Peterson Farm fun(d)raiser October 1

Andrew Peterson Farm update

By Wendy Petersen Biorn,  Carver County Historical Society, 

Executive Director


The Carver County Historical Society is now in our final year of the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge campaign for the Andrew Peterson farm. Knowing this, people are asking how we are doing and what we are doing at the farm, so it feels like a great time to bring everyone up to speed.

If you have driven by the Peterson farm lately, you may have noticed many dead trees laying in the field just south of the main house.  The trees that were cut down, surrounded the foundation of Sarah Peterson’s house.  Sarah Peterson (no relationship to Andrew) owned the property after the last of Andrew’s children died.  She built a house along the driveway just south of Andrew’s house.  When Ward Holasek purchased the property, he wanted to build a new house on the north end of the land.  Due to zoning rules, he was forced to choose between tearing down Andrew’s or Sarah’s house.  He chose to tear down Sarah’s, saving Andrew’s, even though Andrew’s was much older. When Sarah’s house was torn down, the foundation was left intact, making it a danger for visitors.  A few months ago, staff literally stumbled upon a cistern by the foundation, which we were unaware of.  The cistern had a lid, but over time it had shifted, leaving enough space for one of our staff to step into.

In addition to the cistern, we had an arborist assess the trees around Andrew’s house and the foundation of Sarah’s.  Many of the trees surrounding the foundation of Sarah’s house were either very old or in the process of dying. With the knowledge of the cistern and the condition of the trees, the decision was made to fill in the cistern, remove the foundation and remove any dying trees.  The process produced a level spot which is now safe.

Many of the trees around Andrew’s house are very old and are in the process of dying.  In fact, one ash is 140 years old!  Several cedars are visible in an 1885 photo making them at least 136 years old.  The hardest part of the arborist’s assessment was the realization that the emerald ash bore is a year or two away from arriving at the farm.

With the coming of the Emerald Ash bore, we realize that more trees will have to be removed in the next few years.  We have put into place a plan for removing trees and replanting. What you will see is more ash being removed and more apple and sugar maple trees planted.

In the next year, you will also see major changes to the house.  The porches will be torn off and new porches matching those in the 1885 photo will be built.  The metal roof will be removed, and wood shingles installed.  The house will be stripped of the old lead paint and repainted the same color as it was in 1885.

The Jeffris Family Foundation challenge campaign will end June 30, 2022.  We have raised $300,000 toward the $500,000 needed by that date.  If we reach the $500,000 goal, the Foundation will give us an additional $250,000.  The funds will be first used for the farmhouse, with any remaining funds to be used for the granary and the south barn.

We will be hosting our first fundraiser at the farm on October 1st.   The event is sponsored by Melchert Hubert Sjodin, Thrivent, MidCountry Bank, Chaska Machine & Tool, Inc., Peterson Company Ltd and Beckett Realty.  The event will include a catered BBQ dinner from Iron Tap, dessert from Bakery on Main, wine from Parley Lake Winery, and music from Traveled Ground.  Activities will include a silent auction; wine pull and a program with a full update on the vision of what the farm will become in the future.  The event will be held in the loft of the middle barn, which will be the first time you will be able to see the vision of what the building will be used for in the future, be it weddings or conferences. Tickets are $50 and are available on the CCHS website or by giving us a call at 952-442-4234.

Maple Syrup Time! Coming events and a Fundraiser Update

A couple of days ago, the temperatures reached into the 60s.  It broke the record for a high temperature going back to 1878.  Being curious, I went back to Andrew Peterson’s diaries and checked to see what he had written in March of 1878. By March, Peterson was already tapping the maple trees indicating warmer day temperatures and cold nights, which is what is needed to facilitate the flow of the sap.

March 7, 1878  I began to bore into the maples. Today, I bored into 100 trees. Today, the school has ended its winter term.

Once 40°F hits, trees releases the starches in the form of sap/sugar. However, one must act fast before temperatures within the tree reach 45°F since sugar production will decrease once the tree’s enzymes have recognized the need to produce excess sugar has ceased. From the ideal sap collection temperatures, we can infer that Peterson experienced warmer weather without him having stated as such in his journal.

