Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 519-21.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Hon. Holver H. Peterson

Hon. Holver H. Peterson is one of the worthy and respected citizens of the county, who since 1878 has lived within its borders.  He has been connected with farming and merchandising here hut is now living retired, for his well directed labors have brought to him a goodly measure of success.  Ever straightforward in his dealings his worth constitutes an important feature in the citizenship of this part of the state.


A native of Norway, Mr. Peterson was born March 21, 1831, and is a son of Holver Peterson, who was born, reared and married in the land of the midnight sun, the lady of his choice being Betsey Jenstigen.  He followed farming in Norway for several years or until after the birth of their five children and in 1839 emigrated with their family to the new world, taking ship at Guttenberg as passengers on the American brig, Bunyan, bound for Boston.  They were eight weeks on the Atlantic and Holver H. Peterson is now the only living man who came from Norway to America in 1839.  At that day voyages were never made across the water for pleasure, business interests prompted them at all times or the desire for religious or political liberty and it was the hope of having better opportunities in the new world that led Holver Peterson to bring his family to the United States.  They first located at Jefferson Prairie in Rock county, Wisconsin, where they lived four years.  The father then opened up a farm in that county.  Upon that place he reared his family and both he and his wife died there.  There [sic] home was in a frontier settlement when they located in Wisconsin.  The land was largely unimproved and the forests uncut.  The homes of the settlers were mostly built of logs and were heated with fire-places, while other furnishings were just as primitive.


Holver H. Peterson of this review met all of the hardships and privations of pioneer life.  He aided in the work of the farm when there was none of the modern machinery or implements to lighten the labors of the fields.  He was energetic and industrious and the habits of perseverance and industry which he formed have been fruitful sources of his success in later years.  His educational privileges were limited, but by reading, experience and observation he has become a well informed man.  When he had reached his majority he began learning the stone-mason's trade, which he followed for several years in his early manhood both before and after his marriage.  He also carried on farming and in everything that he did displayed a spirit of enterprise and commendable determination.


Mr. Peterson was married in Rock county, Wisconsin, in 185l, to Miss Carrie Michelson, a native of Norway.  After his marriage he continued to reside in Wisconsin for several years, being engaged in farming and mason work.  He became one of the prominent and influential residents of his locality and was a leading worker in the ranks of the republican party.  He took an active part in the promotion of the party in Wisconsin and on its ticket was elected and served in a number of offices of honor and trust.  He was a member of the town board for about fifteen years and was also supervisor of his county.  The ability and fidelity which he displayed in local office lead to his being nominated in 1871 as independent candidate for the legislature.  He spent but three day in electioneering and was elected against the regular party candidates.  He served on some of the important committees and introduced a resolution in the house instructing the committee to report by bill on the question of appointing a commissioner to control both freight and passenger rates on all railroads of the state.  This measure was very popular with the public but awoke the bitter opposition of the railroad companies.  Though the question has been discussed throughout the nation since that time Mr. Peterson was the first to introduce a resolution for the framing of such a bill.  He made a record for faithful, honest service in the legislature, winning the commendation of his constituency and the respect of even his political opponents.


Mr. Peterson continued to reside in Wisconsin until 1878, when he disposed of his business interests in that state and removed to Iowa, settling in Buena Vista county.  He purchased one hundred and sixty acres in Elk township and opened up a new farm, which he improved, making it an attractive place, well equipped with good buildings and the accessories of modern farming life. Later he removed to Alta, where he engaged in merchandising and afterward sold his farm and rural interests.  He continued to conduct the store for about five years when he sold out and now lives retired.  He owns land in Minnesota, near Crookston, and his residence property in Alta.


In 1903 Mr. Peterson was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died in that year.  Seven of their children are yet living:  Bessie, the wife of Harley Olson, of Alta; Henry, who is married and is clerking in this town; Mary, the wife of Warren McBride, of Washington township; Sever, living at Crookston, Minnesota; John, of Alta; Sarah, the wife of Paul Polson, a traveling man, living in Alta; Peter, now of Nebraska; Esther, now deceased, was at one time a teacher of this county; Carrie, who also engaged in teaching, has passed away, while another child, Knute, died at the age of eight years.


Mr. Peterson has long been recognized as a man of good business ability and of true integrity and worth.  He has never been known to falter in any course that he has believed to be right, and his success is the result of careful management and honest achievement.