• Consol, Haydock & Buxton Iowa, USA • 1871 - 2014

"In Dad's Own Words"

Growing up in Monroe Counties Coal Mining Camps

by Gordon R. Peterson

Ray Peterson with Corvette on the old railroad Bed looking north from Buxton, IA
My Dad, Ray Peterson, standing on the railroad bed looking north from
 near where the county line road and current 102 Lane intersects. 
Since railroad beds were made from the waste generated 
during the coal mining operation, many of the railroad beds are still in 
evident though out the coal mining fields. The waste is very poor for growing 
anything. Coopertown was located to the right in the photo and 
Gainestown to the left. Rueben Gaines originally owned the land that was 
Coopertown before selling the land To B.F. Cooper.

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.

Grandma and Grandpa Peterson Visiting Ivans LaJolla, California Home
After the end of WWII, Grandpa and Grandma Peterson
 visited son Ivan and his wife Ruth in LaJolla, Calif. 
Ivan and Ruth had two homes in LaJolla not far from the ocean. 
After Ruth died in 1947, Ivan moved to Baker Street in San Diego.

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.

1948 Peterson Family Photo
The Photograph. David and Emma (Nylander) Peterson
with eight of their children in a 1948 photograph taken 
in the front yard of the former Bloom house in  Buxton’s 
East Swede Town. L/R Roy, Elizabeth, Naomi, Ray, 
Father David, Bernie, Mother Emma,Wilma and Linnea.
Ivan is kneeling. Son Irving
 and Daughter Ruth Pauline were deceased.

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.

Gravestone of Dave and Emma Peterson children, Irving and Ruth Pauline
Gravestone of Dave and Emma Peterson children, 
Irving and Ruth Pauline. They died within a month of
 each other in 1922. Irving died at 14 years of age, 
Ruth Pauline at one month. Irving had blood poisoning
 from stepping on a nail and Ruth Pauline from difficulties 
at birth. The gravestone is in the Oak View Cemetery in 
Albia, Iowa

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.

1920's Consol, Iowa looking west with buildings identified.
1920's Consol, Iowa looking west with buildings identified.

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.

East Swedetown Boys
This 1908 photo in East Swede Town is looking east with the  Ebenezer Lutheran 
Church and the East Swede Town School in the background. From the left, 
James L. Chalmers. Fred Paris,Clyde and Bobbi Haning. The home of 
John Q. Anderson is on the right. John Jacobs from Rose Hill and a coal
 mining historian commented that this is the only  picture he has 
seen of the school.

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.

Reynold and Irving School photo 1915 East Swedetown Buxton Iowa.
Reynold and Irving School photo 1915 East Swedetown Buxton Iowa.
My dad Ray is in the second row second from left.
Dads older brother Irving is front row fifth from right.

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.

J.E. Larson general store in Buxton's East Swede Town
J.E. Larson general store in Buxton's East Swede Town. Southeast intersection 
of 650th Ave (K road) and 340th St. (Monroe/Mahaska County line  road). 
My Grandfather David Peterson worked in the store after a mining 
accident crippled him and prior to opening his own store with Albert 
Hagglund in Coopertown. Circa 1910

        The snow lies so deep in the North
        and the land slumbers in the winter freeze

Henry Nylander and a young Irving Peterson
Henry Nylander and a young Irving Peterson
Pictured. Henry was uncle Hjalmers brother.
Irving was the son of Uncle Hjlamer Nylanders
sister Emma Peterson. Irving died from blood
poisoning after stepping on a nail at Aunt
Hazel and Uncle Hjalmers farm in Eveland.
Uncle Henry was a cook in the army during WWI.
He later owned retaurants with John Watson
in Albia and Chariton Iowa.

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.

Whites Creek Crossing West Under Melrose Road
Whites Creek crossing west under Melrose Road just
south of the railroad bed crossing. Mine 20 was located further
to the west and north of the creek. The railroad followed
Whites Creek for the most part in the Consol coal fields from
Consol to Haydock/Bucknell.

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.

Buxton East Swede Town home of Adolph and Anna Nylander
The Buxton East Swede Town home of Adolph and Anna Nylander with  grandson’s 
Reynold (my Dad) and Irving. This was grandma’s home when she was younger.
Dad and father David in front of their home in East Swede Town
Dad and father David in front of their home in East Swede 
Town. The house faced North on the south side of the 
County Line Road in  Monroe County. 1912 Photo

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.

My Dad's Ebenezer Lutheran Church Bible
My Dad's Ebenezer Lutheran Church Bible
1922 Confirmation Class Photo
Reynold Peterson my Dad is in the Top Row 4th from right. 
Most likely a confirmation picture from Ebenezer 
Lutheran Church in Buxton's East Swedetown early 1920's. 
Dads older brother Irving was to have been in confirmation 
class but dies in 1922 so picture might have been in 1922 
shortly after his death. J.E. possibly the instructor.

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.

Peterson Hagglund Store Coopertown 1910
Coopertown Iowa - 1910 looking east up the Mahaska/Monroe county line,
rail road tracks running across front of photo. B.F. Cooper's Drug store and
Peterson/Hagglund grocery store - second building on the left. The third
building included the Granberry Tailor Shop and the Jim Roberts cigar store.
The fourth building was John Wrights club room. The first building is the
Rising Sun Restaurant that was later replaced by the Buxton Hotel owned by
Reuben Gaines. The John Wright Club room was a drinking and gambling room
 above the Cooper Pharmacy.

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.

Then and Now Peterson Store in Consol, IA 1918
The Consol Post Office was located in my grandfather 
Dave Peterson’s store. He was the Consol Post Master
 from 1917 to 1922. Dave Peterson is on the right in the 
photo and his father in law Adolph Nylander in the middle. 

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.

Ray Peterson on Elm St in Consol, IA
My Dad, Ray Peterson, is looking at a miner's home at the entrance of Elm 
Street from the H32 road in Consol, Iowa.

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).

Bloom House in Buxton's East Swede Town
Bloom House in Buxton's East Swede Town looking southwest.

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).

1986 trip to Sweden with Betty and Roy Peterson and <br>
        my parents, Iva and Ray Peterson
1986 trip to Sweden with Betty and Roy Peterson and 
my parents, Iva and Ray Peterson.
Minors Carbide Lamp
Dad and Aunt Hazel both spoke of how beautiful the
Carbide lamps glowed at night.

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.