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


Monday, August 23, 2010


     We have a wonderful new friend!   Meet Charlotta Cederlof (sorry, I don't know how to add the correct Swedish diacritical marks over the o in her surname!).  Charlotta is a journalist who has lived most of her life in Gavle.  She is working with a radio show about sculptures in Gavle.  When she found the blog she contacted me with a wonderful offer to send photos.    I told her that I have seen many pictures of the front and sides of the old Forsgren home which is now a shop called Konstra in larger Gavle Old Town.   What I would like to see are pictures of the back and interior yards.   She shared the following pictures with me and gave permission for them to be published on the blog.

This picture was taken during the long winter of 2009-2010.  Charlotta called it the "finbul" winter - a mythical winter from the days of the Vikings which was said to last three years without any summer.  It must have seemed like that to the residents of Gavle.  The snows reached 7 feet high (2.2 meters)!  This photo is taken across "Snus majas Tomt" - the name of the park and surrounding houses.  Tomt means yard or garden.  Maja is a woman's name and the word "snusmajas" can be roughly translated to mean "chewing tobacco Maja."  She was a lady who was known to sell tobacco and sometimes gin to the sailors.

That is the Forsgren home in the background. It is now a lovely arts & crafts shop.  The memorial bust of John Erik is just out of sight on the left side of the photo.

Here we find John Erik once again braving the long, cold winters!  His home is to the left in the photo.
How wonderful that these ancient little buildings can withstand this kind of weather!  It freezes me just to look at it!
 Can a bicycle even navigate these winters???   Photo taken right next to the Forsgren home looking down the street.  (Compare the image to the first one taken across the park).

This is Charlotta's friend Ina enjoying lunch in the back of the Forsgren house (on a much nicer day!)  Notice two things:  the lovely stained glass window which is between the main house and the second building of the
Forsgren property.  Also, the two young men are looking from the house out onto the snusmajas tomt and the sculpture of John Forsgren.

     This photo was taken at Majas - the tea room next door to Konstra (the Forsgren home, now antique shop). Charlotta made an interesting comment in her last email to me:
"The really weird thing is - and it has happened to a lot of people - and I am not the kind of person who usually believes in this stuff - that when you enter the main house you suddenly get a very strong feeling that you have traveled in time back to the 19th century... "
     We Forsgrens are glad to hear that.  Maybe the spirits of our fine ancestors are hovering near to help bless and preserve this place for many more generations!   Thank you, Charlotta, and thank you to all the people of Konstra and Old Town who take such good care of the buildings, grounds and John Erik.  Charlotta assured me that John is cleaned up and back to normal after someone threw paint at the sculpture last year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


     I am indebted to Richard Wright, a John Erik descendant and Salt Lake resident, for acquiring photocopies of the Patriarchal Blessings of John and Sarah Bell Davis. These were additional documents I have wanted to acquire for the Forsgren files for some time.

     It would be inappropriate to quote either of them in their entirety but I marveled at some of the promises which were given and were fulfilled.

     John Erik's blessing (Book B, p. 89) was given by John Smith, Patriarch in Nauvoo on July 29, 1844.  He is listed as John E , son of John & Anna Christianna Forgerson stgreen.  (The misspelling crossed through and corrected slightly above).
     His lineage is through the blood of Ephraim.
     He is told that if he desired he would raise a warning voice in his native land and have mighty power to confound the wise and the learned... that the Lord would give his angels charge to assist him and be his constant companion, to comfort and deliver him out of all his troubles.  He would be able to heal the sick and would have power to redeem his friends, both the dead and the living.  His name would be had in honorable remembrance till time should be no more and this blessing should be perpetuated to his children through all the generations.

