Donate to farmhouse restoration from anywhere in the world!

Now everyone, no matter where in the world you are, is able to contribute to winning the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  By clicking the link below you will be taken to the Give to the Max  Andrew Peterson Farmstead giving page.  The Peterson Farm page has been designated to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  All funds donated will be applied to the restoration of Andrew farmhouse and will help us reach our goal of rehabilitating Andrew’s house, for visitors.


Andrew’s diary now available for purchase! First Peterson Farm fundraising event planned.

The Andrew Peterson diary is now available for purchase at the Carver County Historical Society.  The hard cover book is 750 pages and costs $42.  Due to the size of the book, the 92 page index was published separately and costs $6.  Member discounts apply.  We ship  anywhere in the US for $10.

The Chaska Herald and the Chanhassen Villager published a wonderful account about the translation of the the diaries.  You can read the article by clicking here:


Introducing the 1st fundraising event for the Peterson Farm.

The Possibilities of Preservation 

November 23rd  Charlson Meadows, Victoria

Doors open at 4:30pm

5:00pm-6:00pm Reception with light apps,

6:00 6:30pm Speaker Natalie Heneghan from Rethos: Places Reimagined

6:30pm – 7:00pm Questions and Answers to the hard questions

The program is designed to be fun, interactive and informative.  Natalie will be talking about all the different ways people can be involved in preservation – fixing up your old home, researching & sharing local history, visiting/supporting places like the Peterson Farm, etc.

Natalie Heneghan works for Rethos: Places Reimagined, a statewide nonprofit that connects people to historic places. As the Education Coordinator at Rethos, she creates classes and workshops that help people take care of the old buildings they love.

Cost is $40 per ticket with a maximum of 50 tickets sold.  Preregistration required.  All profits benefit the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant to benefit the Andrew Peterson Farmhouse rehabilitation.  Contact or call 952-442-4234 to order tickets.



Andrew Peterson’s translated diary at the printers!

May 21, 1850

“We passed through Skkagerrak finally, and saw a little of Farsund’s point in Norway–it was the last time we saw our old Scandinavia.” Andrew Peterson

It has taken two years, but we have finally completed translating and editing the Andrew Peterson’s diaries.  The diary is hardcover and 748 pages without the index.  The index is a separate  94 pages soft cover book. The size made publishing the index and the translation together, impossible.  The index will be available for free on our website, or you may purchase it separately for $6.

The translation was completed thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Fund.  The editing and publication costs were paid for by a grant from the Swedish Council of America. Thanks to the SCA grant, the cost for the first 30 books sold is offset, reducing the cost to $42.  After the 30 are sold, the cost will increase to $50.

To reserve a copy at the lower price, contact Heidi Gould at or call 952-442-4234.


To made a donation to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant for the Peterson farmhouse click this link. PayPal.Me/JeffrisChallenge


Tuck pointing the middle barn and house

It is with a continued great amount of appreciation that I thank the Sando Foundation for providing the funds for a new furnace in the Farmhouse and funds to complete tuck pointing on the house.  The choices of where to use the funds were based on the recommendations found in the Historic Structures Report, and the simple fact that the furnace died in December.

In this blog, I would like to show the work stone mason Patrick Sieben is doing at the farm, and  why we chose to use the funds donated in December, the way we did.

The photo below is part of the Chaska brick addition Andrew Peterson added onto the house.  In his diaries, he talks about the large Chaska brick kitchen addition and the two large pantries. The corner is located on the south west corner of the addition.  The brown you see on the right is part of the main house.

The bricks can be seen clearly falling away from the house.  The cause is a simple long time malfunctioning down spout.  It is amazing something so simple can cause such damage.  The previous owner, poured cement over the spot and used the same to try and replace the missing mortar.

The problem with this solution is that it is like placing a band-aid on a wound without fixing the source of the problem.  In fact, using cement made the problem even worse.  The cement compound is stronger than the simple mortar used in the 1870s.  This meant that as the cement moved with heating and cooling, it further damaged the mortar and moved more bricks out of their original location.

