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Alexander Peterson































































































Biographical Sketches

J H Beers 1895


Alexander Peterson is one of the most progressive and prosperous agriculturists and merchants of Belle Plaine, Shawano county, is a native of the State of Maine, born October 2, 1842.
Abraham Peterson, his father, came to the United States from Sweden in 1812, just about the commencement of the war with Great Britain, and on his landing at Boston was taken prisoner, and detained in custody a few months, although at the time he was only a poor twelve-year-old orphan boy.    In the woods of Maine he worked several years, or until his marriage with Miss Clarissa Davis, when he commenced farming, a vocation he followed in the same State until 1847, the year of his coming and bringing his family to Wisconsin. Here in Dane county they remained three months, at the end of that time moving to Omro, Winnebago county, where the father carried on milling, the mother keeping a boarding house.  For some six years, or until 1855, they remained there, and then came to Belle Plaine township, where the son Elias bought land, and with him the parents made their home for a time.    Elias here built a mill, engaged in lumbering some four years, then sold out and purchased eighty acres of land for his father, a portion of which he, the latter, cleared and cultivated year by year until his death, which occurred in 1876  his wife was called from earth in 1879. They were the parents of twelve children, as follows: Jane, Mrs. Stevens, of Standish, Maine; Matilda, who married a Mr. Edmonds, and died, leaving a family; James, in Dodge county; William, a carpenter in Everett, Wash.; Elias, a farmer in the State of Washington; Hannah, Mrs. Frank Adams, of the State of Washington; Amanda, deceased; Henry, a farmer in California; Alexander; Charles, a machinist of Omro, Wis.; and two who died in infancy. 
In 1866 our subject was married to Mary Bonette, daughter of Joseph and Harriet (Parker) Bonette, who moved from Vermont to New York State, where their family of eight children were born, to wit: Rosamond, Mrs. Wellington Burch, of Bowling Green, Wood Co., Ohio; Marcia, widow of David Gay, now living in the State of New York; Hannah, Mrs. John Pool, also of New York; Lucia, wife of Herman Webster, a wagon-maker of North Monroeville, Ohio; Joseph, a wagon-maker in North Amherst, Ohio; Parker, who was killed in the engagement at Petersburg during the Civil war; Mary, Mrs. Peterson; and Charles, who died in Kansas. About the year 1852 Mr. and Mrs. Bonette moved to Ohio, settling at Amherst, Lorain county, where they died, the father in 1862, the mother in 1870. At the time of Mrs. Peterson's marriage she was teaching school in Shawano City, where she was and still is very popular amongst old and young alike. To this union were born seven children, the following five of whom are yet living: Nellie, Ward, Russell, Royal and Mary. The latter is teaching school, and all are at home except Russell, who lives at Strasburg, Wis. the two eldest born (twins) died in infancy. In August, 1862, Mr. Peterson enlisted in Company B, Twenty-first Wis. Inf. was mustered in at Oshkosh, and served till the close of the war, participating in the battles of Perryville, Chickamauga and Atlanta, was with Sherman at Savannah, and continued under him till the Grand Review at Washington. He was at the very front of the fighting all the time, but luckily never was wounded, although he did not escape sickness, and received an honorable discharge June 8, 1865, as second lieutenant, to which rank he had been promoted for gallantry and heroism.
Mr. Peterson has during the past few years been engaged in mercantile business and lumbering, as well as farming, and has met with well-merited success, today owning 240 acres of prime land, 100 of which he has under excellent cultivation. Politically he has been a Republican, since the organization of that party, and has served as county treasurer one term (1883-84), town treasurer eighteen years, and school treasurer twenty-five years; for twenty-three years he has been postmaster at Belle Plaine. In fraternal affiliations Mr. Peterson is a member and master of Shawano Lodge. F. & A. M., and of the G. A. R., and no man enjoys more fully the unqualified esteem of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.



