Thursday, May 29, 2014

Theodore Alfred Peterman - founder of Peterbilt trucks

Theodore Alfred Peterman, the founder of Peterbilt trucks died 70 years ago this year (November 1944) so I thought I would try to find out some information about him on the Ancestry Family History database. So here's what I know.

Washington State, Department of Health Birth index. 

This is hard to read (click on all images to enlarge them) but this is a record of his birth from the Washington State, Department of Health Birth index. It lists Theodore Alfred born March 22, 1893 and his sister Gladys born March 25, 1891. They were born in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. Their parents are Theodore Frederick Peterman and Katherine Corcoran, who had married in 1887.  The father, Theodore Frederick is listed on a United States Census as a 'manufacturer of sashes and doors'. He was born in Germany on December 25,  1857 and immigrated to America in 1873 and was naturalised as an American citizen in 1879. He died on June 16, 1920. Katherine Corcoran was born on February 27, 1866 in Tacoma Washington - her father was born in Ireland and her mother in Russia (although in one Census Katherine's  mother was listed as being born in Canada)  so in that sense the family is a good example of the 'melting pot' that the United States was in the 1800s and early 1900s. Katherine died (I believe) on  June 15, 1950.

New York Passenger lists

In 1906 the family took a trip to Germany. On their return in May 1906 the family appear on a 'List of alien passengers' required for the United States Immigration Department. Presumably this was because the father was born in Germany, even though he had applied for an American passport in March 1906.

Washington Marriage records

Theodore Alfred married  Lida Hannah (sometimes listed as Ida) on July 10 1915. This is their marriage certificate - they were married in  Seattle and he signed his certificate as T. Alfred Peterman. Lida is listed on a Census as being born in Washington and both her parents were American born (Tennessee).  They are listed on the 1930 Census as living in Tacoma with a  servant but no children, so I wonder if they had any?.

United States Draft Registration card

This is Theodore's Draft Registration card from 1917. He is described as tall, blue eyes, dark hair, not bald and of medium (as opposed to slender or stout) build. His year of birth is incorrectly listed as 1892.

1935 Tacoma, Washington City  Directory

This is the entry, under Peterman,  from the 1935 Tacoma, Washington City  Directory and shows Theodore's and Lida's business, Peterman Manufacturing Company, where he was the President and the Manager of the company that made doors and veneers this was  before they began Peterbilt trucks in 1939. It also lists his sister Gladys and his mother Kath T as the widow of Theo F -  obviously privacy wasn't an issue in 1935!

Find a Grave

This is Theodore's grave at  the Tacoma Mausoleum. He died on November 16 1944 in Vancouver, Washington and Lida died on July 11,1967. The last member of his family, his sister Gladys, died at the age of 93 in August 1984 in Seattle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Peterbilt trucks - 75th anniversary

The Peterbilt Company was founded seventy five years ago in 1939 when T.A.Peterman (1893- 1944) purchased the Fageol Truck and Coach Company who were based in Oakland, California.  Theodore Alfred Peterman was a logger and plywood maker who used to rebuild and modify ex-Army trucks for use in his business. He bought the Fageol Company so he could build his own chain-drive logging trucks and renamed it Peterbilt. Apparently Fageols had been described as 'Bill-Bilt' after the Company President, W.H. Bill and so Peterman carried on this tradition and called the company Peterbilt. Sadly, Theodore died of cancer in 1944 (seventy years ago this year) and so the Company was taken over by a group of employees until 1958 when it was acquired by Paccar. In 1960 production moved to Newark California and later expanded to other plants in other States. If you want to know more about the life of T.A. Peterman, click here.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Peterbilt and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Theodore Peterman's death here are some photos of Peterbilts, taken at various truck shows, over the last few years. I don't know anything about the models or the years.

HCVC Clunes Truck Show 2011

A 1946 Peterbilt owned by Rob French at Trucks in Action Lardner Park 2008 

Rob French's 1964 Peterbilt at Trucks in Action Lardner Park 2010

HCVC Display day at Sandown racecourse 2005

HCVC Display day at Sandown racecourse 2005

Golden Oldies Truck Club Dubbo Show 2010

HCVC Display day at Sandown racecourse 2012

ATHS truck show at Echuca 2013

Golden Oldies Truck Club Dubbo Show 2010

Keffords Peterbilt at the Melbourne International Truck and Trailer show 2014 - that's their sign below

Above and below - two Peterbilts on display at the Melbourne International Truck and Trailer show 2014 by American Truck Works

Longwarry Truck Show 2014

Castlemaine Truck show 2010

Golden Oldies Truck Club Dubbo show 2012

Hunter Valley Vintage Truck Muster 2011

Golden Oldies Truck Club Dubbo show 2012

Hunter Valley Vintage Truck Muster 2011

HCVC Display day at Sandown racecourse 2007