Torger Peterson

Moving from Horse to Case Tractor (ca. 1925)

Pete Peterson harrowing with horse team in Ohop Valley
Pete Peterson harrowing with horse team in Ohop Valley

It was a big transition to move from horse to tractor. Here are pictures of Pete Peterson plowing in Ohop Valley first with his horses, and later with a 1920’s Case tractor.

My grandfather (Louie Mettler Sr. ) used to talk about having to hook the team of horses up to the tractor at times.

Tractor Wars
During 1923 a so-called Tractor war ensued, a four-way struggle between Ford, John Deere, Case, and IHC. Ford, with a massive advantage in manufacturing capacity and distribution, had the upper hand, producing an estimated 73% of all American tractors, with Case-IHC in a far away second place at 9%, and several other companies sharing the rest of the percentages. (per Wikipedia)

Pete and Ted Peterson with their Case tractor (ca. 1925)
Pete and Ted Peterson with their Case tractor (ca. 1925)

Photos courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

(LtoR) R. Norquist, Ted Peterson, and Pete Peterson posing next to tractor on Torger Peterson home in Ohop Valley
(LtoR) R. Norquist, Ted Peterson, and Pete Peterson posing next to tractor on Torger Peterson home in Ohop Valley

Peterson Postcard (1919)

Torger Peterson's house - Ohop Valley (1916)
Torger Peterson's house - Ohop Valley (1916)

This postcard of Torger Peterson’s house in 1916, not long after it was built, was authored by Helen Peterson.

You might think, “Wow, that place must have been famous to have its own postcard,” but it’s actually an RPPC (Real photo postcard).

RPPC Cards
“In 1903 Kodak introduced the No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak. The camera, designed for postcard-size film, allowed the general public to take photographs and have them printed on postcard backs. They are usually the same size as standard vintage postcards (3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″). Also known by the acronym “RPPC”.

Kodak’s 3A camera pioneered in its use of postcard-size film but was not the only one to make Real Photo postcards. Many other cameras were used, some of which used old-fashioned glass plates that required cropping the image to fit the postcard format.” (Per Wikipedia.)

Peterson Postcard - side 2
Peterson Postcard - side 2

Helen’s Card
For those of you who can’t read second grade writing well, it reads . . .

Eatonville, Wash., March 19, 1916
Dear aunte Ti ane
I will send you a card of our house. I am going to school and I’m in the second grade. 
Thank you for the nice things you sent us for Christmas. With love to all. Helen Peterson
Images courtesy of Linda Lewis.
Click on images to enlarge.

The Peterson Girls (ca. late 1920s)

LtoR: Anna Peterson, Helen Peterson, Alice Peterson, Pearl Peterson
LtoR: Anna Peterson, Helen Peterson, Alice Peterson, Pearl Peterson

Pictured here is left to right is: (Aunt) Anna, Helen, Alice and Pearl Peterson. The photo was taken with Helen’s new camera outside Torger Peterson’s original home in Ohop Valley. You won’t find the house there any longer. It’s now the hub of the Nisqually Land Trust’s work to restore salmon habitat.

Photo courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click on image to enlarge.

Anna Peterson & Laura (King) Josselyn

Anna Peterson & Laura (King) Josselyn
Anna Peterson & Laura (King) Josselyn

Girlfriends haven’t changed much over the years. This is Anna Peterson (Torger Peterson’s daughter) and Laura King. They probably had quite a bit in common — they were both from pioneer families, both grew up in a remote area and both probably went to the same school with the same (albeit limited number of) young men to have a crushes on.

Here’s to the girlfriends through the decades!

Photo courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Torger Peterson’s Original Ohop maps

Torger Peterson's original 1885 map of the Washington Territories
Torger Peterson's original 1885 map of the Washington Territories

For those of you who need a quick Torger Peterson 101, he was the man who first settled in Ohop Valley. He wrote a small story about the account in this post.

I got a chance to talk to his great granddaughter this week, Linda Lewis. Along the many pictures and documents he had, this map was hanging on her wall.

Pictured is the 1885 Washington Territory map Torger used to settle in Ohop. You can see his drawings on the map, including a little square around Ohop — or where Ohop will one day be.

Here are his words in 1925 — a little over 35 years after he made his way to Ohop.

“I found the Valley in the summer of 1887 and moved my family out there in April, 1888. At that time it was one of the worst wilderness that it was possible to find, and after we had gotten out some logs and brush so that a wagon could travel, it took us three days to go from Tacoma to my home in the Ohop Valley.

