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


Saturday, May 1, 2010

FIRST WIFE: Mary Ann Hunt

A certain amount of intrigue and mystery have always surrounded the person of Mary Ann Hunt, the first wife of John Erik Forsgren.  She is mistakenly referred to on some records as Margaret White or Mary Ann White.  [I say mistakenly based on the assumption she did not have a marriage prior to her marriage to John E. at age 20].

A TIB (Temple Records Index Bureau) card (in the possession of LeJune Forsgren Maughan) has the following information:

Margaret Ann Hunt, born 15 Aug 1799 in Goshen, Litchfield, Conn.
When married:  (blank)   to John Erik Forsgren
Sealed Husband and Wife  31 Jan 1846
   on the reverse side of the card is written:
Married by B. Young.  Witness H.C. Kimball and Isaac Morley

If the date of birth listed on this card is correct she would have been 17 years older than John, who was born in 1816.  Many other references to her birth as 2 Sept 1824, born in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, (which would make her 8 years younger than John) are correct.  The Sept. date is the one given by her at the time of her temple work in Nauvoo.  (See Brown, Lisle G.  Nauvoo:  Sealings, Adoptions and Anointings 1841-1846. Salt Lake City, Smith-Pettit Fouundation. p. 158).  It is also the date listed on her death certificate.

It appears that even John Erik himself may have called her Mary White as he spoke of her to his step-daughter Johanna Catherine and to others he knew for she is referred to as Mary White by several persons in the packet of depositions to the War Dept. for Pension help by his wives Kiersten and Mary Ann Snyder. 

Marriage date & place discrepancies: Oft repeated sources say John and Mary Ann were married 25 Dec. 1845 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The source for this probably emanated from a footnote in a Daughters of Utah Pioneers article written by John's daughter-in-law Mrs. John H. (Lydia Walker)Forsgren whose knowledge we would all have trusted, but the Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register 1845-1846 lists Mary Ann & John as receiving their endowment in the Nauvoo Temple on that date - so either the location of Boston for the marriage or the date for the marriage has to be incorrect. 
     Did they indeed marry in Boston and come together to Nauvoo (in which case we do not have an accurate date of that civil marriage), or did they actually meet in Nauvoo and marry there?   If John and Mary Ann were joined in marriage on the same day she & John received their endowments then the correct location for a Dec 25th marriage has to be Nauvoo.  I personally have opted to put "approx. 1845" for the date and "Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts" on the appropriate blanks of my PAF program with appropriate explanation in the notes.
     NOTE!!!!   More has been learned about this marriage from a record written by John Erick Forsgren himself in 1865.  It was included in the High Priests Quorum Record Book he kept in the Moroni, Utah Branch.    Please go to that blog post ( here)  This information was discovered by Bro. James Meyer while he was searching in the Moroni [Utah] Branch Records for his own ancestors. He sent copies of the manuscript to me in October 2014).

Sealing date discrepancies:  John and Mary Ann were not actually sealed in marriage until 31 Jan 1846.  [Confirmed in Nauvoo Temple Records and published in Susan Easton Black's compilation of early LDS converts as well as to me personally by Ken Arrington at the Temple/Special Services Dept. when I went to inquire about their sealing cancellation - the date that also shows up on new FamilySearch as the official, recognized date].   Please note that there is a discrepancy on dates in the book compiled by Lisle G. Brown:  Nauvoo: Sealings, Adoptions and Anointings, 1841-1846 p. 103.  This volume lists the sealing date as 3 Feb. 1846.  I do not know what the source of that date would have been.
     On 1 February 1846 Mr and Mrs. John Erik Forsgren were sealed by adoption to Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball - one of seven such "adoptions" of non-biological adult "children" taken on by Heber C. Kimball.  (The practice of these adult adoption/sealings was not uncommon at the time, but was discontinued in the 1880's).  It would seem more logical, knowing the order of ordinances as they would be practiced today, that John and Mary Ann were sealed first as husband and wife (on the 31 Jan date) and then sealed to Heber.