Death Summons Alexander Peterson

Death Summons Alex Peterson

Was Widely known in Shawano County

Belle Plaine Pioneer Passed Away in His Easy Chair

Alexander Peterson, one of the most prominent and surely one of the most widely known pioneers of Shawano County, died at his home in the town of Belle Plaine, at about half past four, Monday evening.  He was 87 years old. That day he had worked around the yard doing the little odd jobs as was his usual wont, and had just finished assisting in the task of bringing in the evening's wood. He sat down in his comfortable chair, the one given him a few weeks ago by his many admiring neighbors on the occasion of the celebration on his birthday. One of the little boys of the home called out "Look at grandpa" and the older members of the family saw that he was slowly sinking in his chair. He gasped once or twice, softly and was gone.


By his death there now remains in this county only one soldier of the Civil War, Milo Porter, of the town of Navarino, who is about the same age of Mr. Peterson. There has been no man with more picturesque life in this entire community than that of Alex Peterson.


He was born in the state of Maine on October 2, 1842. His father, Abraham Peterson came to the United states from Sweden in 1812, just as the war of 1812 between England and the United Sates was beginning. On landing at Boston he was taken prisoner and was held for several months by the British, although he was only a poor orphan boy, 12 years old.


The father went to work at an early age in the Maine Woods and after a while married Miss Clarisa Davis. The children were born in Maine. When they were old enough to make the trip safe, the family came west to Wisconsin in a covered wagon. This was in 1847. They settled in Omro where they lived for six years and then came to Belle Plaine, Alex and all the other children with them.

One brother, Alias, built the first saw mill in Belle Plaine and ran it for 4 years.

When the war of the rebellion broke out, Alex and his brothers entered the Union Army. Alex and Charles saw some of the hardest fighting of the war, and Alex came through without a wound, although he was laid up with sickness and had to take an honorable leave to regain health.


He served first with General Thomas and spent one whole winter on Lookout mountain with Col. Fitch. James Stewart, who was postmaster in Chicago for many years was his captain.


He was honorably discharged under General Thomas because of illness and lay in the hospital at Atlanta for several months. After he recovered he re-enlisted, this time under General Sherman, who raised to the rank of Lieutenant and went with Sherman on the famous march to the sea.

He was in North Carolina that he found the little negro boy who was known in this country for the rest of his life as "Pete". The little fellow went with Alex and brother Charley on the march to the sea. After the war, Alex being an officer, was allowed to bring Pete home with him after they had mustered out at Washington. The boy was taken into the family and was known as Pete Peterson. He grew up to manhood, married Miss Emma  Buchholtz, of Leopolis. The children of this couple now live on farms near Leopolis and have families of their own. The children always referred to Alex as "Grandpa".


After the war Mr. Peterson returned to Belle Plaine and was married to Miss Mary Bonette, a graduate of Oberlin college, who was teaching in the Shawano schools. She was a wonderfully capable and talented woman and the sunshine of her life reflected brightly upon the lives of those early pioneers whose lot was fraught with pleasure as well as hardship.


Mr. Peterson started the first store in the town of Belle Plaine soon after his marriage. The original building with its shelving still stands on the Peterson farm. He ran a store, lumbered, farmed and was Postmaster in those years. Later he devoted all his time to farming.


 When the Republican party came into being at the Ripon meeting, Mr. Peterson was inspired with the rightness of cause. He voted for Lincoln while in the army and has been a Republican all his life time since. He was county treasurer for one term, town treasurer 18 years, school treasurer of his district for 25 years, and for 23 years was post master at Belle Plaine.


Mr. Peterson joined the Shawano lodge of Masons in 1876, when the lodge was 3 years old. He is number 38 on the Rooster.


In the last 6-7 years the people of this section have honored him on the occasion of his birthday with a big party, often numbering 500 guests. Each time the friends have given him some token of affection. This year, on October 2nd, the party numbered more then 500 and the quests gave the venerable neighbor a beautiful easy chair. It was in this chair that he quietly died Monday evening. His life went out with the day, softly and unheralded, just as the sun sets without pretension, and changes the day of labor into the night of rest.


