My Dad, Reynold ”Ray" Peterson, began to write his memories of growing up in the coal mining camps of Monroe County. Dad died before he had completed his memories, but the memories he did write were brief glimpses of his cherished time as a kid growing up in the coal mining camps of Monroe County, Iowa
Dad and the Peterson family lived in three different Monroe County coal mining camps, all owned by the Consolidation Coal Company - from 1909 when he was born in Buxton, in 1916 when the family moved to the Consol coal mining camp, and in 1922 when the family moved to the Haydock coal mining camp. After the children including my dad had all left home, Grandpa and Grandma purchased the Bloom house and farm in what was East Swede Town where they lived until their death’s in the late 1950’s. Dad in 1937 moved to Charles City, Iowa where he married Iva Lutz and worked for the Oliver Tractor Company. I was born in 1939 in Charles City.
Dad wrote: I was born in Buxton, Iowa on June 23, 1909. My parents were Emma L. Nylander and Dave A. Peterson. Mother was born in Muchakinock a few miles below Oskaloosa, Iowa. Dad was born in Sweden and spent most of his young years in Ransater, Varmland, Sweden. He came to this country as a young man.
I do not know the year that Mother and Dad married. To this union 10 children were born: Irving, Reynold, Ivan, Linnea, Elizabeth, Wilma, Naomi, Ruth, Bernie and Roy. Irving died when he was 16 years old from blood poisoning, Ruth was born during Irving’s illness and passed away about a month after his death. Wilma and Bernie passed away in their sixties.
I do not remember how old I was when we left Buxton. I do remember we were living in Consol at the end of World War I. In the excitement of the news of the ending of the war, a neighbor lady (Mrs. Richardson) beat the bottom out of mother’s dish pan.
We lived in the area of Buxton called East Swede Town - and that’s what it mostly consisted of. I believe there were three non-Swedes living there. Swede Town had a doctor (Dr. Mater) , a grocery store and a Lutheran church. There was an elementary school almost in Swede Town. It has been said the school belonged to Swede Town, but I am sure it was a public school.
We did have summer school but it was sponsored by the Lutheran church called Bible School, and it was for six weeks. You can bet we did not like it. I cannot say how much schooling I received there, I do know I received most of my education in Consol. I graduated form the eighth grade there. My education ended in Haydock - I had part of a year in high school there.
Moving to Consol did not end our relationship with Buxton as we could ride for free the miner’s train that hauled the miners to and from the mine. In fact, I stayed almost one term with my grandparents and went to school there. I think it was the 7th grade.
There are so many memories of Buxton. The summer church ice cream social was a big event as people came from surrounding towns. The Christmas program was a wonderful event to remember. Mr. Larson, who owned the grocery store in Swede Town, provided the Sunday school with a gift and I think he furnished a sack of candy for each of us. He was very active in the work of the church. I still remember in Swedish the two lines of my verse that I had to get up and recite before the congregation one Christmas.
The snow lies so deep in the North
and the land slumbers in the winter freeze
I was almost a servant for Uncle Henry. I kept his car polished to no end and was his chauffeur. Uncle Henry did not like to drive, I could add he was almost the world’s worst. I had to keep his shoes polished also, but he always kept me in loose change. I enjoyed the time I spent with my grandparents in Buxton very much. I did help out around the house with chores.
Grandpa Nylander was also part of the fond memories I have of that part of my life. Our swimming hole was a pond along Whites Creek and not very good. It had a mud bottom and one had to take a bath after the swim. After heavy rains we would go looking for new swimming holes. One of the holes was very deep and dangerous due to the steep sides and swift flow of water into it. One of the boys got into trouble as he was not a good swimmer. I got a small tree branch which I extended out to him and he got a hold and we were able to pull him to safety. That ended the swimming for that day.
We also had a ball team. We would play the boys from the country. (You met one of the fellows at the Bethel Cemetery, Gordon. Lewis was his name.) Ice skating was one of our winter sports. Ice hockey consisted of a stick and a tin can.
Grandpa Nylander was a devout Christian, a very strong worker in the church. Every evening before retiring Grandpa would have a bible reading and a prayer. It was not a short reading or a short prayer.
I do not know why, but all of us boys had nicknames - mine was Chinnold; Irving’s was Sam.
The folks always had horses, wagon and buggy. I guess most of you know the time I begged Mother to use them to go to the store, which she did, but after shopping I forgot the horse and buggy at the store.
I showed Gordon where Dad’s store location was in Coopertown. Dad used a horse and cart to deliver orders. I saw Dad on the way back to the store so I asked Mother if I could ride back with him. I was refused. So it made me angry and I crawled under the front porch to pout, and in doing so fell asleep. The next thing I knew it was pitch dark and I heard many voices. All of Swede Town was out looking for me. I was not punished for my misbehavior. Mother was so happy to find me but Aunt Hazel said if I had been her son she would have whipped the tar out of me. Yes, my short life in Buxton had many memories - some good and some not so good.
As I mentioned before, Dad’s store was in Coopertown. That section was named after Mr. Cooper, who was black. He owned the building that Dad rented for the store. He owned several buildings and houses in that area. (The book about Buxton by Dorothy Schwieder relates all this.) Dad’s store burned down. In fact, most of the Coopertown business area burned. I do not remember when it happened, but I do know I was not very old.
I spent a lot of time in Buxton after we moved to Consol, staying with my grandparents. I attended the summer bible school until I was confirmed there. Confirmation was a sad part of my life, my brother Irving was also to have been in the class. As we were taking our confirmation test I could hear Mother sobbing quietly. He had passed away that summer (1922).
Uncle Hjalmer was quite a ball player. He played on the Buxton Wonders team. I think he played first base. I am not sure. Sunday was a very holy day to my grandparents and Uncle Hjalmer would come to our house to change from his regular clothes to his uniform.
After the store burned, Dad start a little grocery in the barn at our home. In the meantime, he was renting a building in Consol from Mike Falvey. Mr. Falvey ran the lumber yard. The family owned it. The building was moved to Lovilia after the mines shut down and is a beer tavern now (North End Tavern).
Most of the men in Consol worked in No. 18 coal mine, which was a mile or so south from Consol.
I remember when the store burned. Uncle Hjalmer playing baseball. Miners getting off the miner’s train at night when the days were short. They had their carbide lamps lit. It was quite a pretty picture. Church and Sunday school. Sitting on the corner embankment with others and listening to older boys tell their stories. Armstrong fresh meat wagon going by and us kids trying to talk them out of a wiener. Same with the ice wagon.
I remember our first car, a Ford Model T. It was used, I believe about a 1915 model. I do remember the fenders were straight - that is the top part of them.
Mom and dad both died in the early 1990’s. They are buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Charles City, Iowa.