     Side note:  Let me at this point insert a little "local flavor" into our thoughts about John and Mary Ann.  We are talking about a very intense time period in Mormon History.  "In 1845 times were desparate in Nauvoo. . . . Joseph and Hyrum Smith had been martyred at Carthage eighteen months earlier.  The enemies of the Church continued to make life difficult for the 16,000 saints living in and around Nauvoo with constant harassment, beatings, burning of property, attacks, and threats to arrest Brigham Young and other church leaders.  The Saints knew they would soon be forced to leave, but . . . they were desperate to finish the temple before they left. "  Small portions of the temple would be finished, the areas cleaned and then sacred temple ordinances would be carried out, followed by continued construction of other areas and repeated dedication to the Lord's purposes of those spots.  "Early Christmas morning 1845 found Brigham and his brethren in the temple in intense effort.  They were there the whole day, from morning until night.  There was no Christmas celebration. . . .  Brigham received word early in the day that U.S. marshals were in Nauvoo stirring up trouble and trying to make arrests.  But the brethren carried on.
     By 6:00 p.m. all of the Twelve met in the temple.  They talked and prayed about their desperate situation and the move from Nauvoo they would soon be forced to make.  After the meeting was over they all went back to work, performing ordinances for the people until finally, at 10:20 p.m., nearing exhaustion, they stopped.  By then Christmas Day was over.  Brigham had helped one hundred and seven people receive their ordinances. . .   Most of the people went home after that to get some rest and start again early the next morning.  But Brigham and another Apostle, Heber C. Kimball, remained in the temple all that night to continue working."  (Laura F. Willes, Christmas with the Prophets, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2010, pp. 13-14.)
     John Erik Forsgren and Mary Ann Forsgren were among those 107 people who received their temple endowment on that Christmas Day.  Just a little over a month later they would leave Nauvoo with the first wave of Saints, some time between the 4 & 15th of February 1846.

A son named Charles?  Family stories and written accounts have always asserted that Mary Ann & John E. bore a son, named Charles, who passed away shortly after birth.  The accounts contend that this death, combined with the other hardships of persecution, contributed to Mary Ann's making the decision to leave John E.  The reports are that she "left in the company of another man and returned to her family in Boston."   It is reported that John never heard from her again.  The deposition of Johanna Catherine Timmerman to the War Dept. talks of Mary White [as she referred to her] and son Charles and says "that some time in the 60's he [John] heard of this first wife's death."  

New data has come to light this year (2010) that proves the story we have all repeated and passed on through the generations is only partially true.

No researcher that I know of has yet found any official record of the birth, death or burial of son Charles.  The answer to when he might have been born can only be determined by knowing exactly when & where the couple was married.  If they were indeed married in Boston, before arriving in Nauvoo, then Charles could have been born in Nauvoo and feasibly even died there.  Another likely candidate for place of death and burial would be Council Bluffs, Iowa after the Forsgren's expulsion from Nauvoo with the rest of the Saints.  Was Mary Ann already pregnant with Charles when they left?  Did John E. ever know this son?  He left with the Mormon Battalion in July of 1846, only 5 months after their arrival in Council Bluffs.  

Regardless of where exactly he died, Charles could have been born in the covenant since their sealing as a couple took place in January of the year he probably was born.   None-the-less, someone has submitted his name for vicarious temple work and a sealing of son Charles to Mary Ann and John Erik Forsgren was performed 31 July 2009 in the Louisville, Kentucky Temple.  So concerns any of us have had for the eternal togetherness of this little family are a moot point. 

It is also possible that Charles was conceived in the Great Salt Lake Valley and was born and died there.  (See the following paragraphs about new research).
   NOTE!!!!   More has been learned about this marriage and this son in a record written by John Erick Forsgren himself in 1865 that was included in the High Priests Quorum Record Book he kept in the Moroni, Utah Branch.    Please go to that blog post (here )  This information was discovered by Bro. James Meyer while he was searching in the Moroni Branch Records for his own ancestors and sent to me October 2014).

