Edwin F. Peterson

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Edwin F. Peterson (December 14, 1909 – 1981) was an American Inventor and businessman. Raised in Kewanee, Illinois, he was a first-generation United States citizen, born of Swedish Immigrants. Edwin worked in patternmaking, beekeeping, and local government, while he started his own business, Martin Engineering, which has grown into a leading international company to improve bulk-materials handling in basic industries.

Early life[edit]

Edwin Franklin Peterson, the son of Swedish immigrants Lawrence Franklin Peterson (1879-1966) and Emma (Matson) Peterson (1884-1915), was born in Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois December 14, 1909. His father, Lawrence, was raised on a family farm in Malmö, Sweden, during the late 1880s.[1] From a young age, Lawrence learned how to keep bees and produce honey in the family’s apiary. In school, he became apprenticed in pattern making. At the turn of the 20th Century, Lawrence and his younger brother Mauritz (1886-1970) joined the many immigrants making their way to the United States. Edwin's father, Lawrence, soon began his own patternmaking business in his basement, while growing the family apiary in the Kewanee area. Edwin, as a child in Kewanee, observed his father working in the apiary and in patternmaking, later helping with the bees and in the patternmaking business. In high school, Edwin took classes in drafting and patternmaking. Upon graduation, he worked in his father’s basement producing patterns for Walworth Foundry, Kewanee Boiler Corporation, Kewanee Corporation, and other large manufacturers in the Kewanee, Illinois area.[1] Edwin and his wife, Dorothy Margaret Heath (1912-2004), had one son, Edwin H. Peterson, in 1935.

Peterson Honey[edit]

Lawrence and his son Edwin F. sold honey throughout Illinois under the name of Peterson Honey, delivering jars from the back of an old pickup truck. Eventually, Lawrence and Edwin produced 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of honey per year. Every summer, they had a booth at the Illinois State Fair and enterd their honey to be judged. For many consecutive years, they won ribbons for first or second place, earning “Sweepstakes Purple” many times.[2] The honey became so well known at the fair that the Illinois Governor would personally come to the booth each year and place an order for 50 pounds of Peterson Honey.[1] Edwin’s expertise and reputation with honey served him well, as he was elected to serve office in The Illinois State Beekeepers Association, including vice president for 1929[3] and 1933, Secretary for 1934 and 1935,[4] and three terms as President in the early 1940s.[5][6] He also was appointed by the governor of Illinois to head the State Bee-Keepers' Commission in 1942.[7] Known as "Honey Peterson," Edwin spoke to clubs and other interested parties about beekeeping.[8][9][10]

Involvement in Local Government[edit]

Edwin became active in local government beginning in the early 1940s, while working as a beekeeper in his aviary and as a patternmaker at Wm. Demmler & Bros. before establishing Martin Engineering. In 1943, he was appointed to the post of City Treasurer of Kewanee,[11][12][13] and the following year he was elected by the city council to the position of city clerk.[14] He also served as Commissioner of Water and Light,[15] Street Commissioner, and acting Mayor of Kewanee for nearly seven months to complete the term of Mayor Fred J. Brown, who resigned to enter active duty as captain in the Army during the Korean War in October, 1951.[16] In addition, after moving to Neponset, Illinois, from Kewanee, Edwin was elected Mayor of the village of Neponset on April 16, 1957,[17] and he served as mayor until 1968.[18] He also was elected President of the Board of Trustees of Neponset April 18, 1961[19] and April 24, 1965.[20] He was then elected by the stockholders as President of Whaples and Farmers State Bank in Neponset from 1970 to 1976. This extensive involvement in local government lead to Edwin's election in a nonpartisan election on November 18, 1969, as one of one hundred sixteen delegates, two for each of the state senatorial districts, to serve as delegate from the 36th Senatorial District on the Sixth Constitutional Convention.[21][22] The Con-Con officially convened on December 8, 1969, and adopted the 1970 Illinois Constitution on September 3, 1970. Edwin was one of the fourteen members of the Local Government Committee, serving along with Richard M. Daley under Chairman John C. Parkhurst and Vice Chairman Philip J. Carey.[23]

Creation of Martin Engineering[edit]

