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


Saturday, January 17, 2015

NEW HISTORY IN JOHN ERIK'S OWN HAND! . . . (In other words, Never Give Up!)

      With the following email from Bro. James Meyer on 12 Oct. 2014 I received some of the most exciting "new" information in a long time about John Erik Forsgren!!  It is obviously not new - but it is certainly the first I have heard about this item which sheds new light on at least one very puzzling piece of John's history!  I should have paid more attention to the period of time that John E. spent in Southern Utah - specifically Moroni and Sanpete County!   I have made a typewritten transcription of what turns out to be the only handwritten (by John himself) account of his life that I presently know about.   The following is part of the Moroni Ward Melchizedek Priesthood minutes and records, 1864-1904.  (Call # in the Church History Dept. is LR 5786 13 and is on both microfilm and in hard copy.   First is the e-mail from James Meyer.

“Sister Austin,                                                                                                    

I am doing some research in Moroni, Utah ward records to learn more about my Danish and Swedish ancestors who settled in that area.  In the High Priests Minutes book of the then Moroni Branch, I found some biographies that were written by members of the quorum in 1868 [1865 actually]—and among them are John Erick Forssgren (the spelling given in the book) and his father John Olof Forssgren.

Though I am not a descendant, I recognize pure gold when I see it  — so I made copies and started looking on Family Search—and I found, through one of the sources, your blog for him. . . . "
      Pure gold, indeed!   But a word of warning.   Even when we encounter personal reports, a good genealogist needs to take into account the date of creation of a document.  John Forsgren did not give us footnotes.  He never states that he uses a record book with dates recorded at the time of the event to jog his memory (even though he may well have done so since he does give many dates of events that occurred in his life).   This personal history was submitted in 1865 – a full 22 years after John Erick was baptized a member of the Church.  I DO know that he kept a huge record book of his life and in 1865 it would still have been in his possession.  (As of 2015 the whereabouts of this book is unknown.  It may well have been destroyed).    I cannot know at this posting (Jan 2015) what exactly he used to confirm the dates he put into this short autobiography.   If it is just his own memory then the dates may or may not be accurate. [Most of them differ with other "accepted" or on file dates of official LDS Church Records].   All I know is that this life sketch is most assuredly of interest to all of us who are extended family who want to understand his remarkable life.   I have retained John's unique spelling and punctuation.   I have taken the liberty of inserting personal observations in red, inside brackets along with his narrative.

[page 1]


      This record have been purchased by the members belonging to the Moroni branch Quorum of High Preast, and delivered to the Quorum on the 22th Day of January 1865. for the especial porpose of having their genealogy, where first babtized, by whom, and by whom confirmed, ordinations of the Preasthood and by whom ordained recorded.  To have their busnes minutes, Preachings scatches of interesting doctrines advanced by members as well visiting high and noted orthys holding the keys of the Superior powr  of the Holy Preasthood that Shall be considered worthy of being written on its pure unsullied pages, which in future ages may be refaired to by all interesting members who delights in magnifying their Holy callings of the Preasthood of the Son of God the Redeemer of man from sin unto rightiousnes by his infinite grace and mercey through the Holy Gosple which wi as members and purchasers of this record do humbly worship in the Spirit of meekness according to the knowleage wi have of his Holy truth revealed unto us in this and generations to come hopeing to prove faithfull to the End. And be crowned with Eternal lives and Celestial honers at his appearing, whose right it is to rule and govern the whole Earth, to him wi give Glory! Honer!! And praise, now and forever Amen.
                                                            John Erick Forssgren, Clark.

[next page]
[This probably constitutes a list of all the men he was either going to interview or DID interview.  Bro. Meyer only sent me the pages pertaining to John Erik Forssgren and his father John Olof]

Joseph Shepheard
John E. Forssgren   [Name crossed through]
John D. Chase
George W: Bradley
Bent Morison
Madison D. Hambleton [? Name is crossed through]
Rasmus Rasmussen  [Name is crossed through]
Soren Jos: Fogelborg [? Last name crossed through]
Peter Petersen.  Sorn Igorson  [second name is in lighter ink as tho added later than the rest of the list]
Joren Peterson  [crossed through with a single line]
Ole Anderson.
Hared Petson.
Amus A. Bradley.
Joseph S. Allen  [lightly crossed through]
William Draper.
Thomas Howarth.
Peter Sorinson sen
John Bailey
Rica Williams  [crossed through]
Daniel Lewis  [crossed through]
John Syme.
Swen Andersen

[The last 6 names are in a different, lighter ink or pencil from the rest of the list]

[next page]

