly filled in a lot of gaps for me--and connected surprisingly with old stories I had heard.  For example, I know that my grandfather Charlie was involved in town site building ahead of the railroad. I also for the first time saw a picture of my great-grandfather Peter Christian Peterson.

Anyway, this discovery inspired me to write down a bit more of the Peterson family story, which I'm sending to you. I don't know how you feel about opening attachments from strangers, so I'm doing it both ways: sending an attachment and including my little essay in the body of this email. I hope you will find it of some value.  Sincerely,  Jim Peterson

More information on descendants of Peter Christian Peterson and Louise Nelson

I found the birth records for their oldest son, Charles (Karl) in Denmark. They came from the Jutland peninsula, SW of Aalborg. Karl was born in 1869. They emigrated in 1870 or '71. You can find them in the 1900 SD census. I don't have the page at hand, but if I recall correctly the 1900 census page gives 1870 as the immigration date for Peter and Louise, and 1871 for Karl/Charlie. I don't know what that's about—whether an error or whether there's a bit of a story there.

The original forms of the names were:
Peder Kristian Pedersen
Lovise Nielsen (yes, with a “v”)
and their son, Karl Marinus Pedersen.

After emigrating to the US, the family lived in Indiana, near Kankakee, IL according to my family tradition.

Karl was my grandfather. He married Kristina Albertsen Kristensen. Kristina  (usually called “Stina”) was sent over from Denmark
by her family to marry Karl. She was 14 or 15 when they were married. They had five children: Carrie (Karen), the oldest, born in eastern S.D., perhaps while the family was moving west; Peter Christian; Henry Albert (my father); William Ralph, and Mae, all born in Lyman County. They left Lyman County for Wisconsin at the same time that the rest of the family headed for Saskatchewan, in 1910. Their mode of transportation was the same: via a freight car. I recall my father and uncles Pete and Bill telling me that the first automobile they saw in their lives was in Mitchell, SD while they were on their trip to Wisconsin.

Incidentally, I remember being told that they used an “NP Connected” (for Nielsen and Peterson) as the livestock brand.   

Karl/Carl/Charles was generally known as “Charlie.” He and his family acquired a farm about 2 miles east of Hayward, in the northern pine forest and lake region of Wisconsin. There was a freshly abandoned logging camp on the farm site, and they spent the first winter living in the cook shanty, with their livestock sheltered in the ox barn. My uncle Bill said that the cook shanty was made of white pine logs so large that the walls were three logs high. The cook shanty burned down that first year, and the neighbors helped them to build a new house. Bill said he always believed that the fire had been set by a neighbor who resented their moving in. That land is still being farmed. It is “next door” to the Lac Courte Oreilles casino.

Charlie's younger brother Jim also lived in the Hayward area for a number of years before moving west. I met him a few times when I was a small child, and was told that I was named for him. I also knew his daughter Olga, who married a man named Steve Wheeler. They moved to Murphys, California many years ago. I know Olga lived into her 90's.

Charlie was a carpenter, blacksmith, cabinet maker and boat builder. He died in 1941, three years before I was born. His three sons told many stories about him. They said that they never saw him get angry. He had a dry and wicked sense of humor: “It's just as natural for a carpenter to drive a nail with a hammer as it is for a lawyer to lie.”

Hayward is largely a resort area, catering to vacationers from Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. When Charlie was 65, he and his three sons started a boat building business. They built cedar strip row boats for the local resort trade. My father inherited this business and continued building boats until he sold out in 1965. I grew up around the boat business, and boatbuilding was my summer job from as early as I could swing a hammer until we sold the business in my senior year of college.

My aunt Mae married a man named Melvin Schlieman and they had four children, Glynn, Wilbur, Charlie and Bonnie. Mel was a second-cousin of Heinrich Schliemann, the California gold prospector and amateur archaeologist credited with finding the site of the ancient Greek city-state of Troy.

Carrie married a man named George Dunlap and had three children: Chester, Nina, and Rena. Peter and Bill married two sisters,
and neither had children. Henry married Susan Teschler, and I was the sole offspring of that marriage.

My father died at our home near Hayward 1966, at age 68. Mae died sometime in the 1980's in Murphys, CA. Bill died of a heart attack while fishing a small “pothole” lake back in the woods in 1982. Pete died in a nursing home in Hayward 1986. He had lived independently alone at home until the last year of his life.

Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2008 9:24 AM
Subject: Re: Jim

Peter C. Peterson’s Memoirs Written March 5, 1977


I was born in a sod house on the Southeast corner of a quarter section of land in Lyman Co., South Dakota on November 7, 1895.
My dad homesteaded this land 1/4 mile west of grandfather’s [Peder Kristian Pederson (Peter Christian Peterson) b. 1846] homestead.


