A Biography of Harry Eugene Petterson, 1888-1925


Harry Petterson 1924 , digital image of front and back of snapshot, 4/2017, Petterson family collection. restored by Donna Sexton 2018.

Last night I was reading through various social media posts about genealogy research techniques, collections, etc. and came across an article about Genealogy Gophers and decided I’d try some basic searches using the surnames and home towns of my grandparents.1

I didn’t find anything for the first 3 surnames I tried,2 but this appeared on the first screen for my 4th try.

Snip from Genealogy Gophers

Clicking on it brought me directly to page 301 and this biography. I’ve added, a hopefully accurate, transcription below.

Biography of Harry Petterson
American biography: a new cyclopedia, Vol. 33 (New York, New York: American Historical Society, 1928), p. 301-302; digital images, Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a FamilySearch, FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org : downloaded 2 February 2018; Genealogy Gophers search, https://www.gengophers.com.

PETTERSON, Harry Eugene, Doctor of Dental Surgery.

To the broadening interests of dentistry in their present-day study and application, Dr. Harry Eugene Petterson contributed very ably and effectively in behalf of the profession for which he proved himself well fitted by inclination and training. A veteran of the World War, he rendered an efficient service with his contingent overseas, and he received the honors due the soldier who shared therein the lot of those who fought for country, and gave professional aid to the comrades in the ranks. He was a son of Lars Magnus Petterson, a building contractor, who was born in 1857 and died in 1920, and Regina (Erickson) Petterson. Lars Magnus Petterson, a native of Dejefors Bruk, Wermland, Sweden, came to the United States in 1880, settling in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he became one of the leading builders, starting in as a carpenter and establishing his contracting business in 1883.

Dr. Harry Eugene Petterson was born October 7, 1888, at Worcester, Massachusetts, and he was graduated at the English High School in that city in 1908. Preparing for his profession in the Dental School of the University of Pennsylvania, he was graduated there in 1911 with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery, establishing himself in practice in Worcester, in August of that year. In the year 1924 he opened his offices in Cleveland Ohio, where he had become popular in practice, and was held in highest esteem by his many patrons and friends, and where he was associated in dentistry with the work of the United States Public Health Services and the Veterans’ Bureau.

Fraternally, Dr. Petterson was affiliated with the Thule Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ Athelstan Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Eureka Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Hiram Council, Royal and Select Masters; Worcester Commandery, No. 5, Knights Templar; Aleppo Temple, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; Alethea Grotto; and Knights of the Rose Croix Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. He was also a member of the Truman Dental Society and of Xi Psi Phi Fraternity. His favorite recreation was hunting and fishing. When the United States entered the World War, Dr. Petterson enlisted and was in the service of the Untied States Government from September, 1917 to July 8, 1919. He served in France with the 303d at Hospital No. 87 at Annecy area; and at Detention Camp Hospital No. 45. He was made a first lieutenant in the Dental Corps and a major in the Reserve Corps.

Dr. Harry Eugene Petterson married, September 6, 1921 at Cleveland, Ohio, Ethel Helena Nygren, daughter of John Eric Nygren, a steam mill roller.

Dr. Petterson died August 15, 1925, in Cleveland, one of the most popular and skilled men in his profession, who made lifelong friendships for his geniality and his pronounced ability.

  1. I know this is NOT how genealogy research should be done. It’s a waste of time, because without keeping track of what searches I did, I’ll  have to do them again. I didn’t even keep track of where I read about Genealogy Gophers. The only excuse I have is that it was just too exciting to find out it existed. Family History Books, part of FamilySearch, is a collection of more than 350,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to find books that include information about a specific person or an easy way to find that part of the book.  That’s what’s so great about Genealogy Gophers.  Its search engine not only find the publications, but it also finds and displays  the information that matches your search.
  2. I was doing this on my phone late at night and could have easily missed someone.