Were we not to have this useful sap collection record, we also have the State recorded temperatures for the days in Peterson’s diary.  A glance at the DNR’s historical recordings detail the following highs and lows:

March 7, 1878:  57 High, 30 Low

March 8, 1878: 61 High, 47 Low

March 9, 1878: 61 High, 50 Low

March 10, 1878: 59 high, and 45 Low

March 11th, 1878 55 high, and 41 Low

While not always in the ideal range for sap collection, temperatures would have often kept within the desired collection range necessary for collection. Should the temperatures have remained at a consistently high enough measure, ~60°F, to start mass bud growth, then sap production would have ceased.

March 8, 1878: Today I plastered in the molasses kettle and we started to cook syrup. The boys are hauling stumps up in the field. The night before last, a couple of Irishmen stopped overnight with us.

Noting that Irishmen overnight-ed with Peterson, emphasizes the melting pot of Carver County. Pre 1900, Carver County immigrants were composed largely of Swedish, German and Irish settlers.

March 9, 1878: I grafted [bound plant tissues together for shared growth] the whole day and finished them all. The boys fanned wheat and oats.

Grafting was a common practice to propagate apple trees.  It still is.  Peterson often refers to using and buying scions (cuttings) via mail and traveling to Chaska to purchase them.  The scions were grafted to the trees to develop a preferred characteristic.

March 11, 1878: I bored 190 maples. The boys chopped wood in the clearing.

Carver County was part of the “big woods”.  Clearing trees for fields was an ongoing process. Often stumps were left in the ground to rot and later removed.  Chopping wood to use for heating a house in the winter was a never ending process.  Can you imagine heating your house with just a cook stove?

Jeffris Challenge Campaign update

For Andrew Peterson, like all of us, spring means work.  You may not make maple syrup, but most if not all of us have spring clean-up. On this note, we are pleased to report the successes at the halfway mark of the Jeffris Challenge Campaign for the farm and invite you to join us as we plan for 2021 and a plethora of events at the farm.

We are currently at just over $228,000 in pledges and donations. We are still on target to reach our goal of $250,000 by the end of March.  Every pledge or donation, no matter how large or small, is very appreciated. Payments for pledges may be spread out between now and the end of June 2022.  This plan helps both the donor and the CCHS plan.  Donations of your professional skill or a physical time we can use for the rehabilitation of the farmhouse can also count.  For more information contact Wendy at the Historical Society.

The Construction Drawings are DONE!

We are thrilled to announce that the Construction Drawings for the house, granary and south barn have been approved!  They will be presented to the public as soon as the final report is approved.  Expect to see them in the next six weeks. This project was funded by a Legacy grant.  We are greatly appreciative to the people of the State of Minnesota for approving the Legacy fund.  Check in on this blog, social media, or our website to learn when you can pour over these eye-opening materials.

Tourist season on the farm

As many of us have found ourselves working from home and yearning for new sights during the indoor months of Winter, this Summer offers a wonderful opportunity to place yourself in the explorative mindset of a late 1800s immigrant, seeing this county’s early days in a new perspective.

Depending on the mud level at the farm, the tentative opening for scheduled farm tours is May 1.  Enjoy the warm weather by scheduling a visit to the farmstead, taking advantage of a tour outlining the meticulous and sometimes surprising decisions that went into constructing and maintaining the property.

Coming Events at the Farm- Save the date

October 1- FINALLY, our first fundraiser for the farm!  Friday, October 1st at the farmstead.  An evening event not to be missed.  Running between 6:00pm and dark, we will feature wine/beer tasting, the band Traveling Ground, a silent auction, farm tours, and a barbecue meal. Be the first to enjoy an event in the large loft of the dairy barn. Take a tour, walk the historic farm that Andrew Peterson wrote about and Vilhelm Moberg used as a primary source for his Emigrant book series, bid in the silent auction, and learn first-hand about a Legacy worth funding. A limit of 200 tickets will be sold- more details to come. This is an over 18 only event.

October 2- Harvest Festival- Family FUN with the Scott Carver Threshers meet farm animals, games, food, activities and so much more.  Stay tuned for more information

Follow us on Social Media to keep in touch with our upcoming events. Peterson’s impressive 48 year diary is available here for FREE.

Wendy Petersen Biorn

Executive Director

Carver County Historical Society




Donate Online

Donate by Mail

Donations to the Jeffris Challenge grant farmhouse restoration matched!

Your donation toward the Peterson Farmhouse is now doubled AND will  count toward the Jeffris Family Challenge grant!