Ken Arrington of the Temple/Special Services Department told me on 2 May 1996 that the sealing of John and Mary Ann was cancelled 26 October 1848.  No reason for this cancellation was offered to me. I have always assumed it was because Mary Ann had left John and gone back to her family (as was reported by John himself and as has been believed by generations of his descendants since then!)
UPDATE 10 December 2010
     Much, much more has been learned about Mary Ann and what happened to her, largely through the efforts of Laurie Bryant. Ph.D.,  of Salt Lake City.  It was my privilege to be in her confidence and to contribute to the research efforts in as many small ways as I could from far away here in Las Vegas.
     Deepest gratitude is extended to Laurie who has perservered so that some of the mystery surrounding Mary Ann could be unlocked.  Laurie's painstaking and persistent research in journals and historical information at the Utah Historical Assn., Church History Library, and Family History Center has brought great insight and new facts to the plate.  We have had a wonderful association together in this adventure.  She has written a well-documented, 24 page article entitled, "A Rascal Among the Faithful"  John Erik Forsgren 1816-1890.
     Now don't go getting all put off by the title!  That quotation is actually from another source:  George M. Stephenson's , The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration: a Study of Immigrant Churches, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1932. p. 100.  Laurie became interested in John E. Forsgren because of her larger interest in documenting the history of her neighborhood, the East Bench of Salt Lake City.  She could not be studying the early settlers of THAT area without coming across the story of John's time there as J.J. Branch, the Bench Prophet.  Her interest in him blossomed into a great blessing to all of us!
     Laurie's full manuscript has been donated to the Utah Historical Society Research Library for the reference of all who desire to see it (a call number will be added here once their cataloging of the mss has finished).  It is, without doubt, the most comprehensive, well-documented and unbiased treatment yet of the life of John Erik Forsgren.   Some of its contents will appear on this blog in some form (with her permission), but any John Erik descendant ought to avail himself of the full read!  I cannot reproduce it here since it is now the property of the Utah Historical Society.   You will need to go there to have a photocopy made of the manuscript should you desire to do so.

     On August 12, 2010 my husband and I sat with Laurie at a Mexican Restaurant on the grounds of the old Rio Grande Railroad Depot where the Utah Historical Society Research Library is located.  My very tasty chicken burrito fell from my fingers as she dropped a research bomb on me!

     Contrary to generations of all of us believing that Mary Ann left John Erik in Council Bluffs to return home to Boston, SHE ACTUALLY CAME WEST TO SALT LAKE WITH ALL THE OTHER PIONEERS!  I couldn't believe it!   It had always been a tantalizing, but elusive dream for me during the many months I had devoted to learning about John's various wives to find out what had happened to Mary Ann!   I just didn't know how in the world we would ever track her down and find out what had become of her.
     The evidence has been there all along.  Actually in rather open view.  What contributed to no one setting the record straight?  Probably lots of things, number one being that nobody tried hard enough!  That could be because among the first 3-5 generations of descendants there was not only resentment, but a feeling probably existed that no one wanted to rock the boat or learn anything more that might disappoint them about John E.  In fact the story of his disassociation from the Church was a very hushed matter for many years.  Maybe it just seemed that what we all read was so oft-repeated and accepted that it didn't seem very important to learn anything more - especially since the only descendants come thru just one of his other wives.
     It could have been as much a result of accessibility as anything.  It is a great gift to be alive during this wonderful electronic, digital age that allows us access to so much more than was formerly readily findable or available.  Journals have been saved, digitized and now indexed so that an obscure paragraph in someone else's memoirs available to us to paint a fuller portrait of Mary Ann Hunt!  

I could ramble on and on with excitement forever, but let's get down to some facts.  References to Mary Ann crossing the plains are numerous.

The first primary evidence has been available on the website for some time:  The Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868 site.   There she is:
     Forsgren, Mary Ann, age 22, traveling with the Abraham O. Smoot-George B. Wallace Company which left Winter quarters on 18 June 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake between the 25th & 29th of Sept. of that same year.  (The actual date of arrival is not certain since the larger company had split up into smaller groups and each entered the valley on different days).  Do not confuse this entry with that of Mary Ann Mount Snyder who is MUCH younger (and who travels to Utah with her parents and in the same company as did Sarah Bell Davis, another of JEF's future wives.  See their separate blog posts for more detail). 

Mary Ann Hunt Forsgren is mentioned in several journal entries by others traveling in the company:  

A - Howard R. Egan. Pioneering the West 1846 to 1878; Major Howard Egan's Diary. Pub by the Howard R. Egan Estate, 1917. p. 135 (Utah Hist. Soc. call # 921 EG1e) The following paragraph is in that publication under the heading
     11.- Meeting the Trains, September, 1847
     "Sunday, September 5th. - The weather was fine and we pursued our journey at 9 a.m. One of our horses was missing and I went down the creek about a mile and a half and found him and also one of Brother Brigham's and E. Snow's. We crossed the Big Sandy and came aout twenty-six miles and encamped near the Pacific Springs. Here we found two companies, Brothers Smoot' s and Wallace's. Soon after we arrived Brother Rich's company came up. Here we found Brother Kimball's wagons. James Smithers, Peter Hanson, Mary Helen Harris and MARY FOSGRENE were along. The brethren were called together this evening and received similar instruction to that which was given to the other companies. Brother Young said it was his intention to remain here tomorrow and have a meeting at 11 o'clock. The evening was very cold."  [The company was camped at Pacific Springs: A Wikipedia article describes that location this way:  "South Pass, a 20-mile (32 km) wide pass across the Continental Divide, is located between the modern towns of Atlantic City and Farson.  At an elevation of 7,550 feet (2,300 m) above sea level, it was one of the most important landmarks of the Mormon Trail. Near South Pass is Pacific Springs, which received its name because its waters ran to the Pacific Ocean"]