Thomas Street Church Confirmation May 1913

Petterson Family Collection; Betyg i Kristendomskunskap; 25 May 1913, 2nd Swedish Methodist Church, 59 Thomas Street1, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Among the many treasures saved by the Petterson family is this document that, without knowing any Swedish, I assumed to be Wallace Petterson’s Confirmation Certificate from May 1913.  But in order to be sure, I decided to try to translate it.  I started with Google translate and then looked up words that just didn’t seem right in a Swedish-English dictionary from around that time. I came up with the following…



Christian Knowledge

PSALM 199:9

Wallace Petterson
participated in Christianity education
was reviewed publicly and approved
at the 2nd Swedish M.E. Church
on the twenty-fifth of May 1913
Worcester, Mass.   24 May 1913
D.K. Englund       Pastor

I was very happy to find this photo among the photos copied from a CD borrowed from Epworth United Methodist Church.  I love the way the girls in front are posed!  Wallace, 2nd from the right in the back row, wasn’t able to keep from moving and ended up  a bit blurred.

Confirmation Class – 2nd Swedish Methodist Church of Worcester Mass , 5/25/1913;                digital image, 5/31/2010; privately held by Epworth UMC, Worcester, Massachusetts 01609. restored by Donna Sexton 2018.

This article from a Worcester newspaper clears up the identity of the rest of this class and provides information about both services.  I used the same methodology  to translate this article and broke the article into sections to make it easier to read.


“Thomas St. Krykan,” Skandinavia (Worcester, Massachusetts), 21 May 1913, p.20, col. 3; online images, (http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/swedishamerican : accessed 21 January 2018), Minnesota Historical Society Swedish American Newspapers; Digitization by the National Library of Sweden in collaboration with the Media Conversion Center at the National Archives of Sweden, funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Thomas St. Church. Next Sunday is the completion of this year’s Reading Class, which consists of the following; Anna Anderson, Edla Anderson, Selma Anderson, Walter Arnberg, Egnar Berggren, Arthur Bloom, Stina Bogren, Ebba Karlson, Evelyn Carlson, Herbert Carlson, Ruth Carlson, Elin Danelius, Gunhild Ekstedt, Esther Gavert, Elsa Holmström. Adolf Johnson, Adeline Kaner, Elsie Kinander, Helen Larson, Jennie Löfgren, Philip Nelson, Frances Peterson, Hildur Petterson, Wallace Petterson, Edith Steelman, Ivar Stohlberg, Agnes Swenson, Hilda Söderberg and Elna Söderquist.

The morning’s worship begins at half past 11 and consists of:
1. Organ Prelude, Fridolf Carlson.
2. The class marches in.
3. Congregation Song, Psalm 11.
4. The Confession of Faith, the Reading Children.
5. Prayer, Emil T. Rolander.
6. Gloria Patri, the Assembly.
7. Bible reading.
8. Song, Quartet.
9. Baptism.
10. Shorter sermon, pastor David K. Englund.
11. Examination in Christianity, the Reading Children.
12. Song, the choir of the assembly.
13. Notices and offering.
14. Praise and blessing.

The evening’s worship begins at 7 with the following programs:
1. Organ Prelude, Fridolf Carlson.
2. Reading Class marches in.
3. Congregation Song, Psalm 512.
4. Prayer, Emil T. Swenson.
5. Song, the choir
6. Speaker, Pastor N. P. Glemaker from Moline, Ill.
7. Song, the choir.
8. Reception into Membership.
9. Congregation Song, Psalm 444.
10. Celebration of the memory of Jesus Christ.
11. Distribution of grades and bibles.
12. Conclusion.

We expect to see the parents of the Reading Children present at both worship services and hope their other relatives and friends also appear.

  1. Methodist Churches.—There are nine Methodist-Episcopal churches in Worcester, including two African. The list is as follows:
    Trinity, 650 Main street, formed 1834.
    Laurel Street, Laurel Hill, formed 1845.
    Webster Square, New Worcester, formed 1860.
    Grace Free Church,Walnut street, formed 1867.
    Coral Street, Coral street, formed 1872.
    First Swedish, Quinsigamond Village, formed 1879.
    Second Swedish, 59 Thomas street, formed 1885.
    Zion (African), 86 Exchange street, formed 1846.
    Bethel (African), 302 Main street, formed 1867.

    Franklin Pierce Rice, Dictionary of Worcester (Massachusetts) and Its Vicinity (Worcester, Massachusetts: F.S. Blanchard, 1889), 53; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 21 January 2018.

  2. Swedish-English & English-Swedish Dictionary. [Chicago: Engberg-Holmberg, 1904. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100644144


Views of Ellis Island – 2012 & 1908

Atlantic City Vacation 053 blog
Ellis Island Immigration Station, May 14, 2012.