All new donations/pledges received via Give MN in 2020 will be matched up to a total of $5000. Your donation will become part of the larger challenge grant offered by the Jeffris Family Foundation. The Challenge grant started on July 1, 2019 and runs for three years. If we raise $500,000 by June 30, 2022 we will receive an additional $250,000 from the Jeffris Family Foundation. As of October 2020, we have raised $196,000.

All donor names will be displayed on our giving tree which will be installed initially, at the CCHS. It will be moved to the farm interpretive center, when the center is complete. More information and a private tour are available by calling the CCHS at 952-442-4234. Ask for Wendy.

The below link will take you directly to the GiveMN website where you may make your donation.




“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”           -Jimmy Dean

Change.  That one word describes succinctly what has happened over the last four months.  We went from an active successful economy and business environment, to being closed, to being open by appointment. One could argue that the more appropriate word would be stalled, “the inability to move forward or backward.”

“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” -Walt Disney

The Jeffris Challenge grant is continuing despite COVID.  They are not extending our deadline. We still need to meet our fundraising goal by June, 2022.  We continue to be in a good position, but we felt that public events were inappropriate at this time, due to the layoffs caused by Coronavirus.  Realizing this is temporary, is important.  Almost as important, is the need to constantly focus on the future of the where and why we have the fund drive in the first place. The Farm is not just about a Swedish immigrant. If you view the farm only as a Swedish property, you are missing the horticulture and agriculture history. The property was placed on the register for Peterson’s horticulture work with apple trees.  The farm is an agricultural property that will soon be an island in a sea of houses.  It is a symbol of all persons who settled Carver County.  It is an education center for agriculture and a place the public can go for events.  To not raise the funds needed to win the Jeffris Foundation $250,000 donation, is to lose focus on the agricultural future of the farm, and Carver County.

We received almost $190,000+ in pledges. We still have two years to go.  We can do this, but it does take all of us focusing on the future to accomplish the goal.

Donations from an IRA – A Great Way to Support CCHS and the Jeffris Family Challenge Grant

One of the most effective strategies for many seniors over 70 ½ to help a non-profit like CCHS is to make a Qualified Charitable Donation (QCD) from their traditional IRA.   Unlike other withdrawals, the QCD incurs no taxes and is not impacted by whether or not the donor itemizes charitable contributions. QCDs require funds to come from the donors IRA trustee directly to the charity or non-profit.  The process need not be difficult. CCHS has received funds in this way and can help inform prospective donors how to get started.

Normally a QCD can also count towards the donor’s required minimum distribution (RMD) although for 2020 RMDs have been suspended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The RMD requirement is expected to resume in 2021.  Those turning 70 ½ after 2019 may also delay their RMDs until they turn 72 as a result of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019.   Consult your tax advisor for more details.

Closing in on $200,000

You would have to be on a desert island, not to have the massive changes taking place in our world, affect you in some way.  The CCHS and fundraising committee are very conscious of how the pandemic has affected everyone.  For this reason, we decided to temporarily pause fundraising events and active solicitations, while everyone focuses on keeping their family safe.

The good news is that we were within a rock’s throw of hitting $200,000 and were on schedule to hit the half way mark by our one year anniversary.  The bad news is that the clock will keep ticking. Meaning that while we will be hitting the pause button for fundraising, we will not receive any additional time to raise the money. For anyone who is wanting to or is able to donate to the drive, give me a call.  We have a beautiful new brochure which can be mailed to you. Remote tours are available via Zoom.  In person tours will be available on June 1 for one or two people IF social distancing is observed.

The changes caused by the coronavirurs have affected us as well.  It goes without saying that Springtime on the Farm was postponed, with hopes of have a Fall Harvest Festival instead.  Only time will tell if a fall event occurs, but we can hope.

The middle 1914 dairy barn will be completing the stabilization process within a week or two.  If you are interested in visiting the building you can email me at  The barn will be our interpretive/education center.  The upper level can be used for a variety of events including weddings, programing, farmer’s markets or even craft shows.  The lower level will be used as a welcoming center with classroom space.  Stay tuned, of the building will be coming soon.

Miller Dunwiddie has begun working on construction drawings for the remaining three buildings.  Plans are to have the drawings done by the end of the year.  As you can expect, with businesses shut down, it will probably take longer than a year to complete.

