Biography of William Peterson

William Peterson, during the last years of his life, lived retired with his wife in a comfortable home at Randolph in Riley County. He had a remarkable range of experience. A native of Sweden, he came to the United States a poor man. He had hardly become accustomed to American ways before he entered the army to fight for his adopted land. Three years of gallant and faithful service as a Union soldier are to his credit. Nearly fifty years ago he came out to the new State of Kansas. He was a homesteader and for years a successful farmer in Pottawatomie County. The fruits of his labors enabled him to retire and enjoy in comfort his declining years.

He was born February 17, 1834. Childhood and youth, the advantages of schools and much of hard work were his portion during the twenty-six years he lived in Sweden before immigrating to the United States.

On August 17, 1860, be landed at the City of Boston. A day or two later he was working at Jamestown, New York. From the tasks which furnished him a livelihood he was called to the higher service of his adopted country. August 27, 1861, a year and ten days after he came to this country, he enlisted as a private in Company A of the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry. That regiment saw some of the hardest fighting during the first three years of the war. Without recalling all the engagements in which he participated, it should be noted that in the battle of Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, William Peterson was struck by a minie ball in the right shoulder. That was the only important wound received during his service. Mr. Peterson secured possession of the ball after it was extracted from his shoulder, and he afterward kept it as a memento of his military experience. On August 30, 1864, three days after the expiration of his term of enlistment, he was given an honorable discharge with the rank of corporal.

Another soldier in the 112th New York Infantry was Christopher Oakland. Mr. Oakland was in Company E. He had come to America some years before from Sweden, bringing with him his family, including his daughter Emma, who had been born in Sweden September 29, 1843. In the fall of 1864, after his honorable discharge from the army and after he had voted for the re-election of Lincoln for president, William Peterson was married to Miss Emma Oakland at Jamestown, New York.

After his marriage he followed farming on a small piece of land near Chautauqua Lake in Western New York. The great opportunities of the Middle West called him to share in their abundance, and in 1867 Mr. Peterson homesteaded a claim in Pottawatomie County, Kansas. In the development of that claim, in the making of a home, the rearing and training of his children, he was busily occupied until 1901. Having then reached a period in his life when he was amply able to retire, he did so and afterward lived in a comfortable home at Randolph.

For his part in developing a farm and his worthy relationship with the community, Mr. Peterson deserves mention as one of the makers of the great Commonwealth of Kansas. He was long a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and for more than fifty years actively supported the republican party. For nine years his fellow citizens called upon him to serve as justice of the peace in his home township of Pottawatomie County, and he was once census enumerator in his township. He and his wife were long active members of the Methodist Church. In 1914 they were permitted to celebrate that impressive and beautiful ceremony of a golden wedding anniversary. Twelve children were born to their union, and six of them are still living, all grown to useful and honorable manhood and womanhood.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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