From the time I was a young child I have heard the stories of the Forsgren siblings: of John Erik's missionary journey back to Sweden, of how he found his very ill brother Peter Adolph whom he blessed and healed, of how his sister Christina Erika had had a vision that a man would come bearing books that she was to look at and pay attention to...and, of course, the very common reference to Peter Adolph being the first baptized convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all of Scandinavia. The stories have been repeated in Church media for years, particularly on the anniversaries of various Scandinavian events.

John Erik Forsgren was a great force for good and growth for the early burgeoning church membership. It is stated by those who knew him then that he embraced the doctrine with great zeal and preached firm and fiery sermons. He led a group of Saints across the ocean and into the Salt Lake Valley, encouraging them and admonishing them all the way. He served in the Mormon Battalion.

It is also true that later in his life, for reasons we don't totally understand, he became disenchanted with the Church - or more accurately, with some of its leaders. He began to be very vocal in his statements against Brigham Young whom he felt had cheated him out of a land inheritance due him from his service in the Battalion. At this point people said of him that he became cantankerous and a religious fanatic. He set up a tent on the East Bench of Salt Lake City and began preaching his own form of religion. At first he had followers, but over time lost the attention of local residents and was ignored. Tragic events occurred in his life which are referred to in other blog posts. He died in great poverty after living for a time in Idaho, then wandering homeless in Utah - a nonmember of the Church he had earlier embraced with such zeal.

This part of the story is, of course, very distressing to his descendants who for many years did not want to talk about the last years of his life. But I feel that accurate history is honest history. Not addressing an unpleasant event does not change the event. What was, was. What OUR responsibility is is to not judge. We did not walk in his shoes or live inside his head. It is our job to look at the entirety of the life of this unique man, admire him for the incredible contributions he made and not be overly critical of things we don't know much about. John E. kept a huge journal of his life. The greatest tragedy for us is that that 720 page manuscript has disappeared and we can't know all that he related in it.

This blog was created for the purpose of setting forth all the information about John Erik Forsgren that I have been able to glean from as many sources as I could. It is very much a work in progress. It is my hope that his numerous and wonderful descendants might contribute, correct, question and help verify any data I have included here...and, that ultimately this be a means of reaching out to others who want to know more of this man. I have come to reverence and respect him as I have worked on details of his life and the individuals connected to him by blood and marriage. As keeper of the Forsgren Family Association Archives it is my great pleasure to offer up what information we have. Believe me, there is nothing that better "turns our hearts to our fathers" than researching details and events of their lives. Enjoy!

Adele Manwaring Austin, July 2010


Monday, August 15, 2016


We are observing the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Erik Forsgren.  One of his descendants, Richard Wright, will be there in full costume to talk about John and his life.   Games have been planned for younger children.  If you have any item you would like to contribute to the Raffle, all proceeds from the sale will go into the Reunion/Research fund.

Please notice that unlike previous years you are being asked to provide your own lunch for your attending family members.   Morris Forsgren will provide his famous homemade Root Beer and committee members are providing dessert.

 Please pass the details on to members of your extended family that might be interested in coming but who may not have received the original announcement of the reunion. 

Elections for a new President will be held and there will be displays and explanation of the Forsgren Research blogs.     COME JOIN US !

Saturday, January 17, 2015

NEW HISTORY IN JOHN ERIK'S OWN HAND! . . . (In other words, Never Give Up!)

      With the following email from Bro. James Meyer on 12 Oct. 2014 I received some of the most exciting "new" information in a long time about John Erik Forsgren!!  It is obviously not new - but it is certainly the first I have heard about this item which sheds new light on at least one very puzzling piece of John's history!  I should have paid more attention to the period of time that John E. spent in Southern Utah - specifically Moroni and Sanpete County!   I have made a typewritten transcription of what turns out to be the only handwritten (by John himself) account of his life that I presently know about.   The following is part of the Moroni Ward Melchizedek Priesthood minutes and records, 1864-1904.  (Call # in the Church History Dept. is LR 5786 13 and is on both microfilm and in hard copy.   First is the e-mail from James Meyer.

“Sister Austin,                                                                                                    

I am doing some research in Moroni, Utah ward records to learn more about my Danish and Swedish ancestors who settled in that area.  In the High Priests Minutes book of the then Moroni Branch, I found some biographies that were written by members of the quorum in 1868 [1865 actually]—and among them are John Erick Forssgren (the spelling given in the book) and his father John Olof Forssgren.

Though I am not a descendant, I recognize pure gold when I see it  — so I made copies and started looking on Family Search—and I found, through one of the sources, your blog for him. . . . "
      Pure gold, indeed!   But a word of warning.   Even when we encounter personal reports, a good genealogist needs to take into account the date of creation of a document.  John Forsgren did not give us footnotes.  He never states that he uses a record book with dates recorded at the time of the event to jog his memory (even though he may well have done so since he does give many dates of events that occurred in his life).   This personal history was submitted in 1865 – a full 22 years after John Erick was baptized a member of the Church.  I DO know that he kept a huge record book of his life and in 1865 it would still have been in his possession.  (As of 2015 the whereabouts of this book is unknown.  It may well have been destroyed).    I cannot know at this posting (Jan 2015) what exactly he used to confirm the dates he put into this short autobiography.   If it is just his own memory then the dates may or may not be accurate. [Most of them differ with other "accepted" or on file dates of official LDS Church Records].   All I know is that this life sketch is most assuredly of interest to all of us who are extended family who want to understand his remarkable life.   I have retained John's unique spelling and punctuation.   I have taken the liberty of inserting personal observations in red, inside brackets along with his narrative.

