John E Forsgren Company (Forest Monarch) 1853 Historical Sketch
Sixtieth Company – Forest Monarch, 297 souls. This company of emigrants was from the Scandinavian mission, being the first large company of Saints who emigrated from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. An earnest desire to emigrate to Zion had been manifested by many of the Scandinavian Saints since the first little company had left for the mountains a few months previous; and the Elders had been busily engaged for quite some time past in making preparations to send off a large company. About the beginning of December, 1862, the emigrants from the respective conferences in the mission began to gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, and on Monday, December 20th, 1852, two hundred and ninety-three Saints, including children, went on board the steamship Obotrit, and sailed from “Toldboden” (the custom house), at four o’clock p.m., under the leadership of Elder John E. Forsgren, one of the Elders who, in connection with Apostle Erastus Snow, first introduced the Gospel into Scandinavia two years before. A great multitude of people had gathered on the wharf to witness the departure of the “Mormons,” and many of the rabble gave utterance to the most wicked and blasphemous language, while they cursed and swore , because so many of their countrymen were disgracing themselves by following that Swedish Mormon Priest” (an appellation they gave Elder Forsgren) to America. No violence, however, was restored to, and the ship got safely away. After a rather stormy and unpleasant passage, the Obotrit arrived safely at Kiel, Holstein, on the evening of the twenty-second. The following day the journey was continued by rail to Hamburg, where a large hall had been hired, and supper prepared for the emigrants. In the afternoon of the twenty-fourth the Saints went on board the steamship Lion, which glided slowly with the tide down the river Elbe to Cuxhaven, where the captain cast anchor, owing to the heavy fog which prevailed. The emigrants now celebrated Christmas Eve on board, with songs and amusements of different kinds. In the morning of the twenty-fifth anchor was weighed, and the Lion sailed to the mouth of the river, where it was met by heavy headwinds, that made it impossible to reach the open sea until midnight. Finally, the passage from the river to the sea was made in the moonlight. Early in the morning of the twenty-sixth the ship passed Heligoland, soon after which a heavy gale blew up from the southwest, which increased in violence until the net day, when it assumed the character of a regular hurricane, the like of which old sailors declared they had never before experienced on the German ocean. The ship’s bridge and part of the gunwale were destroyed, and some goods standing on the dock were broken to pieces and washed overboard; otherwise, neither the ship nor the emigrants were injured. On the twenty-eighth, in the evening, after the storm had spent its fury, the Lion steamed into the harbor of Hull, England. About one hundred and fifty vessels were lost on the German Ocean in the storm, and the people of Hull were greatly surprised when the Lion arrived in safety, as it was firmly believed that she had gone under like the other ships that were lost.
From Hull, the emigrating Saints continued the journey by rail to Liverpool, on the 29th, where lodging and meals, previously ordered, were prepared for them, and on the first of January 1853, they went on board the packet ship Forest Monarch, which was hauled out of the dock and anchored in the river Mersey. There it lay until the 16th, because of storms and contrary winds. In the meantime three of the company died, two babies were born and three fellow passengers were initiated into the Church by baptism. One man, who been bitten by a dog was left in Liverpool, to be forwarded with the next company of emigrating Saints. One night the ship became entangled with another vessel and sustained some injuries; and a few days later, during a heavy storm, it got adrift, pulling up both anchors, and was just about to run aground, when two tug boats came to the rescue and saved it.
On the sixteenth of January, 1853, the Forest Monarch put out to sea. The emigrants now numbered two hundred and ninety-seven souls, who were placed under the direction of Elder John E. Forsgren in connection with whom Elders Chr. Christiansen and J.H. Christensen acted as counselors. Elders Willard Snow and Peter O. Hansen, who had accompanied the emigrating Saints to Liverpool, now retuned to Copenhagen.
During the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean the Forest Monarch was favored with very pleasant weather, but for several days it was a perfect calm, and in many respects the emigrants, who nearly all were unaccustomed to seafaring life, found the voyage trying and tedious. The provisions were poor, and their fresh water supply gave out before the journey was ended. Four deaths also occurred and three children were born during the voyage.
On the eighth of March, 1853, the ship arrived safely at the mouth of the Mississippi river, where five of the company died, and on the arrival at New Orleans, on the sixteenth, two others departed this life, and one family who had apostatized remained in that city.
From New Orleans the journey was continued by steamboat up the Mississippi river to St. Louis Mo., where the emigrants landed on the thirty-first. In that city, tents and other commodities needed for the overland journey were purchased. After tarrying about a month, during which time six of the emigrants died and two couples were married, the company left St. Louis and proceeded by steamboat about two hundred miles further up the river to Keokuk, Iowa, where the emigrants pitched their tents for the first time, and lay in camp for several weeks before starting for the plains.
In the meantime the emigrants received their teams, consisting of oxen and wagons. Some of the Scandinavian emigrants, who at first rejected the American way of driving oxen in yokes, went to work and manufactured harness in regular Danish fashion; but no sooner were these placed on the animals than they, frightened half to death, struck out in a wild run, refusing to be guided at all by the lines in the hands of their new masters from the far north. Crossing ditches and gulches in their frenzy, parts of the wagons were strewn by the way side; but the oxen, (many of which had never been hitched up before) were at last stopped by men who understood how to manipulate that most important article of all teamsters outfits – the whip; and the Danish emigrants, profiting by the experience they had gained, soon concluded that, although harness might do well enough for oxen in Denmark, the yoke and whip were preferable in America; and they readily accepted the method of their adopted country.
With thirty-four wagons and about one hundred and thirty oxen, the company rolled out from the camping ground near Keokuk on the twenty first of May, and after three weeks rather difficult travel over the prairies of Iowa, Council Bluffs, on the Missouri river, was reached. Here the company rested for several days, and on the twenty-seventh of June resumed the journey by crossing the Missouri river, after which they were soon far out on the plains. On the overland journey a number of the emigrants died, more children were born, and a few lost the faith in the midst of the hardships and trials of the long march. Finally on the thirtieth of September, 1853, the company arrived in Salt Lake City; and on the fourth of October the emigrants were nearly rebaptized by Apostle Erastus Snow. They were counseled by President Brigham Young to settle in different parts of the Territory, and mix up with people of other nationalities, so as to become useful in developing the resources of the new country. Most of them located in Sanpete County, whither other companies from Scandinavia subsequently followed them, and that valley has ever since been known as the headquarters of the Scandinavians in Utah. Still President Young’s advice has not been unheeded, as the people from the three countries of the north (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway) Are represented, to a greater of less extent, in nearly every town and settlement of the Saints in the Rocky Mountains.
- Andrew Jensen. “Church Emigration – XV Detailed Emigration Account, 1853. Sixtieth Company. – Forest Monarch,” The Contributor 13 (1892): 458-460
- (Millennial Star, Vol. XV, pp 89, 282, 368; Morgenstjernen, Vol. I, page 180)