born:02-01-1876Dalsland, Sweden
marr:02-19-1906Grafton, ND                  
died:06-15-1955Detroit, MI
buried:Evergreen Cemetery, Detroit, MI
born:03-19-1887Fergus Falls, MN
marr:02-19-1906Grafton, ND                  
died:12-30-1918Detroit, MI
buried:Evergreen Cemetery, Detroit, MI  

Charles and Thea Photo Gallery


Holm kyrka
Holm kyrka

KARL PETERSON was born at the Fagerlid homestead in Markustorp, Holm, Dalsland, Sweden, on Feb. 1, 1876. He was baptized at the nearby Holm kyrka (photo right), which is just north of Mellerud and only about a kilometer from the homestead. His parents moved to Kasen, Skållerud, in 1883, and KARL left from there on Apr. 1, 1892, hoping for better opportunities in America.

KARL sailed from Göteborg, April 15, 1892, on the Ariosto. This ship was built in 1889, and at the time it was launched, in 1890, was the largest North Sea passenger ship. It was 300 feet in length and had two masts and a single funnel (smokestack). This ship brought KARL to Hull, England. From there, he probably took a train to Liverpool, and then sailed on another ship to Ellis Island. The trip would have taken several weeks in total. The one-way fare was the equivalent of a year's income. It was probably at this time that he began using CHARLES as his first name.

Karl "Charles" Peterson

In Sweden, CHARLES had little formal education, as the boys spent much of their time farming. The girls received more education because schooling did not interfere as much with their duties. This lack of education hampered CHARLES in acquiring a good job at first, but he was very talented and would later, in Detroit, find better work.

He came first to Duluth, St. Louis, MN, where, in 1895, he had a room at 515 Lake Avenue South. His brother, John, was living at a rooming house across the street at 522 Lake Avenue South. Axel would join them the following year. The old houses on this block have long ago been razed. The 522 address is now that of Grandma's Saloon & Grill. Lake Avenue South is well known as the street that crosses the Duluth Aerial Bridge, built after the brothers moved away from Duluth.

At the time of the 1900 U.S.census, taken on June 13 of that year, CHARLES was living with his brother John, and John's family, in an area of St. Paul, Ramsey, MN, known as Frogtown. It was a working class multi-ethnic neighborhood just a block or two from the present state capitol complex. They lived at 549 Park Street. In 1900, construction had just begun on the new (and current) capitol building. The 1900 census reports that both John and CHARLES were stone sawers. Apparently they were engaged in the project of preparing the enormous amount of granite, marble, and sandstone used in the capitol construction. Construction would continue until its completion in 1905.

Thea Thorstenson

CHARLES obtained his Citizenship on July 25, 1902, in St. Paul, Ramsey, MN. He then voted the same day. At the time of the 1905 census in June of that year, CHARLES was living with his brother Axel and Axel's family. They all lived at 480 Blair St. in Frogtown. It is believed that after the capitol construction was completed, CHARLES went to northern Minnesota to work in a logging camp as a cook. The loggers winter in the large towns of the area, such as Grand Forks, Grand Forks, ND, and that is where he spent the winter of 1905-06.

THEA is of Norwegian descent. Her parents came to America in 1881, along with THEA's three oldest siblings. They settled near Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County, MN, where THEA was born in 1887. There is some question about the exact date of THEA's birth. Her birth was recorded at the Otter Tail recorder's office on July 22, 1887, in Book C, page 4, line 26. The date of birth was recorded as April 15, 1887. But, this doesn't agree with subsequent records of her birthdate. The 1900 U.S. Census of Red Lake County lists the date as March 1887. Her marriage certificate and death certificate both show March 19, 1887.

About 1899, the family moved to Equality township, Red Lake County, MN. In 1905, her father purchased farm land in Section 15. Her uncle Kittel, and a number of cousins, were on the quarter-section to the west. Both families attended the Salem Church in Garnes, MN, where THEA was confirmed. Apparently the land was sold not long after it was purchased, and the family moved to Grand Forks, ND, for a short time.

THEA THORSTENSON was in Grand Forks with her family during the winter of 1905-06 as they prepared for their move to Montana. That is where CHARLES and THEA met, and that winter, on February 19, 1906, they married in Grafton, Walsh, ND. Their wedding picture was taken in Canada, as they headed for Detroit.

CHARLES and THEA were in Detroit, Wayne, MI, in 1910 at the time of the U.S. Census, but a year later were living in Thunder Bay, ON. THEA's sister Amanda was living with them. The 1911 Canadian Census lists CHARLES's occupation as S. Engineer working for "Rock Co." It is known that he was also living in Thunder Bay in 1914 when Harrison was born. It is not known if CHARLES and THEA lived there continuously from 1911 to 1916, when CHARLES transferred his union membership.

Following the time in Canada, CHARLES and THEA lived in Detroit, where he was a "stationary engineer" (ARCHIE's birth certificate) or "hoisting engineer" (CHARLES' death certificate). He operated heavy construction equipment and was involved with two major construction projects in the Detroit area, the erection of the J. L. Hudson building and the Detroit Tunnel project. He was a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers for 43 years, having first belonged to Local 298 in Canada, and then transferring to Local 324 on Dec. 29, 1916.