You can see a little square (center left) where Torger has marked the future Ohop Valley
You can see a little square (upper center left) where Torger has marked the future Ohop Valley

“I remember friends of ours told my wife that I had gone crazy and for her not to go out there, after a while I would get tired and come back. My wife however said she had never found me crazy and laughed at our friends and said she would stay by me.

“After we had cleared up some land, the main thing was to get a road, and the County helped us in this way; for every day we worked gratis, they would give us $2.00 a day for the following day, and this is the way the first road was built into the Ohop Valley and beyond.”

Photos courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

1885 map of the Washington Territory — Washington wouldn't become a state until 1889
1885 map of the Washington Territory — Washington wouldn't become a state until 1889

Ohop Valley — early 1900s

Ohop Valley in the early 1900s
Ohop Valley in the early 1900s

When you hear about Ohop Valley, you probably think of the Pioneer Farm or the Nisqually Land Trust, where they are doing a lot of restoration work on the creek.

Up until the 1980s through, the valley was primarily farming country.  Dairies were sprinkled from one end to the others, and fields were growing corn and hay.

Valley founder, Toger Peterson's home
Valley founder, Toger Peterson's home

The first shot is an overview of the valley. The second is of the home of Toger Peterson. He was the first to come out and survey the valley. The property is now owned by the Nisqually Land Trust.

Photos courtesy of Rich Williams.
Click on images to enlarge.

 

Post Card to Peterson 1909

1909 Mineral postcard
1909 Mineral postcard

Torger Peterson’s family kept with with folks through postcards and letters. (As did everyone then, since there was no internet and phones were spotty at best.)

This is a fun postcard from Mineral. I’ll have to brush up on my Norwegian to translate the card. I can read this much, “We are back in the woods and it’s cold.”

I like the address — Name, city , state. When it’s 1909 and there are only a handful of people living in the area, that’s all you need.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

1909 Postcard to M. T. Peterson
1909 Postcard to M. T. Peterson

Toger Peterson — A Race to Settle Ohop Valley

Below are the words of Toger Peterson — an Ohop Valley settler and an early County Commissioner.

He wrote this around 1925, and speaks about the race to settle Ohop Valley as well as work on the Ohop Creek. (Text courtesy of Gary Hendrickson, photos courtesy Pat Van Eaton)

Work on Ohop Creek in the 1ate 1800s
Work on Ohop Creek in the late 1800s

In the summer of 1886, during the time I was not working at anything else, I built a boat in October the same year, in the company with five other friends, went down Puget Sounds near Cape Flattery looking for land. We saw several places which would give five to ten acres of agricultural land, but I made up my mind that I would have land enough for a farm, or none at all.

The 4th of July, 1887, in company with a man, whose name I have forgotten, I took a trip southeast from Tacoma and found the Ohop Valley.

Surveying Ohop Valley
I returned to Tacoma to again work, and in August of that year, in the company with Erick Anderson, went out and started to survey from the nearest surveyed land, and ran a line down to the lower end of Ohop Lake.That was as much surveying as I could do at that time and I had to go back to work.

Erick Anderson stayed at the Lake and built a shake cabin, and in January, 1888, in company with Herman Anderson and Ole Halverson, we went out to select our land. We found out on the trip that a number of Texas people had left Hillhurst for the Ohop Valley the same morning that we left Tacoma.

Men at work on Ohop Creek — 1889
Men at work on Ohop Creek — 1889

 

The Race is On
It then became a race and I made up my mind that if the Texas people had located, we would turn back; and on the other hand, if we would be ahead of them, we would stand our ground against any odds. The morning we left Tacoma, the 6th of January, it began to snow. We camped in the woods that night and in the morning there was about a foot of snow, but we kept on going and started to survey from the point where I had left off in August, close to the Ohop Lake.

We surveyed down the Valley, which was flooded, and sometimes we would get into beaver dams and in water up to our armpits. I remember Herman Anderson hesitated about going into the water for fear his watch might stop. We finally located Section 18, which would be Government land, during the snow storm, and built a little shake cabin, and when the storm was over, we saw the track of the Texas people in the snow a few hundred feet away from our little shack. They had camped during the snow storm while we were working and surveying and getting located. When these Texas people, that later became our neighbors and friends, talked about the race we had made, they said that when they found we had located they went somewhere else.

