Saturday, January 28, 2017


My cousin Billy found the holy grail of ancestry!  This is Peter Magnus Gunstream and his wife Mary Alita Gunstream.

Peter was born in Sweden on November 8, 1816 and came to America in 1836.  He landed in New York, New York on his 20th birthday.  He brought with him a tool chest and a Bible.  He met Mary Alita Davis in Louisiana, and they were married on August 11, 1842.  Their first two children, Gustavus (my great grandfather) and Belinda were born in Louisiana. 

The family moved west and settled in what would later become Wood County, Texas in 1847.   Peter grew rice, wheat, oats, and sorghum.  In the years leading up to the Civil War,  he foresaw the need for both a lumber mill and a grist mill.  Peter build a dam and formed a pond, then he bought an 8 foot overshot water wheel, and soon the two mills were in operation. 

On November 15, 1852, after receiving permission from the U.S. Postmaster General, Peter opened the first post office in Holly Springs, Texas.   Peter was also the first county commissioner for Precinct 4 after Wood county was organized in 1850.  Sometime during his life, he apparently ran a cotton gin as well. 

Peter and Mary had 8 children, two of whom died in childhood.  After Mary's death, Peter married Mary Rogers, and they had two children.  Peter's third wife was a widow named Ellen Winkle.  They had no children. 

Peter died in March of 1882, and is buried in the family cemetery overlooking the old homestead and what is now known as Gunstream Lake. 

Source:  Wood County

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