One thing I shall never forget is that dad said several times that he would not like to see us ever vote for a democrat. We have
never done that and never will.


It was during Cleveland 's time in the 1890's that dad had a difficult time to make a living. Axe handles are not easy to make but
he made for fifteen cents each. He also told us about finding a few white beans spilled in or near a box car, scattered here and
there. He picked them up one by one trying to get enough to bring home.


He was a very good carpenter but there were no jobs available. Hs did finally get a job in a blacksmith shop as a wagon maker in Oacoma , South Dakota which was a small town on the Missouri River . We moved there a short time later. Sometime later he got
a Job with an old man who was a carpenter and had contracts building schoolhouses, etc. on the prairie where needed. The old
man suddenly died which left my dad to finish the uncompleted contracts. He started out as a building contractor using most of
the tools the old man had.


There was a prairie dog town a mile or so north and west of our homestead to where we had moved when I was about six years old
or more. There were hundreds of prairie dogs in that town. I don't know how many acres covered.


On one building job he had, there was a flock of sheep tended by a herder near by. The man came to where dad was working and
said there are so many rattlesnakes at a spot near by that he did not care to stay there. Dad wished to see that so. He sharpened
up a hoe and went to this spot, but after cutting off several snake heads he decided to get out of there for there were snakes coming from all directions.


There was a herd of cattle that passed our place that was several mile long. There were hundreds kept in line, six or seven abreast,
by cowboys.


In the summer of 1899 my folks took me to my grandfather’s homestead where I stayed for several months. I was well satisfied
there.  My young uncle Fred [Peterson b. 1888] often took me with him on is horse for a ride.


My grandmother was a popular midwife. I went with grandfather and her to my home in town on December 22, 1899. I can recall sitting in the kitchen with grandfather. I suddenly heard a strange noise in another room which I remember him to say was a
little rooster who had just arrived. It was the day my brother Bill [William Ralph Peterson b. 1899] was born and was yakking quite loud.


The end of the railroad was then at Chamberlain, South Dakota .  A few years later they started extending it across the prairie to Rapid City , South Dakota . It wad built with scrappers drawn by large Missouri mules. Small towns were then established about
8 or 10 miles apart along the new railroad.


My father [Charles M. Peterson b. 1869 Denmark ] was a contractor and with a crew of men built banks, hotels, and schools
and eating places in all those new towns. Hobos were plentiful.  Later on he took a carpenter’s civil service exam. Thereafter he
built several Indian agency buildings within Indian reservations for the United States Government. He had a bicycle and came home on weekends on it. He told of one incident where a sma11 herd of range cattle near by having never seen such a vehicle on
the prairie before, gave chase. There was no protection in sight so he had no choice but to turn toward them. He was in luck for they turned tail and stampeded the other way.


All small ravines went to a much larger one in which were large bare spots caused by water during rains or spring thaws. On these places we often found arrow heads and also lead bullets. Evidently a battle had taken placed there years ago.


For a short time we were in a house near the Missouri River at the edge of town, and I think it was the worst place I have ever
seen or been in. There was a log lean-to attached to the house which had large cracks between the logs and was about half full
of broom corn. There were dozens of rattlesnakes on top of these stocks and also in between. It was a terrible place and we did not
stay there long.


From there we moved back to the homestead in about 1902. We did not have much to do and spent a good share of our time hunt-
ing Indian turnips. Some were about the size of golf balls and very good to eat, but other times we had to gather buffalo chips
which did make a very good fire in a stove and was the only fuel available at times.


When I was about six years old, I found an 18 kt. gold ring in the mud. It was an old time wedding ring. At any rate, it fit my
mother’s [Christina (Stina) M. Albertson] finger. She wore it every day, even to her grave.


Our old cur dog followed us everywhere, and one day he got bit in the face by a rattlesnake. His head swelled up pretty bad, but
he got over it in a few days.


I think the worst pests to barefoot boys on the prairie were the cactus. There were lots of them and they had very sharp spines
about one inch long with barbs. They went into a foot very easily but, believe me; they were hard to pull out on account of the
barbs. The other pest was rattlesnake. It was necessary to keep your eyes peeled at all times.


In spite of the hardships encountered in the early days on the unsettled  prairies and in my early teens in Wisconsin, I consider
those days the most enjoyable of my entire life for they were absolutely free of any government  regulations or interference. In fact,
I was over 30 years old before I ever heard or saw a government man except old H.P. Fuley.


