Our Swedish Inheritance
During the year of 1850 an Elder John Forsgren was sent from Salt Lake City to open the ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the northern part of the nation of Sweden. At the town of Geffle, he converted and baptized twenty members and was about to organize a branch there, when he was arrested and placed on a ship to be deported to America. The ship, however, while en route, docked for a few days at Elsinore, Denmark. At that place Elder Forsgren escaped and rejoined an Elder Snow who had been sent to Denmark and he continued his mission in that land. (From "The Restored Church" by William Edwin Berrett)
"In the year 1849 a Perpetual Immigration Fund Co. was established by Pres. Brigham Young to create a revolving fund to be advanced to Saints and Converts as a loan, to be paid back when possible after they reached Zion in Utah. $5,000 dollars and 13 yoke of oxen were contributed by members at that time and l0,000 settlers came west from Nauvoo.
"During these three years additional contributions and payments by immigrants swelled the fund and made it available for service elsewhere. The Church membership had grown rapidly in England and the poor were clamoring for assistance in coming to Utah, so the Mission Office in Liverpool developed into a shipping agency, which arranged for migrations of latter-day Saints to America.
"The general plan included two major divisions, (1) The Shipping Agency in England, chartering ships and assembling prospective emigrants. (2) A Receiving Agency on the American Frontier, whose responsibility it was to account for the newly arrived Saints and provide for their continued journey overland to Utah.
"Sometimes the ships were for Mormon use exclusively. At first the passengers were limited to converts from Great Britain, but after 1852 Scandinavians shared the passage and later were provided ships for their own use. Mormon credit was good and the Agency was in a position to deal favorably with other companies. Mormon companies were known by their heavy luggage, as a large percentage brought all available tools of their trade with them.
"on board the ships, the emigrants were organized into wards or branches, each presided over by a returning Missionary. Religious Services were held regularly. Each ward had its own section of the ship to keep clean early each morning after Services and at 9 p.m. evening prayers were conducted and everyone retired. During the 37 years of the "Funds" operation three million dollars was spent in assisting over 85,000 adults to Utah. Among their descendants are some of the most substantial members of the Church today, who would not have been here without the help of the Immigration Fund."
After Elder Forsgren experience, It was sometime before the Mormon Missionaries made any progress in Sweden and especially to the most southern part where our ancestors came from, but to those missionaries and to the faith and acceptance of the Gospel by our beloved Great Grandparents, Jonas and Anna Maria Larson Johnson, we owe our existence in this land of Zion.
The following two pages of a letter to my Grandfather, Andrew G. Johnson, as he was about to leave the Swedish Mission, for his home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is an example of the procedure used in the above mentioned emigration plan used by the L.D.S. Church in bringing the Converts to this country. (Copy of letter found in the "Jonas Johnson Family 1600-1970" family book)
Rosa Johnson Baxter