Henry Peterson WWI Diary Preview

My grandfather Henry Peterson was born 1894 in Wisconsin, the first of his family born in the United States. The family arrived at the newly opened Ellis Island in March of 1892 and made their way west to family already living in Wisconsin. Henry was born in Belmont township, Portage County, but the family soon moved to Waushara County where he lived the remainder of his life. By 1917 Henry had married my grandmother Esther Serena Hansen. In August of 1918 he left to go into the Army, just a few days before the birth of their first child Clarence. Many years ago I received his diary and the letters he had written during his time in the service. He didn’t go to France until after the Armistice but as an ambulance driver and mechanic there were still massive numbers of injured soldiers to transport. He trained at Sweeney Auto School in Kansas City. In 1993 I went to Omaha but spent a weekend in Kansas City at what was then called the Hyatt Regency Crown Center. I didn’t know that if I looked out a window down the hill just a block or so to the west I would have seen the Sweeney Building, still there.

Looking up the hill from the Sweeney Building today.

So the eventual plan will be to put all Henry’s diary and letters online. Unfortunately my grandmother’s letters to Henry do not appear to have survived.


Dec.6st 1918

Pvt. Henry Petersen

S. S. U. 612 Convois Automobile

Par. B. C. M.


Home address

Pine River Waus. Co Wis.

Left home Aug. 13th in the evening stayed at Wautoma that nite left in the morning of the 14th for Kansas City Mo. Sweeney Auto school stopped in Milwaukee about (?) hours and I was up town Came to Kansas City Aug. 15th thursday at noon stayed at the Overland Bldg that nite and the next 2 days Then I was sent over to the Sweeney Bldg was put in co. 8 with rooms on 9th floor awful unhealthy climate in Mo. had a cold all the time I was here we have a fine place to stay the rooms are partissioned off and 8 men in a room and on each floor is a shower Bath room I take a bath almost every nite hot and cold water (?) the ground floor there is a Drug store and resturant there is an elevator but only sargents and offeicers are allowed to ride on it We have passes every sat. and sun. So we get a chance to see quite a lot of the city I was out to the stock yards for one whole day and didn’t see it all then I left Kansas City Oct 17th got to Camp Crane 23d oclock in the morning here we got our over seas cloths we got good eats at this camp and had moving pictures every nite got some letters from home here I left here the 30th Oct arrived at Camp Merrett in the evening stayed at Merrett just a while and I read mail from home two times which was all forewarded from Camp Crane we left Camp Merrett the 11th on Nov int the morning all the bells and whistels were blowing in New York and we guessed rite away that the germans had signed the Peace terms well we Marched about 2 miles to the Ferry Boat landing and went accross the Hudson river over to Hoboken at Hoboken we got on board the Cedric a British ship and on the 13th of oct we sailed I saw all the principal skyscrapers on N.Y. as we sailed down the Hudson.

(in the margin):Had the flue 1 week

New York skyline as Henry would have seen it.
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