In the below and above photos note some stones that have pulled away from the foundation.  The width of the wood planks are 18 inches!


It will take a few more days to repair the foundation and replace the bricks, but I’ll be sure to post photos when it is complete.

The last photo is Patrick and his two journeymen sons working on the north wall.  Patrick will be doing some small repairs on the smoke house as well.

The Middle (1914) barn foundation has completed tuck pointing.  The photos from that process are not as dramatic. Patrick tells me that that foundation was in very bad shape as well.  So much mortar was gone, that in some places he could put his arm into the wall up to his elbow!  We are very happy to say that the wall has been repaired.  Thank you to Representative Nash for securing the funds to stabilize the middle barn!!!

The Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant process has started.  In the next week, you will see a donation button on our website marked as donating to the Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant.  Pledge forms will also be going out soon.  Please consider donating.  You can also contact me directly at  As you can see from the photos, we are making progress.

Wendy Petersen-Biorn

Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society


Ready, Set, GO!!!!! Let the fundraising begin.

Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead Receives

Jeffris Family Foundation Grant

    The Carver County Historical Society is honored to receive a three year challenge grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation to fund the rehabilitation of the Andrew Peterson Farmhouse in Waconia, MN.

In order to receive the $250,000 offered by the Foundation, the CCHS will need to raise $500,000 over the next three years.  The funds may be raised in various ways including cash, donations of building materials, or professional skills needed on site.  If we fall short of the required $500,000 needed to received the $250,000 match, we receive nothing. All donations must note that the donation is designated for the Jeffris Foundation match.

The Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, located at 8060 Highway 5, Waconia, MN, is open by appointment and for special events May through October. Andrew Peterson was known for his horticulture work with apple trees, the location of the first Swedish Baptist Church, and for his historically significant diaries which were used as a primary source for Wilhelm Moberg’s Emigrant book series.  The Jeffris Family Foundation was established in 1979 by Bruce and Eleanor Jeffris, and their son Tom. The Foundation assists the development of historic sites for non-profit organizations in small towns and cities in the eight states of the Midwest.

If you are interested in donating or would like more information contact Wendy Petersen Biorn at 952-442-4234 or

Stay tuned, for more information about exciting fundraising events, programs, easy ways to donate, and so much more!

Construction drawings, capital fundraising, a new furnace, and Springtime on the Farm

January 2, 1885

Today it is very cold—more than 40 below—so cold that the quicksilver (mercury) froze.  I wrote a letter to Drothzen in Aberdeen.  The boys did the chores and in the afternoon, Carl went to Waconia to get the mail.  I had a letter from Liljehook that he has sent the scions.

Andrew Peterson

It has been several months since I have written a blog.  It doesn’t seem that long, but the saying, “time flies” could easily be applied to this scenario.  No news doesn’t mean there isn’t anything is going on at the farm. Miller Dunwiddie has been working on completing construction drawings of the 1914 barn.  Hansen HomeTech has been working to install a new furnace in the house.  I have been busy planning for the capital fundraising campaign which will begin in June, and Heidi Gould has been planning for the Springtime on the Farm event.

Miller Dunwiddie has completed the building investigation and 90% of the construction drawings for the 1914 barn.  The drawings are now in SHPO’s hands and we await their recommendations before the documents are completed. After the construction document is completed, attention will turn to work on the foundation and stabilization. Future use for the barn will be as the interpretive/education/welcoming center for the farm.  Building a new interpretive center would not only be very costly, it would change the look of the farm, an aspect we are attempting to save.

The planning for the Capital fundraising has been going well. During the January board meeting, the CCHS board voted to set $500,000 as our goal.  If we raise the full amount, the Jeffris Family Foundation will contribute $250,000, giving us a total of $750,000.  The dollar amount was derived from amounts in the Historic Structures report, the feasibility study conducted last fall, and a  preliminary cost estimate from Hansen HomeTech.

