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


Friday, May 14, 2010


It is impossible to know for certain how many women might have been classified as John's wives.  The following have documented sealing dates to him:  (Please note these are sealing dates and not necessrily marriage dates.  Some wives he married before he was actually sealed in a temple or by proper Priesthood authority in a designated place other than a temple.)

  • 31 Jan 1846, Nauvoo   -  Mary Ann Hunt (sometimes referred to in sources as Mary Ann White) 
  • 09 Apr 1854, Endowment House   -  Sarah Bell Davis
  • 17 July 1854, "Other"   -  Harriet Frances Noon Smith  [ "other" means not in the EH or a temple;    sometimes these sealings were performed in the offices of those performing the sealing, (in this case Heber Chase Kimball) or in other locations]
  • 16 Oct 1864, Endowment House   -  Kiersten Nelson Johnson
  • 09 Oct 1869, Endowment House   -  Mary Ann Mount Snyder
  • 12 July 1871, Endowment House   -  Johanna Jensen or Jenson
  • 12 July 1871, Endowment House   -  Maren Jensen
  • 12 July 1871, Endowment House   -  Anna Petersen
  • 12 July 1871, Endowment House   -  Anna Nielsen
  • [The wife named Ingeborg is not listed above because there is no record of a sealing date to her, even thogh there is proof of marriage and divorce]
As of May 2010 there is a 10th woman listed as sealed to John - another Sarah Davis with a 2009 vicarious ordinance sealing in the Idaho Falls Temple.  There is a dispute, however.  This is a different Sarah Davis (born in Canada) and not the daughter of William Davis.  She should not have been sealed to John Erik Forsgren since she had another husband.  I suspect the sealing was a result of mistaken combining of what someone thought was a duplicate record.

No personal details are listed for the four women sealed to John in 1871 on new FamilySearch.  Unless further records surface we cannot enlighten anyone as to who exactly they were.  These are from temple records so they are accurate.  We just don't know the circumstances of the sealings or of their lives.  In fact we don't even know if they were actually living at the time of the sealing or whether they were vicarious [after death] ordinances.

By 1876 John Erik was having a serious rift with the Church, often preaching complainingly about the leadership of Brigham Young.  There are no sealings after 1871 documented (he would not have been temple worthy), but that does not mean he did not marry other women.  Deposition statements by many who knew him best seemed not to know about others, or at least were uncomfortable discussing the issue. 

Johannah Timerman, his step-daughter stated in her deposition:  "There might have been a whole lot more wives, but I do not know about them."

Ernest Anderburg deposition:  "I heard that he had seven wives, but he never in the time I knew him, lived with any of them except this one" (referring to Kiersten)

W.F. Randelnoh Deposition:  "While I found many who knew the soldier well, none of them would talk frankly as to his matrimonial affairs."

It sounds from the depositions of both Kiersten and Mary Ann Snyder that they did not even know of each other's existence, let alone who else he might have been married to.

Since John would have supported the practice of polygamy as it was taught early in the Church by the leaders whom he admired, it is not surprising that he would marry.  Whether this was a practice he later preached against is not known.  He was certainly married to and interacting with two wives clear till the end of his life:  Kiersten and Mary Ann Snyder, though the latter declared she had not seen him in a long time and did not even learn of his death until a year after it had happened.

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