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


Genealogist's Corner

This page is dedicated to helping you find ways to fulfill that nagging feeling that you should be doing something in family history! You know - that twinge of guilt you feel every time there is a talk in Church, or you read an article about the genealogy miracles that happen to other people. . . .
Connecting to family has so many facets and avenues that we can always find something that will fit easily and joyfully into our "likes" and the grooves of our every day life. All you need to do is decide to do something!
Let's start with this one!
We preserve the past for the well-being of the generations that come after us. Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards


1. Label and identify all family and ancestral photos you have in your possession.
Enlist the help of brothers and sisters, aunts & uncles who are still living. Preserve the photos by family groups or by individuals in acid-free envelopes or folders. Your knowledge of who people are in a photo will go with you when you die. Don't leave your family wondering who people are!

2. Collect all genealogy-related items into one place.
Look for obituaries, certificates, funeral programs, military records, family bibles, journals, letters, documents that will help identify and verify data on ancestors and family members. Have someone in the family who is technologically gifted scan documents and photos for preservation.

3. Take photos of objects that have family and historical value.
Along with the photo, write up a description of its origin, significance, dates, etc. Not every person will get to inherit these objects, but at least a grandchild will understand about the china, the old doll, the furniture, the trunk, or an item of vintage clothing. If an explanation accompanies something, what others might look at as junk will suddenly have meaning and a reason to be preserved.

4. Write your own life history.
Or “tell” it to a video camera or tape recorder. The idea of starting at birth and trying to fill in all the years can seem like a forbidding task. Make it easier by using the “Chapter Method” (multiple essays on various subjects), or even just making a “Timeline” history (take each year and write brief statements about the significant events on various dates. These can be fleshed out as time permits into a fuller history). There are also numerous “fill in the blanks” kinds of books that can be acquired at your local bookstore, or computer programs that aid in the process.

5. Transfer home movies, tape recordings, etc. to a more modern, usable format.
Got an old reel-to-reel recording of Great Grandma’s voice? Now is the time to change it! There are companies who specialize in such processes.

6. Do videotape interviews with other extended family members before their memories are gone or before they pass away.

7. Plan and carry out family reunions.
Start with whatever size you think you can handle. Persevere! They will become easier and more fun as they become a tradition.

8. Consider giving family history gifts for Christmas instead of the latest gadget.
Make ancestral photo calendars, scrapbooks, photo books, shadow boxes, place mats. There are numerous resources and ideas on-line for such gifts.

9. Tell your grandchildren stories about their ancestors!

10. Take a family history course and begin the process of organizing your ancestors onto family group sheets and pedigree charts.
Enlist the help of your computer-savy grandchild to help you input the data. The roots of a life-long interest in genealogy often start with participation as a teenager. Document everything you can for accuracy.

11. Preserve memories to flash drives, external hard drives, CDs, “the Cloud” or whatever format you prefer.
Remember to house extra copies in different places. (Safe deposit boxes, in the homes of multiple family members, etc. so that natural disasters will not wipe out your memories).

12. Seek to heal wounds.
Write letters of apology, praise, explanation, etc. , to enlighten the confused& fill in gaps of understanding. In writing, praise those whom we could not talk to easily in person. YOU decide when the letters should be sent. Remember, remember…….

Things come and go; but
relationships are forever

copyright Adele Austin 2006
The next most frequent thing a teacher of family history hears is this: "I just don't have time to do genealogy. I am so busy now I can't keep my head above water." OR "I'll do that when I'm retired."
Nope. Can't let you get away with that. Everyone is busy.  When you are retired some of the people you need to talk to will be gone.