[page 1]


      This record have been purchased by the members belonging to the Moroni branch Quorum of High Preast, and delivered to the Quorum on the 22th Day of January 1865. for the especial porpose of having their genealogy, where first babtized, by whom, and by whom confirmed, ordinations of the Preasthood and by whom ordained recorded.  To have their busnes minutes, Preachings scatches of interesting doctrines advanced by members as well visiting high and noted orthys holding the keys of the Superior powr  of the Holy Preasthood that Shall be considered worthy of being written on its pure unsullied pages, which in future ages may be refaired to by all interesting members who delights in magnifying their Holy callings of the Preasthood of the Son of God the Redeemer of man from sin unto rightiousnes by his infinite grace and mercey through the Holy Gosple which wi as members and purchasers of this record do humbly worship in the Spirit of meekness according to the knowleage wi have of his Holy truth revealed unto us in this and generations to come hopeing to prove faithfull to the End. And be crowned with Eternal lives and Celestial honers at his appearing, whose right it is to rule and govern the whole Earth, to him wi give Glory! Honer!! And praise, now and forever Amen.
                                                            John Erick Forssgren, Clark.

[next page]
[This probably constitutes a list of all the men he was either going to interview or DID interview.  Bro. Meyer only sent me the pages pertaining to John Erik Forssgren and his father John Olof]

Joseph Shepheard
John E. Forssgren   [Name crossed through]
John D. Chase
George W: Bradley
Bent Morison
Madison D. Hambleton [? Name is crossed through]
Rasmus Rasmussen  [Name is crossed through]
Soren Jos: Fogelborg [? Last name crossed through]
Peter Petersen.  Sorn Igorson  [second name is in lighter ink as tho added later than the rest of the list]
Joren Peterson  [crossed through with a single line]
Ole Anderson.
Hared Petson.
Amus A. Bradley.
Joseph S. Allen  [lightly crossed through]
William Draper.
Thomas Howarth.
Peter Sorinson sen
John Bailey
Rica Williams  [crossed through]
Daniel Lewis  [crossed through]
John Syme.
Swen Andersen

[The last 6 names are in a different, lighter ink or pencil from the rest of the list]

[next page]

John Olof Forssgren.   Son of John & Christine Forssgren who was the Son of Christoffer & Eve Forssgren born in Gefle Sweeden on the 17th Day of October, 1793.  having traves the great sea for fourty one years and arriveing  home to my place of burth I learned that my Son John Erick Forssgren had been banished out of his Country that gave him birth bread & raised until the time he was i his sixteeth year.  for preaching the Gosple of Jesus Christ through the Spirit of revelation and the authority given JosephSmith Jun the Seer & Revelator and Gods wisguran on Earth for the Last dispenseasion of the fullness of time hearing of him being in Danmark I wrote to him a letter and received his correspondence by which I was convinced of the truth of the doctrin taught. in the year of our Lord 1852 I tooke ship and saild six hundred miles to be Babtized by my son John Erick Forssgren and I was Babtized and confirmed in the Church of Jesus Christ of latterday Saints by him on the 29th Day of August.1852. from this time I wiseted my nummerous conections and relatives in Sweedem boare my feable testimony of the truth I had received among them; and the Lords providencial time for my deliverance out of Babelon, came and I Emmegrated and left Schandinavia in company with meny Saints on the 20th Day of April. 1863. and arrived into the Great Sault Lake City on the Laest Day of August the following fall, same season.  Stayed in Box Elder co over the winter until my son John E: came and brouth mi to receive my indowment in the House of the Lord in Great Soalt Lake City when I was ordained a High Preast un the hands of Elders _ _ _ _ [space is left in the narration here] J.V. Long & J.E. Forssgren. the former being mouth on the 15th of October 1864.  from whence I continued my journey with my Son to Moroni Sanpete county and are united with my breathren.

[next page]

     "John Erick Forssgren son of John Olof & Anna Christina Forssgren who was the son of John & Christena Forssgren who was the son of Christoffer & Eve [Note: Don't know who "Eve" is.  Accepted wife was named Britta Mattsson] Forssgren, born in Gefle, Sweden on the 7th Day of November 1816.

     While young and in my 9 year I went to school I spoak to my schoolmates that the Lord would send his Angel and give to a man a record that was had in the Earth in a far distant Western Land and that the man would bring it fourth unto all Peple and all that would hear and blive would God save in his kingdom for reason why I became persecuted by my breatheran in School. So that when I was in my tenth year and in 1826. [Note:  In all the accounts of John Forsgren's background this is the first I have ever heard tell of this premonition or spiritual vision he might have had.   It is similar to an account purported to have come to his sister Erika in her life.  So again I can only be left to wonder if it is an embellished account of his life or if we are indeed gifted with a new dimension to a man who would end up playing a big role in the early Church!  That he went off to sea as a young boy has always been common knowledge].   I could stand the persecusion no longer and I as a boy went to sea until in 1832. being April (and after I buried my mother) I went on board of a ship, and according to my Long desires came to Newyork, in the beginning of August, continued to sail out of Newyork three years and seven years out of Boston Massachusetts where I heard Bro. Erastus Snow preach the Gosple of Jesus Christ according to the New & Everlasting Covt and I received the same and was babtized by Elder Wm Meggin on the 26th Day of August 1843. [note:  Official temple sources say 16 July 1843] and was confirmed some time after under the hands of Elders Brigham Young Heber C. Kimball and Parley P. Pratt at the time of their traveling holding conferences with the Eastern churches of the states, calling upon the Saints together with their means to healp to build up Nauvoo Teample unto the Name of the Lord, I sould out and prepaired to go with the saints immediately but sicknes and Death of my first born son John Adolph hindered mi.  [This is the most amazing revelation of anything in this life sketch.  Without exception that I am aware of everyone has always alluded to John Erick's firstborn child with his first wife as Charles!!  There has been varying opinion as to where he was born and when.  The name John Adolph makes much more sense and even if JEF is relying totally on memory here, does one forget the name of his own first child???   I suspect that people mixed up the name of the son based on the fact that it was a Charles Snow, with whom wife Mary Ann eventually left Utah and returned "to her people in Boston" - as the story is always told.  This reveals that the child very likely was born, died and is now buried somewhere in Boston rather than in Nauvoo or Council Bluffs as others have conjectured.]   So I terried until nex Spring when I arrived in Nauvoo 1844.  was ordained a member in the 7th Quorum of Seventies on the 17th Day of November.  Inlisted in the companys constituting the Nauvoo Legion and was of the gards around his (Bro Joseph Smiths, Sin) premises and about the city after his & Brothers marterdom,  I assisted in the Building of the Temple until wi received our indowment and moved away by expulsion of the Gentiles. 

