The subject of this sketch, Peter Evans Studebaker, was born in Ashland county, Ohio, April first, 1836. He is the fourth of the five sons of John Studebaker, and the only one who was not bred a wagon maker. In boyhood Peter manifested a strong ambition to become a successful business man,and soon developed marked abilities in that direction. At an early age he engaged with a brother-in-law, who was a merchant, with whom he stayed two years, when he started west, arriving in South Bend with a five frank piece in his pocket as his sole moneyed capital. The day after his arrival, he engaged as a dry-goods clerk, which he retained for three years, with a constant increase in his salary. With a capital of one hundred and fifty dollars as the savings of his three years salary, he began business on his own account. Mounting a peddling wagon, he struck out into the country, in search of his fortune. Although meeting with many difficulties and rebuffs incident to his avocation, he managed to add to his small beginning, the handsome sum of seven hundred dollars. At the age of twenty-one he married, discontinued his itinerancy, and in April, 1856, opened a retail store at Goshen, Indiana. This he carried on with varied successes until 1860, when he engaged in selling wagons for his brothers, C. & M. In this he was eminently successful. He removed from Goshen to South Bend in 1863, and in the year following, at the age of twenty-eight, he became an equal partner with his brothers, C. & J. M., the new firm organizing under the name of Studebaker Brothers. Leaving immediately for the west, he settled at St. Joseph, Mo., that being the great outfitting point for California, Oregon, Montana, Santa Fe, and the entire west. He soon commanded a large trade in the sale of their wagons for the plains, and the Studebaker wagon was favorably known throughout the whole west to the Pacific coast. He remained in St. Joseph until 1871, when he returned to South Bend, where he is now settled for life.
Peter E. Studebaker possesses rare financial ability, strict integrity, indomitable will, and great endurance. He is the treasurer of the concern, which position he fills with credit alike to himself and the company.
An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana, Richard S. Peale & Co., Publishers, 1875