     Sarah Bell's blessing was given 6 months earlier by Hyrum Smith on January 9th 1844.  Though it is not stated it would also have been Nauvoo...just a few short months before Hyrum was killed with Joseph.   Sarah was only 15 years old at the time she received her blessing.
     No lineage is stated though she is promised the blessings of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   She is told to be steadfast and immovable and that she would abound in grace and in faith.   She is assured that she would be blessed with a house and a habitation, possessions and tenements and the power of God would be upon her and her children after her.  Like John E (who did not get his blessing till several months later.  They were not "involved" at the time as far as we know other than that were residents of the same community.  John in fact would marry Mary Ann Hunt just 6 months after his blessing in January of 1845) she is told that her name would be had in remembrance among all her posterity until the latest day.

     Her blessing must have been a great comfort to her as she witnessed and participated in the persecution and uncertainty of the know that some day she would indeed have a home and possessions and children.  It is through her that there exist any descendants at all for John Erik Forsgren.  She was protected and helped in the home of her parents even after she and John had divorced.  


Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Reunion Attendees Vote To Keep 'er Going At Least Another Two Years

The Forsgren Family Association met for its bi-annual reunion at the Community Center in Brigham City yesterday, August 7th.  The Forsgren scrolls were updated and hauled out to line the floor once again.   So glad to rub shoulders with the faithful descendants who always come to the reunion.  Had about an equal number of John E. Forsgren  and Peter Adolph descendant representatives.  Sadley, no one was there to bless the memory of Christina Erika Forsgren.

The Peter Forsgren descendants cover the top 3 rows of paper.  John E's are at the bottom and Christina Erika's descendants are the smaller group at the left side of the picture.  Erika descendant's unite!   We need more data!

President Lester Lee Knight showed slides of each of the families of the three Forsgren children and the original home in Sweden. 

Lester and Adele  presented the option of abandoning this "umbrella" organization now that several on-line resources have been created for the dissemination of information and because it is growing harder and harder to contact family members about the reunions.   E-mail and home addresses change with much more frequency than they did 15 years ago.  Postal costs are huge and many letters and emails get returned.

No one really has the heart to abandon, however.    The decision was made to contine uploading more information to the internet and to meet at least one more time in two years and re-evaluate then.  No one wanted to take on the roll of President so Lester and Adele will work together again for the 2012 reunion.  (It was agreed it will take place in either July or August so we don't interfere with BYU Football season.  Grin for Arnold Wagner!!)

A report was made on the successful completion of two other projects:  The renovation of the original Peter Forsgren pioneer home on 1st East, completed by David Ericson and his son Scott from Salt Lake.  Scott and Karen and their young family have moved into the home which now boasts wonderful modern appliances, flooring, etc. while still retaining many of the original features of the home.

The Cemetery Headstone project has also been completed.  Five small stones commemorating the deceased infants of  Adolph Peter & Dena Forsgren were raised and reset.  Also the broken stone for Charles Peter Lee has been repaired and reset.  All were done with with great care and excellent workmanship by the Bott Monument Company.  (The Botts are related thru marriage, by the way!)

An additional note on headstones for the record:   The old pioneer stone which used to be the main marker for the Peter Adolph/Adolph Peter burial area was removed many years ago and replaced with a more modern stone.   The original stone was saved by the family and is at the home of Mark Forsgren, son of Frank Forsgren, longtime supporter of the reunions.   It might eventually go back to the cemetery...but for now will remain in the backyard of Mark's family.  The stone had incorrect information on it.  It was engraved Peter O (instead of Johan O) on one side of the stone

Below is an old photo of the family plot showing the placement of the 5 small stones as well as the two tall pioneer stones which once were there.  The stone shown above is the one on the right in the photo below.

The repaired & reset Charles P. Lee stone

Attendees:  Laurie Bryant, S.L. researcher on John Erik Forsgren, Arnold and Diane Wagner, President Lester Knight

Richard and Joleen Wright - Longtime supporters of John Erik descendants

The Tom and Zola Forsgren clan - Peter Adolph descendants

Judd & Nona Forsgren - mover and facilitator of getting the John E. bust sculpted by his daughters and placed in Gavle, Sweden

Scott and Joyce Lee from St. George

Morris and Dellalee Forsgren.  Morris has been past president and vice-president more than once.  And he makes GREAT homemade root beer!