We can decide to do the work of family history  NOW - one hour at a time, several days a week.
Take a look at the following suggestions:

I only have an Hour . . .
by Victor & Adele Austin, 2008
“Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone
to do something!” (Dallin H. Oaks, June 1989)
  • Collect all the family photos you have in your possession and begin to identify them. (Do not write on the back with a ball point pen. It will damage the photo. Use a very soft pencil). 
  • Sort photos that still need to be identified into envelopes and mark the name of the person you think could help you identify them so that they will be ready to grab when you have an opportunity to visit with that person.
  • Sort photos by individual or couple or family and get them into acid free manila envelopes for protection.
  • In a small notebook that you can carry with you (or on your I-phone or I-pad) start a list of topics you might wish to include in your personal history (See Adele’s handout on the Chapter Method of writing your personal history)
  • Write a letter to one extended family member asking for one or two specific items of information. Include a stamped, addressed envelope to assure their reply. (Do not write a letter that says, “Please send me everything you have!”)
  • If you have not already done so go to and create your own personal account (using your LDS membership number). This account & password allows access to all LDS-related websites including &
  •  Re-type or scan onto a computer a biographical sketch you have in your possession and save it to a flash drive, an external hard drive, “the cloud”, or a CD for preservation.
  • Obtain a computer genealogy database program and begin using it if you have not already done so. (Personal Ancestral File is free from Others, such as Legacy, Roots Magic, Family Tree Maker, etc. can be purchased).
  • Pray for direction and a desire to love this work.
  •  Go to Enter with your username and password and look up the ordinance dates of 5 ancestors and enter them onto your genealogy database.
  • Go to or and search the newly-released 1940 Census for your family. (All U.S. censuses are available on-line)
  •  Use a scanner or a digital camera to begin making copies of ancestral photos and documents (even small artifacts) to preserve.
  • Start a time-line history of yourself or an ancestor. (A timeline history is a date, a simple statement of the event and the place it occurred).
  • Make an appointment with your ward Family History Consultant to find out how to “get started” or how to find names in your family line that might still need temple ordinance work done.
  •  Write one chapter of your personal history on any subject of your choosing.
  • Attend the temple. If you are not yet an endowed member but are temple-worthy remember that you can obtain a recommend to perform baptisms for the dead.
  • Make a list of cemeteries you want to visit and take digital photos of family or ancestral headstones. (Check on-line to see if there are records that allow you to look up headstone locations before you get there).
  • Upload copies of your digital headstone photos to websites such as Check their database first to see if a headstone photo is already there.
  •   Plan a trip to the Salt Lake family history library. Save time by going to the library catalog section of and make a list of the records & the call numbers of the films or books you might want to look at when you get there.
  • Type an obituary into the “notes” section of your computer genealogy program or transcribe the information on a document you have (such as a marriage certificate or a military service record, etc.
  • Attend a family history class or conference.
  • Spend one hour indexing vital records (go to to sign up as one of the 150,000 or so volunteers from many nations who are making the world’s records available on-line).
  • Spend one hour on helping to transcribe the headstone records that volunteers have submitted.
  • Plan! (What or who do you want to learn more about?)
  • Organize! Get stacks of paper into file folders, especially important documents that serve as original sources or proof of genealogical data.
  •  Learn something new! Log onto BYU or BYU-I or or Cyndislist or Personal Ancestral File “helps” or lessons.
  • Surf the web for anything of interest you might want to try to find (vital record data, obituaries, census records, cemetery lists). Use both Google Search and Google Images.
  • Tell a child or grandchild the story of one of your ancestors.
  • Telephone a relative and ask questions.
  • Make a list of documents you want to obtain to have in your possession for proof of a family line. Send for one of them. (Yes, you might have to spend a little money!)
  •  Scrapbook a page for an ancestor. Or use Blurb or Picassa or Costco’s services to create a photo book.
  • Plan or create a display of ancestral photos or artifacts for a wall in your home. (Do not use an original photo. Make a quality photocopy instead so that ambient light does not ruin your original).
  •  Make a list of people who might have family photos; arrange a visit with them. (Consider taking a portable scanner (like FlipPal) or a digital camera to make copies.
  • When on vacation take photos of headstones with your I-phone. ( has a downloadable phone app that lets you upload the photo directly to their website and it will list the geographical coordinates for future searchers.)

You too can do genealogy, fifteen minutes at a time, one hour a day, little by little.
It’s do-able. It’s fun. It will reward your life. All you need to do is decide that each week you will accomplish something!

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