About the Peterson Pioneer House

Many of the Chronicle readers have been following information in the City Council and Odebolt Betterment Committee minutes about The Peterson Pioneer Home Relocation Project. In 1996, charter member of Questers, Phyllis Kies, wrote the following interesting narrative briefly explaining the history of the home and the origin of the restoration. Even though a few details have since changed, it will still refresh the memory or inform!

"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 purchased a lot in Odebolt for $100, for their homestead. Erection of the house was started and completed in 1886. Nils was a carpenter. The town of Odebolt was laid out and lots 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 en route 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 way (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 decided 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 news paper 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 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.

Watch for other articles forthcoming! Plans are coming together to move The Peterson Pioneer Home to the educational, historical square across from the Odebolt Museum, Historic Adams Bank and adjacent to the Corner Green Space and Richland #1 Country School House. You may call City Hall to make arrangements to tour the home. Keep your eyes and ears open for an invitation to an Omelet Brunch in the coming months! Donations of any amount are now being gratefully accepted by Deb Reinhart, Treasurer of the Odebolt Betterment Committee.

As they say…………..STAY TUNED !!!!!!

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