Sorry I haven't uploaded all of the photos...and sorry we didn't get photos of all who attended.  We are, nonetheless, so glad for your attendance, your contributions, and your good food!

Posted below is the handout I prepared for all the attendees about the sources used for uploading information to on-line sites for the benefit of all who might be interested researchers. 

On-line Resources for Forsgren Materials

(Report prepared for the August 2010 Family Reunion by Adele Manwaring Austin, Assn. Sec/Archivist)

Adele Austin 535 Fogg St. Las Vegas, NV 89110-4034 Ph. 702 452-0461 email:

In an effort to make available all the information stored at my home in the form of the “Forsgren Family Association Archives” to interested researchers and descendants of Johan Olaf Forsgren I have set up the following on-line resources. I opted NOT to create a web-site where it is all available in one place simply because I do not have the training to create web-sites and because web-sites come with their own challenges that make getting the information up and usable a bit of a frustration.

Please be aware that all of the sites are very much works in progress. I will continue to add to them as I collect & receive information, analyze it or get it scanned and processed. Please visit the sites often as they will be ever-changing!

Please also note that I do not pretend to be an authority on all the branches and descendants of the three Forsgren siblings that came to Utah! I welcome input from each of you as well. The whole direction of family history, especially as created by the Church, is to emphasize community and collaboration. “WE is better than ME” is the motto. I will come to certain conclusions based on the information I have available. Other descendants will have access to photos, biographical sketches, records and sources that have not been submitted to me for inclusion in the archives which could fill out or change data I currently have. Please contribute; please analyze and question my conclusions; please share your family records & photos with all of us.

Lastly, I would ask you to share this handout with other family members. Our mailing and e-mail lists just do not stay current, so getting the word out to everyone not in attendance at this reunion will be a bit of a costly challenge. I would be happy to send this handout as an email attachment to anyone requesting it so it can be forwarded on to other family members.

Here are the various resources that will include Forsgren family information:


Blog Definition: A blog (also called a weblog or web log) is a website consisting of entries (also called posts) appearing in reverse chronological order with the most recent entry appearing first (similar in format to a daily journal). The weakness to a blog is that you will have to search thru older posts to find all the information I have made available. The strength to the blog is that I can be personal and that uploading and changing information and photos is very simple.

I have set up a separate blog for each of the three convert Forsgren siblings. They will contain histories, photos and descendant information. Announcements for reunions, pleas for research help will also appear there. In the lower right corner is a link where you could sign up to become a “follower”, meaning that anytime I post new information to the blog you would be notified. At the end of each post there is also a place where you can make a comment on the content. If you do not wish to comment publicly on the blog, please feel free to contact me by e-mail, phone or regular mail (addresses above).

If this all seems overwhelming solicit the help of one of your computer-savvy children or grandchildren who can help you get started. For them this is all second nature. Here are the addresses for the three blogs. Please visit and enjoy.


FORSGREN ANCESTRAL LINES (Johan Olaf & Anna Christina Forsgren going backwards)

If you are seeking information on the ancestors of one of the siblings you will find the best information on the Church’s website new FamilySearch. ( It is not something I have created, but is available there by virtue of years of descendant contributions and temple work including work done during the lifetime of our ancestors.

This website is currently available to LDS Church members only. It is accessed by registering your unique LDS membership number and the date of your confirmation (NOT your baptism) Both the member number and the date are available from your ward clerk. Help in using the site for the first time can be requested from your ward family history consultant. Only information on deceased people will be located on this site. You will not find the names of living individuals unless they are of your own children (and that information is viewable only to you when you sign in with the user name and password you will create).

Please note that newFamilySearch is still in transition. It will eventually be renamed “Family Tree” and will be incorporated into the Church’s current website which is available to all users, whether LDS or not.

You are likely to find Forsgren ancestral information on other websites such as and which allow people to upload genealogical information. Just be aware that a family tree is only as reliable as the care the uploader has given it. Many of our trees have been copied and recopied from other family members over long periods of time and may or may not be totally accurate.

