17 September 2015

Poulsbo AYPE Viking #2: Peter Iverson

Peter Iverson, Mayor of Poulsbo, Washington, was part of the "Viking" contingent to represent his community in the Norway Day parade at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. See the explanatory blog entry for this series: Poulsbo Vikings at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909.

Peter Iverson dressed as a
5th Century Viking
Beneath the bear skin and tough Viking demeanor displayed in Iverson's 1909 photograph (left), lay the heart and soul of a journalist and politician.  Poulsbo Viking #2 was a newspaperman for many years.  He also served as mayor, and as a senator representing the counties of Island, Kitsap, and Mason.

Peter Iverson was born on February 25, 1861 in Odda, Hardanger, Norway, and became a naturalization citizen of the United States.  After immigrating, he lived in Minnesota and Illinois before settling in Iowa, where he was a student at Humbodlt Academy and Cornell College.  It was there he published the Bode Bugle with his wife, Josephine.  In 1896, he visited Poulsbo, Washington on the west coast and was impressed by Dogfish Creek, a salmon bearing stream.  He returned to Iowa and convinced Josephine to move to the beautiful, Nordic-like Puget Sound area.  The couple packed up their two daughters, Julia and Eleanor, and three sons, Edward, Christie, and Henry, and arrived in Poulsbo, Washington in 1900.

Once in Poulsbo, the couple re-established their Iowa newspaper as the Kitsap County Herald, which began printing on February 1, 1901.  The paper was not able to support the family at  first, so Iverson, who worked as publisher and editor, also became an independent steam boat operator, using the Josephine L to work at log towing and other lumber enterprises to bring in extra income.  While Iverson was away from home on business--whether maritime or newspaper-related, or other pursuits--his family was required to get the paper out on a weekly basis.  Josephine served as a journalist and drew from her newspaper experience back in Iowa, and with the help of the children they managed the Friday publication deadlines.

It took the Iversons about a week to get each issue out due to the involved printing processes at the turn of the 20th century.  Setting type backwards before the printing could begin was a slow and lengthy process, and everyone had his or her tasks to do in order to meet the print deadline.  Iverson's daughter, Eleanor, recalled that at age five, she was assigned the task of picking up newspaper type that had fallen on the floor.  One time in the early days of the publication, a disaster resulted in a missed printing when a printing form fell to the floor as it was being transferred to the press.  This jumble on the floor was called a "pi" in old journalism terms, and after that day the Iversons referred to it, and any other day when all things went wrong, as a "pi day."  The family sold the newspaper in 1936.

In addition to his newspaper business, Peter Iverson was elected mayor of Poulsbo shortly after its incorporation, and he held the position for twelve years.  In 1913, he won a senatorial seat in the state legislature and held it for several consecutive terms.  As Senator, he fought for good roads, aid with clearing isolated land for farmers, and sponsored other measures for the development of Kitsap County.  Here is a link to a photograph of Peter Iverson, among the members of the Washington State Senate in the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington, ca. 1911-1913.  In 1940, the family resided on Front Street, where they owned a home.  Iverson passed away at age 85 on February 13, 1946.


--Kitsap County Historical Society.  Kitsap County History:  A Story of Kitsap County and Its Pioneers
(The Society:  Poulsbo, Washington, 1977).

--"Peter Iverson Founder of Herald, Taken by Death." Obituary for Peter Iverson, February 1946.
--"Society hears story of papers beginning."  North Kitsap Herald, June 10, 2008:  http://www.northkitsapherald.com/news/19741684.html# (accessed 9/17/2015).
--U. S. City Directories, Bremerton, Washington, 1909-1936
--U. S. Federal Census, Poulsbo, Washington, 1910-1940
--University of Washington Department of Journalism.  The Washington Newspaper:  A Publication Dedicated to the Study and Improvement of Journalism in Washington, v.7-8 (University of Washington Department of Journalism; Washington Press Assoc.:  Seattle, Washington, 1921).
--University of Washington, Special Collections.  Peter Iverson papers, acc. #0218-001.
--Washington State Death Index, 1940-1996
Chery Kinnick