Obituary: Henry Peterson

Henry was born in Lom, Norway in September 1843.  Although his parents are unknown and little in known about his childhood, records do indicate that he had two siblings Lewis/Louis (b. Oct. 1846) and Regina (b.1835).  He immigrated to the United States in 1857 and settled in Chicago with his brother and sister.  Some records claim that his mother joined her children to Chicago but an 1860 census for the family could not be found to verify this information.

Henry served in the Civil War from July 1862 – April 1863. In 1866, he married Mary Thompson in Chicago. She was born in November 1846 in Chicago to John Thompson and Bertha Kettleson.  Henry and his wife Mary shared a household in 1870 with Henry’s brother Lewis. Henry and Lewis were both photographers.

Henry’s sister Regina married Ole Schillestad in Chicago and moved to Seattle in 1875. It is unknown the exact date but Henry, Mary, and Lewis soon followed Regina to Seattle. The first evidence comes in the 1879 Washington census that shows Henry, Mary, and Lewis living in Seattle. Records from the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle indicate the brothers opened one of the first photography galleries in Puget Sound.  Here is an example of work done by the brothers.

Seattle. View of Front Street.

Mary’s sister Teenie passed away in August 1884 in Chicago. Teenie’s husband George passed away only a month later. Death records for the couple hint that both died after fighting tuberculosis for about a year.  The couple left behind two small children: Lucy May (b. 1876) and George H. (b.1881).  Guardianship was granted to Mary and the two children moved to Seattle in 1885.  The Washington State 1885 census taken in April show the two children living with Henry and Mary.

By 1900, Henry is listed in the census as a landlord. Reports indicate that he gave up the photography business following the great Seattle fire of 1889. Although, he is still listed as a photographer in the 1891 Seattle City Directory and the 1892 Washington State census. Living with him in 1900 are his wife Mary, two adopted children Lucy May and George H, brother Lewis, mother-in-law Bertha Thompson, and boarder Margaret Beatty.  None of the individuals living in the house are depicted as paying rent.  Henry’s brother Lewis is still  listed as a photographer.

Henry and his wife Mary moved to a farm in Maltby, Washington by 1910 as reported by the Federal Census.  For the first time, Lewis is not living with the couple but is found living as a boarder in Seattle. After Henry fell ill in summer of 1910, the couple moved back to Seattle. Five months later on January 1, 1911 Henry passed away at the home of his adopted daughter Lucy May Schillestad.


1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 U.S. Federal Census (Ancestry and HertiageQuest)
1879, 1885, 1887, 1892 Washington State Census (Ancestry and Washington Digital Archives)
Seattle Times January 2, 1911
Washington Death Records (Washington Digital Archvies)
The Schillestad Family (HistoryLink)
Cook County Death Records (FamilySearch)
U.S. Civil War Soldiers (Ancestry)


One thought on “Obituary: Henry Peterson

  1. Nice. The photo is a wonderful addition. I like the ghost images on the sidewalk. Hard to imagine it ever looked like that.

    I continue to be impressed with your talents and abilities.

    Best regards,


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