Dan Peterson strives to share Walnut Grove’s past on the pages of his numerous books
By Per Peterson
Dan Peterson lives in a museum of his own making in Walnut Grove and his doors are open to anyone wishing to take a tour. If you’re lucky, you might even leave with an artifact. But there’s one thing that you for sure will walk away with: a new appreciation for Walnut Grove history
Peterson, a 1987 Walnut Grove graduate — yes, he’s a Logger — has immersed himself in the history of his hometown. The former history teacher has compiled enough information to fill a number of books, which he gladly shares with anyone who asks.
“History is nothing but stories,” Peterson says. “When people say that history is boring, I don’t get it. “History itself is stories of everything.”
Peterson is drawn to everything historic. He has crossed paths with and got to know people like the late Bill Bolin and Leo Thorsness, as well as Jesse James and Tracy native Scott Thoma, himself a history buff of sorts (he wrote a book about Tracy’s tornado). Peterson said his love of history can be traced to back to the research he did of his father after his passing.
“I wanted to learn about his family,” he said. “They were a whole generation older than my mom’s family. He was the youngest child, too. So I just got interested in family history. For historians like me, the fun of it is doing the research and solving all those old mysteries.”
But Peterson’s digging didn’t stop with his father. He also researched his grandfather, Darlo Foster, who for more than 30 years owned the Masters Hotel in town. It was Darlo that turned out to be Peterson’s main inspiration for putting together volumes of Walnut Grove history.
“He was just a master storyteller and had a memory like no one,” said Peterson. “He remembered every story that had ever been told by his dad, so that made it so much fun. You could take him for a drive around the county and he could tell you, ‘This person farmed there.’”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.