The funeral was held this afternoon at the Peterson home. The sermon was preached by Rev. Damp, pastor of the Presbyterian church. A quartette, all male friends of the deceased sang. The honorary pall-bearers were Dr. W H Cantwell, Sr, Charles Brooks, Ed Hill,  Frank Perry, Antone Kuckuk, and George Klosterman. The active pall-bearers were Frank Schweers, King Weeman, O E Morgan, Robert Upham, Ira weeks and Casper Wallrich.


The American Legion attended in body and at the grave full military honors. The burial service was under the auspices of the Masons and were in the words of that impressive ritual.


Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Peterson. Two of them died in infancy. A son A. Russell Peterson, died three years ago in Leona. The living children are: Mrs. Nellie Darling, who has been living with her father for the past three years; Ward B a farmer near the old homestead; Roy (Pat) who lives on the family home farm; Mayme, Mrs. George Jeans, of Seattle. There are eight living grandchildren and six great grandchildren.


Shawano County Journal

6 Jun 1918


Famous War Negro Dead at Leopolis

Came to Alex Peterson's Company

Was with Sherman on Great March

Well-Known as "Nigger Pete"

Leaves a snug amount of property to his surviving Widow and Children


In this weeks Advocate, there was a short write-up taken from the Marion Advisor upon the death of Everett Peterson, a Leopolis Pioneer. It is quite possible that many of you read this item and did not recognize in this pioneer a figure who in the old woods days was as well known as any man on the Wolf. He was called Nigger Pete, then, and many never knew he had another name. His coming to this state makes a story that in the hands of a novelist could be made a fascinating tale.


Peter was born a slave and was owned by a hard-fisted master down in South Carolina. When Gen. Sheridan made his raid through the South, Alex Peterson of Shawano was with him as First Lt in one of the companies. One day a negro boy, about 11 years of age the men judged, rushed into camp where Mr. Peterson's company was eating supper. At that moment the boy was transmuted from a slave to a free man. He went back to Shawano with his new found friend. Here he was taken into the family and until he was thirty years of age, he knew no other home. When he was almost thirty-two he was married to Miss Minnie Bucholtz, and to this union four children were born. At the time of his death he was well-off, for he had worked hard and had been careful and saving. He will leave to his widow and children a neat little fortune.


Back in the old river days, he was noted far and wide for his physical prowess. He never would pick a quarrel; for of nature he was peaceful and had a faculty of making friends, but if a person wished to pick on him, he had best think twice. There was at that time in New London a river bully named John Vader. He was the dreaded man all along the river from New London to Shawano. One day Peter met him, and when the smoke had cleared away John Vader had changed his mind and from then on he was as gentle as a kitten. The deceased was about sixty years of age. Had he remained in South his name would have been that of his master and Everett Peterson would never have been known.




12 Jul 1866

Shawano County Journal

Married - Peterson-Bonnett - On Saturday, July 1st, by E D Gumarer, Esq., Lieut. Alexander Peterson, of Belle Plaine, and Mary Bonnett, a teacher in the school in this village. Lieut. Peterson, and his wife have our best wishes for their future happiness. May they live long enough to enjoy all of Life's blessings and non of it's ills.

Alexander Peterson

Enlisted as Pvt 21 Wis Inf Co B on 14 Aug 1862 at Oshkosh, WI

Mustered out as 1st Sgt on 8 Jun 1865 at Washington DC

Time served 2y 9m 25d

Born 2 Oct 1842 in Phillips, Maine

Died 4 Nov 1929 at Belle Plaine, Shawano Co. WI

Buried Friendship Cemetery, Belle Plaine, Shawano Co WI

Parents of Abraham Peterson (1798-1876) (b in Sweden) and Clarissa Davis ( 1799-1879)(b in Canada)

Siblings: Charlotte, James, Jane, William, Benjamin, Elias, Hannah, Amanda, Henry and Charles

Married 1st wife Harriett Hotchkiss 24 Aug 1862

Married 2nd wife Mary Rose Bonette 1 Jul 1866 at Belle Plaine

Children 2 unknown, Nellie, Ward, Russell, Royal and Mayme