B - Hansen, Peter Olsen, Journal [ca. 1876], 67-69. Trail Excerpt: [1847]
     "In due time the companys started & followed the track of the Pioneers, which laid over the Elkhorn river & Longs fork, up on the north side of Platte river to Fort Laramie, over the black hills and to the north side again, from thence up the Sweet water to the pacific Springs, down through Ecco canyon to the Weber & so on over the big Mountain & down into the Great Salt Lake Valley, where they had to cut their road through a Mable [Maple] grove. It was the 24th of July when they arrived there, and my brother claims that Prof. Orson Pratt & him were two first in the valley.
     "After wards some more companies fitted out & started under the guidance of Elder John Taylor. I was started off on the 14th of June with a waggon & 3 yolke of cattle. Four of the wagons were B. Kimballs. Our captain of ten was br James Smithies, and George B. Wallace who was president of the Boston branch when I joined the church, was our captain of fifty & A[braham]. O. Smoot our captain of hundred. For the first week I felt tired when night came, but after that I F did not feel so any more and I was happy indeed, and felt proud of my trust. Beside Sister [Nancy Ann] Smithies we had two other women with us, Mary Ellen K[imball]. & Mary [Ann] Forsgren. Bro. Fayett [Lafayette] Granger & Moses Thurston came with two wagons & desired to travel with us for to have one woman each for them on condition that they would furnish us with bacon & groceries, and this prooved a blessing unto us. Granger was a clever man to travel with and his teamster was a good lad. It was said that 9 hundred waggons had past over the rocky went on the road that season. But we got along well & were much blest by our heavenly father continually, and the journey was very interesting to me and I took much delight in keeping a dayly journal for Mr. Kimball, which I, sorry to say, lost on another trip. Many a little insident transpired which I will make mention of as far as I remember them. "

C - In James Smithies Diary 1846-1859 she is referred to as "Marey Frosyin." Excerpt below:
     "Wensday Augst. 25th Verey fogey and wet[.] we had a great deal of trouble with our cattal this morning[.] the[y] got mixt with Bro Taylors. Bro. [John] Wixom had a ox died this last night. started our days jurney and we had a good road all day. campt close by a fine run of water. and som[e] Better feed for our cattal hear. There are maney large saige trees heare the[y] are as thick as a mans leg. it has been a verey cold day and dark. there are verey high mountains all a round heare. the mountain top appear above the cloud and there are som[e] verey high rocks upon them as we crost this brook by which we are campt. Wm. Grager wagon turned over right into the brook and Sister Marey [Mary Ann] Frosynin [Forsgren] was in the wagon but was not hurt all [h]is things was wet and [h]is exel tree broak; traveled .8. miles making .690. miles from W. Q. "  [This William Granger (Lafayette William Granger) figures rather prominently in Mary Ann's life later on.]

D - Kimball, Mary Ellen Harris Abel, Sketch [of] pioneer history, 1895, 24, 27-28. Trail Excerpt:
     " Pres. Young recovered his health and began to prepare for traveling. A company of one hundred men and 3 women namely Sister Harriet Young & Sis. Ellen Kimball & Clara Young with their husbands. They were ready to start about the first of April. They thought another Co. might be ready to go the first of June to bring grain &c. for farming. I found that Father& Mother were expecting to go at this time. I did think of going until our family went. But often thought of mother. How would she stand the journey. Should I ever see her again in this world. These thoughts troubled me. Wm. Kimball came in one evening (after loading up the wagons for the journey) he said, there is room for one more to go, who volunteers. I replied I will. Can you be ready by monday morning, said he. Yes I replied. The family took hold and helped me; and I was ready in time. There was one female beside myself to go in our wagons. She was the wife of one of the brethren who had gone in the Battalion to Mexico. Her name was Mrs. Mary Forsgreen [Forsgren], wife of John Forsgreen. She expected to meet her husband in the valley on his return home, which she did. . . .
     Yet we were on the Pacific slope, as all the streams since we came to the Pacific springs ran to the west, toward the Pacific Ocean[.] But in a few hours the snow melted off. This was the only snow storm of any account that we had on the road. In about 10 days we had reached the top of the high mountain where we could see Salt Lake. I shall never forget the sensation it gave me, to see that peaceful lake. It seemed that my heart jumped into my; mouth, and tears in my eyes. I felt to exclaim thanks to my Heavenly Father that we are so near our place of destination. "

