Please know that this blog is very much a work in progress. I will be adding information to each blog post as I have time and as new information or photos are, please, come back often to see if anything new for your particular ancestor has been updated. I welcome your participation in fleshing out each post. There are some descendants about whom I have a great deal of information and some about whom I know very little.

I have served as the Secretary/Archivist for the Forsgren Family Association for many years and have acquired a lot of material. It is my desire to make it all available through this blog so that all may benefit. But I am only one person and there are thousands of Peter A descendants. Please contact me and help by notifying me of errors or clarifications or to submit information and photos you might have.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, all the descendants of Peter Adolph Forsgren have been very the task of uploading all the photos, data and documents for this branch of the Forsgren siblings will be a very time-consuming process.... so...

Thank you so much for your patience!! ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Son Who Got Left Behind

The original of this photo is in the possession of Adele Austin.  It is identified on the back as Pehr Forsgren.  I had it in my possession for nearly 25 years before I realized who it was.  When my Grandmother, Alfrieda Forsgren Sorensen passed away I became the family archivist for all her photos.  I had been through the envelope many many times and had seen the picture but just figured it was some Swedish relative and didn't know who it was or pay much attention.  But shortly after I began the quest for information on Milda I was going thru the pictures randomly with my Step-mother and once again pulled out this picture.  Turned it over and saw the name and felt like a bolt of lightening had struck me!  This was Peter's son!!!  This was the elusive "boy left behind!"  I couldn't believe my fortune.   He suddenly took on more life and meaning for me, even from before.   I knew I had to keep researching this Swedish branch of the family. 

The following photos were found years later in the possession of another Forsgren relative, Lester Lee Knight who inherited them from his mother, Olivia Lee, grand daughter of Peter A. Forsgren.  The photo is of Pehr Johan as a much older man with his wife, I assume sent to the family after Pehr had somewhat reconciled himself to his American family...or perhaps sent by his daughter Milda.

Take a moment to note a family genetic trait.  If you compare the photos of  young Peter A (at the top sidebar of the blog) with the photo of  young Pehr Johan AND the photo of Pehr's daughter Milda, (later in this post) you will notice a slight deformity or difference in the left eye....almost as if were rounder or a wall eye.  It is even somewhat noticeable in the only existing photo (that I know of) of Christina Erika, Peter's sister.  That makes me wonder if Johan Olaf or Anna Christina, their parents, had this same trait.  I know of no photos of either of the parents.

1. Pehr Johan FORSGREN was born to Peter Adolph Forsgren and Britta Cathrina Wallstrom on 30 Jul 1848 in Gavle, Gavleborg, Sweden. He died on 15 Dec 1919 in the town of Sandarne, Gavleborg, Sweden. He was buried on 21 Dec 1919 in Soderhamn, Gavleborg, Sweden.  Pehr was employed as "Faktor" (head or foreman) in 1885.

BIRTH: Gavle Clerical Survey 1851-1855 AI 14a-C (SL film # 0.130,168 p. 216)

DEATH: Research work done by Elias Peter Forsgren records the following source: Gavle Par. Reg. (19087 pt. 26)

BURIAL: Cemetery record in possession of Adele Manwaring Austin lists the grave site for Per Johan Forsgren and Maria Kristina Forsgen and their daughter Milda Kristina Forsgren as 2 08 8:1,2 & 3.
Soderhamn-Sandarne Church. Sandarne New Church Street. On 7 Mar 2003 a money order for $120 was mailed to Kyrkogardsforvaltningen Box 10, Prastgardsgatan 5, 826 21 Soderhamn Sweden. This money was supplied by the Fors. Family Assn. for the maintenance of the headstones for the next 25 years. It is the custom in Sweden that if maintenance funds for headstones are not paid, then after the expiration date the headstones are removed, other persons are buried on top of those already interred and new headstones are put in place. Our discovery of this situation was learned just weeks before it would have been time to take down the stones!

     In a letter from Elias Peter Forsgren (son of Peter Adolph) to "Vera" [probably Vera Palmer Symes Nelson] dated 20 Apr. 1965 the following is stated:
     "Yes - father [Peter A. Forsgren] did have a wife & child "Pehr Johan" - but when father joined the LDS Church the mother left him and would have nothing to do with him. Later he offered to send for them, but the mother refused. She married another man by whom she had children. . .
     In January 1906, father received a letter from Pehr Johan, written in Swedish, in which he stated that he was glad that he, father, had married your grandmother and they had lived a very happy life. 1913 is the last time we heard from Milda [Pehr Johan's daughter]. She could possibly still be living."