Carver County Historical Society board member, JJ Norman, has been chairing the fundraising committee.  We are gratefully receiving help from some professionals and have hired Thomas Spargo to help with the on-line footprint and event planning.  The kick off will happen, in late June.  Until then, we are looking for verbal commitments from people and organizations.  Any funds received before the start date will not be matched, so it is important that funds be received no earlier than late June or early July.

We received a $20,000 donation designated for the farm in December, 2018.  After being notified that their gift could not be matched, the donor generously allowed us to keep the money for use on the house. Part of the funds will be used to install a new furnace.  The current one is no longer repairable due to rust from the water that had been in the basement over the years.  Knowing this was a problem, we installed a sump pump shortly after closing on the property.

Finally, save May 18th for Springtime on the Farm.  This all day event will be a repeat of the event we hosted last year, except we have put in an order for no rain.  You will hear more about the event as we get closer, but a couple of things are guarantees, baby animals, music, food and lots to do.

A final note:  The translation of the Peterson diaries are expected to be complete in February.  The translation will be available for free on our website, but if you would rather not print 700 pages, a published version will be available for purchase.

Stay warm

Wendy Petersen Biorn

The CCHS Representatives meet Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter

On September 18, Executive Director Wendy Petersen Biorn and CCHS board member JJ Norman had the pleasure of meeting the honorable Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the rehabilitation of the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead.

How It All Began

As part of the process of locating funds to rehabilitate the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, our board brainstormed ideas. One suggestion that repeatedly surfaced was contacting the Swedish Crown.  My answer to that was, “Sure, I’ll just pick up the phone and call the King and Queen of Sweden.  Does anyone have their direct line?”  Of course I was being sarcastic, but the task of trying to reach the Crown seemed, well let’s just say, royally insurmountable.

I have always been a person to “give it a try.”  Can’t hurt.  The question was really where do I start.  I first tracked down the Swedish Embassy, in Washington, D.C. From there, I made contact with the Ambassador’s representative.  We corresponded via email a number of times, with me trying to explain the importance of the Peterson Farmstead.

Several months ago, I received an email stating that the Ambassador would be coming to Minnesota and had requested a visit to the farm.  Long story short, her visit was cut by half a day, and we were part of that cut. We were however invited to an invitation only luncheon and the evening public reception.  The Swedish Consulate at the American Swedish Institute, Bruce Karstadt, contacted me and said he would help find time for us to talk one-on-one with the Ambassador.  I put the day on the calendar and forgot about it.

About this time, the Gammelgården Museum Director contacted me and wanted to bring a group of 10, including the Chamber of Commerce, to visit Waconia and the Peterson Farm. We had a nice conversation about the “Old Scandia” versus the “New Scandia”, both of us playfully claiming to be the “real” Scandia. Their purpose was make a connectiion for joint marketing.  I booked the visit, and forgot about it.  The day of the tour came, and I spent the day with them.  After they left, I went back to my desk to find a message from the ASI and the Ambassador’s office saying how sorry they were that I missed the luncheon.  Turns out, the event was moved by one day and I missed the change on my calendar.  Could I still make the public reception which was to occur in 3 hours?  The Ambassador would still really like to meet me. I hopped in the car, went home changed into a dress, and sped to the American Swedish Institute.  CCHS board member JJ Norman met me there.

On my left sat Mark Ritchie, former MN Secretary of State.  On my right, was the Chair of the Board for the American Swedish Institute. Both, received sales pitches from JJ and myself. The results of the meeting with the Ambassador and the others we met are still to be seen, but we had many good conversations about the farm.  What is to become of the conversation with the Ambassador is yet to be seen, but some excellent connections have been made.

One other very import task this summer was constructing of an 80 page business plan for the farm.  The CCHS board will be reviewing it over the next several months.  We hope to have it approved by December. The document will outline the strategic plan for Peterson Farmstead over the next 5, 10 and 15 years. It will be publicly available after it is approved.

