View Full Version : Peter Holton from Sweden, drowned on the Columbia river, Oregon

16-05-08, 12:31
My third cousin from the States sent this request:

>>> I do wonder if there is a way to possibly find out more about the Holton family. It could have been spelled differently HOULTON, HULTON My Dad said he remembers seeing it spelled differently on one piece of legal paper. It seems that Hilda Erickson's husband, John Louis Holton, born 1889, Was born shortly after his Dad , Peter Holton (Houlton or Hulton), was drowned on the Columbia river. Peter Holton was an (older) father, which means to me that he could have been in his 30's or 40's, I'm not sure. That being the case, he must have been born in the 1840s or 50's. My Dad understood that he was from Stockholm and was an only child. Not much to go on, but I am curious. <<<

Any information of this Peter Holton?



I made a search to the Swedish phone catalogue:

Hela Sverige

Falun (14) <=====
Göteborg (6)
Halmstad (4)
Stockholm (4)
Sundsvall (3)
Borås (2)
Halmstad (4)
Jönköping (1)
Malmö (1)
Norrköping / Linköping (2)
Stockholm (4)
Sundsvall (3)
Trollhättan / Uddevalla / Vänersborg (2)
Uppsala (1)

16-05-08, 18:41
Is this Seattle area death notice from 1935 any possible relation to him?

HOLTON, JOHN -- Born October 26, 1869, Finland. Died Jan. 5, 1935, King County Hospital #1, Seattle, Wash. Cause of death: coronary thrombosis. Single. Laborer. Father: Tom Holton (b. Finland). Mother: Mary (b. Finland). County cremation Jan. 19, 1935, Seattle, Wash. :confused:

16-05-08, 20:58
No I don't think so.

I am looking for Peter Holton, born obviously in Sweden in 1840's or 1850's and died (drowned into Columbia river in 1888 or 1889 in Oregon, USA.

My cousin is going to visit us during July and it would be nice to be able to tell him something about his greatgrandfather.

Any piece of information would be wonderful,


18-05-08, 09:36
I checked the Swedish cencus from 1880 and 1890 and found no Holtons. I also checked the census from Stockholm and found no Holtons. He could have changed the name. I found lots of Holt, Hult, Hultin, Hultén.
Stockholms stadsarkiv have a page where you can try and look for your self and It's for free.
If you need any help let me know.

Karen Norwillo
18-05-08, 16:15
On Ancestry, I found a PG Hultén, born abt 1855, place of origin: Hulferstad, Kalmar, Sweden, arriving NY 28 Mar 1879 from Göteborg. Possibility?

18-05-08, 20:00
You can also try to contact http://www.genealogi.se/roots/

MVH Kerstin

Karen Norwillo
18-05-08, 20:58
The OR Death Index says John Holton was born Mar 1888 and died 5 Jan 1971 in Lincoln county, OR. The 1920 census for John and Hilda says he was born in WA. So Peter may have died in WA. SSDI says Hilda Sophia Holton was born 23 Sep 1891 (in MN) and died 2 Oct 1974 in Lincoln county,OR. Do you know if John had any siblings. Might be able to trace the family by their names as they would have to be older than John. Karen

18-05-08, 22:37
Thank you Karin, Kerstin & Karen!

I'll try the links you gave.

Hilda Sofia (Erickson) Holton was born in 01.03.1893 MN, USA, her death date was the one mentioned. Her elder sister was also Hilda (b. 23 Sep 1891 MN, died as a child before 1893). Hilda's husband was John Louis Holton (b. 28.03.1888 Kalama, Washington, USA, died 05.01.1971 Lincoln City, Oregon, USA). John was only child, no siblings.

John's parents were Marie ja Peter Holton. Peter Holton drowned 3 months before John Louis was born. Mother Marie married later Matt Koski.



Karen Norwillo
19-05-08, 15:09
I found Mary and Matt Koski and Louis Holton in OR in 1910. Maybe we can now work backwards and find Peter. Wonder who the other 3 step children are? Says Mary had 11 children, 6 living. Confusing if she was only married twice. Says 9 yrs in present marriage. Wonder why the step children have the last name Simons? Karen

19-05-08, 15:29
Oh, dear - now we are close - thank you so much!

I will pass the information to my third cousin. His father, son of (John) Louis Holton is still living (born in 1919). Maybe he remembers something more, despite of his high age.

Is it possible to go back to Cencus 1880-1890 or so? There should be Peter Holton mentioned.

Very exciting!


Karen Norwillo
19-05-08, 16:13
Unfortunately, most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire. I've been looking at the 1880 census, but it may be too early. I found two of the Simmons boys WWI Draft Regs and the family in 1900. It would appear Mary was a widow already, so Mr Simmons already died. Kalama WA is in Cowlitz county, WA. It is abt 11 miles south of Kelso and lies between the Columbia River and Interstate 5. I wonder if Mr Simmons and Mr Holton could be the same person? But then, it wouldn't fit with the date of 1887-88 and John Louis being an only child. Unless Mary and Peter weren't married. Interesting.
I sent a query to RAOGK in Cowlitz county to see if a look-up for Mr Simmons death was possible without a first name. It should be between 1895-1900. Let you know what I find.

19-05-08, 19:02
Here comes some more information (source Pioneer History of North Lincoln County, Oregon, Dec 1986):

"John Louis Holton had come to Lincoln County with his mother in 1906. Holton never new Peter, his father, a young immigrant from Sweden, who drowned in the Columbia River three months before Louis was born in Kalama, Washington."

Note that Peter is said to be a young immigrant - so maybe he was about the same age as his wife Mary. About Mary the book tells:

"Marie Holton Simmons Koski (1858-1937) and Matt Koski are resting in Portland's Riverview Cemetery. Peter Holton (18??-1888) is long buried at Astoria."

