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


Tuesday, September 28, 2010


     I came across the following entry on  Thought it would be nice to share what John's signature looked like.  Notice he writes it John E. Forssgren.

Transcription of the document:
U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925.  #4189
Rec'd 25 March   M. Reddall
To Honorable John M. Clayton
          Sec of State Washington City D.C. 
Dear Sir.  Be pleased to transmit by return of mail a passport in accordance with the enclosed attested Certificate, and
            Oblige your humble Servt -
address No. 8 Library st Philada.
to Chas. Watkin, Ship Brokers
Philada  March 23rd 1850

[This would have been John's application to return to Sweden on his mission as directed by the First Presidency in the October 1849 General Conference].

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


     In my mailbox yesterday was a marvelous gift.  Judd Forsgren, great grandson of John Erik Forsgren, forwarded to me the following letter:
I was on my way to our local branch family history center when I opened the letter.  I sat very quietly in my car for several minutes letting the impact of this wash over me.  We had initiated the request for reinstatement on August 21, 2010.  The request had to be sent through someone who was a direct family descendant so I solicited Judd's help after drafting a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.  It was Judd and his daughters who had so much to do with creating and placing the monument to John E. in Gavle, Sweden.

For several months, as I have worked at creating this website, gathering every scrap of information I could find (with the very able help of Laurie Bryant in Salt Lake City and numerous other descendants & interested parties) I have come to have deep feelings and involvement in the life of John, his wives and descendants.   I kept getting the urge to make this request, hoping that on the other side of the veil John has met any requirements of change of heart or repentance or whatever might be expected "up there" and would want nothing more than to once again enjoy the full fellowship of the Church.  There is no doubt but that he was a strong advocate for the Gospel.  He was a man with weaknesses as well, and eventually lost site of what he had stood for most in the early days of his conversion.  
The following letter, dated  November 4, 2010 was later sent to Judd:
 "Dear Brother Forsgren:
        We are pleased to inform you that the following ordinances were completed by proxy in the Salt Lake Temple on behalf of Brother John Eric Forsgren: 
     Readmission and restoration of temple blessings on November 2, 2010.  
These ordinances have restored all priesthood and temple blessings held at the time of his excommunication. . . . 
                               Sincerely, Thomas E. Coburn, Managing Director (of the Church Temple Dept.)

That these temple and sealing blessings are now once again available to him brings me great joy.  If in any way I have had some small part in bringing this event about then I am satisfied.  Whatever his decisions are now in the spirit world, I, for one, look forward to meeting him and thanking him for all that he did to bring the Gospel into the lives of many people.

Note:  I have had no previous experience with the restoration of blessings so had had no occasion to contemplate what that might consist of.  In Elder Gerald Lund's 2010 book Divine Signatures, the following was stated:  "When a person transgresses to the point that full Church fellowship, or even membership, is taken away, the blessings and privileges of the priesthood and temple ordinances are withdrawn as well.  These can only be restored with permission of the First Presidency.  The restoration itself is an ordinance done by the laying on of hands.  For many years, only General Authorities were given these assignments.  Now area seventies and some stake presidents receive those assignments as well."  (p. 133-134)  Elder Lund was referring in this case to a restoration of blessings to a living individual.  The letter from Bro. Coburn makes it clear that a proxy ordinance (restoration of blessings for a deceased individual) is done by a member of the temple presidency within the walls of the temple.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The following quote is taken from Kate B. Carter's Treasures of Pioneer History vol. 1 in her accounts of Pioneer Humor [available on]
     "The main speaker who had been sent out from Salt Lake for the semi-annual conference at Moroni, Utah in 1872 was Brother Forsgren.  Brother Forsgren had known my grandfather, J.C. Nelson (or Nielson) as the president of the Aarhuss Latter-day Saint mission in Denmark;  and now that he was mayor of Moroni and still a fervent worker in the church, it was only fitting and proper that Brother Forsgren should be his guest.  But, Brother Forsgren became ill and it was discovered rather belatedly that he had smallpox.  Nelson's oldest son, Andrew, contracted the disease and since the mother had recently died the father waited on him and then came down with the disease himself.
     "On day Nelson decided he was well and although the quarantine flag had not yet been taken down, he thought it would not hurt him to take a horseback ride.  So the horse was saddled and Nelson rode proudly up Main Street and on up into the hills, then back home.  But the news of his trip had spread like wildfire, and when he arrived home, Jerome Bradley, the city marshal, was there to arrest him for breaking the quarantine and exposing the public.  He was immediately hauled off to the city hall for a hearing.  Within a few minutes half of the town had crowded into the little courtroom to hear the trial.  The judge heard the marshall's story, then he hurriedly looked around at the crowd which had assembled and at those outside who were peeking though the doors.  It was at this instant that it dawned upon the judge that Nelson had the smallpox.  So with a broad smile and a quick gesture he ordered the courtroom cleared - case dismissed - and Nelson to to home and stay there until quarantine flag was taken down."

I had never heard ANY references to John having had smallpox.  My thoughts race to wonder that if he did, how bad was his illness...and was that one of the contributing factors to a debility he later claimed for his not being able to work  (for example he was supported by the efforts of his wife when they lived on the East bench in SLC).  I remind those reading accounts such as this that it is a tale.  It may be a true tale or it may be embellished through repeated telling.   Kate Carter's compilations have not always been true to fact, so unless we can learn further information we have to just take this story at face value, be amused by it, but also hope to prove it!