“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 wbiorn@co.carver.mn.us.  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: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/chanhassen_villager/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-learn-about-famous-diaries-at-upcoming-nordic-heritage-club/article_f6097644-4ce9-5f7c-bae2-2a6494e19445.html


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 hgould@co.carver.mn.us 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 hgould@co.carver.mn.us 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 wbiorn@co.carver.mn.us.  As you can see from the photos, we are making progress.

Wendy Petersen-Biorn

Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society


Ready, Set, GO!!!!! Let the fundraising begin.

Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead Receives

Jeffris Family Foundation Grant

    The Carver County Historical Society is honored to receive a three year challenge grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation to fund the rehabilitation of the Andrew Peterson Farmhouse in Waconia, MN.

In order to receive the $250,000 offered by the Foundation, the CCHS will need to raise $500,000 over the next three years.  The funds may be raised in various ways including cash, donations of building materials, or professional skills needed on site.  If we fall short of the required $500,000 needed to received the $250,000 match, we receive nothing. All donations must note that the donation is designated for the Jeffris Foundation match.

The Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, located at 8060 Highway 5, Waconia, MN, is open by appointment and for special events May through October. Andrew Peterson was known for his horticulture work with apple trees, the location of the first Swedish Baptist Church, and for his historically significant diaries which were used as a primary source for Wilhelm Moberg’s Emigrant book series.  The Jeffris Family Foundation was established in 1979 by Bruce and Eleanor Jeffris, and their son Tom. The Foundation assists the development of historic sites for non-profit organizations in small towns and cities in the eight states of the Midwest.

If you are interested in donating or would like more information contact Wendy Petersen Biorn at 952-442-4234 or wbiorn@co.carver.mn.us.

Stay tuned, for more information about exciting fundraising events, programs, easy ways to donate, and so much more!

Construction drawings, capital fundraising, a new furnace, and Springtime on the Farm

January 2, 1885

Today it is very cold—more than 40 below—so cold that the quicksilver (mercury) froze.  I wrote a letter to Drothzen in Aberdeen.  The boys did the chores and in the afternoon, Carl went to Waconia to get the mail.  I had a letter from Liljehook that he has sent the scions.

Andrew Peterson

It has been several months since I have written a blog.  It doesn’t seem that long, but the saying, “time flies” could easily be applied to this scenario.  No news doesn’t mean there isn’t anything is going on at the farm. Miller Dunwiddie has been working on completing construction drawings of the 1914 barn.  Hansen HomeTech has been working to install a new furnace in the house.  I have been busy planning for the capital fundraising campaign which will begin in June, and Heidi Gould has been planning for the Springtime on the Farm event.

Miller Dunwiddie has completed the building investigation and 90% of the construction drawings for the 1914 barn.  The drawings are now in SHPO’s hands and we await their recommendations before the documents are completed. After the construction document is completed, attention will turn to work on the foundation and stabilization. Future use for the barn will be as the interpretive/education/welcoming center for the farm.  Building a new interpretive center would not only be very costly, it would change the look of the farm, an aspect we are attempting to save.

The planning for the Capital fundraising has been going well. During the January board meeting, the CCHS board voted to set $500,000 as our goal.  If we raise the full amount, the Jeffris Family Foundation will contribute $250,000, giving us a total of $750,000.  The dollar amount was derived from amounts in the Historic Structures report, the feasibility study conducted last fall, and a  preliminary cost estimate from Hansen HomeTech.

Carver County Historical Society board member, JJ Norman, has been chairing the fundraising committee.  We are gratefully receiving help from some professionals and have hired Thomas Spargo to help with the on-line footprint and event planning.  The kick off will happen, in late June.  Until then, we are looking for verbal commitments from people and organizations.  Any funds received before the start date will not be matched, so it is important that funds be received no earlier than late June or early July.

We received a $20,000 donation designated for the farm in December, 2018.  After being notified that their gift could not be matched, the donor generously allowed us to keep the money for use on the house. Part of the funds will be used to install a new furnace.  The current one is no longer repairable due to rust from the water that had been in the basement over the years.  Knowing this was a problem, we installed a sump pump shortly after closing on the property.