E - from Heritage Gateways a K-12 sesquicentennial project: found on website
Pioneer Data Summary 06/18/1847 - Crockett Date: June 18, 1847 On the Oregon Trail, Wyoming:
Paragraph titled Elkorn River, Nebraska
     "Included in the first ten led by James Smith were: Margaret Frosgreen, Lafayette Granger, Fales Hancall, Ursula B. Hancall, Peter O. Hanson, Mary Ellen Harris . . . ."

     If Mary Ann was still with the James Smithies contingent of wagons (after the incident where she fell into the river) then she arrived at the Salt Lake Valley Sept. 26, 1847.  John Erik, in the meantime, was on his way to Salt Lake after having been mustered out of the Mormon Battalion.  He arrived with several of his fellow enlistees early in October of 1847...just days later.  Was John surprised to see Mary Ann or had he expected to?   It certainly appears from Mary Ellen Harris Kimball's account that Mary Ann left with the express purpose of rejoining John.  She must somehow have received word that the Battalion members were on their way to join the body of the Saints.
     As Laurie and I learned of her arrival in Salt Lake and then analyzed the date we had for the cancellation of sealing to John we were left to wonder how much could be learned about her in the context of the western Saints.   What caused their split?  What caused the sealing cancellation which ocurred almost exactly one year later?   Was it the arrival of beautiful Sarah Bell Davis?  Was it a desire on John's part to join in polygamy which Mary Ann found distasteful?  Isn't it interesting that we suspect the fault might lie with John in some way?

     The following quite remarkable entry was found by Laurie Bryant. It is an account which sheds new light on the personality of Mary Ann, and which also opens doors to tracking down the remainder of her history.  It is a paragrah included in the very detailed autobiography of Nelson Wheeler Whipple ( a pioneer who crossed the plains in the second Brigham Young Company (1848) with Sarah Bell Davis and her parents and many other leading Church leaders.

     "While I was at work for Peter Nebeker he enquired if I did not understand tending a saw mill. I told him I did, and he said his brother John wished to employ a man to go to north Mill Creek Canyon to work through the winter.
      I was soon looking after this job, as I thought it to be a good chance for me to make my living til spring.
      A man, not belonging to the Church, named Charles Snow, had charge of the mill at the time. I saw him and agreed to go and made preparations accordingly.
     A great storm of rain and snow came on, which prevented us from going until it cleared off again. We got John Nebeker's ox team, gathered what flour, meat, potatoes, cabbage, etc., I could get and set for the canyon, 12 miles north of the city.
     The weather was very fine and all looked fair to make a living, but still we, on leaving the city, both felt alike, sad and sorrowful for some cause unknown to us and continued so until we got to the mill where we found Mr. Snow, who was so glad to see us come and so jovial and cheerful that it revived our spirits and finding the place much better than we expected, we felt better.
     I will here give a short sketch of Mr. Snow as I was in his employ. He befriended me very much and appeared to be a very feeling and friendly-dispositioned man.
     Charles Snow was born in Boston, Mass. or near that place. He was a middle-sized man, handsome built, good countenance, keen dark eyes, dark hair, and a shrewd Yankee of a kind, disposition and naturally inoffensive. He came to Great Salt Lake Valley in the company with John Stuart, in the year 1849. What motive he had in coming here, I was never able to ascertain. He went to work in north Mill Creek Canyon for Heber C. Kimball as soon as he came to the Valley, got out the most of the lumber for Heber's house and, in the spring, bought a part of the mill and continued to run it until I came there in 1850, after which he hauled logs, etc., and boarded with me through the winter of 1851. In the spring he went to Salt Lake City and built a large barn for the purpose of starting a livery stable.
     During this time, he got acquainted with a lady by the name of Mary Granger, whose husband was on a mission, and who was believed, on account of her former conduct, to be adulterously inclined. He took up with this woman and, no doubt, was altogether too free with her, boarding there and no doubt sleeping there most of the time.
     This continued for [a] considerable length of time and finally, by her request, by some process unknown to me, they were married by Heber C. Kimball, before her husband, LaFayette Granger, came back from his mission.
     Mr. Snow was, no doubt, for some time a full believer in the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, and quite a favorite of Bro. Kimball, who did very well by him. He was generally respected by his acquaintances. But after he became familiar with the woman mentioned above, he began to show a different spirit, and his friendly cheerful ways were quite changed, and he began to talk of selling out and going to California which he finally did.
     I worked for and dealt with him a good deal, and can say he did the best by me of any man with whom I have had any dealings in this country.
     He went to Sacramento and the last I heard from him he had been keeping a hay market and livery stable, and was burned out at the time of the great fire in that city.
     His wife, or woman, that he took with him was a child that was taken and raised in the family of Heber C. Kimball. When quite young she married a man named John Forsgren, an Italian, and a good man, to all appearances, and when he was gone on a mission she ran about with different ones with which she had no business, and finally married a man named Lafayette Granger, and when he was gone on a mission she was married to the said Charles Snow. She had no children when she went from here, but I was told by William H. Hooper that she had a son.
     I have felt to write this much concerning those persons which I think to be nearly correct. Feb. 23, 1863"

