Anna’s father, Peter Olsson Tilderquist, would never speak about himself or his experiences unless pressed to do so, so his children grew up knowing very little about his background. The most they learned about him was when his brother Lars, who had immigrated to Australia, came for a visit in 1884, and the brothers reminisced about old times in Sweden. Later, after Peter died, his children David Tilderquist and Eva Tilderquist, did some searching into his childhood. In 1911, David visited his childhood home in Skane, Sweden, and learned more about the family. this story was told by Eva Tilderquist in her 1952 family history.
In Sweden, in 1833, the year Peter was born, his father, Ola Persson purchased property in Skane–Vastra Haglinge–and built a house. This house still stands, and Ola’s initials, O.P.S. are inscribed on one of the foundation stones.
In 1850, at the age of 17, Peter left home and went to Kristianstad to learn the carpentry trade. He was there for three years, and, at the end, as a cumulative project, he was required to build an original piece. The chest of drawers he made is still at the farm at Vastra Haglinge. At the completion of his apprenticeship, he was given the privilege of choosing a new name, and he, and the other young men in his class, decided to cement their relationship by choosing the same name, but what the name Tilderquist refers to, no one knows for sure.
At the end of the three-year apprenticeship, Peter contracted malaria, from which he did not recover for a year.
Why Peter chose to immigrate to America is unknown, but times were difficult in Europe then, and many people believed their future would be brighter in America.
He came to America in 1854 with two acquaintances from Kristianstad, one named Liljequist who settled near St. Peter, Minnesota, and another named John Nelson. John and Peter first went to Illinois. Peter then went to Eau Galli, Wisconsin, where he worked for a lumber company for three years. Peter thought he would return to Sweden with John Nelson, but Nelson changed his mind, so Peter returned to the north, stopping in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, where he erected a flour mill.
During a time of flooding, Peter and a friend attempted a crossing of Cannon River. His friend died in the crossing and Peter barely escaped with his life.
He went to Arkansaw, Wisconsin, and worked in a furniture manufactory for a dollar a day, including board. He made very little money, and by 1858, he had moved to Red Wing and was working in a warehouse.
In 1859, Peter purchased a farm from Bengt Nilsson, Gustava’s father, and also claimed 40 acres through the Homestead Act. In 1860, Peter built a shanty on the property to live in.
In 1860, Peter and Bengt built a log house on the property, which became the first Tilderquist home. At this time, Peter became interested in Bengt’s daughter, Gustava, who was in service in Wacouta. For some reason, Bengt and Martha preferred another man for their daughter, and at one point, Martha walked the 30 miles to Wacouta to attempt to persuade Gustava to accept the attentions of the other man.
But, Gustava had an independent spirit, and she preferred Peter.
Link to Historical Photographs with more photos of Peter, his home, and family. Gallery