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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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PETER ERICKSON, the subject of this biographical sketch, is one of the earliest settlers and most prosperous farmers on the Divide, east of Holdrege. He was born in Sweden, June 25, 1852, and is one of a family of two children born to Erick and Mary Peterson, natives of Sweden. The father was born in 1821 and the mother in 1815.

Peter, our subject, remained in Sweden until nineteen years of age. His boyhood days were spent in attending school and working on his father’s farm. Having arrived at an age when the responsibilities of life began to devolve upon him, and knowing that his future success depended upon his own exertions, he cast about him to ascertain, if possible, in what field his activities were likely to meet with the greatest reward. Great numbers of his countrymen having emigrated to America a few years previous and sent back favorable reports, he determined to bid farewell to his native land and seek his future prosperity in this land of promise. He accordingly embarked, September 21, 1871, for America, and after an ocean voyage lasting twenty-one days, he landed in New York city. November 6th, he came West to Stillwater, Minn. He soon found steady employment at remunerative wages in the pineries, and worked there during the winter months, rafting logs down the river in the summer. He continued to labor there until the spring of 1878, when, having made up his mind to move West and under the homestead act procure a home and grow up with the country, he accordingly came to Nebraska. Landing in Phelps county, April 12, 1878, he at once took a homestead and timber claim in the north half of section 24, township 6, range 17. He began the erection of a sod house fourteen by sixteen feet, which, when the walls were up, was nearly destroyed by a wind storm. He managed, however, to patch it up and lived in it for upwards of two years, when he replaced it with another and better one. The country, on his arrival, presented a truly Western frontier appearance, there being but four or five settlers in his vicinity and but little land broken out. Antelope roamed over the prairie in large droves and were frequently seen grazing with his oxen in herds of as high as thirty-six in number. There being a scarcity of fuel, Mr. Erickson was obliged to haul wood with his oxen from Spring creek, a distance of thirty miles. In making these long and tedious trips, night frequently overtook him, when he would lariat his oxen and camp on the open prairie with nothing but the dome of heaven for his shelter and the radiance of the stars for his light. Imagine, if you can, a dark and lonely night thus spent on the open prairie, with no sound to greet the ear, save the munching of the oxen and an occasional yelp from a passing coyote, and conjecture, if you can, the feelings of our subject on an occasion like this.

Mr. Erickson had $1,000 in money when he landed in Phelps county, but a failure of crops for the first few years drained his purse of its last dollar. The fourth year, after having put out a large crop of wheat and being greatly discouraged with the outlook, he borrowed enough money of his sister to pay his way back to Stillwater, Minn., where he hoped to get employment and thus earn money to pay his living expenses. He spent three months there working and earned enough to pay for the harvesting of his crop and returned to find that prosperity had dawned upon the apparently forsaken country and that he had as fine fields of waving grain as he had ever seen in Nebraska, and his wheat when harvested and threshed yielded five hundred bushels.

Mr. Erickson kept “bach” and cooked for himself and for the help during the harvest time, for four years.

March 6, 1882, he married, taking for a life companion Miss Christena Louisa Jorganson, a most estimable lady who was born in Sweden, November 7, 1859, and came to America in 1878. Their union has been blessed with five children, viz.— Robert T., Ralph W., Mary E. and Carl J. The second child died in infancy.

Mr. and Mrs. Erickson are both active members of the Lutheran church, and liberal contributors to all charitable purposes.

Politically, he is a republican and takes an active interest in that party. Taking into consideration the hardships and vicissitudes of Mr. Erickson’s early pioneer experiences, the determination with which he has labored and the success he has achieved, he is certainly worthy of mention in a work of this kind.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company. 

View additional Phelps County, Nebraska family biographies here: Phelps County, Nebraska Biographies

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