Working in a foundry, Edwin had come to observe the use of hammer force to release products from molds. He began to theorize ways to use vibration in order to release the products with less destructive force and noise and more efficiency.[1] In 1944, Edwin made a patent application for a rotational vibrator, issued in 1949, and the vibrator it protected was given the trademark VIBROLATOR™. Edwin acquired the company’s first building on Rose Street in Kewanee, where he began to manufacture and market the Peterson VIBROLATOR™. Edwin noticed that the name “Peterson” did not have good market recognition. Through attending international foundry shows with his product, he found the name of his friend, Martin, to be an established name in the industry. He preferred the added descriptive name “Engineering” to be a symbol of quality and precision. Martin Machine Company allowed Edwin to use the name "Martin," thereby the creation Martin Engineering.[1] Edwin moved Martin Engineering nine miles east from Kewanee to Neponset, Illinois, in 1954,[24] where it has grown into a global corporation that has developed hundreds of products, with over 130 patents and trademarks worldwide, to make bulk-materials handling cleaner, safer, and more productive.[25]

Edwin F. Peterson Life Achievements[edit]

  • Secretary, Vice President, and President of Illinois State Beekeepers' Association
  • City Clerk, Treasurer, Road Commissioner, Commissioner of Water and Light, and acting Mayor of Kewanee, Illinois
  • Two terms Mayor of Neponset, Illinois
  • Delegate from 36th Senatorial District to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention [26]
  • First patent for the ball-type rotary vibrator and multiple ground-breaking patents in vibratory industry
  • Martin Engineering, the company he founded in 1944 that now holds strong global presence in bulk materials handling industry with business units / offices in over 20 countries


He died in 1981.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Martin Engineering" Edwin Franklin Peterson Story
  2. ^ “Petersons’ Honey Takes Sweepstake,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  3. ^ Annual Report of the Illinois State Beekeepers’ Association, 1929, p. 10: http://libsysdigi.library.illinois.edu/OCA/Books2009-03/5060539/5060539-1930/5060539-1930.pdf
  4. ^ 33rd and 34th Annual Reports of the Illinois State Beekeepers’ Association: http://libsysdigi.library.uiuc.edu/OCA/Books2009-03/5060539/5060539-1933-34/5060539-1933-34_djvu.txt
  5. ^ “Heads Beemen,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, November 16, 1942, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  6. ^ “Kewanee Man is Re-Elected by Beekeepers," Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  7. ^ “Heads State Group,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, 1942, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  8. ^ “Edwin F. Peterson Tells How To Display Honey, Prepare For County Fair,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, August 29, 1942, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  9. ^ “Edwin Peterson Is Speaker For The Lions Monday,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, May 8, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  10. ^ Edwin Peterson To Speak At Meet Masonic Lodge,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, March 13, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  11. ^ “Rorah New Police Chief; Name Edwin F. Peterson To City Treasurer Post,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, May 1, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  12. ^ “New Mayor And Council Seated; Departmental Powers, Jobs Approved,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, May 4, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  13. ^ “Edwin F. Peterson Named City Treasurer,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, May 8, 1943, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  14. ^ “Ed. Peterson Takes Duties of City Clerk,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, July, 1944, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  15. ^ Polk’s Kewanee (Henry County, Ill.) City Directory 1949
  16. ^ “Council Elects Edwin F. Peterson Mayor,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, October 10, 1950, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  17. ^ “Notification to Person Elected,” April 17, 1957, Neponset Village, Bureau County, Illinois
  18. ^ Neponset Historical Society
  19. ^ “Notification to Person Elected,” April 19, 1961, Neponset Village, Bureau County, Illinois
  20. ^ “Notification to Person Elected,” April 24, 1965, Neponset Village, Bureau County, Illinois
  21. ^ “Perona, Peterson Are Winners In Con-Con Election,” Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, November 19, 1969, from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  22. ^ “Introduction to Con-Con delegates” Jump up^ http://newspaperarchive.com/southern-illinoisan/1970-03-10/page-16
  23. ^ “Committee on Local Government John C. Parkhurst, Chairman, Con-Con information” from Edwin F. Peterson Scrapbook
  24. ^ “Edwin Peterson Brought Big Industry to Neponset,” Eloise Parsons Baker, SMALL TOWN Magazine, reprinted with permission by Star-Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, July 6, 1978
  25. ^ History of Martin Engineering http://www.martin-eng.com/about-martin/corporate-history
  26. ^ http://newspaperarchive.com/southern-illinoisan/1970-03-10/page-16
  27. ^ "Martin: Entrepreneurial Leadership of an American Family Business". Retrieved 16 November 2016

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