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Benton County, Iowa ~ Biography and Family Information

Mary Louise (Peterman) Kuester

The Life story of Mary Louise (Peterman) Kuester
by Mary L. Kuester

I, Mary Louise (Peterman) Kuester was born November 17th, 1899, about 3
miles North of Luzerne in Benton County, Iowa on a farm. My parents
were Henry Cort Peterman and Martha Maria (Rosburg) Peterman. I am the
4th oldest child of theirs. A baby girl died at birth (Emma Wilhemina).
I had 2 brothers, Edward and Eldo, both older than me. I have one
sister, Martha, 10 years younger than me. I was baptized Christmas Eve
(Dec. 24, 1899) at my grandparents home (Grandma Maria and Grandpa
Wilhelm Rosburg) in Luzerne, by Rev. Philip Studt. My sponsors were
George Peterman and Amanda (Rosburg) Kouba. When I was about 4 years
old my parents moved to a farm a short distance East of Luzerne, so my
first year of school I attended at the Lutheran school in Luzerne. At
that time all of the studies were in the German language, but I could
understand it as my parents spoke quite a bit of German with us
children. I just went one term to the Lutheran school at Luzerne. My
parents were just renters, so this farm was sold so we had to move in
the Spring. Then we moved to a farm 2 miles North, and about 1 mile
West of Luzerne. This farm belonged to my great uncle, John Peterman.
Then I attended a public school for several years, until in 1914-1915 I
went back to the Lutheran school at Luzerne. During the spring and Fall
months I walked with some of the neighbor children. Sometimes we got a
ride. I had to leave home around 7 o'clock in the morning, but in the
Winter months I stayed at my Aunt Mamie and Uncle Martin Studts in

I was confirmed by the Rev. Gottlieb Schroeder March 28, 1915. There
were eleven students in my class, 8 girls and 3 boys. I never attended
high school. In those days it was mostly children from wealthy families
that attended high school, and if there wasn't a high school in the
town where you lived, or if you lived in the country, you didn't have a
way to get there and back home. I stayed at home and helped by Mother
with the house work and other chores. She taught me how to cook, bake,
can vegetables and fruit and make jelly and jam. Also I helped with the
washing and ironing. Them days we didn't have electricity, no modern
appliances. My Mother also taught me how to sew. She was a good
seamstress. Now and then I would get a job helping one of the neighbors
for a week or two. I usually was paid $5 a week salary. In those days,
that was a fairly good amount.

Them days were horse and buggy days, so we couldn't go too far, so we
couldn't go visiting relatives very often, about 2 or 3 times a year my
folks and family drove to Belle Plaine, Iowa. But it was just to buy
clothing of things we couldn't buy in the stores in Luzerne.

The young folks them days had lawn parties where they played games and
in the Winter we had parties in the house, played games and sometimes
we danced. Some fellow would play the accordion or some times even a
mouth organ. But we had lots of fun just the same. Our young folk gang
consisted mostly of girls and boys from our church congregation. We
also had a young peoples society group that met once a month.

My parents always farmed, they never owned a farm, always rented. In
March 1, 1917, they decided to quit farming, so they moved to Luzerne,
where they had bought a 7 acre acreage, several years before. My Mother
didn't get to live there very long. She died on November 17, 1917 of
pneumonia. She died on my 18th birthday. That was a very sad shock for
us all, especially, for my sister Martha. She was only 7 years old. So
the task was up to me to take care of her and take care of the house
hold duties.

So in the Spring of 1918, when the World War I ended, and young men
were receiving their discharges from the Army, a young man by the name
of Albert Kuester received his discharge in Illinois. He visited 2 of
his sisters who lived there. Then he came here to Luzerne, as he had a
sister living here too. A niece of his and I were big friends, so
that's how I got acquainted with him. After he got back to Wheaton,
Minnesota, where he lived, we wrote letters back and forth to each
other. During Christmas holidays in 1919 Albert came here to Luzerne,
and we became engaged to be married.

In June 24, 1920 Albert's sister, Amelia, passed away, so I went with
his sister, Emma Koenig, who lived here in Luzerne, to Amelia's funeral
in Wheaton, Minnesota.

We were married November 6, 1920 at St Paul's Lutheran Church here at
Luzerne at 7 P.M. by the Rev. Gottlieb Schroeder. My brother, Eldo
Peterman and Albert's niece Hulda Koenig were our witnesses. We didn't
have a large wedding reception. Just my family and his sister and
family. We had a dinner at my Father's house here in Luzerne. I baked
my own wedding cake and prepared the meal before the wedding. My sister
in law helped some. She and his sister served the meal. We all sat down
together and ate. Quite a number of friends and relatives were at the
church to see us get married. I had three bridal showers given for me.
We didn't go on a honeymoon, but left for Wheaton, Minnesota In a few
days. Albert helped farm with his Father there.

