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


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.  



  1. Official records shed light on the life of Sarah Bell Davis. In the 1850 Federal Census for Weber County (Roll M432_919; image 311), she is listed as living with her parents and her one year old son, Charles W. Her husband, John Eric Forsgren, would have been in Scandinavia on a mission at this time, which is why he is not enumerated. By 1860, the census record (Roll M653_1313; page 542, image 555) discloses that Sarah had married Joseph Clapper and had possession of the children, Charles, Sarah, and John. They were then living in Brigham City.

  2. Grant, your comments led me to rework the blog post of May 6, 2010 about Sarah Bell Davis. Actually in the 1860 Census BOTH John E and Sarah claim the three children to be present in their households. The children are also listed with John and his wife Ingeborg down in Moroni, Sanpete County. Refer to the May 6th blogpost for more detail. Thanks!