     I received my indowment in the Latter part of December 1845, and was sealed to my wife Mary Ann Hunt of Boston at the same time.  Left there with the first wagons of Heber C. Kimball family on the 16th [or 10th] Day of February 1846. and came to the Councel Bluffs and according to request I enlisted in the Mormon Battalion on the 16th of July as a private soldier for a years service in the Mexican War with the United States, traveled by foot  [next page] three thousend miles the Lord give us the victory over three different places in Mexico and al’so when the Battalion arrived in California the Spaniards surrendered, and the country became ours a year from the date wi was discharged. And I took up my Journey within company with one hundred and fifty faithfull Breathre to go and meet the Church or our wifes and familys in the Great Soalt Lake valleys of the Rocky mountains where I arrived on the 18th Day of October 1847.   Married Miss Sarah Bell Davis on the fiftinth Day of April 1849. [official records give 15 Feb. 1849] was called on the 8th Day of October in a general conference to go on a mission to open the Gosple in Sweeden my native country.  Left the Valleys and home of my choice, on the 18th Day of October 1842.  arrived in Sweeden on the 24th Day of June 1850.  opened the Gosple, in Gefle Sweeden, and Babtized my Brother Peter Adolph Forssgren the first member in that country on the 12th Day of July 1850. [some sources say 20th, official temple record says 26th July]  after being as it were raised from the Dead by the Laying on of hands in the name of the Lord.  

    And on Thursday 25th following week I babtized my Syster Erika Christina Forssgren & confirmed her at the same time and on the 6th of August I preached out Doors in the woods out side of the city and babtized 14teen persons and confirmed them on the next day being the 7th on the 8th Day I preached again when meny more was willing to obey him.  I was taken prisoner by the Marshel & police and was banished out of Sweeden, first from Gefle to Stockholm to appear before the Kings Court and from thence to go ombord of an American Ship called Walter R. Jones Capt: Colley; who informed mi that my passage and expences was payd by the authoritys of Stockholm, to Newyork.  I stoped in Helsingour, and went to Copenhagan by steamboat to visit with my Breathren Erastus Snow & P.O. Hansen where I stayed and healped to build up a Church of fifteen hundred members presided over the Copenhagen Comferance andd traveled and preached through out the Land, Sent Sweedish Elders to Sweeden to preach the Gosple, to the poor and the honest in heart, president over the whole mission after Predt. E. Snow returned home, and on the 20th of December I left Denmark  [next page] with two hundred eityseven Saints who emigrated with me to go home to the peacefull valleys of the mountains of Ephraham arrived in the great Soalt Lake City on the 29th..of September 1853. was sealed to my wife Sarah Bell Davis by Presdt Brigham Young in the Councel house on the 8th Day of April 1854.  filled the Carsons Mission expedision to build up a Stake of Zion there (previous to the call for mi to fill the Carson mission I was ordained a High Preast under the hands of Presdt Davis Pettigrew who give mi Lisence as an acting member of the Quorum on the 9th Day of April) when the Carson Mission was called hom the time of Buckannons Army set to devastate the Saints I returned with the rest of my breathren; and arrived in Brigham City on the 20th of October 1857, tarried there until the gennerall move to the South when I move to Sanpete County in the Spring of 1859, helpt to build up a new place called Moroni keapt the record of the High Preast Quorum from the beginning according to the best of my ability, and the Blessing of the Lord, upon mi here I married Kirstin Neilsen on the 8th Day of December 1862. was sealed to her on the 16th Day of October 1864 by Elder Wilford Woodruff in the indowment house Great Soalt Lake City. "
               _____________                 ________________             _______________


Moroni, Utah was founded by George Washington Bradley in 1859. That same year George Washington Bradley became the bishop of Moroni and held that position for 18 years. The population in 1860 was 703 individuals.  By 1870 it had dropped to 633.

Moroni was settled by families from Nephi in 1859, but it had a real identity crisis. It went through the names Sanpitch, Mego, Little Rome, and Duck Springs before Sanpete’s first probate judge named it Moroni City after a Nephite Prophet in The Book of Mormon.
Moroni sits midway between Nephi and Manti on the most pronounced “North Bend” of the San Pitch River. Families from Nephi moved there early in 1859. High water in 1862 forced the town’s founders to move away from the river site and spread north over the rolling hills, a setting best seen when approaching Moroni from the south. For water, they tapped the San Pitch farther east with an intricate and expensive system of canals and ditches that stretched from Mt. Pleasant to Fountain Green’s south fields. Reaching out in all directions, the city was big enough by 1891 to support an “opera house” that seated 1,000 persons.

