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, August 31, 2012

2012 Reunion News

Saturday, August 11, 2012 found us gathered at the LDS Meeting House at 25 North 300 East in Brigham City. We were pleased to welcome about 70 people, many of whom came for the first time to the biannual Forsgren Family Reunion. Here are some highlights: 

Our Guest of Honor:
Erma Vilate Funk Walsh - Peter Adolph Forsgren's oldest living descendant!

     What an honor it was to have Erma with us. Still smiling, happy and vibrant at age 99! (She will turn 100 years old in December.) Erma is Peter A's great granddaughter through his first child Sarah Christine Forsgren Klem Christensen. Sarah's oldest child was Lorinda Klem who married Andrew George Funk. Eight children were born to Lorinda & Andrew. Erma was the baby, born after Andrew's return to his family from his mission to Denmark. Erma was brought to the reunion by her daughter Andrea and grandson John.  [Update to this paragraph Jan. 2013:  Erma enjoyed an open house at the Crestwood Care Center in Ogden where she lives, given by daughter Andrea and attended by many friends and family members.  She reached the 100 year milestone with ease and continues to love her life and enjoy good health.  She was honored in the LDS Church News later on that month.  I wish I could have been with her.  ]

      But not to be left out is LeJune Forsgren Maughan, Peter's granddaughter through his last child, Elias Peter Forsgren (born to Peter's second wife Elise Thomassen). LeJune Forsgran Maughan is 91 years old. Her health did not allow her to actually be with us but her daughter came (pictured below) to represent the family and also brought with her a box of letters & documents that belonged to Peter Adolph. Many Peter Adolph artifacts are still the possession of these great grandchildren: Chairs, animals, boxes, etc. that he carved, as well as many silk products made by his wife Elise. [See blog posts of Aug 9, 2010 & May 5, 2010] The gold headed cane which is referred to in the May 2010 post was donated to the DUP museum in Salt Lake City where it can be viewed by all.

LeJune Forsgren Maughan with daughter LeAnna & son-in-law Jay

     We wish both these ladies many more wonderful years of life and are glad to honor them at this time!

     The "Forsgren Scrolls" were once again rolled out (even though they had not been updated since 2010). If I literally knew of every descendant there would be no room for reuning! The scrolls would take up 4 times as much space. For some families we are still not current by at least 3 generations. I encourage you to get in touch with me to see how complete our records are, since tracking all the descendants of the three Forsgren siblings is part of the mission of the Association!  
Richard and Maxine Knight searching for themselves on the descendant scrolls

      We were excited to have Christina Erika's descendants represented this year (since we almost never have in the past). Fay Hubbard Nilsson (left in the photo below with some of her extended family) is also 91 years of age and full of zip and fun! (I hope I can still be that way when I reach her age)! (Dorthy) Fay is the daughter of Elfy Almira Davis Hubbard, who is the daughter of Oliver Frederick Davis, who was Erika's 2nd son.

      Fay's granddaughter, Heather Lewis, will act officially as the Forsgren Family Association Secretary for the next couple of years. I am happily relinquishing that title in order to spend more time as association Archivist. Heather brings a wonderful sense of family to the organization. Sooooo glad to have you on board, Heather!

Heather Lewis - Chr. Erika descendant, new Forsgren Fam. Assn. Secretary

The biggest surprise & disappointment is that this is the first year we had NO representation from any of John Erik Forsgren's descendants! Where were you???
Usually there is a good crowd from this branch of the family.



Summary of Minutes of the 2012 John Olaf Forsgren Family Reunion
August 11, 2012

Opened at 12:00 p.m., Prayer and blessing on the food by Morris Forsgren

Welcome and announcement of some people who needed honoring:
  • Frank Forsgren - who passed away in Dec. of 2011 who had been a prominent and consistent attender and arranger of these reunions and past president several times.
  • Clyde Forsgren - Also a frequent attender and supporter. He and his wife are both quite ill in Colorado. His wife Janet is being brought to Utah to stay with her daughter to have care.
  • Erma Funk Walsh - Honored guest. The oldest living descendant of Peter Adolph Forsgren. Age 99. (See photos and comments above)
  • LeJune Forsgren Maughan - Not in attendance because of health. Age 91. Peter's Adolph's only living grandchild.
  • Laurie Bryant - Not in attendance and not a Forsgren, but the researcher who compiled a new biographical paper on John Erick Forsgren. Laurie was responsible for helping to solve the mysteries of two of John's wives - Mary Ann Hunt and the one heretofore known only as Ingeborg. [See the sidebar "labels" for the blog posts on these women]. Laurie and I worked closely while she finished her paper on John E. The paper was donated to the Utah State Archives.  She has been an invaluable friend to the Forsgrens.
Change of Command: The current presidency has been intact for 3 terms. This was the year we decided to seek a concensus on the future of the Assn. as it has been over dozens of years:  A gathering of the umbrella organization every two years on the even years, leaving the odd numbered years for people to have smaller family reunions on the odd years.

