Oregon Pioneer Biographies


"The Illustrated Historical Atlas Map of Marion and Linn Counties, Oregon," Edgar Williams and Company, 1878, reprinted by the Marion Historical Society

NOTE: Additional information gleaned from other sources at the end of biography from the above book.

Asa H. Peterson

Asa H. Peterson was born in Lewis County, West Virginia, on the Buchanan River in 1822. His ancestors were Swedish. His great-grandfather came from Sweden just before the Revolution. He married Miss Susanna Jones, who was the sister of the heroic Commodore, Paul Jones. Mr. Peterson's father was born in Virginia in 1800; he was raised in the same state, and was quite a prominent citizen, having a fine home on the west fork of the Kanawha. He was also connected with the U.S. military service, holding the rank of major.

Mr. Peterson, the subject of this sketch, lived in Lewis County but two years when his parents removed to the Kanawha, where they stayed until he was 13 years old, when they moved to a place on the west fork of the Monongahela, where they resided until Asa H. was 15 years old, when they went to Indiana.

Mr. Peterson, senior, was Sheriff of the county in which he lived, and being averse to slavery, he gave up his office. When Asa was 18 years of age, they went to Ohio where they lived about two years. From Ohio they went to Henry County, Iowa. Before leaving Ohio he had learned the trade of carpenter and joiner, but did not follow it much. He then learned the trade of watch-making and gold-smithing, under Mr. Richard Richards.

In 1843, when he was 21 years of age, he married Miss Susanna Johnson, daughter of Eli Johnson, of Iowa.

After marriage, Mr. Peterson settled down on a farm, but sold it soon after, He then pre-empted a piece of land, but lost it and the money, too, on account of some irregularity in the land office.

Mr. P. was now left without any of this world's goods, but was not disheartened. He managed to raise an outfit, and started for Oregon in 1845. This trip was a trying one; the train, in trying to cut off some of the distance, got lost, and ran out of provisions, so that they came near starving. This, together with constant danger from the Indians, made their trip one of the most severe on record.

Between Crooked River and the Deschutes, Mr. Peterson left the train and pushed on to The Dalles for supplies for the sick. At last the train arrived at The Dalles, where they made a raft on which to descend the Columbia. They landed at a little place called Linton, which was laid out by Gen. McCarver. It was located a short distance below where Portland now stands. From Linton they moved to the Tualatin when he moved up the Luckiamute and put in a crop, but sold it before harvest time. He then moved to the east side of the Willamette River, where he took up a claim, which was situated at the foot of Knox Butte. Here he built a cabin and made a garden, but shortly after, abandoning this place, he took up the one he now owns.

The country being to a great extent unfenced, Mr. Peterson raised stock, and also started a gunsmith's shop. He improved his place and continued so to do, until at length it has become one of the finest and most beautiful places in the country.

In 1852 he built a mill at Soda Springs, which he sold in about a year, and purchased the Albany Hotel, in Albany, for $1,800. This was the first hotel in Albany. He shortly after rented it out for $50 per month. After two years he sold it and returned to the farm, where he remained until 1871. He took his family and stock and went east of the mountains, where he lived about one year, and then came back to the valley, when he purchased property in Lebanon and started his old business of watch-making, etc.

He has been a hard-working and successful man, and has fully merited the success he has gained. He now has two very pleasant homes, one in Lebanon and the other at the foot of Peterson's Butte. It is gratifying to the old pioneers of today, who have succeeded in life, to look back at those old times when they endured all kinds of hardships, living principally on boiled wheat, going 100 miles or so to mill, having no luxuries and but few of the necessaries of life, and then at the smiling prosperity and abundance by which they are now surrounded. Mr. P. started with nothing, and by persevering frugality, he finally owned about 600 acres of fine farm and pasture lands, besides a fine herd of stock.

Mr. P. is the father of seven children, five of whom are living, four of these being grown; the eldest, Daniel J., born in Iowa in 1844, resides near Lebanon; Melissa, born in Oregon in 1849, is married to Mr. Henry Khun, and now lives hear her father's farm; Garrison J., born in Oregon in 1851, now lives near Lebanon; Walter C. born in Oregon in 1860, is a jeweler and in business with his father, and like him, is a natural mechanic. He has received a good business education and has a natural leaning towards this business; Frank O., born in Oregon in 1869, is at school.

Mr. Peterson may be classed among our substantial citizens, and he possesses the confidence and respect of the community.


ADDITIONAL NOTES on Asa H. Peterson: buried in Sandridge Cemetery, Linn County, along with his wife; DLC #2246 OC, Linn County, Township 12S, Range 2W, Sections 16, 17, 20, 21, 640.21 Acres. Obituary for Asa H. Peterson published in "The Oregonian," Portland, Sept. 13, 1897. Obituary for Susanna Peterson published in the "Lebanon Express," April 25, 1917.

Asa's father was Henry J. Peterson, DLC #1594 OC, Asa's mother was Eliza Allen. Asa's wife, Susanna, was the daughter of Eli Johnson and Susanna Martin.

Family group sheet indicates six children of Asa and Susanna:

NOTE: Mr. William Henry Khun listed above is Mr. Henry Klum. Information from Dallas Carley -

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