THEA, her sister Amanda, and her daughter Angela all died in a period of 12 months, between July 1918 and June 1919, during the period of the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. THEA died Dec. 30, 1918. THEA, Amanda and Angela are all buried in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery in Detroit.

On Nov. 8, 1921, CHARLES married second, Lillian Ruschke of Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, MI. CHARLES died June 15, 1955, after an illness of about a year. Lillian lived to be 93 years of age, dying May 16, 1982. CHARLES, Lillian, and sons Donald and Gordon, are all buried in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery.

CHARLES was known to have lived at the following addresses:

 ------------ Duluth, MN -------------
 1895          515 Lake Avenue South
 ----------- St. Paul, MN ------------
 1900          544 Park St. (w/ John) 
 1905          480 Blair St. (w/ Axel)
 ------------ Detroit, MI ------------
 1908          439 Lafayette St.
 1910          388 Abbott St.
 ---------- Thunder Bay, ON ----------
 1911           49 Front St. 
 1914          314 S. Franklin St. 
 ------------ Detroit, MI ------------
 1918-1920     711 Tillman St. 
 1921              Wabash St.
 1922-1940+  15444 14th St.
 19xx-1955   14025 Kentucky St.    

Angela Peterson

Angela Peterson

Angela died at age 6, during the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. Hers was the first of three deaths in the family, over a one year span. She is buried in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery, Detroit, MI. Her gravestone is a sad memorial to her shortened life.

Harrison Peterson

Harrison was the last born of CHARLES and THEA. He was born at Fort Williams (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, Canada. He was educated at Wayne State University, in Detroit, and was a member of the Detroit AAU water polo team in 1940. He was a Major in the Army Air Corps during WWII, stationed at Bovingdon, England. After the war, he was Manager of the Challenge Foods Credit Union in Commerce, Los Angeles, CA, where he worked until his retirement.

During his lifetime he was an avid bridge player, and attained Gold Life Master ranking as a member of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). In 2004, he moved to the Forum Retirement Community in Cupertino, Santa Clara, CA., and lived there until his death in 2010.

Ira (left)  and  Harrison (right)
June 9, 2000

Census Records
[click on link below, then click on census image to enlarge it]

1895 Minnesota State Census - CHARLES, John, Axel.
1895 Minnesota State Census - TILLY, siblings, cousins.
1900 St. Paul, MN Census - John, Ida, Lawrence; also CHARLES.
1900 St. Paul, MN Census - Axel, Ida, children.
1900 Equality, MN Census - BJORN, SIGRID, THEA, other children.
1905 Minnesota State Census - Axel, Ida, children; also CHARLES.
1905 Minnesota State Census - John, Ida, children.
1905 Minnesota State Census - THEA, parents, siblings and cousins.
1910 St. Paul, MN Census - Axel, Ida, and children.
1920 St. Paul, MN Census - Ida (Axel's widow), and children.
1920 Duluth, MN Census - Frank, Hannah, children; also Harold Simmons (nephew).
1930 St. Paul, MN Census - Ida (Axel's widow); also Esther and Vernon Smith.
1930 St. Paul, MN Census - Oscar, Elsa, and Arline Engstrom.
1930 St. Paul, MN Census - John, Ida, 3 children, and more.
1910 Detroit, MI Census - CHARLES, TILLIE, ARCHIE.
1911 Thunder Bay, ON Census - CHARLES, THEA, ARCHIE; also Amanda Thorstenson.
1920 Detroit, MI Census - CHARLES, ARCHIE, Harrison; also Oscar, Elsa, and Arline Engstrom .
1930 Detroit, MI Census - CHARLES, Lillian, Harrison, other children.
1940 Detroit, MI Census - CHARLES, Lillian, children.
1940 Detroit, MI Census - Harrison.

Swedish Records

födelsebok (birth book) - KARL (CHARLES) - 1876 (Holm)
husförhör (household examination) - Fagerlid farm - 1876-1880 (Holm)
  - Fagerlid farm - 1881-1885 (Holm)
  - Kasen farm - 1881-1885 (Skållerud)
  - Kasen farm - 1886-1890 (Skållerud)
  - Kasen farm - 1891-1895 (Skållerud)
förteckning (emigration passenger list) - KARL (CHARLES) - 1892 (Ariosto)
source - Sweden, Church Records, 1500-1937 - (
  - Gothenburg Sweden, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1869-1951 - (

[photos of children]

  born marr died

Angela Dorothy 10-09-1911   07-09-1918
Harrison Vernon 07-08-1914   12-29-2010
children of  CHARLES PETERSON and Lillian Ruschke
Ira Charles
  wife Jean Lorraine Case
Donald 05-27-1923   07-26-1938
Shirley Jane
  husband Wilbur D. Papke
Orvald Arnold
  wife Lucille Colette Holkup
Ellenor Angeline
  husband _____ Austin
  husband James Alfred Tostevin
Leonard Gilbert
  wife Gloria Lou Davis
Gordon A. B. 09-14-1930   12-10-1930