In the fall of 1881, a meeting was held by the Scandinavian people in the city of Hudson, Wisconsin to select a committee for the purpose of obtaining a location for a Scandinavian colony either in north-western Minnesota or north-western Dakota. At this meeting there was a petition signed by forty-seven members who were Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians whose occupations were farming, store keeping, blacksmithing, and hotel keepers. This committee consisted of three who were Andrew Torreson, Gilbert Everson and myself, the under signer.
We went over to St. Paul with our petition and we were granted free fair on the Northern Pacific Rail Road and the Winnepeg Rail Road which is now called the Great Northern. We also were given a free pass on all their branch rail roads. In the spring of 1882 this committee of three was all prepared for the trip and we left Hudson, WI the first day of May for our trip.
The first stop was at Crookstown, MN and our next stop at Hellock, MN. We did not like this country as the water was standing in the ditch all along the Railroad. We were very much discouraged and so we went back to Crookstown, MN where we hired a team to take us up to Red Lake Reservation but we also found it too wet to set up there so we then took the N. P. Railroad back to Grand Forks and then we hired a team to take us up to the Mouse River as no railroad ran west from Grand Forks at this time any farther than Laramore, ND. From there we started out with a team and a man we had hired to take us to the Mouse River; our purpose in making this trip to the Mouse River was that we were instructed by the colony behind us that we should not locate on prairie land unless there was timber and fuel to go with the prairie land. This colony was made up of people that had come from a timber country and they wouldn’t live on a bleak prairie unless there was some fuel and some timber to build their houses.
We had been told that this Mouse River to the west of us was lined with timber and fine prairie land joining this belt of timber. When we got as far west as Stump Lake we struck a real North Dakota blizzard. The only thing that we could do, under the circumstances, was to take the box off from the wagon and put that up against the running gear of the wagon and let the snow snow us in under the cover of the snow. This night I froze more than I ever did in my life, as we were poorly prepared to stay out all night in a North Dakota blizzard. The next morning it finally cleared up and we got up, shook ourselves, and then we went to look for the team.
The team was in too bad a shape so we had to turn around and go back to Laramore. This trip we made without mishap. We then went to Bismarck by train to look up the land office. By showing our credentials we were directed up to where Washburn is now located, because they said we would find what we were looking for there. On our trip there, we met several people who treated us nice. The most popular people were: Allick McKenzie, Hon. John Satterlund. They gave us a very encouraging report of the country up the Missouri River where Washburn is located now. Our next move was to get a livery team to take us up there. We were directed to see Mr. Aslund.
He was at that time running a livery barn in Bismarck and he fitted us out with the best team I ever drew lines over. We were directed to call on George Rhude located on Turtle Creek, two miles east of where Washburn is located now. This was the place where the stage stopped with the mail and was on the route that connected Fort Berthold and Bismarck. This man, George Rhude, located us in what is now called Sverdrup Township 145, Range 81. Here we found what we were looking for. On our way back we reported at the land office what we had found and we stated that the colony would be up and file within 20 days. The Land Office Registrar promised us he would let no filing be accepted on Township 145, Range 81 until after the colony had their filings registered.
Our next move was to see Alleck McKenzie to have him cover up Section 5—144, Range 81. By completing this work, we had done all that we were asked to do
Returning to Hudson, Wisconsin, we called a meeting of the colony and reported to them what we had selected. At this meeting Albert Everson was appointed secretary and John P. Nelson was appointed treasurer. A business committee consisting of Ole Gunderson, Andrew Jaralson, and Joshua Blackfelt. This committee was also given the power to buy all or part of Section 5—144 Range 81 from the N.P. Rail Road Co. This section consisted of timberland.
The committee took a trip to North Dakota and found that they were well satisfied with what we had selected for them. On this trip the committee bought from the Northern Pacific “Railroad Co. the south half and the west half of section 57144 Range 81. On their return trip to Hudson , Wisconsin, another meeting was held and I, J.P. Peterson, as one of the locating committee, was appointed to make another trip up to North Dakota to have this timber land surveyed into ten-acre lots and have each ten-acre lot appraised. By accepting this appointment, I was given power of attorney to look after the holdings of this committee. They had bought some prairie farming land joining where the city of Washburn is now located. In the fall of 1882 I made this trip and had this work done after I came back to Hudson. The colony held one more meeting for the purpose of all those who wanted timber, who were to draw a lot of ten acres which varied in price from $1.50 to $16.00 per acre and they were all satisfied.
Biography of the Early Days of the Pioneers of Minnesota and North Dakota
From Hudson, WI to Washburn, ND
As told by J.P. Peterson (John Peter Peterson)
J.P. Peterson is the Great-grandfather of Jon Quentin Peterson