In the spring of 1992, my husband and I stayed in Brigantine, New Jersey for a week.  As we were only a couple of hours away, we drove to Liberty State Park, took the ferry to Ellis Island and met up with a friend who had moved to New York City.

Even though both Lars & Regina immigrated to America before Ellis Island opened,  my mother told me that they had traveled back to Sweden to visit relatives.  At the American Family Immigration History Center® I searched the Passenger Record Archive. I easily located Passenger Records, Ship Manifests, and Ship Information (a picture and brief history of the ship) by searching  for “Lars M Petterson”.  Terms of use prohibit posting digital images of these records on personal blogs.

Manifest for the Mauretania sailing from Liverpool on 22 August 1908

  • #28 Petterson, Lars M. – age 51 – occupation builder – US citizen
  • #29 Petterson, Regina – age 54 – occupation wife – US citizen

The Passenger Records for Lars M Petterson & Regina Petterson state that the date of arrival was 28 August 1908.

Back home, I located this Manifest in the collections of Ancestry Library Edition and digital images of a 1908 postcard of the Mauretania and a 1905 photograph of  Ellis Island  in online collections.

Year: 1908; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1135; Line: 28; Page Number: 100
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original Data: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957. Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls. NAI: 300346. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Because this manifest isn’t completely filled out, we know that Lars & Regina were either first or second class passengers. This meant they didn’t go to Ellis Island for at least 3 hours of medical and legal inspection. Instead they “underwent a cursory inspection aboard ship, the theory being that if a person could afford to purchase a first or second class ticket, they were less likely to become a public charge in America due to medical or legal reasons.” Then when the ship docked in New York,  these passengers could disembark, pass through Customs at the piers and enter the United States.

Ellis Island History – The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. , http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/ellis-island-history. Copyright ©2017

I couldn’t find any information  describing different treatment of citizens and non-citizens. 

Mauretania [1908], Panoramic and oversized postcards from the Library of Congress Postcard File, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ds-02737

Ellis Island’s Immigrant Landing Station, February 24, 1905.
By A. Coeffler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Lars Magnus Petterson is my Great-grandfather

A High-End Silver Wedding Couple – 1908

My great-grandparents had quite the party for their 25th wedding anniversary. I only wish one of these articles would have mentioned how they met.

Ett högt aktadt silfverbröllopspar.
Herr och fru Lars M. Petterson hägtidlighålla 25=årsdagen af ett lyckligt äktenskap.

     Byggmästare Lars Magnus Petterson och hans maka firade i gir 25-årsdagen  af sin äktenskapliga förenlng. De hitkommo båda år 1880 från Sverige och tre år senare, den 17 November 1883, vigdes de af pastor Daniel Sörlin vld Thomas st. kyrkan.
     Herr Petterson är född vid Dejefors, Värmland. och hans maka är ocksä värmländska, frân Emilstad.
     Herrskapet Petterson har 6 barn, hvilka alla utom sonen Harry, som är student vid Pennsylvania Dental College, deltogo i föräldrarnes hogtid.
    Herr Petterson har i 22 är varit byggmästare här 1 Worcester och icke blott byggt en massa hus för landsmän och andra här 1 staden utan äfven byggt upp en förmögenhet åt sig själf och de sina. Han är en hedersman I det dagliga lifvet och en af stödjepelarne inom Thomas st. församlingen. Inom hvars kvinnoförening, Fridens band, hans maka äfven är värksam.
    Skandinavia lyckönskar herr och fru Petterson till att ha fâtt upplefva denna bemärkelsedag och hoppas, att do ännu i mlnst 25 är mä fa vandra slda vid sida, stödjande och uppmuntrande hvarandra.

Google translation:

A high-end silver wedding couple.
Mr. and Mrs Lars M. Petterson retire 25 = the anniversary of a happy marriage.

    Builders Lars Magnus Petterson and his spouse celebrated in giving the 25th anniversary of his marital association. They hit-came both in 1880 from Sweden and three years later, 17 November 1883, they were worshiped by Pastor Daniel Sörlin vld Thomas St.. Church.
Mr. Petterson was born at Dejefors, Värmland. and his wife is also Flemish, from Emilstad.
The Petterson family has 6 children, all of whom except son Harry, a student at Pennsylvania Dental College, participated in the parents’ feast.
Mr. Petterson, in 22, has been a builder here 1 Worcester and not only built a lot of houses for compatriots and others in this city but also built a fortune for themselves and they are. He is a gentleman in daily life and one of the support staff in Thomas St.. Assembly. In whose women’s union, Fridens’s band, his wife is also painful.
Scandinavia congratulations to Mr. and Mrs Petterson to have lived this anniversary and hope that doing even in the 25th will be walking side by side, supportive and encouraging each other.