Taking Ohop Valley from Swamp to Pastures in 1889
Taking Ohop Valley from Swamp to Pastures in 1889

 

Settling the Valley
We three then began to build a house for ourselves and started in to get our logs and brush for a road so we could get provisions in. In order to get the wagons down Ohop Hill, I bought about three hundred feet of one inch manila rope and tied it to the hind axle of the wagon and lowered the wagon down as the hill was so steep that rough locks would not hold it. During the spring and summer of 1888 Mr. and Mrs. Emil Jacobson, Edwin Anderson, Peter Dabroe and Elias Hong settled in the Valley. In 1889 Edward Simonsen bought out Elias Hong and Henry Kaelstad settled in the lower part of the Valley. Finally John Larsen bought Mr. Simonsen’s place and Louis Grundell bought the place of Peter Debroe, and Salve Jensen got half a section of railroad land that Emil Jacobson claimed, making 80 acres a piece.

Since that time, some of the settlers above named have sold out part of their land to others so that the whole valley from Nisqually river to the Ohop Lake is all occupied. When I first came out to the Ohop Valley all the timber East of the Valley, the Mashell Mountain and clear to the Cascade Mountains in every direction was vacant and unsurveyed. Timber at that time was almost valueless, as for example, the Northern Pacific Railroad Company would sell timber land to the people at $2.50 an acre and if there was a little swamp or agricultural land on the quarter section, they would charge $8.00 an acre, showing to me that they thought the timber was of no value, but people had come in and settled on this timber land until in a couple of years every quarter section of timber was taken up as a homestead, and then after the land was surveyed and a patent secured, they sold out to the big timber companies.

Ohop Settlers adjust Ohop Creek - 1889
Ohop Settlers adjust Ohop Creek - 1889

Now we settlers of the Ohop Valley I think had about as hard a times and showed about a much grit as the Vikings of old every showed. And in my opinion, the women who stayed by us in the early history of the Valley settling should wear a crown. They stood by us in poverty and hardship and made no complaint. In the early times, it took us three days to make the round trip to Tacoma, while now we make it in three hours.

Dealing with the Flooding — Moving a Creek
After living in the Ohop Valley for a year, I told my wife that I supposed we had made a mistake as I couldn’t see how we could get rid of the floods, as every time we had a little rain, the valley would be under water. She said she was sorry if we had to leave and asked if it wasn’t possible to turn the water of the main creek some other way. I told her I had not thought about it, but she had put an idea into my head, and I then proceeded to find the head of Ohop Creek.

I found that the on the divide between Lake Ohop and Lake Kapowsin that is was just as easy for the water to run into Lake Kapowsin and down the Puyallup as it was to run down the Valley. Finally, after a long struggle, I secured permission [in 1889]  form the St. Paul Company and Judge Wickersham, who claimed 80 acres, to turn the main Ohop Creek into Lake Kapowsin, and all the settler in the Ohop Valley from the Nisqually River to Lake Kapowsin, twenty-two strong, turned out and helped turn the water into Lake Kapowsin.

Flooding becomes exception versus norm in Ohop Valley after 1889
Flooding becomes exception versus norm in Ohop Valley after 1889

That made it possible for us to farm in the Valley, and we have recently blasted a new channel, straightening the creek through the Valley where it was crooked, so that now a flood is an exception in place of a rul.

Torger Peterson Finds Ohop Valley and Builds a Road to Rainier

Torger Peterson family
Torger, Asse, and children Anna Elena and Peter

The following is one of two memoires written by Torger Perterson (courtesy of Gary Hendrickson). Torger was an original settler of Ohop Valley and tells here how he came, settled and worked to get a roads in place — including one to Mount Rainier.

Torger Perterson
I was born the 22nd day of January, 1855 on my Father’s farm (Langtvet) in Holtsogn Norway. This farm had reverted from father to son for over three hundred years.

My Father’s name was Peter Haaversen; my Mother’s name was Anna Togesdatter Goderstad.

We had a very good common school, and I was confirmed at the age of 14. From the time I was nine years old, I would herd my Father’s cattle and sheep, and on a high hill out in the woods, I could see the ocean and the ships sailing, and would wish that I might some day go on these ships and see the foreign land.

At the age of 15, I went to sea as a cabin boy at $3.00 per month. The next year I got $4.00 per month. Able seamen $9.00 per month; First Officer $14.00 per month; Second Officer $12.00 month. Captain $50.00 per month and 5% of gross earnings.