During a visit in the year 2000 with LeJune Maughan, Elias's daughter,  this letter was discussed as well as other family contacts. Elias Peter served a mission to Sweden from 1910 to 1913. During that time period he made contact with his step-brother, Pehr Johan. Pehr Johan would have been 64 years
old - a difference of 40 years in their ages! LeJune said that her father told her that the feelings of bitterness were still strong with Pehr and his family .... these feelings that Peter Adolph had abandoned them and had joined this "terrible religion of Mormonism." Their initial meeting did not go well.
LeJune said her father told her that he had a gold watch which was precious to him (even though it didn't work). He tried to make a gift of it to Pehr Johan. Pehr took it and threw it back at him. The watch crashed against the wall and broke into pieces.

It appears from the above letter that in time Pehr Johan and his family must have resolved that bitterness somewhat.

SEALING: Pehr John was sealed to his mother Brita Cathrina Wallstrom and her second husband, Jonas Persson.

Pehr married  Maria Kristina Olsson on 31 Aug 1885. Maria was born on 5 Nov 1858 in Oregrund, Stockholm, Sweden. She died on 22 Mar 1929 in of Sandarne, Gavleborg, Sweden. She was buried on 1 Apr 1929 in Soderhamn, Gavleborg, Sweden.

1. Elias Peter Forsgren, Family Group Sheet, LDS Family History Archive Library, Joseph Smith Mem. Bldg., South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT.

2. Gavle Clerical Survey 1851-1855, AI 14a-C , p. 216, Family History Library, 35 N West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA, Film 130,168.

3. Cemetery Tombstone & Records of the Soderhamn-Sandarne Church. , Kyrkogardsforvaltningen, Box 10, Prastgardsgatan 5, 826 21 Soderhamn, SWEDEN.This information obtained by Sarah Wall at the request of Adele Manwaring Austin in Aug. 2000. Church papers sent to Adele so that the Forsgren Fam. Assn. could pay the fee to maintain the headstone.

4. Elias Peter Forsgren, Family Group Sheet.Also in possession of Adele Manwaring Austin.

5. Cemetery Tombstone & Records of the Soderhamn-Sandarne Church.

Milda Kristina Forsgren
The original of this [cropped] photo is in my possession.

This is the full size snapshot of the above picture.  The original has two creases in it where it has been bent which I have tried to retouch.  The photo was forwarded to me by a friend of Milda's (see story below) with the explanation that this was probably taken on her 50th birthday since it was the custom to fill the home with flowers from well-wishers on a 50th birthday celebration.  It is possible that the scarf on the table at the right of the picture was made by Milda.  Her friend said that she was very well-known throughout the village for her handwork.

Here is the extraordinary story of the discovery of Peter Adolph's granddaughter, Milda Christina Forsgren:

"FINDING MILDA - THE STORY" by Adele Austin and Sara Wall
       In the year 1998 I reviewed a letter from Elias Peter Forsgren to "Vera", written in 1965 which stated that he had last heard from Milda in the year 1913 and that she could still possibly be alive. It ocurred to me that the Forsgren Family Association should follow up on Milda as the only living heir of Pehr Johan Forsgren to see if there were still Peter Adolph Forsgren descendants in Sweden. After searching SL microfilm records and finding nothing I followed the advice of the Research Consultant there and wrote a letter to the Pastorsexpeditionen i Soderhamn (Box 10, Prastgardsgatan 5, 826 21 Solderhamn) to see if they could give me any information on a marriage for Milda, possible children and her death. My letter was returned to me with a short typewritten reply at the bottom:

"Dear Adele, Unfortunately, the only information we can give you, is that Milda never married, and she did not get any children. She lived in Asbacka, Sandarne (near Soderhamn) her whole life, until she died, 4 jan.1965. Sincerely, Helena Olsson, secretary, pastorsexp."