It has taken 160 to build the farm.  It is still here and will be here in another 160 years.  We are just taking a short silent pause.

Better Late than Never

It has been a while since I wrote the last blog.  Looking back, I realize it has actually been a very long time since the last blog, four months in fact. I could give all kinds of excuses, but the truth is, that the end of the year is simply a very busy and productive period.

There are so many exciting things going on at the farm.  It is hard to say one is greater than another.  I often think of an old bible verse I learned as a child, that stated; no body part is more or less important than another.  With that in mind, let me bring you up to speed on all the exciting news at the farm.

Jeffris Family Foundation Fund Drive

We ended the year with close to $178,000 in pledges and donations.  This is after six months of fundraising. Donations and pledges have arrived in amounts from $5 to $60,240.  Each pledge or donation, no matter how large or small, is so very important.  Pledges are contracts between us and the donor which can extend the full three years of the fund drive. The donor fills out the form and notes how much they will contribute each year, and when they want to be invoiced.  This helps us greatly as we plan for the final goal of $500,000.  This is the amount we need to have in hand by June 30, 2022 to receive the additional $250,000 from the Jeffris Family Foundation. Some people have chosen to donate per year, but not pledge for the full three years.  This is perfectly fine as well.

Donations have been received via Give MN, Facebook fundraisers, and via our website donation button.  The website donation button is extremely helpful for our overseas friends, as they are able to use a credit card to donate.  We also have wiring instructions if preferred. The website donation button is designated for the fund drive.  All donations must be designated for the Jeffris Family Foundation fund drive to be included.

Grants are another source of revenue for the drive.  There are however, specific requirements that must be met with both the Jeffris Family Foundation and with the grant source.  In December, we were awarded an $111,400 Legacy grant which will be used hire Miller Dunwiddie to prepare construction documents for the farmhouse, granary, and the south barn. Of this amount, $60,240 was approved by the Jeffris Foundation to be applied to the fund drive.  The amount is specific for use toward the farm house, as required by the Foundation. Other restrictions applied, but conditions were approved by the Foundation.  Construction document preparation has already begun and plans are to have them complete by the end of 2020.

Donor Tree

Mark Smith has been working on the donor tree for the farm.  As of today, the below is the design we all like.  Large donors will receive an apple in either a blush, red or green color, depending on giving levels.  Leaves will have donor names.  The leaf colors will be in gold, silver and bronze colors.  As with the apples, the color will depend on the donor level.

The Middle (1914) Barn

Several years ago, Representative Nash led the charge to get us an Earmark grant of $160,000 from the Legacy fund.  These funds are being used to stabilize the middle (1914) barn. The barn will be used as our interpretation/education center. Work is nearing completion with great results. The stone foundation has been re-tuck-pointed, LVL beams have been installed alongside cracked beams, and rotten floor boards on the loft level have been replaced with new boards sawn from the trunks of several trees removed from the property, due to age. Your chance to see the work completed on the middle barn will be at the Springtime on the Farm event on May 16th.  The rain date is June 27th.

The new interpretation of Andrew’s diaries, continue to sell well.  You can either purchase a copy of the 750 page book, or you can find it in a word searchable document on our website.  Either way, take a look.  Reading his diary really bring him and his family to life.  It is also something special to read a first-hand account of what it was like to settle in a new land.

A final Good Bye to a Good Friend

One final note: for those who knew our volunteer Rocky Bye; he passed away last fall. He was very special to us. He spent many hours working in our shop.  He will be remembered at a celebration of life ceremony in May. At the request of his family, the event will be held at the CCHS.

As always, feel free to contact me about donations, volunteer opportunities or just to say hi.  We are all part of one body, working toward a final goal.

Wendy Petersen Biorn


Donate to farmhouse restoration from anywhere in the world!

Now everyone, no matter where in the world you are, is able to contribute to winning the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  By clicking the link below you will be taken to the Give to the Max  Andrew Peterson Farmstead giving page.  The Peterson Farm page has been designated to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  All funds donated will be applied to the restoration of Andrew farmhouse and will help us reach our goal of rehabilitating Andrew’s house, for visitors.


Andrew’s diary now available for purchase! First Peterson Farm fundraising event planned.

The Andrew Peterson diary is now available for purchase at the Carver County Historical Society.  The hard cover book is 750 pages and costs $42.  Due to the size of the book, the 92 page index was published separately and costs $6.  Member discounts apply.  We ship  anywhere in the US for $10.

