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. 474-75.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Swan Peterson

The Scandinavian country has furnished to northwestern Iowa an intelligent and progressive citizenship.  Many of the sons of Norway and Sweden have come to this part of the country, and with characteristic thrift and perseverance have labored to achieve success, their efforts resulting in the development of Buena Vista county along lines of modern improvement.


Mr. Peterson, now living in Alta, was for twenty-five years a resident of Cherokee county, and for twenty-two years of that time there owned and operated a farm of four hundred acres.  He was born in Sweden, May 24, 1844, and the days of his boyhood and youth were quietly passed there.  He was about twenty-two years of age when in January, 1866, he married Sophia Erickson. a native of Sweden.  They began their domestic life upon a farm in that country and two children were born unto them ere their emigration to the new world in 1869.  Others of their nationality had settled in the middle west and to the Mississippi valley they made their way, establishing their home upon a farm in Stark county, Illinois, where they lived for eight years.  Mr. Peterson worked out by the month a part of the time and then rented land, but thinking that he might more easily acquire a farm of his own in the less thickly populated district of northwestern Iowa he look up his abode in Buena Vista county in 1876 and there rented land for a year.  On the expiration of that period he purchased a farm across the boundary line in Cherokee county, becoming the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of raw and undeveloped prairie.  He located there in 1878 and at once began the development of the place, turning the soil, planting his crops and in due course of time gathering rich harvests.  He later bought two hundred and forty acres near by [sic] and improved this property, on which he built a good resilience.  He also put up a substantial building on his first farm and on both places provided ample shelter for grain and stock, in good barns, sheds and other outbuildings.  He likewise set out orchards and other fruit and converted his places into modern farm properties, equipped with all of the accessories known to the progressive agriculturist.  He also bought a half section of land in Buena Vista county, which he improved but later he sold that property.  In addition to tilling the fields he also raised and fed stock and was quite successful in that work.  In 1900 he removed to Alta, where he purchased a good residence property.  He also traded for a grocery store and conducted business in that line for seven months, when he sold out.


Mr. and Mrs. Peterson were the parents of the following children:  Charles, who was born in Sweden, is now married and follows farming in Cherokee county.  Jennie is the wife of N. Winneberg, of Ida county, Iowa.  Oscar is a farmer of Silver township, Cherokee county; Victor is operating the home farm; Laura is the wife of Oscar Cattong, a farmer of Cherokee county; Ernest follows general agricultural pursuits near Galva, Iowa; Ida and Emma are at home.  They also lost two children in early childhood.


Mr. Peterson is an independent voter, casting his ballot for the candidates whom he thinks best qualified for office without regard to party affiliation.  He has been closely identified with the school interests of Cherokee county and was also road supervisor.  He is a member of the Free Mission church and his influence is always on the side of right, justice and truth.  He can tell many interesting incidents concerning the early days when this part of the state was practically destitute of railroads, when its homes were widely scattered and when its settlers had to face many obstacles and difficulties in order to carry on farming on the frontier.  Mr. Peterson has borne all of the trials meted out to the frontier settler, but he worked on diligently and persistently and never allowed himself to become discouraged or disheartened.  He hauled the lumber for his largest house eighteen miles, for there was no nearer source of supply.  He has rejoiced in what has been accomplished in the county, nor has he ever had occasion to regret that he did not remain in his native land, for he recognizes the fact that he has had better business opportunities than he could have secured in Sweden, and while he has worked hard and persistently, he has ultimately gained a measure of prosperity that now brings to him all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.