Nelson Wheeler Whipple

     So there you have the profile of quite a different lady from we might have imagined!  If indeed Mary Ann had been indiscreet in her relationships with other men that would account for an eventual cancellation of sealing from John E.    We must keep in mind that Mr. Whipple's "memories" have accuracy problems at several levels.  It is merely Mr. Whipple reciting events and circumstances as he had heard them.  The actual truth about many things could be somewhat different.   What the account DOES do is give us the names of two men who might be husbands to Mary Ann.

     Lafayette Granger:  I have tried in vain so far to verify an actual marriage to Lafayette Granger.  That they shared a very close relationship I have no doubt.  Remember that they traveled across the plains together.  And there is once again a connection to Heber C. Kimball.  Lafayette is the brother of Heber's wife Sarah M.  The Peter O. Hanson account above contains an odd statement...that Granger and Thurston had arrived and asked to have one woman each of them in return for provisions they would provide.  It caused me to wonder if Lafayette set out after Mary Ann to watch over her during the trek...or if even possibly Heber C. Kimball had sent him to do the same.  They could even have been joined in marriage by Heber!  It is significant that in the 1850 Census of Great Salt Lake Mary Ann is listed with the surname Granger  (See below)
      On new Family Search three wives are mentioned as being married to Lafayette.  Mary Ann is not one of them.  A life history of his wife Prudence makes no mention of her husbad having a former marriage.  
      There is a court case at the Utah State Archives, Box 1, Folder 3 (not microfilmed as of Sept 2010) titled "Lafayette Granger vs Charles Snow, 1851"  Apparently Lafayette returned from wherever he had been (I am not sure that he was away on a mission as Whipple conjectures) to find that Charles, and presumably Mary Ann, had absconded with most of his household of goods!  The Mormon Overland Trail Database does indeed show Lafayette coming in the Smoot company in 1847...but lists him a second time arriving in S.L. in 1851, this time in the company of his mother Lydia and brother Farley.   That is the right sequence of "absence" for Mary Ann to have turned her affections elsewhere.  There is no mention of Mary Ann in the court case.
     Lafayette Granger died in 1894 in Schofield, Utah and is buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery, plot 20085E-12-14-3.

     Charles Snow may have been born in Boston.  His death certificate states he was born in Danbury, New Hampshire.  I do not know who would have provided that information. The informant on the death record is the cemetery undertaker. (He is also the informant on Mary Ann's and according to Tish Hopkins, caretaker of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, did not necessarily know the individuals personally.)    It is also possible he was born in Concord, near Boston, since that is where his parents moved after their marriage.  It seems from Whipple's account of Charles that he was a handsome and very likeable sort of fellow.  
Immigration to Utah:  Joined mid-trail the Howard Egan Company which had departed 18 April 1849.  They arrived in Salt Lake 7 August 1849. Charles was age 28.  He had lately been in Baltimore, MD

Censuses:  1850 Census of Great Salt Lake, Utah Territory family # 43 []
Granger, Mary Ann, female, age 27 <1823>, born Massachusetts
Snow, Charles, male, age 30 <1820>, joiner, born Massachusetts
McFarlan, Solon, male, age 18, laborer, born New York [this young man was in the same company as Charles as they crossed the plains]