FORSGREN DESCENDANCY LINES (Moving forward from a common ancestor)

Because descendancy research involves the names of living people, privacy issues come into play. I will not upload the complete list of descendants to any website for that reason. Please contact me directly for a complete list of descendants of your ancestor and I will be happy to send you a copy of whatever I have available.

• The descendants list for John Erik Forsgren currently is 18 pages
• The descendants list for Christina Erika Forsgren Davis is 10 pages
• The descendants list for Peter Adolph Forsgren is 81 pages

We are now into the 9th generation from Johan Olaf. For many lines I still do not have information beyond the 5th or 6th generations! If you can help with the association’s goal of tracking living descendants that would be a great help. I will accept the information in any format that it is comfortable for you to send it. As you can see, there is great need to get additional information for both John E Forsgren and Christina E. F. Davis. I would love to work with any interested volunteer who is willing to track descendants and strong-arm them for some data!!


A. Miscellaneous photos will show up on the blogs to accompany the articles that go with them.

B. Headstone photos. I am always taking photos of Forsgren family headstones – particularly in Brigham City Cemetery and the Riverton, Idaho Cemetery. I have been uploading them for several years to the website so that they are available to anyone who wishes to see them or download them to their own files. YOU CAN ALSO DO THIS! (And should!). I would especially like help getting the photos online of descendants in the Ogden, Salt Lake and other outlying & non-Utah cemeteries. This is a free website to both visit and upload information to. (There are other headstone websites. I just happened to choose this one). On you can upload a digital image of the headstone as well as photos of the ancestor. There is room for biographical information and for the actual citation of the headstone location as well.

C. Photos of Individuals. I have begun uploading all the photos I have of Forsgren ancestors and descendants to the website FLICKR (   My photostream is under Adele Austin2010). This is a recent project and things are not very organized there yet, so be patient. You can also add digital photos you might have in your possession to share with other Forsgren relatives. (Please send me a copy too if you see you have photos the Forsgren Family Assn archives does not have.)

D. Photos of Buildings, Documents, etc. Many of these will also be found on the blogs, but I will add them to the Flickr website as well.


At a recent genealogy conference I attended, great emphasis was made on recording living history and record preservation. (The Church, by the way, is emerging as a world leader in this field!).

I have the equivalent of about 5 legal file drawers of “stuff” at my house that needs to be preserved digitally. Over the next couple of years I will be taking time to scan what I can and get it saved to Milleniata CD’s which are purported right now to be the longest-lasting available medium for long-term preservation. (Anyone want to volunteer to help???) Much of the paper (mostly family group sheets) will be disposed of after appropriate back-up has been made just to reduce the sheer quantity of material. The preserved copy of this material, then, can be passed on to whomever will succeed me as Secretary/Archivist with additional copies placed in the hands of other Forsgren descendants for safekeeping.

It is my hope that each of YOU will look closely at what you have in your own homes and take the time to do the same. Don’t let someone pass away before the family photos are identified or the family story is told. Take time to back up your files and to digitize photos and important documents. I ache when I can’t solve a “mystery” because records were destroyed by persons who did not know of their value. If you feel “too old” to pick up all this new-fangled computer stuff then be happy doing what you can: preserving the records for posterity. Talk into a tape and reminisce. Identify the photos you have. Tell your memories of the people who are no longer with us. Record your own life story in the simplest manner possible. Involve your children or grandchildren in these projects. Our hearts can’t turn to our ancestors (who are very much alive, by the way, and don’t really want to be forgotten!) if we never talk to someone else about these people.

If you ever feel guilt when the speaker from the pulpit talks about family history just remember that there are multiple ways we can serve in this field: temple attendance, indexing of original records so that millions can have access (See, scrapbooking, holding reunions at a lower family level than this umbrella organization, spending time with grandkids, etc. etc. If you aren’t one of the ones who feel like research is something you can do then think how you could be involved in some other way.

I am only one. But together we can have quite an impact on Forsgren memories! Happy goal setting!