P. O. Peterson

P. O. PETERSON, president of the Peterson Business College, one of the leading educational institutions of the borough of Scottdale, of which he was also the founder is a young man of more than usual business capacity, full of energy, vigor and vim. He was born in the vicinity of Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. May 24. 1876.

His great-grandfather on the paternal side came from Germany during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and settled in New York state. Elias Peterson (grandfather), son of the founder of the family, was born and reared in New York state, and when a young man came to Pennsylvania and settled near Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland county, where he purchased a farm which he cultivated and operated during the remainder of his lifetime. He was one of the successful and representative farmers of his day and community, and wielded an influence for good in his neighborhood. He was a devout Christian man, and an elder in the Presbyterian church. He was twice married. His first wife, whose maiden name was Margaret McCall, bore him eight children, all now deceased, but who attained years of maturity, namely: Thomas, Elias, Henry, James, Abner, John, Hannah, and Margaret. The sons went west and became prosperous and prominent men, James having been a jurist in Kansas, Abner a jurist in Illinois, and Henry a state senator from Iowa. His second wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth McChesney, bore him five children: Jennie, who died at the age of twenty-one years; Harriet, who died in young womanhood; Sarah, wife of George Geiger, residing on the old Peterson homestead near Pleasant Unity; Aaron, a shoe dealer of Mount Pleasant; and Noah G., mentioned hereafter. Elias Peterson (grandfather) died in 1855, aged sixty-seven years.

Noah G. Peterson (father), son of Elias and Elizabeth (McChesney) Peterson, was born on the old homestead, reared to farm life, educated in the public schools and academies, and received a business training in the Vermilian Institute. During the time of securing his education he was also engaged in teaching, beginning the latter vocation when a lad of but sixteen. He taught and attended school for some ten years thereafter, since which time he has followed various callings, principally, however, that of farming and bookkeeping, and in 1903 he associated himself with his son in the conduct of the Peterson Business College at Scottdale, he taking charge of the commercial department, bookkeeping, etc. He is a member of the Reformed church. He was married November 27, 1873, to Rachel Smith, daughter of Henry and Lavina (Fiscus) Smith. and three children were the issue: A child who died in infancy; P. O., mentioned hereafter; and Elizabeth, who was educated at California State Normal and Pennsylvania Business College, and is now (1905) principal of the shorthand department in the Peterson Business College of Scottdale.

P. O. Peterson was reared on a farm and received his primary education in the public schools of the neighborhood. This was supplemented by a course at the California State Normal school at California, Pennsylvania, graduating in the class of 1900; the Bliss Commercial College, from which he was graduated; the Zanerian Art College, of Columbus, Ohio. He had, however, taught public school for five years in Westmoreland county prior to attending the State Normal. In 1902 he began work as a teacher in a business college at McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and in the fall of 1903 established the Peterson Business College at Scottdale, and although there are two old established institutions within a radius of some fourteen miles, the school has prospered and the first class graduated in June, 1904, comprising forty-five finished pupils, which is an evidence of the vim with which the school was inaugurated and started on its way. The school gives a complete and thorough business training in all its various branches, but they make a specialty of penmanship, bookkeeping, shorthand and typewriting, but at the same time all the other branches relating to a business education receive careful consideration. The attendance the second year doubled the first, and this is ample proof of the popularity of the institution and its excellent corps of instructors.

Mr. Peterson married, October 10, 1901, Evalyn Johnson, daughter of W. L. and Catherine (Hysong) Johnson, of Lycippus, Westmoreland county, and two children are the issue: Esther and William. The family are members of the Reformed church, in which body Mr. Peterson is deacon and superintendent of the Sabbath school connected therewith.

Source: Page(s) 163-165, History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed May 2007 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)

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