     A search of city directories in Sacramento 1855 thru 1860 yields no Charles Snow that seemed identifiable as "our" Charles.  The fire referred to in Whipple's autobiography would have been the 1852 fire that destroyed 85% of Sacramento.  (There was a second severe fire in 1854).   On Jan 6, 2010 I found the following entry on
California 1852 State Census:  Sacramento, Sacramento p. 23, lines 4 & 5 (taken July 1852) [] - image difficult to read
Charles Snow, age 30, laborer, born Mass., last residence M.D. [probably Maryland - which is where Howard Egan stated he had been residing before joining his wagon train]
Mary A Snow, age 27, born Mass., last residence Mass, [Mary A was indexed as Mary J in the ancestry transcription]

It is interesting that neither of them chose to list Utah as their last residence.  Somewhere between the 1852 Census and one of the two mentioned fires in Sacramento we find that Charles and Mary Ann have probably given up.  This is when they leave for "home" (the true part of the story that she left in the company of another man and returned to her people).  The fact that they were both Massachusetts natives may have been part of what attracted them to each other in the first place.

1860 Census of Malone, Franklin, New York; p. 43 taken 23 Jun 1860 Household 288 (
Charles Snow, truckman, age 39 born New Hampshire
Mary Snow, age 36, born Massachusetts
Deforest (indexed as Doust) Russell, servant, age 15, born New York

1870 Census of Brandon, Franklin, New York, p. 9 (460) taken 11 Aug 1870 Household #72 (
Charles Snow, age 48, <1822> born New Hampshire, works saw mill ; real estate value $2000; personal estate $600
Mary ann Snow, age 45, <1825>born Massachusetts, Keeping House

1880 Census of Bedford, Middlesex, MA. (
Charles Snow, head, male, age 58 <1822> huckster, He, father and mother all listed born Massachusetts,
Mary A. Snow , wife, age 54 , born Massachusetts,
NARA Film Number T9-0538 Page 75 Page Character C Entry Number 1916 Film number 1254538 H

1900 Census of Concord, Middlesex, MA Residence Concord Town, Precinct 1 (south part), Middlesex, Massachusetts - Walden Street. Household 37:
Albian & Anna Jordan, head and wife
Charles Snow, age 78, widowed, Birth Date Apr 1822; Massachusetts ; he is a house inmate. There are two borders and two house inmates.
Father Birthplace Massachusetts ; Mother Birthplace Massachusetts
Enumeration District 0737 Sheet Number and Letter 3A Household ID 40 Reference Number 4 GSU Film Number 1240658 Image Number 00000142

A further search of online databases and a couple of well-placed phone calls verified that Charles Snow and Mary Ann Snow are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (no, not THE Sleepy Hollow Cemetery - that one is in New York.) in Concord, Massachusetts.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I marveled at the "coincidence" that I would be traveling to Concord just three weeks from the time I was able to establish with certainty their presence in the cemetery there.

On October 4, 2010 I stood in front of the matching headstones of Charles and Mary Ann Snow, both of them perfectly preserved.  I can hardly describe my feelings of affection, of gratitude for the forces that brought this research to a conclusion, of joy & satisfaction that one feels when a mystery is solved!  I sensed the presence of two people who endured to their mutual ends together and wished I could  know even more about them.  Whatever their frontier adventures, misadventures and trials had brought them, they had come to love and be faithful to one another. 

Here they are!  Mary Ann & Charles Snow
The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a wondrous place.  Over 10,000 people are buried here, among them Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott & Hawthorne.  The feel of ancient history is all around you.  The three stones behind Charles are also Snows - probably his father Jonathan, mother Sarah (or Sally) & sister Harriet judging from the research I have been able to piece together so far.

Chas Snow  B. April 8 1822 - D. Dec. 24 1905

Mary A.  Wife of Cha's Snow  B Sept 2, 1825  D. April 1 1896
Since I cannot determine from just Census records that Mary Ann and Charles had children together I was left to wonder who might have placed identical headstones for them.  Patricia Hopkins, the VERY helpful caretaker of the cemetery, told me there would be no records as to who actually purchased the stones.  I came to the conclusion that at the time of Mary Ann's death in 1896 Charles may have arranged for both stones.  I found it amazing that they were in such good condition, given the climate and weather conditions of Concord, Massachusetts!

The graves are located in plot 82 between paths D & E - the Snow Family plot - in what used to be known as the New Hill Burying Ground.  Eventually the larger Sleepy Hollow Cemetery grew up around it and encompassed that older area.

Headstones of Jonathan & Sarah Snow and their daughter Harriett - present in the family plot before Charles and Mary Ann's deaths. 