Our father was the most even tempered person I have seen or known. I never saw him angry nor did I ever hear him say an angry word to our mother. He would correct us kids when he thought we were doing wrong, but never a licking. All the credit should not
go to our dad for trying to create a living in that wild unsettled land for our mother was a very efficient person. We had a few sheep from which she obtained wool and after cleaning and washings it in a tub it was set out to dry. After drying, it was ready to be card-
ed and made into small rolls. She did most of that, but other times it was our job to card it while she sat on her spinning wheel making yarn for knitting socks, etc. for the brood, besides preparing food for us all every day. She was also a good dressmaker. We were all from 12 to 14 years old before we had on any store pants or shirt. She made everything of that nature, even her own
clothes. Some times she sewed a little for the neighbors. When we first moved to Wisconsin , she did not like it too well. She was
used to the open spaces and described this wooded country like sitting in a large box, couldn't see any place but up.


If a person would stop to think of or compare the hardships and courage of the pioneers on the prairies as described in this memoir with the people of today, you may begin to wonder if they belong to the same race that now carry food stamps paid by the govern-

ment and also many forms of welfare, relief, and pensions.


Blizzards on the prairie was something else and almost impossible to face. The high winds moved the snow through the air so fast that it turned it into particles almost as hard as ice and drifting behind any obstacle such as a haystack was hard enough for cattle
to walk on it and over the fence to the hay. I can recall that one man's barn blew away and his cattle turning tail to the wind drifted into a ravine and were completely buried alive in a standing position. The heat from their bodies and breath caused a hole up through the snow where each animal stood under the snow and that was how this herd was found in the next day or so.


I have never seen a so‑called pot hole on the prairie. Depressions were always ravines, big and small. Cattle always drifted with
the wind in those fierce blizzards and into ravines which would be a slight shelter.  It would not be long until the ravine would be drifted full covering up the cattle completely. They of course, died in these ravines by the hundreds and were worthless except for their hides.


I have heard my father and others tell of residents going to these ravines in the early spring with teams and sleighs. They were pulling the hides off from the dead cattle by hooking on to the head and another to the hide in opposite directions ripping most
of it off.


My dad also spoke of one instance where the blizzard lasted two or more days. A man had some stock in his barn and he could
barely see his hand in front of him and was afraid to attempt going to the barn to feed them.  He broke up a wooden box and made
a bundle of sticks to stick into the snow at short intervals. He ran out of sticks and did not find his barn, therefore, retraced the sticks back to his house.


My uncles' built a round corral about 100 ft. in diameter. A good strong solid post was put in the center called a snubbing post.
When a wild horse was selected from the herd in the corral, it was lassoed and the lasso wrapped around the snubbing post. The animal did choke itself into submission at which time one of its hind legs would be drawn up to its breast, called a scotch hobble
which made the animal helpless. A saddle and bridle was put on it. A1l the other horses were turned out. It was then freed of the ropes and Uncle Ed [Edward Peterson b. 1884 Indiana ] rode it bucking round and round the corral until it was tired out.
After it found that the rider could not be dislodged it quit and never bucked thereafter.


There were lots of coyotes, jack rabbits and prairie chickens which were the extent of wild life except prairie dogs, gophers and meadow larks, bob‑o‑links and rattlesnakes.


The folks took us all to Chamberlain in about 1908 where we had our picture taken. It was the only picture taken in South Dakota
of the whole family.


Everyone had an earth dam built across a ravine which furnished water for the stock and a hole dug, also covered up, collecting seepage for drinking water. It was really clear. Perhaps the frogs in it helped to make it so. The back water of the dam was our swimming hole. I am sure that we spent as much time there as we did on land.


One day our mother said the chicken house was full of mites and that we should clean it up. We were not too fond of that job, but
we went at it. A run for the dam was in order to wash off the mites. We were covered with them.


Whenever dad was through with a job he, of course, brought back the extra nails and spikes of all sizes. We had a front porch built not too high off the around and was an ideal place to drive in spikes.


One day we discovered that our old dog had a litter of pups back under this porch. We wanted to see them, but the spikes we had driven through the floor were sticking down there, and we were forced to give it up.


We found several ant hills on the prairie; some of them were full of small beads of all colors. We thought that the ants made those beads, but I now am pretty sure that there was likely a dead Indian buried there who had beads on his footwear and other places.    


The U.S. Government built a good four wire fence around the Indian Reservation and leased the enclosure to the ranchers, but
this venture was not entirely successful because prairie fires burned up the fence posts and cattle would again be at large. I never heard of any crew policing the fence.


There was some sort of itch, scab or ticks among the cattle roaming the range at large before the heard law. The government hired our dad to build a large holding corral and a large dipping tank. Cattle were driven to there by cowboys and were forced into the
tank containing some sort of dips material, perhaps sulfur.