The problem we now face are the changes inherent in a mobile society and an electronic age. People move much more frequently & they change e-mails fairly frequently so maintaining an accurate mailing/contact list is very difficult. It is now very expensive to send out a reunion notice thru regular mail only to get 1/3 of them back. The wave of the future is to use online sources as much as possible to do research...

I (Adele) asked if we still wanted to try to keep up the bi-annual reunions. Most of the "old-timers" who organized it are gone now. Is there still interest in getting together every two years? Heather Lewis shared a moving story of a family member who was brought back from depression because she immersed herself into learning about her ancestors. She was inspired by them and their stories and consequently learned to have more love of self. Long story short: We will keep going. Accepting the positions for the new leadership are the following:
  • Mark Forsgren, President
  • Gillian (Jill) Forsgren (Mark's wife), vice president (Mark & Jill e-mail: ) Mark will maintain the John Olaf Forsgren Association funds so donations to the Association can be sent to him. Adele will be changing the monies that have been kept in Las Vegas so that there will only be one account - the one maintained in Brigham City.
  • Heather R Lewis, Secretary (e-mail: Please send address & e-mail changes to Heather who will be in charge of reunion notifications & keeping the address list current.
  • Adele Austin will continue as archivist/blogger (e-mail: ) Please send updates on family member's births, marriages & deaths, photos, family histories, obituaries, etc. to Adele)
Many thanks to the persistent hard work of the outgoing Presidency: Lester Knight, President, Morris Forsgren, Vice-President, and Adele Austin, Secretary/Archivist.

Financial Report: $ 315 was taken in at the reunion toward research goals and organization costs. Thank you all so much. Every dollar counts!

Achievements since the 2010 reunion:
  • John Erik Forsgren's membership and temple blessings have been restored. A letter drafted under the signatures of Judd Forsgren (a JEF descendant) and Adele Austin, Assn. Secretary, was sent to the First Presidency requesting their consideration of JEF's membership status. They quickly replied that permission was being granted to have the work done and that it would be accomplished by a member of the 1st presidency in the Salt Lake Temple. We were advised in Nov. of 2011 that the work had been completed with full membership and all former blessings restored to John E. That was a very emotional and happy event.  [See details on this blog]
  • Mary Ann Hunt's identity and history was uncovered. [For the full story, see the post on this blog]. Mary Ann was JEF's first wife, sealed to him in Nauvoo, by whom he had a son. When that son - Charles - died it has always been said that Mary Ann "left in the company of another man and returned to her people in Boston." That is true....just not true enough. What actually happened was that she came West to Utah in time to meet JEF who was returning from the Mormon Battalion. For some reason their sealing was cancelled and JEF went on to marry Sarah Bell Davis (through whom his only descendants are born). Mary Ann stayed in the S.L. area for a while, purportedly marrying Lafayette Granger, then left with Charles Snow and moved to the Sacramento area of California. Charles's livery stable was burned out in the big Sacramento fire. Sometime after that Mary Ann and Charles have ended up in New Hampshire. After her death to pneumonia Charles remains in Concord, Massachusetts where they are both buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery there. Great thanks go to the impecable skills of researcher Laurie Bryant for uncovering most of the details of this story. Adele was able to help with some aspects and was blessed to see the story to its conclusion with a visit to Concord to photograph their graves.
Next Research Goal:
      We want to begin actively seeking more information on another Forsgren brother, Carl Frederik who did NOT join the Church and settle in Utah with his siblings. There have been family stories passed down through the generations that Carl did come to America and visit his family in Utah but did not stay. Some say he migrated to the Northwest, others say he settled and married in the Wisconsin/Michigan area. Other stories say he returned to Sweden and died there. (I have been unable to prove any of these theories). It is time to hire a Swedish-speaking researcher to help us out. Donations were accepted at the reunion for this endeavor. If anyone else out there wishes to donate please feel free to contact me, Heather or Mark!

The Genealogy Corner:
     A series of handouts were available for those who were interested to answer questions about how each of YOU can help at this stage of your life. Even if the computer age is baffling there is so much that can be done, only by you, in order to benefit your posterity and your fellow Forsgren descendants. Adele will be posting to each blog a "Genealogy Corner" where those handouts will be available to anyone who wishes to use them. [I only ask that if you copy them for use in your wards or among family that you acknowledge who created them]

Thank you to Micah Forsgren (Mark & Jill's son-in-law) who provided extraordinary technical fetes to allow us enough computer time to show people what the blogs were looking like so they would be more excited to visit them.

Thank you to all who brought food to share for our pot-luck as well as display materials and wonderful stories of ancestors. As always, Morris Forsgren's homemade root beer was a hit!

Unofficial Count of Attendance:  70-80 people

The reunion was closed officially about 3:30 p.m. with a closing prayer offered by David J. Lee. Afterwards Mark and Jill led several groups of people over to the old Peter A. Forsgren home at 59 S. 100 E. and gave a tour. The home has been beautifully restored.

SEE YOU ALL IN 2014 !!
A few more misc. photos:

Mark Forsgen, new president of the Forsgren Family Assn.

Enjoying the displays - and cracking jokes to keep Adele laughing

All set up and waiting for the crowd.

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