Finally, save May 18th for Springtime on the Farm.  This all day event will be a repeat of the event we hosted last year, except we have put in an order for no rain.  You will hear more about the event as we get closer, but a couple of things are guarantees, baby animals, music, food and lots to do.

A final note:  The translation of the Peterson diaries are expected to be complete in February.  The translation will be available for free on our website, but if you would rather not print 700 pages, a published version will be available for purchase.

Stay warm

Wendy Petersen Biorn

The CCHS Representatives meet Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter

On September 18, Executive Director Wendy Petersen Biorn and CCHS board member JJ Norman had the pleasure of meeting the honorable Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the rehabilitation of the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead.

How It All Began

As part of the process of locating funds to rehabilitate the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, our board brainstormed ideas. One suggestion that repeatedly surfaced was contacting the Swedish Crown.  My answer to that was, “Sure, I’ll just pick up the phone and call the King and Queen of Sweden.  Does anyone have their direct line?”  Of course I was being sarcastic, but the task of trying to reach the Crown seemed, well let’s just say, royally insurmountable.

I have always been a person to “give it a try.”  Can’t hurt.  The question was really where do I start.  I first tracked down the Swedish Embassy, in Washington, D.C. From there, I made contact with the Ambassador’s representative.  We corresponded via email a number of times, with me trying to explain the importance of the Peterson Farmstead.

Several months ago, I received an email stating that the Ambassador would be coming to Minnesota and had requested a visit to the farm.  Long story short, her visit was cut by half a day, and we were part of that cut. We were however invited to an invitation only luncheon and the evening public reception.  The Swedish Consulate at the American Swedish Institute, Bruce Karstadt, contacted me and said he would help find time for us to talk one-on-one with the Ambassador.  I put the day on the calendar and forgot about it.

About this time, the Gammelgården Museum Director contacted me and wanted to bring a group of 10, including the Chamber of Commerce, to visit Waconia and the Peterson Farm. We had a nice conversation about the “Old Scandia” versus the “New Scandia”, both of us playfully claiming to be the “real” Scandia. Their purpose was make a connectiion for joint marketing.  I booked the visit, and forgot about it.  The day of the tour came, and I spent the day with them.  After they left, I went back to my desk to find a message from the ASI and the Ambassador’s office saying how sorry they were that I missed the luncheon.  Turns out, the event was moved by one day and I missed the change on my calendar.  Could I still make the public reception which was to occur in 3 hours?  The Ambassador would still really like to meet me. I hopped in the car, went home changed into a dress, and sped to the American Swedish Institute.  CCHS board member JJ Norman met me there.

On my left sat Mark Ritchie, former MN Secretary of State.  On my right, was the Chair of the Board for the American Swedish Institute. Both, received sales pitches from JJ and myself. The results of the meeting with the Ambassador and the others we met are still to be seen, but we had many good conversations about the farm.  What is to become of the conversation with the Ambassador is yet to be seen, but some excellent connections have been made.

One other very import task this summer was constructing of an 80 page business plan for the farm.  The CCHS board will be reviewing it over the next several months.  We hope to have it approved by December. The document will outline the strategic plan for Peterson Farmstead over the next 5, 10 and 15 years. It will be publicly available after it is approved.

Two days ago, we met with the Jeffris Foundation and they confirmed their interest in the farm.  Results from the feasibility study show we can support a fundraising effort of $500,000.  Jeffris has the funds to support a fundraiser on our end of $700,000 to $800,000, but we need to determine if we can raise the extra $200,000.  If we did, it would rehabilitate ALL the historic buildings on the farm, not just the house.  The advantage is that we would be done raising funds for the historic buildings.  If you know of any large donors who are able to contribute $200,000, please let me know.  We have until the end of the year to decide.

Another highlight was the request to speak at the Swedish Genealogical Society of Colorado next May, all expenses paid.  That is one offer I cannot turn down.

We have planted many seeds in the last several years. Seeds I hope will reap great rewards.

CCHS board member JJ Norman, the honorable Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, CCHS, Executive Director, Wendy Petersen Biorn Swedish ambassador 2