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


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


With the advent of the Church's new FamilySearch Family Tree the world has gained a great gift!

  • For the first time EVER there is finally the possibility of there being ONE single site on the internet where everyone can see his ancestors and how they interconnect with all of humanity (instead of going to multiple websites to see what different people have uploaded as their personal version of an ancestral line).   
  • Researchers who have access to original documents can help solve (for all of us) the discrepancies created by information "assumed" because of family tradition, or created because source information conflicts. We, all of us (the whole world), can collaborate & communicate and work together to have accurate records.    

     The potential and power of this is enormous!

     The website and Family Tree, is, of course, still undergoing changes and constant improvements.   The latest achievement is that now the capability is there to upload photos and life histories to attach to individuals on the Tree.  The capability to upload scanned copies of original documents for proving facts and for helping solve conflicting evidence will also soon be available.

     As I have become more and more familiar with Family Tree I applaud its vision.  I know great computer minds will continue to solve its problems and weaknesses (especially from feedback from us, its users, about what we don't feel is working well).

     I just returned from another genealogy conference.  As I listened to representatives from FamilySearch discuss the changes, the weaknesses, & the vision for the future of Family Tree, I suddenly thought to myself:  "Oh, no!  Then if everyone can upload photos and documents and life histories to THAT site, then all of the work I have been doing for the last three years on the three Forsgren blogs is wasted!"

     I have since tamed my reaction.  After all - the whole purpose of these blogs is to "get the information out there!"   Why should I, as Family Archivist, squirrel away all the photos and documents and research here in my home when we are in such an incredible age of information sharing??   That is also one of the missions of Family Tree.  But every document and every photo and every life sketch is not going to make its way onto their site,  for any number of reasons.  For instance, if a date is an undisputed fact people may not feel there needs to be a document ("proof") attached to it.  Secondly, there are WAY more photos in the world of people than ever should be or will need to be uploaded, etc. etc.  I love old photos.  I want to see them all.  But that is not appropriate for a site like Family Tree.  We can put as many on the Forsgren blogs as we can find!

    But the most convincing argument for keeping the blog up and running is that the blog itself can be a source and be linked to research questions on Family Tree.  Very lengthy research and analyzing has gone into solving various research problems on each of the blogs (for instance the research on all the wives of John Erik Forsgren).  Therefore, it is much easier to refer people to the blog (as a source quotation) so they can read the history of that research themselves.  This seems better than our trying to duplicate the data on Family Tree where the format will be much less wieldy and informative.

     Soooooo, my fellow Forsgrens.  For now the blogs are safe.  I will continue to work on them.  I will continue to note where we are weak on our data.  I will continue to hope that by getting comments "out there" through both the blog AND FamilySearch Family Tree I will in turn hear from more and more descendants who can flesh out the pages of our descendants.

     Some day I will be unable to continue the work.  I will age (mmm, that's already happening!) or I will die or the continued improvement of public sharing will become so sophisticated that the usefulness of the blog will have run its course.  Gratefully I have received warm and supportive comments from many of you out there who have "found" us on Google or some other search medium.  You have taken the time to express appreciation and you have opened the doors to gathering & greater sharing. It is always such a thrill for me to meet new cousins, receive new photos and clarify data.   That is what fuels my family history persistence!

     For several years now I have seen that new.familysearch (which is what is now being merged into FamilySearch Family Tree) is in all likelihood the fulfillment of the following prophectic statement made over 66 years ago:

     “A universal system of intelligent cooperation will begin to gather on one record sheet every fact in     existence regarding a particular family. This wealth of data will insure accuracy and banish error. Expensive and time-consuming duplication in research and repetitions in ordinances will be eliminated. No sooner will a new fact be uncovered in any part of the world by a researcher than it will be communicated to the Archives center and be assigned to its proper place on some family record.”

                                                           Archibald F. Bennett, Secretary, Genealogical Society of Utah, 
                                                           Church News, December 20, 1947, p.20

He had the vision, indeed.  Only we are no longer using "record sheets" in the sense we previously thought of them - pieces of paper, Family Group Records and Pedigree Charts, etc.  We are in a computer age that is magnificent and inspired.   Thousands of volunteers are daily indexing the vast record collection of the Church's digital and microfilmed record collection.  The capability to "communicate to the Archives Center" in an instant is fulfilled.

Almost exactly thirty years years later Elder Theodore Burton was equally prescient and commented further:

         I don’t think the present type of individual records is the type of record conforming to the “generations of Adam” spoken of in the scriptures.  There is no welding together of generations in that type of temple record and I seriously doubt that such a record would be regarded as an offering “worthy of all acceptation.”

          Up to the present we have not been able to put such a family record of ordinances together.  We have lacked both the technique and the equipment to accomplish so great a task.  Now, however, technology has developed to such a state of the art that the building of just such a family record has become theoretically possible.  To prepare such a record will require further study and research.  We now need to begin to devote time, money, and effort into learning how to construct such a genealogical record of Church families sealed together in proper order by generations.
                                       Elder Theodore Burton, October 11, 1976, "Long-Range Goals for Genealogy"

What Heavenly Father wants is ONE - and only one - "Book of Remembrance" laid at his feet.  He wants the record of the whole human family, connected & linked together.   We are no longer "waiting for the Millenium" to achieve this great linking and redemptive work.   We are there now, watching this miracle unfold before our very eyes!

May we go forth with joy, unafraid to try new things and be willing to accept the learning curve which comes every time something that is familiar is replaced with something that is different.   Engage the help of the young, for whom all this technology is second nature.  This effort will bless both your life and theirs!

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