Monday, August 26, 2013


While on a recent trip to American Fork for a Chilean Senior Missionary Reunion, I had my husband drive me down to the Harriet Harrington home on 1st E. & 1 South.  Earlier I had received an email from Andy Meredith who had found reference to the home on this blog.  He and his wife wanted to inform me that they had purchased it and are happily renovating it to live in.  I was so glad to hear this bit of news, because the last time I had driven by the home it was in a sad state of neglect.   My husband and I visited so I could see how the project was progressing, and hopefully find one of the Merediths on site.

You will remember that Harriet Frances Noon Smith was married for a short time to our John Erik Forsgren.  That marriage did not last.   After the break up of that marriage, and at the suggestion of President Brigham Young, she was married to Leonard Harrington as a plural wife.  He became Mayor of American Fork and served in that capacity for many years.  This is the home he had built for Harriet and her (their) children.

When we arrived I was astounded.  The Merediths have made a lot of progress and have really taken the house back to the bare bones - as, of course, you need to do!  They had even trimmed the massive trees that surround the home so there is more light (and undoubtedly more safety for the workers!)

I marched right past the No Trespassing signs since I heard voices inside, snapping a few photos along the way.

The interior reminded me of the demolition of the Peter Forsgren home in Brigham City.  Layers of flooring & piles of wallpaper and paint lay everywhere!  Original floor boards and stove pipes were exposed. Wiring is being redone, and a lot of strengthening.

The sound of voices led me toward the back of the house and to an incredibly steep staircase.  It was only 32 inches wide!  With my current hip problems I was not about to go up those stairs, and since I was trespassing anyway I just waited a few minutes and admired what I knew to probably be the original hand-turned spindles and railings.
 An electrician on his way back up told the voices upstairs that there was a visitor wanting to talk to them.  Happily, both Andy and Candy Meredith were there. They greeted me warmly and showed me around a bit more and discussed some of their exciting plans.  (For instance they are going to post large photos of Harriet and of Heber C. Kimball (who was her step-father) along with their history and a short story of the home)
They will be documenting all this on their own blog which I will link to this Forsgren site as soon as I know it is up and running.  I am sure descendants of John Erik, of the Harringtons, and home renovators alike will be happy to continue on to that link.

The surprise referred to in this blog title came when we were just chatting.  I remarked about the hanging greens over the front doorway.  Andy told me that they were placed there when just a month earlier he and Candy had been married in that doorway!  So, of course, I had to get a photo.

 Candy told me she was from Lehi.  When I commented that my husband's family was from there as well and mentioned they were Austins, she said, "I'm an Austin!  Well - I am a Grace from those lines!"   Couldn't believe the small worldness of it all!   Of course I had to hustle them across the street to meet Victor  who was waiting in the car.  They chatted together and tried to narrow down the family connection.   The whole brief time spent there just made me smile!!

This is the house from the back side.  The Merediths have no renovation restrictions because the home no longer qualifies for the Historic Register (because someone changed the roof line significantly in the 1930's) 

They wish to move in October.  If Candy can stay on top of these workers each day I suspect they will achieve their goal!  This is not the first home they have restored. 

I am always glad when a piece of history is rescued.  It will be a joy to see the finished product!!

Friday, July 12, 2013


In June of 2013 I spent several hours with Clara May Forsgren Reeves, a great great granddaughter of Peter Adolph Forsgren.  She handed me the following account of the return of John Erik Forsgren to Sweden and of the baptism of his siblings and his father.  The history is only "new" in the sense that I have never seen it before.  It has now become my favorite account, simply because it contains a few details about the family's life in Sweden that are not included in subsequent, oft-repeated versions of this famous story.  It clarifies some things about the father, Johan Olaf, and adds some details about Christina's struggle to come to grips with her own conversion.  It talks about their occupations and trades.   The story is a translation  (and thus reads a little awkwardly in some places).  It was printed in 1884 in the Danish version of "The Morning Star" which was under the charge of Andrew Jenson.   I do not know if it was Andrew Jenson himself who wrote the historical sketch or if it was someone else.  I only note that it is the account written most closely to the actual event date I have yet seen!

Below is a photocopy of the title page of an 1884 edition available at the BYU Harold B. Lee Library

Here follows the translated story


This history was translated by Mona Jardine from the "Morgenstjernen---Et historisk-borgrafisk Tidsskrift.  Redigeret og udgivet af Andrew Jenson---1884." 
(See online: for a sample of a volume that is in the BYU library.   This is the “Morning Star; a Historical-Biographical Journal" – Danish version. Edited by Andrew Jenson)  Some changes or comments have been made in italics by Adele Austin as I retyped the version given to me by Clara Forsgren Reeves in June of 2013.  I have also taken the liberty of adding some paragraph breaks for readability] 