John Olof Forssgren.   Son of John & Christine Forssgren who was the Son of Christoffer & Eve Forssgren born in Gefle Sweeden on the 17th Day of October, 1793.  having traves the great sea for fourty one years and arriveing  home to my place of burth I learned that my Son John Erick Forssgren had been banished out of his Country that gave him birth bread & raised until the time he was i his sixteeth year.  for preaching the Gosple of Jesus Christ through the Spirit of revelation and the authority given JosephSmith Jun the Seer & Revelator and Gods wisguran on Earth for the Last dispenseasion of the fullness of time hearing of him being in Danmark I wrote to him a letter and received his correspondence by which I was convinced of the truth of the doctrin taught. in the year of our Lord 1852 I tooke ship and saild six hundred miles to be Babtized by my son John Erick Forssgren and I was Babtized and confirmed in the Church of Jesus Christ of latterday Saints by him on the 29th Day of August.1852. from this time I wiseted my nummerous conections and relatives in Sweedem boare my feable testimony of the truth I had received among them; and the Lords providencial time for my deliverance out of Babelon, came and I Emmegrated and left Schandinavia in company with meny Saints on the 20th Day of April. 1863. and arrived into the Great Sault Lake City on the Laest Day of August the following fall, same season.  Stayed in Box Elder co over the winter until my son John E: came and brouth mi to receive my indowment in the House of the Lord in Great Soalt Lake City when I was ordained a High Preast un the hands of Elders _ _ _ _ [space is left in the narration here] J.V. Long & J.E. Forssgren. the former being mouth on the 15th of October 1864.  from whence I continued my journey with my Son to Moroni Sanpete county and are united with my breathren.

[next page]

     "John Erick Forssgren son of John Olof & Anna Christina Forssgren who was the son of John & Christena Forssgren who was the son of Christoffer & Eve [Note: Don't know who "Eve" is.  Accepted wife was named Britta Mattsson] Forssgren, born in Gefle, Sweden on the 7th Day of November 1816.

     While young and in my 9 year I went to school I spoak to my schoolmates that the Lord would send his Angel and give to a man a record that was had in the Earth in a far distant Western Land and that the man would bring it fourth unto all Peple and all that would hear and blive would God save in his kingdom for reason why I became persecuted by my breatheran in School. So that when I was in my tenth year and in 1826. [Note:  In all the accounts of John Forsgren's background this is the first I have ever heard tell of this premonition or spiritual vision he might have had.   It is similar to an account purported to have come to his sister Erika in her life.  So again I can only be left to wonder if it is an embellished account of his life or if we are indeed gifted with a new dimension to a man who would end up playing a big role in the early Church!  That he went off to sea as a young boy has always been common knowledge].   I could stand the persecusion no longer and I as a boy went to sea until in 1832. being April (and after I buried my mother) I went on board of a ship, and according to my Long desires came to Newyork, in the beginning of August, continued to sail out of Newyork three years and seven years out of Boston Massachusetts where I heard Bro. Erastus Snow preach the Gosple of Jesus Christ according to the New & Everlasting Covt and I received the same and was babtized by Elder Wm Meggin on the 26th Day of August 1843. [note:  Official temple sources say 16 July 1843] and was confirmed some time after under the hands of Elders Brigham Young Heber C. Kimball and Parley P. Pratt at the time of their traveling holding conferences with the Eastern churches of the states, calling upon the Saints together with their means to healp to build up Nauvoo Teample unto the Name of the Lord, I sould out and prepaired to go with the saints immediately but sicknes and Death of my first born son John Adolph hindered mi.  [This is the most amazing revelation of anything in this life sketch.  Without exception that I am aware of everyone has always alluded to John Erick's firstborn child with his first wife as Charles!!  There has been varying opinion as to where he was born and when.  The name John Adolph makes much more sense and even if JEF is relying totally on memory here, does one forget the name of his own first child???   I suspect that people mixed up the name of the son based on the fact that it was a Charles Snow, with whom wife Mary Ann eventually left Utah and returned "to her people in Boston" - as the story is always told.  This reveals that the child very likely was born, died and is now buried somewhere in Boston rather than in Nauvoo or Council Bluffs as others have conjectured.]   So I terried until nex Spring when I arrived in Nauvoo 1844.  was ordained a member in the 7th Quorum of Seventies on the 17th Day of November.  Inlisted in the companys constituting the Nauvoo Legion and was of the gards around his (Bro Joseph Smiths, Sin) premises and about the city after his & Brothers marterdom,  I assisted in the Building of the Temple until wi received our indowment and moved away by expulsion of the Gentiles. 

