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


Thursday, May 13, 2010

SIXTH WIFE: Mary Ann Mount Snyder

Mary Ann Mount Snyder,   born 1 Mar 1842, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois.  died 17 Oct. 1915 in Wellington, Carbon Co., Utah.  She was buried in the Wellington City Cemetery on 20 Oct 1915 

     Seven years after John E. had married Kiersten Nelson Johnson he married Mary Ann Mount Snyder....apparently without the knowledge of Kiersten who did not know of her existence until they were both applying for a widow's pension.
     Mary Ann was 25 years younger than John.  She was born March 1, 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois.  One account says she had never married.  Her obituary states: "She had been married twice, but no children have been born to her."  It is not known if one of  the marriages was prior to or after her marriage to John E. or if, indeed, she really WAS married more than once.  She is buried under the name Fosgreen and is identified as Fosgreen in her obituary.  [Fosgreen is the way the name was often pronounced in earlier years of the Forsgren's arrival in America].  Some have supposed that Mount was married surname, but since she is listed with that name at age 6 when she crossed the plains that is hardly possible.
    Mary Ann had been living with her parents in Payson, Utah (Robert Anderson Snyder and Almeda Melissa Livermore).  John and Mary Ann were married by Elder Daniel H. Wells in Salt Lake City.  There were no children born to the marriage. 

IMMIGRATION TO THE SALT LAKE VALLEY:  Mary Ann came with the Brigham Young Company of 1848. Departure from Winter Quarters 5 Jun 1848, Arrival: 20-24 Sept. 1848
Snyder, Almeda Melissa Livermore, age 32
Snyder, Hannah Matilda, age 1
Snyder, Mary Ann Mount, age 6
Snyder, Robert, age 38
[NOTE: This is the same company that Sarah Bell Davis and her parents came in!  Sarah was 19, 13 years older than Mary Ann.  Would either of these women  possibly have known they would eventually marry the same man!?]
MARRIAGE:  2004 IGI (SL film # 183396 ref # 14222)
"They were married in SLC by Daniel H. Wells.  (Marr. recs of Church.  John Nicholson custodian of records.  Apr 12 1897 certificate notarized by Notary Public James Jack).   "Mary Ann never lived with John, but he would visit her occasionally at the home of her parents.  "He said he had no home for me," Mary Ann later recalled. 

CENSUS: 1870 Census of Payson, Utah Territory, p.233b
Snyder, Robert, age 60, male, white, Farmer, born New Jersey
Snyder, Almeda, age 54, female, white Keeping House, born New York
Snyder, Robert A, age 16, male, born Utah
Fosgren, Mary, Female, white, age 28, Keeping House, born Illinois

1880 CENSUS: Payson, Utah, Family History Library Film #1255338 ; NA Film Number   T9-1338; Page Number 218B
Robt. SNYDER,Self, Md, Male,W, age 70, born NJ, Gardener, father born Germ., mother born Scot.
Almeda M. SNYDER, Wife, Md, Female,W, age 63, born NY, Keeping House, father born NY, mother born  NY
Mary Ann FORSGREN, Dau, Md, Female, W, age 38, born IL, At Home, father born NJ, mother born NY
Robt. SNYDER, Son, Single, Male, W, age 26, born UT, Freighting, father born NJ, mother born NY
Robt. A. POWELL, GSon, Single, Male, W, age 3, born UT, mother born VA, father born NV
Almeda M. POWELL, GDau, Single, Female, W, age 10, born UT, At School, father born VA, mother born NV

1900 Census of Payson, Utah Co., Utah Household 358, ED 161 p. 19
Snyder, Robert, age 90, widowed, born Mar 1810, New Jersey, Father born Germany, Mother born Scotland
Forscren, Mary A, age 58, widow, born Mar 1842, Illinois. Mother of 0 children, 0 children still living. Father born New Jersey, mother born N.Y.

Many thanks to Bob Powell for forwarding the following photo of Mary Ann's parents and her younger sister Hannah Matilda. 

Hannah Matilda married John Ammon Powell.  Hannah died in 1877 but apparently after the death of her father Mary Ann continued to live either with John Ammon Senior or his son John Ammon Jr.  The obituary is a little confusing on the matter.
John Ammon Powell was himself a polygamist, with three wives.  It would not have been unusual for Mary Ann to find herself comfortably used to an environment of polygamy and thus to marry John E. Forsgren also as a polygamist wife.  The Powells and Snyders were early settlers of Carbon County, and probably respected as leaders.  Their early Mormon roots & importance to the area where they lived as well as a certain amount of affluence for the time may have contributed to John E. Forsgren's attraction to Mary Ann.  Was the marriage sort of "arranged?"  Mary Ann was 27 when she married John E. and could  have been considered a spinster.  So far we just don't know what brought them together and what amazing strength of character kept Mary Ann married to him even when he did not provide a home for her.