I was thrilled to have concrete information, but also disappointed. That meant that a direct line of Peter Adolph Forsgren had come to an end in Sweden. Still, I continued to be interested in Milda and those who remained behind when Peter left for America. 1965 was not so long ago but that there might still be someone in the town of Asbacka who might have known her. In the year 2000 when vast preparations were being carried out in Sweden for the Sesquicentennial of the Scandinavian mission I made contact with Sara Wall, an American-born returned missionary who had married a Swede and was living in Sweden - helping as it turned out with the planning of the Sesquicentennial activities in Gavle. Through the miracle of e-mail we were able to correspond and she and her in-laws were a great gift in the discovery of Milda. The following is the tale in her own words:

"Well, I guess I can start from the beginning. Before we left Asbacka and Soderhamn, we called to a number of different places. We called the kyrkoforvaltningen to find out where Milda's grave was located. We even made an appointment with them to meet them at the graveyard. They said she was buried in a family grave with her parents in Sandarne. We also called Landsarkivet in Harnosand to find out the address of her/their home. The property had a "name." It was called, "Stad aga 8:09" Then we called markkontoret to find a map, but only got the answering machine.

We weren't quite sure how to get to Asbacka. Tage, Hakan's father, had driven to Soderhamn area several times, so he decided that he could drive. Early Tuesday morning, five of us hopped into the car with a prayer in our hearts and headed up North. We brought our video camera and video-taped everything, by the way. We found our way to the graveyard, where two ladies met us behind the gate. It was very well-kept. They then led us to Milda's grave. There was a surprisingly large gravestone there with Milda's name, along with her parents' names. It was in great condition. At the top of the gravestone, it said that Per Johan was a "faktor." That means that he was "boss" at a local sawmill. This family was probably very well-off. (Especially judging from the size of the gravestone.)

We then got a number of papers from the ladies at the graveyard. They were quite happy to see us. Here's an interesting fact: There are no other relatives who could take care of this grave. Had we waited another few months, the gravestone would have been taken away!! The ladies are so glad that there's a possibility that this won't have to be taken down. It is such an impressive gravestone . . . .

I think we all got a little weepy when we first saw the gravestone. (I think you might have too.) It was almost like Milda was standing there, saying, "Whew! I'm so glad you finally found me!"

We got back in the car and made our way to Asbacka. It's so pretty in this area! Asbacka is quite a small town with large, old (but well-kept) houses. We first thought about driving all the way to Soderhamn so we could go to the markkontoret and find out where the old house was. Then we changed our minds and decided to stop and ask somebody if they knew where "Stad aga 8:09" was, or even if they knew who the Forsgrens were.

The Lord directed us right. There was someone out taking care of their yard. Tage, the brave one, pulled up and asked this person if they knew anything. He said that an older lady lived behind him in a yellow house. So, we drove around and knocked on the door. Inside was a nice lady named Barbro Skjutare (probably in her 60's) who knew Milda! Can you believe it? And Milda had spent countless hours in that very house!! We stood where she had stood years and years ago ! (Barbro had grown up in this house, which was built 1906).

Barbro remembered Milda quite well. She was a very nice lady who was on the eccentric side and was quite chatty. She was long and thin. Milda was incredibly talented at weaving mats. She made up her own patterns, too. She sewed and embroidered things, like sheets and towels. She weaved other sorts of things, too. She was the "master" of the village, incredibly talented at handy crafts. She would weave at Barbro's house. Barbro's mother and Milda were very close friends. Barbro showed us the window by which Milda spent hours on end weaving. She was also a night owl, staying up and weaving until 11 or 12 at night. Barbro said she remembered several occasions where her (Barbro's) father wanted to go to bed, but he couldn't because Milda was still here, banging away at the loom and chatting, chatting, chatting away.

Milda always wore a little hat. Always the same hat. And she wore her hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck.

In Sweden there is something called a "brudkista." Translated: Bridal trunk. From the time girls are born, they collect things to put in their trunk: silver, initaled spoons, embroidered sheets and pillow cases, embroidered dish cloths, etc. Barbro remembers when she went over to Milda's house so she could help her embroider her sheets for her trunk. Milda spent the whole evening chatting, and they didn't get a single stitch sewn! Milda said, "Oh, that's okay, dear. You can just come back tomorrow. That's just fine." Milda was always nice and pleasant.

