Written in February 2003 by Joan Peterson Secchia.
Joan Secchia was born Joan Margaret Peterson in Saginaw, Michigan. She grew up and went to school in Midland, Michigan, where her father worked for The Dow Chemical Company.
The Peterson family can be traced back on the paternal side to ancestors in Sweden. The furthest back takes us to North Branas, Sweden, where in 1759 Per Olofsson was born. He married Sigrid Larsdotter, who was born in Uggenas, Sweden in 1770. They had eight children, including a set of twins. It is likely that they were farmers.
According to an ancestor's chart, Per and Sigrid had a son named Per Persson, who became the father of Olaf Persson. Olaf married Christine Esberg, and immigrated to the USA along with her parents. Olaf Persson changed his name to the English version, Olaf Peterson. The Esbergs and Perssons—now known as "the Petersons" became our first ancestors to live in the United States, in 1868. They homesteaded in Minnesota and founded the Our Savior Lutheran Church in Soderville.
Olaf and Christine had a large family of eleven children, one of whom was Charles, the first Peterson to be born in the US, in 1876. He married another Peterson (not a relative), Amy, and they moved to Leal, ND where, after learning that farming was not his calling, Charles took ownership of the general store.
Charles and Amy had four sons — the youngest was Norman, the father of Joan Peterson Secchia. Norman married Julia Lucy Emerson, of Dazey, ND. After graduating from ND Agricultural College with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Norman was recruited by Dow Chemical Co. He and Julia moved to Midland, MI where they lived for the rest of their lives. They had three children, two sons and one daughter, Joan.