Wheaton was a long way from Luzerne. We rode on a train two days and 2
nights. Wheaton is near the North Dakota border. We lived in Minnesota
about three years, then we came back to Iowa. The weather was so dry,
hardly no rain, so the crops didn't yield much. When weeds wither and
dry up, it's dry. Albert didn't care too much about farming anyway. I
didn't like it there either.

Albert got a job on the railroad here when we came back. He worked
there 20 years until his sudden death at work. He had a heart attack.
Lucille and Eldo were both born at Wheaton, Minnesota. Ardath was born
at Belle Plaine, Iowa. The rest were all born here at Luzerne.

I worked hard raising my family. There was cooking, baking, washing,
ironing, sewing, mending, cleaning and canning to do. I canned from 200
to 300 quarts of fruit, vegetables, pickles, jams and jellies each
Summer. Also some meat. We always planted a large garden. I don't know
what we would have done if I hadn't canned a lot of things. Albert and
I always planted a big garden every Spring, and that took lots of work
keeping the weeds out. But we both loved all of our children that God
had given us, so we knew it was our duty to provide and care for them.

I will admit that there were some things I would have liked to have had
and I am sure that there were things that Albert would have like to
have had too. But we both knew we couldn't afford them. We didn't
believe in buying things on time. If we didn't have the money, we
didn't buy anything. We always had plenty of food to eat, also clothes
and shoes to wear. There never was much sickness in our family.

There were troublesome and hard times, especially during the
depression. After my Father's death in 1935, we bought the acreage from
my sister and brother. In 1951 we sold the acreage to Lester Crimm, and
bought this house from Don Shedenhelms. We moved here in the Spring. I
believe this house is almost as old as I am. My great uncle John
Peterman had it built.

On Sept. 15, 1950 we received some sad news that our son, Marlyn had
been killed at Inchon, Korea. His body was shipped back here in May
1951. He was buried here with military services.

On August 18, 1952 we had some more sad news, our grandson, John Albert
Kimm died of leukemia.

I received another sad shock on May 8, 1953 when Albert died real
sudden of a heart attack at work. It took me some time that I realized
that he was really gone. I put my faith and trust in God, and he helped
me to carry on. Gerrold, Dale, Lois and Ardath were still at home, so I
had them to care for, so I didn't have to live alone. I have often
wished that Albert was still here, so we could spend our old age years
together. But I know that it was God's will to take him out of this
troublesome world. We all have to die sometime.

In the forepart of August 1958 Ardath and I made a vacation trip to
California. At that time Eldo and family lived in Paramount, which is
near Los Angeles. We rode on a train for 2 nights and one day. It was a
long and tiresome journey. Seeing the mountains and different parts of
the country was interesting. While we were there, we went to the Pike,
which is by the ocean. We also went to Marineland, and Knots-Berry
farm. We went to Disneyland one morning and got rained out. We had to
come home. Went back there the next day. They say it hardly ever rains
in California in the Summer, but It sure poured down that day. We all
got wet. One evening we drove to Hollywood. Saw the foot prints of many
movie stars in the cement in front of the Grauman's Chinese theatre.
Eldo, Jean, Pat, Judy and Dale all showed us a good time. We spent
about 2 weeks there. But it was good to get back home again.

On May 2, 1967 we received the sad news that Eldo had passed away of a
congestive heart failure. Willis, Jean, Lois and I flew out there to
attend his funeral. It was the first time that either of us had ridden
on an airplane. I liked it real well, but wished It had been for a
happier occasion. We spent several days in California. One day we went
to the Farmer's Market. They sell all kinds of fruit and vegetables and
other things there. Then another day we went to the Anheuser Busch
brewery. Saw how they brew beer. Willis, Lois, Pat and Judy all went to
Disney land one day. Jean and I stayed at home, we didn't care to go.

Willis passed away quite sudden of a heart attack July 17, 1977. So now
they are gone, but I have many happy memories of them all, and we all
have to live on until our Heavenly Father calls us to be with Him in

On November 17, 1979 I reached the age of 80 years. On Sunday, November
18th, my family had a birthday party for me at the Community Center at
Belle Plaine, Iowa. At Noon, we had a pot luck dinner with around 45
relatives attending. In the afternoon we held an open house for friends
and relatives to attend. Many of my friends came. It was good to see
them all. I received many nice gifts, including some 82 birthday cards.
It was a very enjoyable day me. I will never forget it.

I believe I have covered most of the highlights of my life. Most of my
life I have had good health, which I am real thankful for. I have many
pleasant memories of my past life. Also some sad ones.

Albert W. Kuester was a World War I veteran.  He was In the Army. 
Eldo H. Kuester was a World War II veteran.  He was in the Navy. 
Willis A. Kuester was a World War II veteran.  He was in the Navy. 
Marlyn E. Kuester was a Korean War veteran.  He was in the Marines. 
Lyle B. Hoyt was a World War II veteran.  He was in the Army.

Submitted by Arlene Shogren January,  2006

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