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


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FOURTH WIFE: Ingeborg __?__ (probably Petersen)

John Erik migrated to Moroni, Sanpete County in 1860.   "Here he married his fourth wife.  Not much is known about this marriage except that her first name was Ingeburg, a fifty-six year old widow with five children.  Her last name is not officially known, but her birthplace was Denmark.  She filed for divorce from John on May 8, 1862, in the Sanpete County court on the grounds that she was neglected any support by her husband."  (James A. Anderson's History of John E. Forsgren) p. 5.  NOTE:  It is inaccurate to state that Ingeborg was a widow with five children.  If that assumption is based on the 1860 Census one should note that the last three children are John Erik's by his wife Sarah Bell Davis.  He and Sarah have divorced and Sarah has already remarried (John Clapper) by that year.

Because Utah did not issue marriage licenses or certificates until 1887 we have no record of the actual marriage  and my search of the IGI Sept. 2004 under John Erik Forsgren as well as a 2010 search of temple records in new Family Search does not list a sealing to Ingeborg;  It is possible that the sealing, if there ever was one, was canceled and therefore would not show up on the IGI.

CENSUS: 1860 U.S. Census of Moroni, Sanpete, Utah Territory. Rll M653_1314. p. 661 Image 123 (taken 18 June 1860)
Fosgren, J. E., male, age 44 <1816>, painter, born Sweden
Fosgren, Ingleburg, female, age 56, <1804>, born Denmark
Fosgren, Wm, male, age 11, born Denmark
Fosgren, Peter, male, age 10, born Denmark
Fosgren, Charles, male, age 10, born Denmark [this is incorrect]
Fosgren, Jno, male, age 4, born Utah
Fosgren, Alice, female, age 5, born Utah
[NOTE: Charles, Alice and John are ALSO listed with their mother Sarah in the Brigham City Census taken later on 25 July 1860, but they are mistakenly listed as Clappers.  It is not known for certain that the children were physically present in either home on the days the census takers came by.  Their instructions were to have people list all inhabitants of a house as of the official census date, which in this case was 1 June.  Some historians have alluded to a common practice of claiming people who were not actually physically present - mainly to help inflate or "impress" greater statistics in preparation for Utah Statehood].

Update Dec 2010.  Again, thanks to Laurie J. Bryant who took the time to do the sleuthing I had only thought about doing we can probably identify Ingeborg as the Ingeborg Petersen who arrived in Utah with the Robert F. Neslen Company of 1859.  This is the only Ingeborg of appropriate age in all the overland trail lists.  "That company list also includes Ingeborg's son, Peter Wilhelm, age 8, and a boy named Hans Peter Petersen, age 10, who is not listed as part of any family.  These boys, a year older and with their names Americanized to William and Peter, would be the other two children in the 1860 Forsgren household."  (Quote from Laurie Bryant's manuscript "A Rascal Among the Faithful).  After the divorce of John and Ingeborg nothing more is known about her or her children.

Court Record of the divorce decree
Sanpete County, Utah, Probate Court Minutes, May 8, 1862. 
Utah State Archives, series 17694, reel 138851


  1. Thanks for your work on John Forsgren. I too am interested in his later life. Your blog has been very useful.

  2. John Forsgren's children are listed in two different locations during the same census. Both the father, living in Moroni, and the mother, dwelling 120 miles away, informed census officials that the children were members of their households. Coincidence cannot account for this strange listing. A second 10 year old Charles is possible, but two with a sister four to five years younger, assuming that Alice and Sarah are the same person, is highly unlikely. And when each Charles has a brother named John who is six or seven years his junior, the likelihood that they are the separate individuals completely vanishes.