Putnam County


Peterson P. Dahl, an apiarist of Granville, now devoting his entire attention to bee culture and the production of honey, has become well known in connection with this industry and his opinions throughout this part of the state are largely regarded as authority upon the business which claims his energies and attention. Mr. Dahl is a native of Denmark, having been born in Bornholm, August 5, 1838. His father, Hans P. Dahl, likewise born in that country, was a ship carpenter by trade and died of typhoid fever at the age of forty-five years, when his son Peterson was but two and a half years old. The mother, Mrs. Bertha Dahl, lived to be seventy years of age and died in Denmark, her native country. After losing her first husband she married again.

Peterson P. Dahl acquired his education in the schools of Denmark and was confirmed in the Lutheran church at the age of fifteen years. His school life was considered ended at that time and he was bound out for a term of five years to learn the shoemaker's trade. On the completion of his apprenticeship he worked at that vocation as a journeyman until 1861, when his attention was called to the new world and the opportunities offered in this country. A fellow countryman, who had been in Granville, Putnam county, Illinois, -was at that time making a visit to his old home in Denmark and gave such glowing descriptions of the new world and the possibilities here offered that a party of young people decided to come to America. Accordingly they sailed from Hamburg on a westward bound steamer and after fourteen days landed at Castle Garden, New York, whence they proceeded westward to Granville. Mr. Dahl at once sought and secured work at his trade of shoemaking and was thus employed until 1878, save for the period of his military service.

On the llth of August, 1862, in response to his country's need, Mr. Dahl joined the army as a private in Company B, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served with that command for seven months, going as far south as Nashville, Tennessee, and at Hartsville he was taken prisoner. Owing to the rigors and hardships of war he was ill much of the time and was discharged for disability at Camp Douglas, but in the meantime he had manifested his loyalty to his adopted land and given substantial proof that he desired the perpetuation of the Union.

In 1868 Mr. Dahl was married to Miss Mary Blake, who was born in Putnam county and is a daughter of John P. and Zilpah (Atwood) Blake, both of whom are now deceased. The father, a native of Massachusetts, came to Putnam county in 1831 when the evidences of civilization here consisted of but a few scattered huts and little clearings, the greater part of the land being still in its primitive condition. He was a surveyor and followed that profession for some years. In community affairs he took an active and helpful interest, served as a trustee of the school lands of Putnam county and acted as a trustee of the Granville school funds from 1833 until 1877. In the former year he was also commissioned judge of the probate court, being the second judge the county ever had, and in 1836 he was appointed deputy surveyor, acting either as deputy or as surveyor for over thirty years. His official career is blameless, as it was characterized by the most conscientious purpose and unfaltering fidelity to the trust reposed in him. He was prominent in church and school work for many years and was actively connected with the Sabbath-school throughout his entire life. Thus his influence was a potent force in the material, political, intellectual and moral progress of his community and his name is honored in Putnam county, where for many years he made his home. His memory compassed the period of early pioneer development and of modern progress as well, for a good old age was accorded him. He passed away in Union Grove. His first wife, Zilpah Atwood, was born in Massachusetts and died in 1845, leaving a family of seven children. His second wife was Mary Smith, who was born in Pennsylvania and is now deceased. She left a family of five children.

Following his return from the war and after his marriage Mr. Dahl continued to work at the shoemaker's trade until 1877, when he traded his store building for the place where he now lives. He has two and a half acres in the western part of the village of Granville, whereon is a comfortable residence. He also has a large garden, good orchard and numerous shade trees and the place in its well-kept appearance is most attractive. For thirty-five years he has been engaged in bee culture and at present has about one hundred and forty-five swarms, although at different times he has had as high as three hundred hives. One year three hundred hives produced seven thousand pounds of honey. His broad experience and his study of the methods of the bees, combined with care in housing them, makes him authority upon the subject. He is thoroughly posted in every detail of the business, including the making of the comb foundation, a process which requires special machinery and also the separating of the honey, which is done by an interesting piece of mechanism and requires much care and skill. When the honey is extracted from the comb it is placed in pint cans and put upon the market and nothing excels the pure strained honey which bears the stamp of Peter Dahl, apiarist, Granville, Illinois. It is to this work that Mr. Dahl is now giving his time and attention and he derives therefrom a good income.

Unto our subject and his wife have been born three children: Nettie T., now the wife of Charles Conklin, resides near Kempton, Illinois. She is a graduate of the state normal school and for ten years engaged in teaching in Putnam county, at one time being principal of the schools of Granville. She now has three children. Lorena, the second member of the Dahl family, is acting as housekeeper for her brother, Percy E., in Missouri. She pursued a two and a half years' course in the state normal school of Illinois and she, too, has taught school in Putnam county. The only son, Percy E. Dahl, went to Missouri in the spring of 1905 and there purchased and is improving a farm of ninety-nine acres.

Since 1861 Mr. Dahl has been a member of the Baptist church but during the past few years has attended the Congregational church, of which his wife is a member. He is a strictly temperate man and his views upon this question are indicated through the stalwart support which he gives to the Prohibition Party. He has served as a member of the village board for a number of years and community interests find in him a stalwart champion, who does all in his power to promote reform, progress and improvement. He belongs to Hennepin post, G. A. E., and since becoming a naturalized American citizen has manifested a loyalty to this country and her institutions unsurpassed by her native-born sons.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 467.

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