(Source: “As Time Goes By”, Odebolt, Iowa
printed by the Odebolt Chronicle, May, 1977, p 245 )
Would you believe the small pioneer type house on Walnut Street was home for a family of seven? “This old house” was once home for the proud parents who raised five children there and its door was always open to others.
Nels Magnus Peterson and his wife Mary Caroline purchased a lot in Odebolt on December 28, 1885 at a price of $100. The house was completed in 1886. Three girls and two boys were raised in the small frame house. The last of the Peterson family to live in the house was Edith, who passed away in 1973.
By this time the Peterson property was owned by the city of Odebolt. The historical value rests in the fact that the one and a half story house is still in its original form.
Recognizing the education and historical value of this house and yard, members of the Odebolt Questers (a group interested in preservation of the past) called a meeting of representatives of local clubs and organizations to present the possibility of restoration. Seventeen organizations sent representatives and a slate of officers was selected. The officers met with the Odebolt City Council asking them to retain ownership of the property and allow the people of the community to renovate, furnish the house, and take care of the yard and garden. The request was granted after proof of sincerity. A fund-raising campaign was conducted and sufficient funds raised to start the project.
The elected committee agreed to take care of the structural problems, and the Questers have done the decorating and furnishing.
In 1975 both groups were able to complete the restoration of the first floor and do necessary repair of the outside. At the time of the first open house on October 26, 1975, the kitchen, pantry, living room and bedroom were furnished with articles given or loaned to the committees. The home looked much as it would have in the 1880’s - - so much so that people viewing the house remarked someone could move right in.
In 1976, the upstairs was the project. With the help of several men, who did needed repairs, the Quester group painted the woodwork and papered the walls. Furnishing was completed for the Bicentennial observance and open house on July 4th.
Although the Peterson Pioneer Home Committee and the Questers have done most of the work with all labor donated, there were many others involved at various stages. The 4-H clubs, Boy Scouts, F.F.A. members, Girl Scouts and several men of the community were most helpful about the house and in the yard and garden. Some 70 different individuals have helped in the project.
Materials such as paint and lumber have been purchased and donated by individuals, businesses and other organizations. Donations have been received from as far away as California and many places around Iowa. The many articles either given or loaned to the Peterson Pioneer Home have been much appreciated. Groups or individuals are welcome to tour the home.
Present (1977) Peterson Pioneer Home Committee Chairman is Mrs. Dwight Meyer. Vice Chairman is Rolan Blake, Secretary is Mrs. Dallas Ketchum, and the Treasurer is Mrs. Enoch Lundblad.
Mrs. James A. Meyer
(transcribed by B. Ekse)
Source: Iowa Questers Hawkeye Tales, Spring 1996, page 10 and 11
The following is by Odebolt resident Phyllis Kies, edited by the Editor of Hawkeye Tales, Jody Cameron
The Peterson Pioneer Home is the
oldest home in Odebolt, Iowa, that is as it was originally built.
Nils Magnus Peterson and his wife Maria (Mary) Caroline Olson, came to Odebolt from Sweden in 1885. On December 28, 1885, they purchase a lot in Odebolt for $100, for their homestead. Erection of the house was started and complete in 1886. Nils was a carpenter. The town of Odebolt was laid out and lot were sold in 1877, so the Peterson family was among the earliest residents.
Five children were raised in this small frame house. They were Edith Maria, Albert, Jennie Caroline, Esther Margaret and Carl Charles (called Charles B.). Baby Carl died enroute to Iowa. (The two Carls seem strange, but that is according to records.) Nils Peterson passed away in 1906. He was followed in death by his wife in 1922. All of the children left Odebolt along the (descendents are in South Dakota and Illinois) except Edith (unmarried), who continued to live in the house until she passed away in the Spring of 1973.
The house is small - a living room (that's where the pot-bellied stove is), a small bedroom (parent's - Edith's bed is there - it's the only fit piece of furniture that was in the house when we were given permission to restore it), a kitchen (the stove in the kitchen is unusual - the oven has doors on both sides), and a small pantry with shelves. A steep stairway leads to the two bedrooms upstairs, one for the boys and one for the girls. From the back door a sidewalk led to the alley where one building housed a space for cobs, coal, wood and the outhouse (it was not restorable). Edith had a beautiful flower garden in the backyard which the local 4-H girls cared for until the town decide to mow everything! Outside the back door was a pump that furnished the water. A slanted cellar door leads to the dirt basement.
During later years, because Edith was very poor and as they said at the time, "was on the county", she could not pay taxes, so the town council approached her and said that they would take care of her, along with the county, as long as she lived, if she would agree to give her property to the town of Odebolt when she died. She agreed, and they put electricity in each of the rooms (just a bulb hanging from the ceiling), put in running water (a stool in the pantry and a sink in the kitchen - one faucet for cold water) and an old electric stove. When she passed away they intended to sell the house and lot for the lot price!
However, when she passed away, knowing the town council's plans, we Questers attended their next meeting and asked to have permission to restore the house to its original state. They were very unhappy with us, but they couldn't turn us down! We asked to have permission to restore it in preparation for our centennial celebration during the summer of 1977, and that if they wanted to do otherwise with it after that, it would be their right. (My husband said that he got a kick out of hearing many of the town fathers calling us "a bunch of crazy old women" - at that time we were fairly young!) Of course we have continued to care for it ever since.
We took out the electricity, the stool, the sink and the stove and stripped the interior completely. The floors are as they were originally - wide boards, oiled. The local druggist told us that he had old wall paper in the basement of his store that was at our disposal. It was dry and crisp, but we soaked it with wall paper paste and hung fresh wall paper in each room. The curtains Edith had hanging at the windows were taken down and I washed them in the gentle-cycle and they turned out beautifully. There were no curtains in the kitchen and pantry so I made some of unbleached muslin. We contacted the Odebolt residents through the local newspaper, asking for articles for the home - either loaned or donated - (We have signed statements for each on file) and that is the way the home has been furnished. There are still two of us on the furnishing committee that have to be contacted and the article has to be approved or otherwise recommended for the local museum. Furnishings for the home are as nearly as possible of the late 1880-1890's. Local volunteers keep the exterior painted.
Local second grade children tour the home every spring and it is opened for visitors on the first Sunday afternoon of each month during the summer, or by appointment throughout the year. The town clerk contacts me whenever she has an out-of-town inquiry.
We started work the spring that we were given permission to restore the home and by that fall we were able to have our first open house. The brochure was ready for distribution at that time.
These women received on small grant of $100 from the Iowa Questers in 1974 for paint for the exterior and interior and shingles for the front porch. Eight of the original nine charter members of Tlodebo #485, chartered 1970, are still living and very much interested in "their house".
- transcribed by B. Horak