The First Saints in Sweden

            Peter Adolf Forsgren, a son of Johan Olaf and Christina Forsgren was born 26 July 1826 in Gefle, Sweden.  His mother died in 1832, when he was about six years old and since the father was a sailor and was seldom home, strangers mainly raised the children and Peter got a poor education.  When he was ten years old he began to work at a linen fabric [factory?] in Gefle, where he worked for almost 5 years.  Then he got a job on [in] a canvas factory where he worked as a foreman when his brother John in the summer of 1850 came to the country as a missionary from America to preach the gospel.
            John had twenty years earlier left home as a sailor and even though his family was overjoyed over his return, they were surprised that he came back as a preacher.  He had in his travels met with the Latter Day Saints in America where he was baptized and then went to Nauvoo.  Now, in addition to everything, he was along with Erastus Snow and two other brethren come back to start a mission in his homeland.  He star[t]ed right away to preach to his family and others and it wasn't long before he was known as a false prophet that had come from America to deceive people[.] 
            His brother Peter was influenced by his brother’s circular [circulating?] rumors and was scared away for a while even though he knew the Gospel that his brother preached was true.  While he thus staggered and didn't know whether he should be baptized or not, one day while he stood by a loom he was suddenly attacked by terrible pain and cramps in his stomach and was totally helpless.  His lungs were next attacked to the point where all that saw and heard him decided that he couldn't possibly live.  In this lifeless condition, he was carried to his brother John, who had rented an apartment in Staden.  He practiced great faith in God in behave [behalf] of his dying brother and in a miraculous manner, with ointment (oil) and prayer he soon was strong enough to go to work in a Swedish mill. 
            By [In] the harbor outside the city [he was] there baptized for forgiveness of his sins.  This happen[ed] July 19, 1850.  Peter Adolf was also the first to be baptized by divine authority in [all] the Scandinavian Countries.  It was more than three weeks later that Erastus Snow baptized the first twelve people in Kobenhavn.  That same night he received the laying on of hands.  This mode of baptism soon became well known.  Peter Forsgren soon became the object of people’s conversation, the object of curiosity and people’s feelings was [were] that he was insane, that someone with good sense could let someone baptize him by immersion in our day.
            Among his strongest opposition was his sister Erikka, who was later also baptized.  When his brother was arrested and Peter was brought in for questioning to give his testimony in regards to his health because there was much talk against John E. Forsgren, because there was also talk about him having healed the sick.[,] Peter freely bore witness that he had been healed by the power of God by his brother’s laying on of hands.  There was a doctor, whose name was Nordbald [who] was encouraged to examine him, which he did with the help of instruments – and announced that he was well. 
            Peter continued to bear witness about the truthfulness of the Gospel to many [,] especially to the people who worked in the factory.  But it was against the law to preach, so he showed them the scriptures so they could read for themselves.  He soon made friends.
            In the meantime his dad came from America to look for his son John, back from his tour and in the summer of 1851, traveled to Kobenhavn, where he was soon baptized.  Then he traveled back to Gefle and there was happiness in the family.
            None other than Forsgren and his sister, along with two others was [were] baptized there in the district until Elder Mikael Johnson in 1852 came as a missionary from Denmark.  He baptized an elderly woman and a couple of others in Helsingland, where he was born.  But when Brother Johnson after a short time was deported and sent to Malmo in chains, the preaching of the gospel was stopped in that part of the country.
            It is reserved Skaane and the other southern provinces of Sweden to be “the cradle” for Sweden’s concerns and not before more years there after the missionaries could have footings in the northern provinces.  In September 1852, Peter Adolf and his sister Erikka left their birthplace and traveled to Kobenhavn, where they immigrated to Utah in the John E. Forsgren Company.
            Peter settled in Brigham City, where he lives as one respectable and trustworthy man.  He works as first counselor to the Bishop in the First Ward plus other important callings.
            Christina Erikka Forsgren was born April 26, 1820 in Gefle, Sweden.  When she was ten years old she began to work for strangers and when her brother John came back in 1850, she was working for a grocer in Gefle.  She was very surprised to see him, because everyone thought he was dead since nobody had heard from.  Some of the first things he told his sister was that he was sent from God to save his family and relatives and that he had forgotten that his mother had asked of him on her death bed that he should see to it that his younger brothers and sisters wouldn't fall into transgression.  Now he came to keep his promise. 
            The happiness to see her brother after so many years was hard to describe, but she had in a strange way been prepared for his coming.  In January 1850 or about six months before his coming, she was sitting in church [and] she was influenced by an earnest concern with her soul’s salvation and the minute the preacher entered the pulpit she was overcome with a strange feeling, a kind of weakness that started in her head and went clear through her body, clear to her feet.  Her bodily strength left her completely and she was carried away in a vision where she three times saw a big black dog, which she thought should be the devil and this made her decide that never again would she go to the Lutheran Church.  Then she heard a voice that said the present church was wrong, but on June 26th there should come a man with three books and all who wanted to be saved must believe the gospel he preached.  The voice also said that everyone who was saved must travel far away over the ocean.  It was not until they sang the last song in church that her strength came back.
            When the mentioned time arrived, the people in the area knew right away that he was the man and that the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants that he brought with him were the three books she had seen in the vision.  In spite of everything she still resisted for a while, but it wasn't long before, after several conversations with her brother, that she was completely pierced with happiness and contentment that she wanted to completely turn to the Lord and her brother’s hands, plus show obedience to the gospel.  So on the fourth of August she was baptized.  In the very minute her brother let her down in the water, she saw a bright light that filled her soul with indescribable happiness.  That same evening when she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost her eyes were opened and she understood the principals of the Gospel clear and plain and when she read the Holy Scriptures it was like something whispered in her ears and explained the scriptures to her.
            After Mikael Johnson’s arrival she was invited to come talk to the Dean, who would try to [convince her to leave] “Mormonism”.  To embarrass and humiliate her, she was taken between two police officers to the Dean’s residence.  Here she gave cheerful answers and bore a strong testimony to the Dean and to those that were present, and the results of it was that the Dean who thought he could change her mind about Mormonism, was shamed by her and was glad when she finally went away.
            When her dad, during the harvest in 1852, was in Kobenhavn, John told him about polygamy which was practiced among the Saints in Zion[.]  After he came home he told his daughter about it.  She had at that time made the decision that she would never marry and[,] having a disgusted attitude towards matrimony, it was therefore hard for her to understand about Celestial marriage.  The following night she laid awake wondering about the new religion and the following day she could think of nothing else[.]  But that evening before she went to bed, she prayed sincerely to the Lord to manifest to her that the doctrine was from him.  While she was on her knees, she saw two persons in long white robes standing in form of white clouds in front of her[.]  One was a woman [,] the other seemed to be an older man with a bald head.  In the same minute she heard a voice that told her that the older person was to be her future husband.  She jumped up and walked back in the room, whereupon the woman form walked right by and seemed to disappear into the next room, while the man form came nearer and nearer to her until a maid opened the door and the vision disappeared.  She was thus left to think about the strange thing that she had just seen and the thought that she[,] a moral and virtuous girl[,] should some day marry a man who already had a wife was disgusting to her.  But [she] now came to the conclusion that polygamy was right.  After she arrived in Utah in 1853 the vision she had came true because she became the second wife to an elderly man with whom she lives as faithful member of the church in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah.  Sister Erikka was the first woman to join the gospel in Scandinavia in this dispensation.

