100 Years Ago Today

On June 21, 1918, graduation exercises were held for Worcester Classical High School Class of 1918. Lars & Regina Petterson were almost definitely in attendance to watch their youngest child, Wallace, receive his diploma.

Address of ... mayor ... with the annual reports of the several
Worcester (Mass.), “Report of the Public Schools of the City of Worcester 1918,” Address of the Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts with the Annual Reports of Several Departments (1918/1919), Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=nbREAQAAMAAJ : accessed 21 June 2018), pages 56-58.

Singing “America’s Message” provided a break from the solemness of the remarks given by the honor students.

With perfectly legitimate musical means Loomis and Johnstone have, indeed, succeeded in a chorus which arouses the same frenzied in these patriotic days as an exciting ball game by world famed players. “America’s Message” is an anthem  inspired by President Wilson’s memorable of April 2 1917. It consists of an original  melody by Mr Johnstone which is most ingeniously combined with the tune “America” (My Country Tis of Thee).

Henry T. Finck, “”America’s Message” a Most Effective Patriotic Anthem for Mixed Choruses,” The Musical Leader, Vol 36, No 4 (25 Jul 1918), Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=L19FAQAAMAAJ : accessed 21 June 2018), page 91.


Johnstone, Arthur Edward, and Harvey Worthington Loomis. America’s Message. [, monographic. Oliver Ditson Company,, Boston, Massachusetts:, 1918] Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2014560376/. (Accessed March 19, 2018.)



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