Portrait from the South Dakota Legislative Manual, 1915-16.
Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back in July 2018, Mons Brynell Peterson was Norwegian native, who, following resettlement in South Dakota in the 1880s, began a long career as a farmer in the Day and Clark County areas. Elected to two terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives (these terms being spaced twenty-two years apart), Peterson is only the second political figure profiled here who attained centenarian status, dying several months after his 100th birthday in 1960.
Born on November 15, 1859, near Bergen, Norway, Mons Brynell Peterson's early schooling was obtained in the country of his birth and at age seven removed to the United States with his family. Settling in Mower County, Minnesota, Peterson would later attend the State Normal School in the neighboring county of Winona. In 1885 Peterson traveled to Highland Township, Minnesota, and, after purchasing a land claim, settled into establishing a homestead. In April of that year, he married Elena (Olena) Dahl (1863-1956), to whom he was wed for nearly seventy-two years. The couple's seven-decade union saw the births of eight children, Inga (1886-1966), Melvin (1889-1986), Arthur (1891-1968), Henry (1892-1974), Mayble Georgine (1895-1957), Edward (1898-1985), Clarence (1900-1977), and William (1903-1935).
Following their resettlement in South Dakota in 1887, Peterson and his family resided in Day County on a farm and in 1892 he was elected to his first term in the South Dakota state legislature. Serving during the 1893-95 session, Peterson sat on the committees on Insurance and Rules. After two decades of residence in Day County, the Peterson family resettled in Clark County, and in 1914 was elected his second legislative term. Serving during the 1915-17 session, Peterson also held the post of president of the Wallace Farmer's Telephone Company during his term. At the conclusion of this legislative session Peterson returned to farming and from 1919-1926 was a cattle buyer "for shipping associations."
A resident of Wallace, South Dakota beginning in 1919, Peterson continued to reside in that town until 1953, when he and his wife entered a retirement home in Madison, Minnesota. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in April 1955 and less than a year later Peterson suffered the death of his wife at age 92. Mons Brynell Peterson celebrated his 100th birthday in November 1959 and died several months later on May 18, 1960, at the retirement home where he resided. He and his wife were interred at the Webster Cemetery in Webster, South Dakota following their deaths.