The prairies were no longer a cattle or horse country. There were too many immigrants, wire fences, etc. where there used to be
cattle by the hundreds, they were now small herds fenced in due to the herd law.


In 1910 the neighborhood dissolved, a good share of them went to Canada , but we and Uncle Jim [James Peterson] and family went to Wisconsin [ Hayward area]. We moved to Wisconsin in the spring of 1910 to a farm dad had bought in 1909.


In the late fall of 1910, our house burned, losing everything including our clothes. There was considerable pine timber on our place. We cut some of it and the neighbors assisted in building a two‑story log house. It was built in a very short time. This was the house were Nina [Nina Dunlap – daughter of Karen (Carrie) Peterson  b. 1894 and George Dunlap], my niece, was born in 1914.


We then took the job of cutting a neighbor's fire killed pine together with our own and sold it to the large saw mill at Hayward . It
was a full winter’s job.


The following three years we cut and hauled stove wood to town.  I was fifteen years old and hauled the wood with our team of horses. I made trips two per day. Believe me, it was a cold job.  I had frozen toes every winter.


In the late teens, I started guiding fishermen in summer and continued doing so most of the twenties.


For two years between 1920 and 1923, I did go with who I thought was a very nice girl friend. We did intend to get married, but I
did not think that I had quite enough money at that time, but in part of 1922‑23, I did accumulate about eight hundred dollars,
but I was too late.  In the early fall of 1923, she went to Iowa to visit her aunt, and there met and married a guy in Des Moines .


The First National Bank of Hayward was always considered dependable, but it went broke in March, 1924 and that was goodbye
to money deposit.


It did then seem to me that nothing was dependable even my changeable or fickle girl friend. At any rate, that was the end of girl friends for me.  I had no desire to seek another during the following fifteen years.


In 1930, I took an exam for game wardens. I was successful in passing the exam, being third among 20 applicants and was assigned as warden for Washburn County under Civil Service.


In the mid 1930's, I was given the job as supervisor of beaver controls under Civil Service for the entire northwest quarter of the State of Wisconsin .  Beaver were becoming a pest in that they were building dams on streams everywhere flooding railroad tracks, highways and farmers' pastures, etc.


I took a six mile trip by canoe down the Moose River to check on illegal trapping in June, 1933. On that trip, I counted 135 deer
along the banks of the river.


 In 1938 Betty White of Dallas , Texas , and I decided to get married. We had known each other since 1925. She was the manager
of Snap‑On Wrench Company for that district.


In June, 1939, I took Betty with me down that same river. There were only 35 deer along the banks and I feel certain that if that same trip would be made today, less than 10 deer will be seen.


In the time of warden duties, I was gone from home most every day, and Betty did not care for that too much. Therefore, in 1940,
I resigned from the Conservation Department and together, we bought a corner lot in Hayward and thereon built a gas service station. My nephew, Chester Dunlap [son of Karen (Carrie) Peterson  b. 1894 and George Dunlap] operated it for
several years on a commission basis.


After that, I also acquired 1 3/4 miles of lake shore on Lake Chippewa for almost little of nothing. On that project, I took on Roy Risberg as a partner, having known him since 1916. He was a very good salesman, and I think he could sell a snow ball in January. In fact, he was responsible for selling our lake shore for fifty dollars per foot. It is now all sold.


My brother Bill also got married in 1938 to Betty's sister. We could not have found a better pair of partners than those two sisters. They were not one bit lazy and would tackle most any kind of job. If nothing else was in sight for them to do, they would knit socks and mitts from wool yarn. I still have four pair of heavy wool socks. Bill and I have not bought a pair of wool socks since 1938.


In most every case of married couples, women do not get anywhere near the credit due them until they have passed away. Bill’s
wife passed away in 1972 and Betty passed away in 1973.


I am now 81 years old and consider myself very fortunate to still have a very good memory. .


All memoirs mentioned are from recollections and incidents told to me by my parents. To mention all incidents that may have happened within an 81 year lifetime would fill quite a book.


Together with our parents, there were seven in our family, three brother and two sisters. My brother Bill and myself are the only ones left of the family. Therefore, memoirs of our activities during our lifetime may be of interest to every niece and nephew of the original family.


Peter C. Peterson


Note on bottom of page: “Nephew of grandpa Albertson” [grandpa is Nels P. Albertson]


[Peter C. Peterson passed away in August 1986.  He was 90 years old.   He was the son of Charles M. Peterson and Kristine (also known as Christena or Christina) Marie Albertson (Christensen) who was from Denmark .  She is a sister to Nels, Martin, and Albert Albertson. William Ralph Peterson (Bill) was born on December 22, 1899 in Lyman County , South Dakota and passed away in July 1982.  Both brothers are buried in or near Hayward , Wisconsin . 



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