            After the dad Johan Olaf Forsgren had been baptized in Kobenhavn on the twenty-ninth of August, he traveled back to Gefle in the hope he could bring some of his relatives into the gospel, but he was not successful because of his persecutors, so he went to sea and sailed different oceans for several years, then he taught school in the winter.  In 1863 he immigrated to Utah with help from his children and lived with his son Peter in Brigham City until he died in February, 1880.  He was born the seventeenth of October 1793 in Gefle, Sweden and started his sailor life at a young age.  Three of his four children accepted the gospel.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


With the advent of the Church's new FamilySearch Family Tree the world has gained a great gift!

  • For the first time EVER there is finally the possibility of there being ONE single site on the internet where everyone can see his ancestors and how they interconnect with all of humanity (instead of going to multiple websites to see what different people have uploaded as their personal version of an ancestral line).   
  • Researchers who have access to original documents can help solve (for all of us) the discrepancies created by information "assumed" because of family tradition, or created because source information conflicts. We, all of us (the whole world), can collaborate & communicate and work together to have accurate records.    

     The potential and power of this is enormous!

     The website and Family Tree, is, of course, still undergoing changes and constant improvements.   The latest achievement is that now the capability is there to upload photos and life histories to attach to individuals on the Tree.  The capability to upload scanned copies of original documents for proving facts and for helping solve conflicting evidence will also soon be available.

     As I have become more and more familiar with Family Tree I applaud its vision.  I know great computer minds will continue to solve its problems and weaknesses (especially from feedback from us, its users, about what we don't feel is working well).

     I just returned from another genealogy conference.  As I listened to representatives from FamilySearch discuss the changes, the weaknesses, & the vision for the future of Family Tree, I suddenly thought to myself:  "Oh, no!  Then if everyone can upload photos and documents and life histories to THAT site, then all of the work I have been doing for the last three years on the three Forsgren blogs is wasted!"

     I have since tamed my reaction.  After all - the whole purpose of these blogs is to "get the information out there!"   Why should I, as Family Archivist, squirrel away all the photos and documents and research here in my home when we are in such an incredible age of information sharing??   That is also one of the missions of Family Tree.  But every document and every photo and every life sketch is not going to make its way onto their site,  for any number of reasons.  For instance, if a date is an undisputed fact people may not feel there needs to be a document ("proof") attached to it.  Secondly, there are WAY more photos in the world of people than ever should be or will need to be uploaded, etc. etc.  I love old photos.  I want to see them all.  But that is not appropriate for a site like Family Tree.  We can put as many on the Forsgren blogs as we can find!

    But the most convincing argument for keeping the blog up and running is that the blog itself can be a source and be linked to research questions on Family Tree.  Very lengthy research and analyzing has gone into solving various research problems on each of the blogs (for instance the research on all the wives of John Erik Forsgren).  Therefore, it is much easier to refer people to the blog (as a source quotation) so they can read the history of that research themselves.  This seems better than our trying to duplicate the data on Family Tree where the format will be much less wieldy and informative.

     Soooooo, my fellow Forsgrens.  For now the blogs are safe.  I will continue to work on them.  I will continue to note where we are weak on our data.  I will continue to hope that by getting comments "out there" through both the blog AND FamilySearch Family Tree I will in turn hear from more and more descendants who can flesh out the pages of our descendants.

     Some day I will be unable to continue the work.  I will age (mmm, that's already happening!) or I will die or the continued improvement of public sharing will become so sophisticated that the usefulness of the blog will have run its course.  Gratefully I have received warm and supportive comments from many of you out there who have "found" us on Google or some other search medium.  You have taken the time to express appreciation and you have opened the doors to gathering & greater sharing. It is always such a thrill for me to meet new cousins, receive new photos and clarify data.   That is what fuels my family history persistence!

     For several years now I have seen that new.familysearch (which is what is now being merged into FamilySearch Family Tree) is in all likelihood the fulfillment of the following prophectic statement made over 66 years ago:

     “A universal system of intelligent cooperation will begin to gather on one record sheet every fact in     existence regarding a particular family. This wealth of data will insure accuracy and banish error. Expensive and time-consuming duplication in research and repetitions in ordinances will be eliminated. No sooner will a new fact be uncovered in any part of the world by a researcher than it will be communicated to the Archives center and be assigned to its proper place on some family record.”

                                                           Archibald F. Bennett, Secretary, Genealogical Society of Utah, 
                                                           Church News, December 20, 1947, p.20

He had the vision, indeed.  Only we are no longer using "record sheets" in the sense we previously thought of them - pieces of paper, Family Group Records and Pedigree Charts, etc.  We are in a computer age that is magnificent and inspired.   Thousands of volunteers are daily indexing the vast record collection of the Church's digital and microfilmed record collection.  The capability to "communicate to the Archives Center" in an instant is fulfilled.

Almost exactly thirty years years later Elder Theodore Burton was equally prescient and commented further:

         I don’t think the present type of individual records is the type of record conforming to the “generations of Adam” spoken of in the scriptures.  There is no welding together of generations in that type of temple record and I seriously doubt that such a record would be regarded as an offering “worthy of all acceptation.”