Another view of the Snow Family Plot (and the wonderful old cemetery)

What led me to the burial places in the first place was a "genealogist's nudge" which guided me to try the newest collections of data that are a result of the Church's vast indexing program of their digitized records.  To my utter amazement I found the following record...once again something that had been available all along but until we had the knowledge that Mary Ann had married a man named Charles Snow a family researcher would not likely have ever come across film number 961519 at the SL Family History Library.  I have added in red information that was not indexed but which is found on her death record obtained at the City Hall in Concord.
Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910, v. 464 p. 181
   Name: Mary A. Hunt Snow
   Gender: Female
   Burial Date:
   Burial Place: Concord, Massachusetts
   Death Date: 01 Apr 1896
   Age at Death:  70 years, 7 months
   Death Place: Concord, Massachusetts
   Age: 70
   Birth Date: 1826
   Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
   Occupation: not listed
   Race: White
   Marital Status: Married
   Spouse's Name: Charles Snow
   Residence:  Concord, Massachusetts
   Father's Name: Andrew Hunt [She gave Silas Hunt into the record when obtaining her endowment in Nauvoo]
   Father's Birthplace: Sudbury, Massachusetts
   Mother's Name: Abby Stacy
   Mother's Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
   Cause of death:  Pneumonia
   Informant:  W.H. Farrar
   Date of Record and Record Number:  April 9, 1896  #2466
   Indexing Project (Batch) Number: B06847-9

Image from
 The above "slice" is from this page : 

Charles' death is also listed in that filmed collection, but that particular year was not yet indexed and available to me the day I found Mary Ann.  While I was in Concord I visited the town hall on Monument Square and obtained a typewritten transcript of the Charles' certificate of death.  The clerk on duty was not happy that I had "come in off the street" and asked her to stop what she was doing and provide such a thing (my comment that I would only be in Concord for two hours and had traveled all the way from Las Vegas to get the record notwithstanding).  I talked over this transcript with Patricia Hopkins in a later email because some of the data did not match up to what the headstone said.   She verified that the entry could have been interpreted incorrectly and the clerk - probably under my pressure- had given me incorrect dates.  I was finally sent a corrected death certificate transcription in March 2011.
   Name: Charles Snow
   Date of Death: December 24, 1905    Age at Death: 83 years, 8 months, 16 days
   Place of Death: Concord, Massachusetts
   Sex & Marital Status: Male, Widowed
   Place of Birth: Danbury, New Hampshire
   Occupation: Not Listed
   Last Spouse: Not Listed
   Residence: Concord, massachusetts
   Name of Father: Joseph Snow
   Birthplace of Father: Not Known
   Maiden name of Mother: Sarah Bohannan
   Birthplace of Mother: Not Known
   Cause of Death: Cystitic following Prostatic Hypertrophy [which appears to be inflammation &    infection of the urinary tract because of Protate gland enlargement]
   Informant: W.H. Farrar [He is also the informant on Mary Ann's death certificate. He is listed as an Undertaker in the 1900 Concord, MA census]
   Date of Record and Record Number: January 3, 1906   #75

So there you have it.  The intriguing conclusion of the mystery couple.  As Laurie Bryant has often said, "with every research item found and documented, more questions are raised."   Somewhere out there could be another "Nelson Wheeler Whipple" who might know more about this couple and could enlighten us to the details of their life together back on the East coast.   Did they ever have children together?    So much more to learn.

PATRIARCHAL BLESSING:  An inquiry by Richard Wright, a JEF descendant, at the request of the Forsgren Family Association revealed that there is no Patriarchal Blessing on file in the Church Archives for Mary Ann Hunt Forsgren even though Laurie Bryant records that one was received in Nauvoo.

1 comment:

  1. Great work on the research!

    I have spent much time over the past several years researching the Granger family, one member of which you mention, Lafayette. I would be thrilled if you could provide any additional direction for my research into the Granger family.

    As you pointed out, Lafayette had a sister Sarah and a brother Farley. However, he also had another brother named Gilbert, who was some years older.

    In 1850, Gilbert is known to have traveled from Illinois to the American River in CA for the gold rush. I suspect strongly that Lafayette was with Gilbert in CA during 1850 rather than away on mission for the church as proposed in the Whipple diary.

    Gilbert died in August somewhere along the American River. The death of Gilbert, and possible return of Lafayette to Salt Lake City would roughly correspond to the time frame when he found that Mary Ann left him for Charles Snow.

    Of course, the loss of his wife would also free him for going back to Nauvoo and helping his mother, sister Sarah and brother Farley move to Salt Lake City in 1851 as you mentioned.