Two days ago, we met with the Jeffris Foundation and they confirmed their interest in the farm.  Results from the feasibility study show we can support a fundraising effort of $500,000.  Jeffris has the funds to support a fundraiser on our end of $700,000 to $800,000, but we need to determine if we can raise the extra $200,000.  If we did, it would rehabilitate ALL the historic buildings on the farm, not just the house.  The advantage is that we would be done raising funds for the historic buildings.  If you know of any large donors who are able to contribute $200,000, please let me know.  We have until the end of the year to decide.

Another highlight was the request to speak at the Swedish Genealogical Society of Colorado next May, all expenses paid.  That is one offer I cannot turn down.

We have planted many seeds in the last several years. Seeds I hope will reap great rewards.

CCHS board member JJ Norman, the honorable Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, CCHS, Executive Director, Wendy Petersen Biorn Swedish ambassador 2

Work on the 1914 (big) barn begins

It has been a while since I have posted and I apologize for the lapse.  It has been busy, but a good busy.  To bring you up to speed, last year, Representative Nash helped get us an earmark from the State’s Legacy fund.  This means that we did not have to write a grant, but will receive funds for the Peterson project. The grant paperwork will still need to be completed, but it is not a competitive grant. The Minnesota Historical Society holds the funds until we use them.  In total $80,000 was earmarked from the State’s Legacy budget last year and this.  In total, $160,000.  The funds can be used for rehabilitation on any of the farm buildings.

We have a total of five buildings yet to be rehabilitated, the granary, the south barn, the house, the smoke house and the 1914 (big) barn. The Historic Structures Report, completed in December of 2017,  noted that the 1914 barn was outside of the Period of Significance for Andrew Peterson.  The barn is on the same site as an earlier barn and uses many of the timbers from that earlier barn, but was built 16 years after Peterson died.  Why this is so important is because future Legacy money cannot be used on the 1914 barn, but the money received through the earmark is.  After much discussion, the CCHS board decided that we wanted to save the 1914 barn and use it for an interpretive center and public use space. It came down to either tearing down the 1914 barn and building a new interpretive center or saving the building and using it for the center.  It was decided that saving it would allow us the best chance at preserving the atmosphere of the farm and was the best use of resources. Keep in mind, that the money we had from the earmark could be used on the 1914 barn, but future Legacy monies could not.  If we wanted to save the building this was the best chance we had at doing so.  By working on the 1914 barn now, we also will be able to use the building to create a revenue stream that will help rehabilitate the other buildings.

Because we had to get the permissions from SHPO, and complete the competitive bidding process, it has taken us a year to begin work on the building. But, we are finally starting work.  Miller Dunwiddie is the firm that will be doing the construction drawings and overseeing work by Hansen HomeTech and Patrick Sieben.  HomeTech will do the rehabilitation construction work and Patrick the stone masonry work.  Following the recommendations of the Historic Structures Report, the first step is to clean out the 1914 barn, south barn and granary, then spray for powder post beetles.

Power post beetles eat little holes into old wood, leaving the wood very weak and ultimately will cause the building to collapse. The do not harm wood cut today, for some reason.  All the buildings at the farm are affected. The spray works by coating the outer part of the wood and penetrates to a small degree into the wood.  When the beetle leaves the hole, it comes in contact with the spray and dies.

Tomorrow morning, I will be at the farm overseeing the moving of the carriages Ward left us, from the middle barn to the north barn.  Work will be done over the next two weeks to clean out the 1914 barn, south barn, and granary.  After that is done, they will spray all three buildings for powder post beetles.  Miller Dunwiddie will then begin work on construction investigation and drawings which are expected to be done early fall.  Once the drawings are reviewed and approved by SHPO, Hansen HomeTech and Patrick take over.  The process will stabilize the building for future reuse. Phase two for the 1914 barn will be the redesign as an interpretive center and public event space.


Two final things, Corvus North has been hired to help with the capitol fundraising.  Over the next 2 months we will be conducting a feasibility study which should tell us how much we can expect to raise. Some of you may get a letter asking for permission for an interview.  Please consider participating. The amount determined that we can raise, will be given to the Jeffris Foundation.  Right now, our focus of the capitol fundraising will be to raise money to rehabilitate the house, and hopefully the granary and south barn. The smoke house will be getting a new roof this summer, and once permission is received from SHPO will get new paint on the trim as well.