It was a big deal when TV came to Sweden. There was a man in the town who bought a TV when they first came out. He was the only one who had one in the whole town. Every Saturday, rain or shine, sleet or hail, light or dark, she went over to this man's house and watched a show called "10,000 Crown Question." I think it was type of a game show.

Milda walked everywhere she went. She never owned a car, and Barbro had never seen her on a bicycle. She really liked walking.

Milda was always aware of what was going on politically. She liked to talk politics too. She was a very intelligent lady. She also frequented the Salvation Army Church services and subscribed to their magazine.

Milda's house was torn down quite a few years ago. Everything she ever owned was sold at an auction a few months after her death. She had many old fine things. Barbro didn't attend the auction because she had just had a baby. (Barbro had moved to Stockholm when she got married.) Both her mother and mother-in-law attended the auction. A miniature chest of drawers came up to bid. Her mother was standing at one end of the home, and her mother-in-law was standing at the other. Both thought, "I'll bid on that chest of drawers for Barbro". So, they were bidding against each other, neither realizing who they were bidding against. After a few bids, they realized what was going on, and her mother bought the chest. Barbro still has this chest, but it is at her home in Stockholm. She said she could take a picture of it and send it to us (and we'll send it on to you).

We asked Barbro about any pictures she might have. She said that she didn't have any, but a woman named "Gunhild Andersson" would definitely have some pictures. She's about 87 and lives in a retirement/nursing home. We asked Barbro if Gunhild was senile and she said she didn't think so. Barbro also suspected that Milda and Gunhild were cousins. We don't know if that would be on her mother's or her father's side.

So, we drove to Soderhamn to the retirement home where Gunhild resides. We met the personnel and told them who we were and what we were doing. They looked at us kind of funny, but showed us to Gunhil's room anyway. She had LOTS of pictures! But I wouldn't say she was "with it" all that much. She said she wasn't related to Milda. We asked Gunhild about her own parents and family. This is what we got: Father: August Ludvig (or Ludwig) Andersson, born 2 Dec 1884. Mother: Anna. Gunhild couldn't remember when she was born. (This made her pretty upset).

Then she talked about "Axel and Olga" who were married and lived in Chicago and had a daughter named Winona. We think that Axel is Gunhild's uncle on her father's side. She then spoke of an "Otto" who is her father's youngest brother. Otto first lived with his own sister and took care of her. She had hurt her leg or something. After the sister died, Otto moved in with his cousin, supposedly Milda. I'm bombining the information that we got from both Barbro and Gunhild. Barbro said that Milda had a cousin named "Otto Andersson." Milda had helped Otto take care of his sister. According to Barbro, they were all cousins. Barbro, who referred us to Gunhild, said that Gunhild's dad was cousins with Milda, but as stated previously, Gunhild did not think so. The reason why we think that Barbro is correct is that Asbacka is a very small place and the name Otto is not very common in Sweden. It seems unlikely that there would be two different people named "Otto Andersson" who lived in Asbacka. Gunhild did say that she had an uncle who was her father's youngest brother named "Otto Andersson." It also seems strange that Gunhild would have all these old pictures of Milda Forsgren, her house, and friends of Milda in her album if there is no relation since picture taking was not a very common thing during the 40's and 50's. (In Sweden anyway). Gunhild also said that Otto was a gardener.

We are going to try to go back to Soderhamn in the future. We can try and ask her if we could make copies of her pictures. Maybe if we say a little prayer before we ask her. . . .

Oh, yes. Before we went into Soderhamn, Barbro pointed out the direction of where the Sawmill was. She said there were pieces of it left. Someone took an interest in it who lives in this little town and has started cleaning the area up. We went tromping though the forest to see if we could find it, but were unsuccessful. It was a really beautiful area, though. You go off the main road and walk through the forest until you hit the coast (the Baltic Sea). We can also try and find this again when we go back. We're not sure of what the name of the Sawmill is.

We also drove up the main road while in Asbacka to the school that Milda attended. It was built in 1892 and was in use until 1964. It's an historic building, so the new owners weren't allowed to change much. The downstairs portion is a little beauty salon, and the upstairs portion is a residence (to the person who runs the salon). A little wooden cart with wooden wagon wheel was out front. I filmed that and the school. The lady saw me through the window and came out and asked what I was doing. I spoke English to her and told her that a relative attended this school a long time ago. I got to go inside and film a bit. Barbro had told us about the school. (She, too, had attended it). And she told us about the grocery store that Milda always shopped at. (And always walked to!) It's right down the street from where she lived after her parents passed away. I got out of the car to film the store. It was just little. I think it was also an historic building. I happened to meet the owner there, too. It used to be a grocerty store call "Konsum." This chain still exists today, by the way. This building is now a second-hand boutique.