PATRIARCHAL BLESSING:  Given to Mary Ann Fosgreen in Pason [Utah] on Jan. 13th 1874 by Levi Ward Hancock.   "Given to Maryan Fosgreen daughter of Robert and Malissa Snider, born in Nauvo Ill. March 1st 1842."   ( Spelling retained as in the original.  Thanks given to Richard Wright, a JEF descendant, for obtaining a photocopy of this blessing for the Forsgren Family Association archives.)
     Though it is inappropriate to copy here the blessing in its entirety it is interesting to note that the blessing was given 4 1/2 years after Mary Ann was married to John - when she was 34 years of age.    Mention is made of her having come thru a dark period in her life she didn't expect.   The issue of her not having any children is mentioned.  She was assured that the Lord was mindful of her and that she would have comfort from friends on both sides of the veil and that as long as she acknowledged Israel's God "many sisters would look to [her] with smiling countenances and feel happy in [her] society."  She is told that the blood of Joseph flows naturally in her veins. 

From Kate B. Carter's, Heart Throbs of the West, vol. 6
My mother's sister, Maryann M. Snyder, was born March 1, 1842, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, and came to Utah with her parents in the year of 1847. Mother was born February 26, 1847, at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. She died the 7th of December, 1877, just six months and three days after I was born at Salem, Utah County, Utah. My mother's parents, Robert A. Snyder and Almeda M. Livermore, were living in Payson, Utah. Their daughter, Maryann Forsgren, lived with them and she was at that time 35 years of age. At my mother's death they took me to their home where I lived with them till I was 10 years of age. I can well remember John E. Forsgren coming there to my grandfather's place in Payson to see my Aunt Maryann and how jealous I was over his coming to see my aunt. I did not think she should pay attention to anyone but me. She tried to make me understand that he was her husband. I do not know when they were married but I have the original patriarchal blessing given to Maryann Forsgren, January 13, 1874. As I got older I heard grandfather and grandmother, as well as Aunt Maryann talk about her husband, John E. Forsgren. When my aunt died on the 17th of October, 1915, she left a trunk filled with old papers, which I saved for the purpose of gathering genealogy. Among them were many of John Forsgren's writings and clippings. I did not know of any of the Forsgren people to give them to, and they were of no benefit to me, so I burned them all but the small record book which in 1942 I gave to Kate B. Carter. Signed, Robert A. Powell 764 Denver St., Salt Lake City, Utah

This last statement is the most horrifying of all! Could the journal/manuscript that John set such stock in have been among those papers? Surely the sheer size of it would have prevented its destruction. Anything at all could have shed more light on John's life and would have been a blessing to us all! How often do we destroy things in the name of organization or efficiency that could be of lasting value? It is also possible that Robert Powell felt some resentment of John's treatment of Mary Ann, and that, coupled with the realization that there were no descendants of this marriage might have contributed to his decision to destroy any Forsgren papers.

DEATH: Obituary  News-Advocate, Price, Utah (A weekly published on Fridays), Oct. 22, 1915.
         Mrs. Mamie Fosgreen, aged seventy-eight years, died October 17th.  She had been confined to her bed, except to be hauled around in a chair, ever since a year ago last July.  The funeral services were held Wednesday Oct 20th, under the direction of Bishop Eugene E. Branch.  The speakers all eulogized the name and good work accomplished by "Aunt Mamie," as she was called.
         Mrs. Fosgreen came from Salem to Wellington, where she has lived for many years.  She had been married twice, but no children have been born to her.  Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Snyder, formerly of Wellington, but now of the reservation, attended the funeral services.  Mr. Snyder is her brother.  The past four years she has lived with Mr. and Mrs. John A. Powell, Jr.  Mr. Powell's first wife is a sister to Mrs. Fosgreen.  She lived and died a faithful Latter Day Saint."

" Mary Ann Mount Snyder, the only other known surviving widow of John E. Forsgren, lived out her final days in Sunnyside, Carbon Co., Utah.  She also died in very destitute conditions.  Ill in health for the last ten or twelve years of her life and living with anyone who could keep and care for her, she stayed mostly at the home of her nephew John A. Powell.  She had never divorced John Forsgren even though she had not seen him for twenty years prior to his death.  She did not know of his death until the year following."  (Deposition of Mary Ann Forsgren, July 24, 1902, Sunnyside, Carbon Co, Utah, p. l - as quoted in James A. Anderson's "Denmark to Manti; a History of William Anderson & Family.")

BURIAL:  Wellington City Cemetery, Row 1, Lot 6, Space 06  (Buried as Mary Ann Snyder Fosgreen)
From Heart Throbs of the West: vol. 6 (

Mary Ann's Headstone in the Wellington Cemetery in Carbon Co.  She is buried near her infant nephew Albert Owen Snyder.  The headstone was a little difficult to locate.  It is halfway down the row of stones on the right (about where what looks like a tiny ball in the air on a stick is located)

Mary Ann's Death Certificate
It is interesting to note that Eugene Branch, her Bishop, was the informant on the certificate, not one of her family members.

Am still seeking a photo of Mary Ann.  If anyone out there can help, please let us know!

1 comment:

  1. John Forsgren's journal was a large, thick, well bound "foolscap" book of 721 pages containing the history and experiences from his birth until the month of May 1878. The size of the journal can be estimated by the dimensions of the pages. Foolscap is writing paper varying from 12 x 15 inches to 13 1/2 x 17 inches, according to Ancestry's Concise Genealogical Dictionary, compiled by Maurine and Glen Harris. Forsgren donated the volume to the LDS Historian's Office, but unfortunately retrieved it. "Army of Israel, Mormon Battalion Narratives, edited by David L. Bigler and Will Bagley, page 442.