Second, with the help of St. John’s intern Dan Rhodes, we are putting together a business plan for the farm.  It is a massive document, but will be a road map for the next 10 years.  It will be done mid August.

We are moving forward, and with your help we will continue to do so.   Thank you everyone for your continued support and interest in the farm.


The Historic Structures Report is done!

It has been a while since I have written.  The last few months have been a flurry of finishing the Historic Structures Report (HSR), completing the end of the year documents and preparing for the Annual Report.

The HSR was to be completed by May, 2017. A month extension was given in order for archaeological report to be incorporated.  June came and went and the report was still not complete.  There were a number of issues, but the largest was caused by a stand off between MacDonald & Mack’s writer, Angela versus the CCHS board and staff. Angela was intent upon having the middle barn, built in 1914, torn down, or as she preferred to call it, “deconstructed”.  Our CCHS board was just as adamant about keeping it.

To understand Angela’s argument we must look at the original National Register nomination that states the farm is on the National Register due to Peterson’s horticultural research with apples.  Peterson died in 1898.  This puts the barn, built in 1914 outside the period of significance (PoS).

The large middle barn we learned was built on the foundation of an earlier barn started in 1873.  If you have been in the large barn, you will see that the west part of the foundation is cement block.  The east end is made of field stone. The rafters of the current building incorporate the rafters of the earlier barn.  Angela strongly encouraged us to deconstruct the barn that is standing and reconstruct the earlier building on the stone foundation. This option was discussed with the Jeffris Foundation.  They recommended that the option provided by Angela was not feasible.  They had seen people try it with disastrous results.

The other thing to consider was, with the 1914 barn outside the PoS it was not eligible to be on the National Register.  This fact was a possible positive and a possible negative.  Negatively, if it was not on the Register, the barn was not eligible for Legacy grant funding.  This would make finding funds to repair and restore it very difficult.

If we fought to put the building on the National Register using Elsa and the work she did to keep the farm running after Andrew died, we could use Legacy funds, but could not use the building in a modern way.

On the positive side, without the building on the Register we could do what we wanted with the building, i.e. not tear it down.  We could add heat, cooling, bathrooms and make it into an interpretive or event center.

In the end, the decision was easy when we learned that the funds received in 2017/18 from Legacy was available to use on the middle barn whether it was on the Register or not.  Future funding from Legacy would not.  Even better, we learned that not only were the funds we had enough to have the architectural/engineering drawings completed, AND the stone work on the ALL the building foundations completed, it was enough to make the middle barn usable for the public.

What is really nice about all this, is that once the 1914 barn is usable we can hold events there.  This will provide income for more construction work on the buildings.

If all of this sounds complex.  It is.  If you are interested in reading through the HSR, click on the link below, OR you can now find updated reports in the top center block of our website.





American Swedish Institute Presentation

I cannot believe it has been just over 3 months since my last post.  Life does get busy.  This Wednesday, I will be presenting about my trip to Sweden at the American Swedish Institute.  This will include the full trip and not just what i have been able to post on this blog, which I still plan to complete.  Here are the details:

“Wendy Petersen Biorn, will be the speaker for this month’s” Wednesday Wanderings–Afternoons at ASI”, this Wednesday, Nov 8th, 1–2pm.  Her presentation will primarily be about her trip to Sweden this past summer, to learn about cultural and architectural aspects of life in Sweden during the period prior to immigration by many to America.  What she learned ties in with present-day activities involving the preservation of the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, on Highway 5 in Waconia.  Wendy is the Executive Dir, Carver County Historical Society.  This program is free for ASI members, and included in museum admission for non-members.”

The American Swedish Institute is located at  2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

 For those who would like to just chat with me,  I plan to have lunch in their fabulous cafeteria at 11:30.  I would love to meet you.
The CCHS Peterson tourism book has been reprinted.  Copies of it and “The Unknown Swede” will be available Wednesday.
Hope you see you soon,