“Ett högt aktadt silfverbröllopspar.” Scandinavia (Worcester, Mass.), November 18, 1908, p. 20, col. 1. Swedish American Newspapers Collection: Minnesota Historical Society. Digitization by the National Library of Sweden in collaboration with the Media Conversion Center at the National Archives of Sweden, funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. (http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/lccn/sn98021507/1908-11-18/ed-1/seq-20)


Sin silfverbröllopsdag

högtidlighöllo i går byggmästaren Lars M. Petterson, 21 Edward st., och hans maka i närvaro af omkring 200 inbjudna gäster, släktingar och grannar. Byggmästaren Lars M. Petterson med fru har sedan tidigt på åttiotalet varit bosatt i Worcester och äro båda följaktligen väl kända och allmänt kända af stadens  svenskar. Hr Pettersons jovialiska natur och sprudlande humor göra honom till en särdeles ef- tersökt sällskapsmänniska. Medlem som han är af ett flertal föreningar och organisationer ligget-dock Thomas st.-försanilingen honom närmast om hjärtat, och är han en af församlingens gedignaste stödjepelare. Båda de nu silfverbröllopsfirande makarna Petterson härstamma från det natursköna Värmland och utvandrade båda, fastän de då icke kände hvarandra, år 1880 till Förenta Staterna. Så ville ödet. eller lyckans gudinna, att de Skulle mötas, hvilket skedde i Worcester, och den 17 nov. år 1883 förenades de med hymens band af Thomas st.församlingens förste lärare, pastor Daniel S. Sörlin, till äkta makar. Det var tjugofemårsminnet af denna högtidliga tilldragelse, som i går afton firades.

Festen i går afton var animerad och bland de 1 densamma deltagande märktes Worcesters förnämsta svenskar. Flera tal höllos till brudparets ära, och för dem smickrande var det sätt, på hvilket man om  dem uttalade sig.

Utrymmet tillåter icke nu närmare omnämnande, men må vi med gästerna förena oss i en hjärtlig  välgångsönskan och hoppas att det aktade silfverbröllopsparet måtte få upplefva en, om möjligt, ännu angenämare guld’ bröllopsdag.


Google translation:

Its a wedding anniversary celebration yesterday the builder Lars M. Petterson, 21 Edward St., and his spouse in the presence of about 200 invited guests, relatives and neighbors. Byggmästeren Lars M. Petterson, with wife, has been living in Worcester since early eighties, and thus both well known and widely known by the city’s Swedes. Mr. Petterson’s jovial nature and splendid humor make him an extremely successful companion. However, as he is of a number of associations and organizations, Thomas Thomas left him closest to the heart, and he is one of the congregation’s most successful supportist. Both of the now silver-wedding-celebrated spouses Petterson derive from the scenic Värmland and emigrated both, though they did not know each other, in 1880 to the United States. So would the fate. or happy goddess that they would meet, which occurred in Worcester, and on November 17th. In 1883, they joined the band of the hymn of Thomas the first congregation, pastor Daniel S. Sörlin, to true spouses. It was twenty-five-year memory of this solemn dedication that last night was celebrated.
The party last night was animated and among the 1 participating participants, Worcester’s most distinguished Swedes were noted. Several speeches were held to the bride’s honor, and to them flattering was the way in which they spoke.
The space does not allow further reference, but we must unite with our guests in a heartfelt congratulations and hope that the careful silver wedding couple will have to experience a, if possible, even more pleasant gold wedding day.

Svea (Worcester, Mass.), November 18, 1908, p. 5, col. 6. Swedish American Newspapers Collection: Minnesota Historical Society. Digitization by the National Library of Sweden in collaboration with the Media Conversion Center at the National Archives of Sweden, funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. (http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/lccn/sn91058022/1908-11-18/ed-1/seq-5)


Lars Magnus Petterson is my Great-grandfather