When I was 21 years of age, I took my examination as a Navigator and had a Masters’ certificate at that age. The same year I married Aase Elena Olsdatter Goderstad Holtsogn. I sailed as an Officer for a few years and got badly hurt and quit. Went into the logging business and ship building, but the small wooden ships that we would build could not compete with the big steel vessels and steamers, so I made up my mind to go to America, and to the City of Tacoma in the State of Washington. I had heard that Tacoma was just starting up at the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad on Puget Sound and my intention was to build schooners for the Coasttrade.

Torger Peterson
Torger Peterson, County Commissioner

On my trip from Norway to Tacoma, I stopped off in Ashton, Dakota Territory to rest my family and also to visit relatives who lived there, and they persuaded to take up land and go farming.

When I decided to take up land, I went to the County seat 12 miles out on the prairie to take out my intention papers to become a citizen. The Clerk asked me my name, and I told him Torger Peterson Langtvet. He fixed up my papers and I paid him the necessary fee and put the papers in my pocket without looking at them. When I came back to Ashton, I looked over my papers and found that the Clerk had omitted the name Langtvet, and hand my name recorded as Torger Peterson. He no doubt thought that was a good enough name for a Swede.

I made the first wagon track fourteen smiles South from Ashton on the Milwaukee Railroad to the Missouri River, going due West and there I located. The first year’s crop was destroyed by grasshoppers; the second year’s crop was destroyed by a hot wind that lasted three days and cooked everything. I then made up my mind it was about time to go there I originally planned, Tacoma.

 

Ohop Valley
Ohop Valley

I covered two wagons and went immigrant style up the Missouri River and over the old Government trail; crossed the Missouri on a ferry at Bismarck and drove into Montana where my wife gave birth to a child, which stopped us for a time. As soon as my wife was able to travel, we took the Northern Pacific train and finally landed in Tacoma, broke. After a couple of years of hard work, and after looking over the a good deal of the Western part of this State, I found the Ohop Valley which was then surveyed, but as a Navigator, I surveyed it to my own satisfaction and knew what section I was in, and squatted on it for seven years before the Government finally surveyed it.

Torger Peterson in Canyon
Torger Peterson in the canyon when Canyon was being built.

I found the Valley in the summer of 1887 and moved my family out there in April, 1888. At that time it was one of the worst wilderness that it was possible to find, and after we had gotten out some logs and brush so that a wagon could travel, it took us three days to go from Tacoma to my home in the Ohop Valley. I remember friends of our told my wife that I had gone crazy and for her not to go out there, after a while I would get tired and come back. My wife however said she had never found me crazy and laughed at our friends and said she would stay by me.

The pioneers of Western Washington have all had a hard time of it and I think our lot in the Ohop Valley was as hard as any.

After we had cleared up some land, the main thing was to get a road, and the County helped us in this way; for every day we worked gratis, they would give us $2.00 a day for the following day, and this is the way the first road was built into the Ohop Valley and beyond. It was always a puzzle to me how Norway, a poor country, had such splendid roads, and a country as rich in natural resources as our State of Washington, could get along with such poor roads, not better than a cow trail, and it was my chief object to see if I could not interest the people in getting good roads built so that the farmers could get their product to the markets at a reasonable cost.

Indian Henry Hunting Ground, by Kevin Bacher
Indian Henry Hunting Ground, by Kevin Bacher

In October, 1988, I went in company with Indian Henry and some other Indians up to Mount Tacoma. We went on horseback through brush over logs and finally landed in what is now known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds. It was a clear day and the sun was just setting when we reached the Mountain, and I will never as long as I live forget that sights; such a park surrounded with flowers of all colors and descriptions. And right then I made up my mind to do all in my power to get a road to that Mountain so that the people could see that wonderland and inhale that invigorating Mountain air.

For twenty years I attended every County Convention. At first the people thorugh I was crazy when I mentioned a road to Mount Tacoma, but as years went by I had more and more followers. The Commissioners all promised to help, but each time failed me, so that last I decided to run for Commissioner myself, and was elected and the road was completed.

After the people had been there and seen the wonder, it was not difficult to get all the money necessary and today we have a boulevard from Tacoma to the Mountain.

In addition to serving as County Commissioner, I was elected from the 36th Representative District as Representative and served in the 1917 Session of the Legislature.

My wife and I have five children; three died. Anna Elena and Peter being the only living children.

I am writing this with the thought it mind that in the future my great grandchildren might be interested in knowing where their ancestors came from and who they were.

 

Torger Peterson

Tacoma, WA

May, 1925