          Up to the present we have not been able to put such a family record of ordinances together.  We have lacked both the technique and the equipment to accomplish so great a task.  Now, however, technology has developed to such a state of the art that the building of just such a family record has become theoretically possible.  To prepare such a record will require further study and research.  We now need to begin to devote time, money, and effort into learning how to construct such a genealogical record of Church families sealed together in proper order by generations.
                                       Elder Theodore Burton, October 11, 1976, "Long-Range Goals for Genealogy"

What Heavenly Father wants is ONE - and only one - "Book of Remembrance" laid at his feet.  He wants the record of the whole human family, connected & linked together.   We are no longer "waiting for the Millenium" to achieve this great linking and redemptive work.   We are there now, watching this miracle unfold before our very eyes!

May we go forth with joy, unafraid to try new things and be willing to accept the learning curve which comes every time something that is familiar is replaced with something that is different.   Engage the help of the young, for whom all this technology is second nature.  This effort will bless both your life and theirs!

Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Reunion News

Saturday, August 11, 2012 found us gathered at the LDS Meeting House at 25 North 300 East in Brigham City. We were pleased to welcome about 70 people, many of whom came for the first time to the biannual Forsgren Family Reunion. Here are some highlights: 

Our Guest of Honor:
Erma Vilate Funk Walsh - Peter Adolph Forsgren's oldest living descendant!

     What an honor it was to have Erma with us. Still smiling, happy and vibrant at age 99! (She will turn 100 years old in December.) Erma is Peter A's great granddaughter through his first child Sarah Christine Forsgren Klem Christensen. Sarah's oldest child was Lorinda Klem who married Andrew George Funk. Eight children were born to Lorinda & Andrew. Erma was the baby, born after Andrew's return to his family from his mission to Denmark. Erma was brought to the reunion by her daughter Andrea and grandson John.  [Update to this paragraph Jan. 2013:  Erma enjoyed an open house at the Crestwood Care Center in Ogden where she lives, given by daughter Andrea and attended by many friends and family members.  She reached the 100 year milestone with ease and continues to love her life and enjoy good health.  She was honored in the LDS Church News later on that month.  I wish I could have been with her.  ]

      But not to be left out is LeJune Forsgren Maughan, Peter's granddaughter through his last child, Elias Peter Forsgren (born to Peter's second wife Elise Thomassen). LeJune Forsgran Maughan is 91 years old. Her health did not allow her to actually be with us but her daughter came (pictured below) to represent the family and also brought with her a box of letters & documents that belonged to Peter Adolph. Many Peter Adolph artifacts are still the possession of these great grandchildren: Chairs, animals, boxes, etc. that he carved, as well as many silk products made by his wife Elise. [See blog posts of Aug 9, 2010 & May 5, 2010] The gold headed cane which is referred to in the May 2010 post was donated to the DUP museum in Salt Lake City where it can be viewed by all.

LeJune Forsgren Maughan with daughter LeAnna & son-in-law Jay

     We wish both these ladies many more wonderful years of life and are glad to honor them at this time!

     The "Forsgren Scrolls" were once again rolled out (even though they had not been updated since 2010). If I literally knew of every descendant there would be no room for reuning! The scrolls would take up 4 times as much space. For some families we are still not current by at least 3 generations. I encourage you to get in touch with me to see how complete our records are, since tracking all the descendants of the three Forsgren siblings is part of the mission of the Association!  
Richard and Maxine Knight searching for themselves on the descendant scrolls

      We were excited to have Christina Erika's descendants represented this year (since we almost never have in the past). Fay Hubbard Nilsson (left in the photo below with some of her extended family) is also 91 years of age and full of zip and fun! (I hope I can still be that way when I reach her age)! (Dorthy) Fay is the daughter of Elfy Almira Davis Hubbard, who is the daughter of Oliver Frederick Davis, who was Erika's 2nd son.

      Fay's granddaughter, Heather Lewis, will act officially as the Forsgren Family Association Secretary for the next couple of years. I am happily relinquishing that title in order to spend more time as association Archivist. Heather brings a wonderful sense of family to the organization. Sooooo glad to have you on board, Heather!

Heather Lewis - Chr. Erika descendant, new Forsgren Fam. Assn. Secretary

The biggest surprise & disappointment is that this is the first year we had NO representation from any of John Erik Forsgren's descendants! Where were you???
Usually there is a good crowd from this branch of the family.



Summary of Minutes of the 2012 John Olaf Forsgren Family Reunion
August 11, 2012

Opened at 12:00 p.m., Prayer and blessing on the food by Morris Forsgren

Welcome and announcement of some people who needed honoring:
  • Frank Forsgren - who passed away in Dec. of 2011 who had been a prominent and consistent attender and arranger of these reunions and past president several times.
  • Clyde Forsgren - Also a frequent attender and supporter. He and his wife are both quite ill in Colorado. His wife Janet is being brought to Utah to stay with her daughter to have care.
  • Erma Funk Walsh - Honored guest. The oldest living descendant of Peter Adolph Forsgren. Age 99. (See photos and comments above)
  • LeJune Forsgren Maughan - Not in attendance because of health. Age 91. Peter's Adolph's only living grandchild.
  • Laurie Bryant - Not in attendance and not a Forsgren, but the researcher who compiled a new biographical paper on John Erick Forsgren. Laurie was responsible for helping to solve the mysteries of two of John's wives - Mary Ann Hunt and the one heretofore known only as Ingeborg. [See the sidebar "labels" for the blog posts on these women]. Laurie and I worked closely while she finished her paper on John E. The paper was donated to the Utah State Archives.  She has been an invaluable friend to the Forsgrens.
Change of Command: The current presidency has been intact for 3 terms. This was the year we decided to seek a concensus on the future of the Assn. as it has been over dozens of years:  A gathering of the umbrella organization every two years on the even years, leaving the odd numbered years for people to have smaller family reunions on the odd years.

