Earl Petersen celebrated his 83rd birthday yesterday. But his life has seen little of the independence denoted by the holiday he shares. You see, Earl is a farmer, tethered to the ground in Elwood he has worked most of his life. He is also tied to a tradition of tenacity that winds back to a Danish shoemaker who just would not give up on a dream.
Niels Andersen (N.A.) Petersen joined the LDS Church in Denmark and immigrated to the Cottonwood area of the Salt Lake Valley in 188l with his family. A shoemaker by trade, he also milked a herd of cows to supplement the family income. With two wives (they were sisters) and 21 children, hard work was his byword.
N.A. decided to expand the milk business and purchased 35 acres in Elwood in 1895. That ground, according to Willis Petersen, Earl’s brother, had to be “broke out of sage brush.” Finally, in 1898, part of the Petersen clan – one wife and seven children – moved to the cleared farm ground. With them came a herd of cows driven up from Salt Lake City.
N.A. had a plan. The Elwood end of his posterity would milk the cows and haul the cans to Deweyville to be shipped by train back to Salt Lake where the rest of the family would unload it and peddle it in the big city.
The plan failed.
For more on this story pick up a copy of this week’s Leader.