Monday, November 21, 2016

Nils Pehrsson’s Return to Sweden

One of my goals for 2017 is to "hand off" some of the research projects I have started on my non-Czech lines. I wrote this piece originally sometime in 2013, and you can also read it here. It is a tricky problem that will take somebody sensitive who is not afraid of dealing with Mormon apostasy, but there is a lot of potential for finding new names to take to the temple by following these trails. It's just not what I feel like I should be researching right now. Maybe you are one of my distant Jeppson or Stephenson cousins, and this will inspire you to do some interesting family history research. -------------------------------------------------------- Written by Katherine Elizabeth Vasicek Challis, one of his fourth great grand-daughters. Nils Pehrsson and Karna Lundberg emigrated to America with their children Ane, Per, Christine, and Hanna together with a large number of Scandinavians on the S. S. John J Boyd in 1863. He crossed the plains in 1863 with his family in an unknown company. His wife died in 1863 just outside of Florence, also known as Winter Quarters, Nebraska.  No grave or official death record for her has been found yet. Nils Pehrsson's eldest son, Lars Nilsson, did not immigrate with the rest of his family. He married Hanna Torstensdotter on 18 July 1863 in Vä, Kristianstad, Sweden. She officially moved to Färlöv, Kristianstad, Sweden on 3 November 1863 (and here is her move out record). His parents would not have been present at the wedding because they were on board the John J. Boyd, sailing to America. Lars Nilsson’s first son, August Larson, was born 9 July 1864 at Färlöv, Kristianstad, Sweden. This son died young. The Nils Pehrsson family and the Lars Nilsson family are listed on the same page of the Household Examination records for 1861-1868. There is a note in the margin that explains that Lars Nilsson moved down the street to a different residence (Aby 9) in 1868. There is also a note in the margin explaining that Nils Pehrsson and his family left for America in 1863. Lars Nilsson’s next entry in the Household Examination records is in the residence Aby 9, and there is a note in the margin explaining that he and his wife and two children (Carl August and Hilda Augusta) emigrated to America on 8 April 1869. Was his father already en route back to Sweden at this time? Was his father in Omaha, NE? Was his father still with the main body of Latter-day Saints in Utah? Nils Persson died in the poorhouse at Aby 10, Färlöv, Kristianstad, Sweden on 19 June 1901. We know this is the same Nils Pehrsson from the Household Examination records for 1891-1896, 1886-1891, and 1881-1885. These records contain notes in Swedish cross referencing each other, and providing some additional details to his life. Apparently he returned to Sweden in 1876 without a certificate (passport?), and by 1882 because he was living nowhere, he was sent to the poorhouse, where he died in 1901 of consumption or tuberculosis. An online family tree shows Lars Nilsson and his wife Hanna Torstensdotter with their son Carl August Larson. Perhaps these children could unlock some of the mysteries behind Nils Pehrsson’s return to Sweden. Was he upset with some specific doctrine being advocated by the LDS church at that time? Was he disillusioned by the harsh sacrifices required of early pioneers in frontier Utah? Was he heartbroken from the loss of his wife at the beginning of the journey? Did he ever have a strong testimony, or was he always wishing to return? When did he begin his journey back to Sweden? Was it before all of his daughters were married and establishing homes in Utah? Was it before his sons had begun making their own way in the world?   What became of all of his children? His daughters married LDS men and raised large pioneer families in rural Scandinavian Utah. Family lore says that Christina’s brother Per (or Peter) died in a coal mine in Colorado. Is this true? Where did Lars end up? Why did he end up in the poorhouse? Did he have any family relations in Färlöv after he returned? Did he ever wish he could come back to America to see his children and grandchildren? Was he suffering from a mental challenge? How much did John Ahmanson’s apostasy (a contemporaneously infamous Swede who led a group of his fellow countrymen out of the LDS church with his anti-Mormon literature written in Swedish) after his experience in the Willie Handcart Company affect Nils Pehrsson’s?

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