The problem we now face are the changes inherent in a mobile society and an electronic age. People move much more frequently & they change e-mails fairly frequently so maintaining an accurate mailing/contact list is very difficult. It is now very expensive to send out a reunion notice thru regular mail only to get 1/3 of them back. The wave of the future is to use online sources as much as possible to do research...

I (Adele) asked if we still wanted to try to keep up the bi-annual reunions. Most of the "old-timers" who organized it are gone now. Is there still interest in getting together every two years? Heather Lewis shared a moving story of a family member who was brought back from depression because she immersed herself into learning about her ancestors. She was inspired by them and their stories and consequently learned to have more love of self. Long story short: We will keep going. Accepting the positions for the new leadership are the following:
  • Mark Forsgren, President
  • Gillian (Jill) Forsgren (Mark's wife), vice president (Mark & Jill e-mail: ) Mark will maintain the John Olaf Forsgren Association funds so donations to the Association can be sent to him. Adele will be changing the monies that have been kept in Las Vegas so that there will only be one account - the one maintained in Brigham City.
  • Heather R Lewis, Secretary (e-mail: Please send address & e-mail changes to Heather who will be in charge of reunion notifications & keeping the address list current.
  • Adele Austin will continue as archivist/blogger (e-mail: ) Please send updates on family member's births, marriages & deaths, photos, family histories, obituaries, etc. to Adele)
Many thanks to the persistent hard work of the outgoing Presidency: Lester Knight, President, Morris Forsgren, Vice-President, and Adele Austin, Secretary/Archivist.

Financial Report: $ 315 was taken in at the reunion toward research goals and organization costs. Thank you all so much. Every dollar counts!

Achievements since the 2010 reunion:
  • John Erik Forsgren's membership and temple blessings have been restored. A letter drafted under the signatures of Judd Forsgren (a JEF descendant) and Adele Austin, Assn. Secretary, was sent to the First Presidency requesting their consideration of JEF's membership status. They quickly replied that permission was being granted to have the work done and that it would be accomplished by a member of the 1st presidency in the Salt Lake Temple. We were advised in Nov. of 2011 that the work had been completed with full membership and all former blessings restored to John E. That was a very emotional and happy event.  [See details on this blog]
  • Mary Ann Hunt's identity and history was uncovered. [For the full story, see the post on this blog]. Mary Ann was JEF's first wife, sealed to him in Nauvoo, by whom he had a son. When that son - Charles - died it has always been said that Mary Ann "left in the company of another man and returned to her people in Boston." That is true....just not true enough. What actually happened was that she came West to Utah in time to meet JEF who was returning from the Mormon Battalion. For some reason their sealing was cancelled and JEF went on to marry Sarah Bell Davis (through whom his only descendants are born). Mary Ann stayed in the S.L. area for a while, purportedly marrying Lafayette Granger, then left with Charles Snow and moved to the Sacramento area of California. Charles's livery stable was burned out in the big Sacramento fire. Sometime after that Mary Ann and Charles have ended up in New Hampshire. After her death to pneumonia Charles remains in Concord, Massachusetts where they are both buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery there. Great thanks go to the impecable skills of researcher Laurie Bryant for uncovering most of the details of this story. Adele was able to help with some aspects and was blessed to see the story to its conclusion with a visit to Concord to photograph their graves.
Next Research Goal:
      We want to begin actively seeking more information on another Forsgren brother, Carl Frederik who did NOT join the Church and settle in Utah with his siblings. There have been family stories passed down through the generations that Carl did come to America and visit his family in Utah but did not stay. Some say he migrated to the Northwest, others say he settled and married in the Wisconsin/Michigan area. Other stories say he returned to Sweden and died there. (I have been unable to prove any of these theories). It is time to hire a Swedish-speaking researcher to help us out. Donations were accepted at the reunion for this endeavor. If anyone else out there wishes to donate please feel free to contact me, Heather or Mark!

The Genealogy Corner:
     A series of handouts were available for those who were interested to answer questions about how each of YOU can help at this stage of your life. Even if the computer age is baffling there is so much that can be done, only by you, in order to benefit your posterity and your fellow Forsgren descendants. Adele will be posting to each blog a "Genealogy Corner" where those handouts will be available to anyone who wishes to use them. [I only ask that if you copy them for use in your wards or among family that you acknowledge who created them]

Thank you to Micah Forsgren (Mark & Jill's son-in-law) who provided extraordinary technical fetes to allow us enough computer time to show people what the blogs were looking like so they would be more excited to visit them.

Thank you to all who brought food to share for our pot-luck as well as display materials and wonderful stories of ancestors. As always, Morris Forsgren's homemade root beer was a hit!

Unofficial Count of Attendance:  70-80 people

The reunion was closed officially about 3:30 p.m. with a closing prayer offered by David J. Lee. Afterwards Mark and Jill led several groups of people over to the old Peter A. Forsgren home at 59 S. 100 E. and gave a tour. The home has been beautifully restored.

SEE YOU ALL IN 2014 !!
A few more misc. photos:

Mark Forsgen, new president of the Forsgren Family Assn.

Enjoying the displays - and cracking jokes to keep Adele laughing

All set up and waiting for the crowd.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


From time to time one comes across the work of others, showing obvious study and time commitment.  One such website I found during a google search for information on missionaries to Sweden.  

The site has interesting photos, maps, sketches and quotes (from most of the same sources we allude to here on this blog)  You will find it interesting to read as well.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom and follow the link to "Forsgren Company Danish Immigration in 1853" as well.