This is the clay bust rendering displayed at the Forsgren Reunion in the year 2000, created by sisters Brenda Hansen and Trudy Iverson, direct descendants of John Erik Forsgren.
Trudy Iverson (left) and Brenda Hansen (right)
The following is the write-up about the monument placement that appeared in the Church News, May 26, 2001 (written by R. Scott Lloyd)
A year after Church members in Sweden celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first baptism in that country, a monument is being erected to the first missionary in Sweden, John Erik Forsgren; featuring a bust sculpted by two of his direct-line descendants.
The monument is scheduled to be unveiled and dedicated July 26 in Gavle (pronounced "YEV-la") Sweden, on city-owned property next to Elder Forsgren's family home, which still stands. That will be 151 years to the day since Elder Forsgren baptized his brother, Peter, the first baptism in Sweden.
The bronze sculpture is the work of Brenda Forsgren Hansen and Trudy Forsgren Iverson, great-great-granddaughters of Elder Forsgren.
"My parents attended the sesquicentennial celebration a year ago in July," Sister Hansen said, "and some of the local Church leaders were talking about erecting a monument and approached my father with the suggestion of getting the family to donate funds. He told them he had daughters who are sculptors, and they kind of liked the idea of having descendants do it. So when he told us about it, we didn't really wait for any further permission from anybody."
Working from a single photograph of Elder Forsgren, the sisters had a clay bust ready to display at a Forsgren family reunion in Utah within three weeks. That very day, the Forsgren descendants donated enough money to pay for the bust to be bronzed.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, two public affairs missionaries from Utah, Alf and Betty Bostrom, combined their efforts with local Church leaders under the direction of President Gosta Lorlof of the Stockholm Sweden Stake to obtain approval from city officials to place the monument on the city property. It was providential, Elder Bostrom said, that the lot adjacent to the Forsgren home happened to be vacant and happened to be owned by the city. The home itself is under private ownership.
The project was helped along by the donation in Utah of [a large slab] of granite for a pedestal on which the bust will rest. A plaque on the pedestal will contain the following account, written in Swedish:
"John Erik Forsgren was born Nov. 7, 1816, on Ovre Bergsgatan 6 in Gavle. In 1825 he left Gavle as a ship's boy. In Boston USA, in 1843 he came in contact with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Forsgren joined the Church. As the first missionary in Sweden he returned to Gavle in July 1850, where he baptized his brother Peter Adolph. He became the first member of the Church in Scandinavia. Many more were converted and baptized, among them his sister Kristina Erika. In Gavle John organized the first branch in Sweden. John Forsgren died in 1890 in Utah,
USA. Today there are thousands of descendants of the Forsgren family active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This monument is a gift from them to the City of Gavle. Gavle, 26 July 2001."
The bust, now bronzed and ready to be shipped to Sweden
The bust as it appeared early in 2010 - still standing strong and unvandelized, thank goodness!! There was a little local controversy before it was placed about whether it would be "good enough" or an eyesore, etc. Apparently it is being respected.
This is a postcard showing the old part of Gavle which now serves as an artist's colony. The Forsgren home is in the lower right and the park where the monument was placed is in the foreground to the right of the building.
This shot was taken earlier this year (2010) by a couple serving a mission in Sweden and posted to their blog.
This is the Forsgren Family home as it appeared in 1912 when Elias Peter Forsgren (son of Peter Adolph Forsgren) was there as a missionary. The handwritten note about the tree concerns Peter A, who planted the tree. According to the most recent photo, the tree is no more! Elias Peter kept a branch of the tree and had a few artifacts made from it that are in the possession of his daughter LeJune Forsgren Maughan and her family.