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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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