We drove up to the lot where Milda's house used to exist. The property was called "Langror". ("Long Pipe"). It is now a big pile of dirt. I think they're going to build townhouses there (according to Barbro). The scenery is beautiful. There was no sidewalk in front of where her house used to be and we don't think there was one back then either. There's lots of forest in this area. It reminds me of the scenery in a fairy tale. A lot of scenery in Sweden looks like that! We think that that is Milda who's standing on the right side of her house in the picture. This is the house where Milda Forsgren lived her last 36 years (as far as we understand. One person said it was her parent's home, meaning she would have lived her whole life there. Another person said that she was kicked out of her parent's home when they died, because the house was owned by the sawmill company that her dad worked for. Only workers could live in those houses. According to this source, Milda Forsgren then bought a house of her own).

I thought of another story Barbro told us. Her parent's old barn still existed. She remembers as a child, looking up through the window in the barn and seeing Milda and her mother threading and preparing the weaver. After it was prepared, they'd bring it into the house. They did it in the barn because the preparation demanded a lot of space. I just called Ingrid to ask her exactly what it was they were doing. I've never done any weaving myself, but apparently the preparation takes up a lot of space. All the way from ceiling to floor. And then she said something about spinning yarn. I asked where the yarn came from and she said, "The store." But it was possible that Milda could have helped to make yarn from sheep's wool when she was a kid.

Barbro's address is  [deleted for privacy reasons.  Contact Adele if you need the address]

This is her address in Stockholm. She only lives in Asbacka during the summer. She can read and understand English, but she can't speak it. She mentioned an older brother - Birger Skjutare - who would probably have many memories of Milda. He lives in Soderhamn, but we ran out of time. We got his telephone number and address from Barbro. Sara Wall."

So through what seems divine "circumstances" Milda Kristina Forsgren takes on form. I can "feel" her spirit and personality. What a marvelous gift for us that the Walls went to Asbacka during the season of the year that Barbro was in town and that they could then be sent to Gunhild who was still alive and well enough to share pictures of Milda. Would Peter Adolph have been proud to have a granddaughter who weaved as he did? And who excelled in these decorative arts?

A side-by-side placement of photos of Milda, Pehr Johan and Peter Adolph all show a common genetic characteristic: an unusual difference in the left eye of each individual when compared to the right eye - as though it is rounder, perhaps a slight "wall eye" or lazy eye. It has been an emotional and satisfying journey to make this connection across the waters. (Adele Austin, August 2004)

BURIAL: Soderhamn-Sandarne Church Grave site 2 08 8 grave #3
TEMPLE WORK: Ordinance work for Milda was performed on the occasion of the Sesquicentennial observance of the baptism of her grandfather, Peter Adolph Forsgren and his sister Christina Erika Forsgren by their brother John Erik. These were the first baptisms to the LDS Church in Scandianavia. An observence of this occasion was being held simultaneously in Gavle, Sweden in front of the Forsgren family home which is still standing.

Baptism proxy was Rebecca Julene Austin - the baptism performed by her brother Nathan Andrew Austin; Endowment & sealing-to-parents proxy was Adele Manwaring Austin with Nathan Austin standing in for Pehr Johan as father.

Milda is Peter Adolph's Granddaughter through his illegitimate son Pehr (or Per).

Adele is Peter Adolph's Great Great Grandaughter through his son Adolph Peter.

The Austins were unable to be in Sweden for the commemoration because our son Nathan was entering the LDS Missionary Training Center on that same day.

Milda's home in Soderhamn, Sweden. It is probable that the woman visible on the right is Milda.

Cemetery Records for Pehr Johan, his wife Maria Kristina and their daughter Milda:
Map of the Soderhamn-Sandarne Church Cemetery, Sandarne New Church Street
showing the location of the Forsgren Plot.

The enlarged Section map, showing Plot 8
Below is the official Record sent me by the Cemetery personnel  (I had the main parts translated from Swedish to make it easier to follow)

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