The Chaska Herald and the Chanhassen Villager published a wonderful account about the translation of the the diaries.  You can read the article by clicking here:


Introducing the 1st fundraising event for the Peterson Farm.

The Possibilities of Preservation 

November 23rd  Charlson Meadows, Victoria

Doors open at 4:30pm

5:00pm-6:00pm Reception with light apps,

6:00 6:30pm Speaker Natalie Heneghan from Rethos: Places Reimagined

6:30pm – 7:00pm Questions and Answers to the hard questions

The program is designed to be fun, interactive and informative.  Natalie will be talking about all the different ways people can be involved in preservation – fixing up your old home, researching & sharing local history, visiting/supporting places like the Peterson Farm, etc.

Natalie Heneghan works for Rethos: Places Reimagined, a statewide nonprofit that connects people to historic places. As the Education Coordinator at Rethos, she creates classes and workshops that help people take care of the old buildings they love.

Cost is $40 per ticket with a maximum of 50 tickets sold.  Preregistration required.  All profits benefit the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant to benefit the Andrew Peterson Farmhouse rehabilitation.  Contact or call 952-442-4234 to order tickets.



Andrew Peterson’s translated diary at the printers!

May 21, 1850

“We passed through Skkagerrak finally, and saw a little of Farsund’s point in Norway–it was the last time we saw our old Scandinavia.” Andrew Peterson

It has taken two years, but we have finally completed translating and editing the Andrew Peterson’s diaries.  The diary is hardcover and 748 pages without the index.  The index is a separate  94 pages soft cover book. The size made publishing the index and the translation together, impossible.  The index will be available for free on our website, or you may purchase it separately for $6.

The translation was completed thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Fund.  The editing and publication costs were paid for by a grant from the Swedish Council of America. Thanks to the SCA grant, the cost for the first 30 books sold is offset, reducing the cost to $42.  After the 30 are sold, the cost will increase to $50.

To reserve a copy at the lower price, contact Heidi Gould at or call 952-442-4234.


To made a donation to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant for the Peterson farmhouse click this link. PayPal.Me/JeffrisChallenge


Tuck pointing the middle barn and house

It is with a continued great amount of appreciation that I thank the Sando Foundation for providing the funds for a new furnace in the Farmhouse and funds to complete tuck pointing on the house.  The choices of where to use the funds were based on the recommendations found in the Historic Structures Report, and the simple fact that the furnace died in December.

In this blog, I would like to show the work stone mason Patrick Sieben is doing at the farm, and  why we chose to use the funds donated in December, the way we did.

The photo below is part of the Chaska brick addition Andrew Peterson added onto the house.  In his diaries, he talks about the large Chaska brick kitchen addition and the two large pantries. The corner is located on the south west corner of the addition.  The brown you see on the right is part of the main house.

The bricks can be seen clearly falling away from the house.  The cause is a simple long time malfunctioning down spout.  It is amazing something so simple can cause such damage.  The previous owner, poured cement over the spot and used the same to try and replace the missing mortar.

The problem with this solution is that it is like placing a band-aid on a wound without fixing the source of the problem.  In fact, using cement made the problem even worse.  The cement compound is stronger than the simple mortar used in the 1870s.  This meant that as the cement moved with heating and cooling, it further damaged the mortar and moved more bricks out of their original location.

In the below and above photos note some stones that have pulled away from the foundation.  The width of the wood planks are 18 inches!


It will take a few more days to repair the foundation and replace the bricks, but I’ll be sure to post photos when it is complete.

The last photo is Patrick and his two journeymen sons working on the north wall.  Patrick will be doing some small repairs on the smoke house as well.

The Middle (1914) barn foundation has completed tuck pointing.  The photos from that process are not as dramatic. Patrick tells me that that foundation was in very bad shape as well.  So much mortar was gone, that in some places he could put his arm into the wall up to his elbow!  We are very happy to say that the wall has been repaired.  Thank you to Representative Nash for securing the funds to stabilize the middle barn!!!

The Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant process has started.  In the next week, you will see a donation button on our website marked as donating to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  Pledge forms will also be going out soon.  Please consider donating.  You can also contact me directly at  As you can see from the photos, we are making progress.

Wendy Petersen-Biorn

Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society