     I received my indowment in the Latter part of December 1845, and was sealed to my wife Mary Ann Hunt of Boston at the same time.  Left there with the first wagons of Heber C. Kimball family on the 16th [or 10th] Day of February 1846. and came to the Councel Bluffs and according to request I enlisted in the Mormon Battalion on the 16th of July as a private soldier for a years service in the Mexican War with the United States, traveled by foot  [next page] three thousend miles the Lord give us the victory over three different places in Mexico and al’so when the Battalion arrived in California the Spaniards surrendered, and the country became ours a year from the date wi was discharged. And I took up my Journey within company with one hundred and fifty faithfull Breathre to go and meet the Church or our wifes and familys in the Great Soalt Lake valleys of the Rocky mountains where I arrived on the 18th Day of October 1847.   Married Miss Sarah Bell Davis on the fiftinth Day of April 1849. [official records give 15 Feb. 1849] was called on the 8th Day of October in a general conference to go on a mission to open the Gosple in Sweeden my native country.  Left the Valleys and home of my choice, on the 18th Day of October 1842.  arrived in Sweeden on the 24th Day of June 1850.  opened the Gosple, in Gefle Sweeden, and Babtized my Brother Peter Adolph Forssgren the first member in that country on the 12th Day of July 1850. [some sources say 20th, official temple record says 26th July]  after being as it were raised from the Dead by the Laying on of hands in the name of the Lord.  

    And on Thursday 25th following week I babtized my Syster Erika Christina Forssgren & confirmed her at the same time and on the 6th of August I preached out Doors in the woods out side of the city and babtized 14teen persons and confirmed them on the next day being the 7th on the 8th Day I preached again when meny more was willing to obey him.  I was taken prisoner by the Marshel & police and was banished out of Sweeden, first from Gefle to Stockholm to appear before the Kings Court and from thence to go ombord of an American Ship called Walter R. Jones Capt: Colley; who informed mi that my passage and expences was payd by the authoritys of Stockholm, to Newyork.  I stoped in Helsingour, and went to Copenhagan by steamboat to visit with my Breathren Erastus Snow & P.O. Hansen where I stayed and healped to build up a Church of fifteen hundred members presided over the Copenhagen Comferance andd traveled and preached through out the Land, Sent Sweedish Elders to Sweeden to preach the Gosple, to the poor and the honest in heart, president over the whole mission after Predt. E. Snow returned home, and on the 20th of December I left Denmark  [next page] with two hundred eityseven Saints who emigrated with me to go home to the peacefull valleys of the mountains of Ephraham arrived in the great Soalt Lake City on the 29th..of September 1853. was sealed to my wife Sarah Bell Davis by Presdt Brigham Young in the Councel house on the 8th Day of April 1854.  filled the Carsons Mission expedision to build up a Stake of Zion there (previous to the call for mi to fill the Carson mission I was ordained a High Preast under the hands of Presdt Davis Pettigrew who give mi Lisence as an acting member of the Quorum on the 9th Day of April) when the Carson Mission was called hom the time of Buckannons Army set to devastate the Saints I returned with the rest of my breathren; and arrived in Brigham City on the 20th of October 1857, tarried there until the gennerall move to the South when I move to Sanpete County in the Spring of 1859, helpt to build up a new place called Moroni keapt the record of the High Preast Quorum from the beginning according to the best of my ability, and the Blessing of the Lord, upon mi here I married Kirstin Neilsen on the 8th Day of December 1862. was sealed to her on the 16th Day of October 1864 by Elder Wilford Woodruff in the indowment house Great Soalt Lake City. "
               _____________                 ________________             _______________


Moroni, Utah was founded by George Washington Bradley in 1859. That same year George Washington Bradley became the bishop of Moroni and held that position for 18 years. The population in 1860 was 703 individuals.  By 1870 it had dropped to 633.

Moroni was settled by families from Nephi in 1859, but it had a real identity crisis. It went through the names Sanpitch, Mego, Little Rome, and Duck Springs before Sanpete’s first probate judge named it Moroni City after a Nephite Prophet in The Book of Mormon.
Moroni sits midway between Nephi and Manti on the most pronounced “North Bend” of the San Pitch River. Families from Nephi moved there early in 1859. High water in 1862 forced the town’s founders to move away from the river site and spread north over the rolling hills, a setting best seen when approaching Moroni from the south. For water, they tapped the San Pitch farther east with an intricate and expensive system of canals and ditches that stretched from Mt. Pleasant to Fountain Green’s south fields. Reaching out in all directions, the city was big enough by 1891 to support an “opera house” that seated 1,000 persons.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this new information and for doing this blog about John Erik Forsgren and his descendants. This is really great!