CHARLES J. PETERSON. - Among the older residents of Springfield is Charles J. Peterson, whose life record furnishes a splendid example for emulation. Of limited financial circumstances in his youth and deprived of many of the advantages, educational and otherwise, which wealth can bring, he started out for himself, fully determined that success should crown his efforts, if it could be gained through honorable and persistent purpose.
He was born July 18, 1834, in the central part of Sweden, a son of Peter and Annie Peterson. His education was obtained in the common schools of that country, and in 1852 the parents started with their family for America, joining a colony of three hundred emigrants. They took passage on a sailing vessel, which after a voyage of five weeks dropped anchor in the harbor of Boston; thence they proceeded by way of Buffalo and the lakes to Chicago, by canal to La Salle, Illinois, and on by steamer for St. Louis, the entire colony going to the last named place. Thence they went by river to Keokuk, Iowa, where they separated to seek homes. The mother of our subject had died during the ocean voyage and the father passed away in St. Louis about two years after his arrival in this country. Two children of the family also died in that city when young. Five of the number reached mature years, and with the exception of our subject all are now deceased, one sister, Caroline, having died in Jefferson county at the age of twenty-two, and a brother at the age of thirty. This was Edward Peterson, who was married and had a son, Charles, who is now sixteen years of age and is attending school in Chicago. Jacob Peterson, the eldest brother, died in Jefferson County, Illinois, leaving two children: Charles, now of Chicago; and Oscar, of San Francisco. Alfred Peterson died in Springfield, but was buried in Bloomington, Illinois, where he was living, being engaged in the manufacture of soda water at that place. He passed away at the age of forty-five years, leaving three children: William and Fred, who are residents of Bloomington; and Mrs. Lillian Kohn, of Louisville, Kentucky.
Charles J. Peterson was the second child in his father's family and was about ten years of age at the time of the emigration to the new world. In the spring of 1853 he began learning the business of manufacturing soda water, and during that time he attended night school, thus educating himself in mastering the English language. In 1861 he arrived in Springfield, where he began business in the manufacture of soda water as a partner of John Johnson, under the firm name of Johnson & Peterson, a relation that was maintained for thirty-one years. They began business on a small scale, hoping to build up a good trade, and for three years they were located at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson streets. The city was then small, but as it grew and the firm became known to the public their patronage was enlarged, and in 1864 they purchased a lot and built a business house at the corner of Fourth and Carpenter streets. There they continued until 1892, when Mr. Johnson died, and Mr. Peterson then purchased the place and continued the enterprise for ten years longer, or until 1902, when he sold out and retired from business. He conducted a wholesale business, shipping his products to various points in central Illinois. He was the pioneer in this lien in Springfield, and in fact the only one who made a success of the business here. His trade, however, reached extensive and profitable proportions, and as the years passed he added annually to his bank account and to his investments until his real estate and personal interests are now sufficient to supply him with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life without regard to further labor. In 1870 he purchased the lot at No. 603 North Fifth street, on which stood on old frame house, and there erected his present home, one of the substantial and attractive residences of the city.
In Springfield, in 1862, Mr. Peterson was united in marriage to Magdalena Maisel, who was born in Germany and died in this city at the age of thirty-four years. Six children were born unto them, of whom Otto died at the age of six years, while Edward passed away at the age of twenty-eight. Alfred O., who is assistant cashier in the Farmers' national Bank, married Mayme Churchill, of St. Louis, and has a daughter, Ruth, born in 1892. Charlotte is the widow of Robert Irwin Chatterton, by whom she had two children, but her son Robert died in March, 1900, at the age of ten years, while Catherine J., the daughter, born in 1887, is still with her mother. Mr. Chatterton was manager of the opera house of Springfield for many years and died in July, 1897, since which time his widow has made her home with her father. Charles J., the next member of the Peterson family, is now receiving teller in the Marine Bank, of Springfield and is married, but has no children. He wedded Miss Mabel Capps, of Springfield, who is a talented musician and has studied under some of the prominent masters of Europe. He, too, is a composer of music. Catherine A. is the wife of Fred T. Wise, of Chicago. The children were educated in public and private schools of Springfield and both sons attended business college. Having lost his first wife in 1877, Mr. Peterson was again married in 1880, his second union being with Elizabeth Leitz. By this marriage there was a daughter, Nettie, who died in infancy, and the wife and mother died in the spring of 1893. Mrs. Chatterton, who was educated in St. Agatha and the Ursuline Academy of this city, is now presiding over her father's home.
Mr. Peterson never took any official part in the city government, but supports the men whom he regards as best qualified for office and is interested in everything pertaining to progress and improvement of Springfield. He is a member of Mozart Lodge, No. 106, A.O.U.W., in which he held the office of receiver for fifteen years. He also belongs to the Grace Lutheran Church and has been generous in his contributions to the church and charitable work. After forty-one years' connection with the business affairs of Springfield he is now living retired and his life record indeed furnishes an example worthy to be followed. Realizing that upon the man and not upon environments depends success in life, he has labored energetically for the acquirement of a handsome competence, and as industry is the basis of all success he has won what he sought. He stands today as one of the respected and honored citizens of Springfield, well worthy of representation
among those who have contributed to the past history and the present prosperity of the city.