Why Marie has this many surnames? Does this tell that she was married three times?

There is also a photo with text "Old homestead of Matt and Marie Koski. House built in 1904 or 1905. Located directly across lake from regatta grounds, present site of State Park. Jens, Tom and May Simmons, Violet Koski and Marie Koski."

According to the documents you attached the family was in 1900:
Mother Simmons Mary (b. Oct 1864 in Finland), widow
Daughther Simmons Lilly (b. Jan 1887)
Son Simmons Louis (b. Mar 1888)
Son Simmons Thomas (b. Sept 1891)
Son Simmons Jensen (b. Nov 1893)
Daughter Simmons May (b. approx 1895 ?)
Daughter Simmons Cecilia (b. Feb 1896)

Looks like the children were siblings, at least the surname is the same. But in 1910 document Louis's surname is Houlton?

Mystery :-?


Karen Norwillo
19-05-08, 21:32
That has me very confused also. If Louis Simmons is John Louis Holton, wonder if Simmons adopted him. But then, Lilly is older than he, so why isn't she a Holton? I see Jens is Jens Peter Simmons. Very interesting!!! I love a challenge.

Karen Norwillo
23-05-08, 20:37
Here's the Koski family in 1920 and 1930. By 1930 it looks like Violet is married and living with her parents and has a daughter Florence. Florence's father not with them, says he was from Kansas. Says last name Brunson, but it's not too clear so could be something else. Karen

23-05-08, 22:03
Thanks for this information, Karen.

Got an e-mail from my third cousin "Yes, Mary Holton remarried at least twice more, possibly three times after Peter drown. I knew Tom and Jens well and knew of May."

Tried also the Stockholms stadsarkiv - lots of Peter/Petter Holt/Hultén etc. but unable to connect them to the person I am searching for. Pity how the information can disappear, the data is not available anymore, surnames have changed. Peter Holton died 120 years ago and it looks like with him also drowned his roots, the information of his origin.

But - I am an optimist: once I searched one person from the States five years - and finally found him, got even photos etc.
It felt great :)


Karen Norwillo
14-06-08, 17:57
I just got an email from Washington RAOGK. The lady was checking for me for a Simmons death for Mary's 2nd husband. She didn't find anyone who died between 1895-1900 who might fit. She did give a site to check that has a list of deaths in Cowlitz http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walcolgs/cowlitz.htm. She said to click on the first cemetery index of records thru 1983, vol 1, then click on the alphabet. If any names sound familiar, she will look them up. I did see there are two infants on the list. As Mary had several children unaccounted for, maybe they could be hers. Karen

04-01-09, 23:07
Returning back to this subject, too.

Checked the link you advised, with surname Simmons

SIMMONS, Addie Viola, 197
SIMMONS, Clyde Earl, 281
SIMMONS, Cynthia E., 420
SIMMONS, Earl H., 281
SIMMONS, Elbert O., (Ossie), 148
SIMMONS, Emma E., 281
SIMMONS, Ernest W., 420
SIMMONS, Estelle A., 420
SIMMONS, Hanna M., 420
SIMMONS, Imogene B., 420
SIMMONS, Infant, 20
SIMMONS, Irene Mae, 148
SIMMONS, Joseph Edgar, 420
SIMMONS, Leander, 281
SIMMONS, Leo R., 420
SIMMONS, Luella Rose, 148
SIMMONS, Marry S., 420
SIMMONS, Millie M., 420
SIMMONS, William A., 281
SIMMONS, William H., (Bill), 148

There are no familiar names for me, but if it is possible to check the infant?
And maybe Leander?

This feels like finding the famous needle from the haystack :o

Anyway, the Holton relatives visited us last July and we had a great time together :)


19-03-10, 11:47

Also this person is still missing:

Peter Holton from Sweden, drowned on the Columbia river, Oregon

Visited Oregon last July and met Peter's grandson Howard (my father's second cousin).
I was so sorry I could not tell him more about his grandfather.

Any help is appreciated,


11-04-10, 05:03
Hello All,

Well since Peter Holton seems to be from Sweden, here is a link I have used to help me greatly with my Swedish family search.


I would suggest signing up to the Forum and posting your question there. You might be able to get some information from the people there.


11-04-10, 07:34

Also this person is still missing:

Peter Holton from Sweden, drowned on the Columbia river, Oregon

Visited Oregon last July and met Peter's grandson Howard (my father's second cousin).
I was so sorry I could not tell him more about his grandfather.

Any help is appreciated,


If Howard is in Oregon, it's too bad that he can't go or ask someone else to look into the archives of the local newspapers.

12-01-11, 23:14

Got an e-mail from Oregon, from Howard's son Gary. His cousin has found the obituary of Peter Holton. Pity it does not tell much.

THE DAILY ASTORIAN February 12 1888
Drowned at Skamokawa Clifton Feb 1888
Yesterday evening while the steamer Manzanitlo was lying at F.M.Sweets dock at
Skamokawa. Peter Holton, while stepping out of the way of a hay truck load of
hay accidentally fell overboard and sank before assistance could reach him. His
body was recovered today. He was a married man, his wife and children lived in
Kalama Washington and have been telegraphed the sad news. Peter Holton was a
former resident of Astoria Oregon. He was a member of the Scandinavian
Benevolent Association. He had bought a lot in Skamokawa some time ago and was
building a house on it, which was nearly finished, into which he shortly
intended to move his family. A coffin will be sent from here tomorrow and he
will be buried there.


13-01-11, 05:24
Well, at least there was some luck there.

I wonder if he was buried at the Fern Hill cemetery in Skamokawa.

Karen Norwillo
13-01-11, 16:56
Well, your perseverance paid off. Took a few years, but at last you have an answer. Doesn't it feel great?