Life Story of Martin Rasmusson Peterson, My Mother’s Father
By Esther Peterson Bott Freeman, 14 June 1940
Martin Rasmusson Peterson was born 7 October 1816 at Sjörup, Malmö, Sweden. His father, Rasmus Peterson or Persson died 5 July 1817 when Martin was about nine months old. Rasmus Peterson was a supervisor on a large government farm and had quite a number of men working under his direction.
Some time after the death of her husband, Martin’s mother married Helga Pehrson, and when Martin was between twenty-five and twenty-six years old, his mother died 28 February 1842 and Martin had to shift for himself. His stepfather seems to have kept the wealth Martin should have had for himself and for his children.
Martin had learned the carpenter trade, and by this time was a good carpenter. Sometime in 1846, he met and married Metta Maria Hanson, and the young couple made their home in Gislof, Sweden. They had a family of seven children, six girls and one boy. From the oldest to the youngest their names were Bertha R., Christina R., Anna R., Ellen R., Celia R., Hans R., and Mary R. Peterson. All the children were born in Gislof.
At one time Martin had the misfortune to fall and rupture himself and had to give up the strenuous parts of his vocation. He now made his living by making household furniture and clogs and by caring for a small farm he owned near the Baltic Sea.
The family home consisted of an entrance or hall, a dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a clothes closet, a carpenter shop on the east side where Martin did his work, and near the shop was an addition where they kept geese and ducks.
The house was not far from the Baltic Sea, and at the back of the house there was a hollow which connected directly with the seas. At one time the sea came up and almost washed way their house. Martin’s wife waded in to her waist to carry her children to safety. Martin came with a wagon and horses and moved all their household goods to safety.
In the year 1862 the Mormon missionaries came to visit the family. An Elder Swenson was the first one ti visit them. Martin’s wife was more interested in the new religion than he was, but he made no objections and in 1862 she was baptized into the Churth of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Martin was not baptized until 26 October 1869, at the same time as his daughters, Ellen and Celia. They were baptized in the Baltic Sea, after dark so as to avoid any difficulties with the people of the town.
Soon after this Martin sold his home at a great sacrifice. He received more for his furniture than he did for the house. He moved his family to Malmö where he rented a house and began to make preparations to come to America. An old maid bought the home, and two years later the sea came up and washed the home away, taking it out to sea. The lady was able to save her life however. In the same year, 1874, Martin and his fourteen year old son, Hans, emigrated to Zion. His wife, Metta Maria, then kept house for the L.D.S. Mission President, an Anderson from Ephraim, Utah, and the daughters found work in the factories.
As soon as Martin and his son reached Utah, he obtained work and saved some money. In 1875, with the money he had saved and some which he borrowed, Martin sent for his wife and their daughters, Bertha, Ellen, Anna, and Mary. Most of the money he had borrowed he had arranged to have paid back by the daughters working for the people from whom he had borrowed it.
During the next year, 1876, the two remaining girls, Christina and Celia, were sent for under arrangements similar to those made for the other girls. The family was very happy to be reunited. Incidentally, Christina went to work for James Hansen and soon afterward married him, so her debt was soon canceled.
Before his wife arrived, Martin made arrangements for a home and two acres of land on Second East Street and Fifth South Street in Brigham City. After reuniting and establishing his family in Zion, he lived here, farming the small lot and doing odd jobs to defray expenses until his death 11 November 1889.
“According to his wife, Metta Maria, Martin R. Peterson was a strong man; a hard worker and independent. It was said that he could or would outwalk his horses and they would have to trot to keep up with him. When he first settled here in Brigham City, he could mow his lucerne (alfalfa) with his scythe faster than any other man because of his long sweeps. He would mow other people’s lucerne to earn money. They saved enough money to build a house of adobe with one room, a lean to, and a hall entrance, and bought a 2 acre lot on 5th South and 2nd East. When he first came, he worked hard and saved money to help the rest of his family emigrate to Utah. (Files of Secelia Bott Morris – as related by Celia Peterson Bott, a daughter of Martin R. and Metta Maria Peterson—contributed by Marjorie Morris Stokes, a daughter of Secelia Bott Morris).