Christina Beckstrand Pehrsson 1825-1915
Christina was born in Granstorp, Villstad, Jönköping, Sweden, on 24 December 1825. She was the daughter of Knut Johan Beckstrand and Ingerd Jacobsdotter. Pehr was born on 13 March 1828 in Fleninge, Malmöhus, Sweden. He was the son of Pehr Olsson and Anna Svenson. Christina had two younger brothers, Karl Johan and Elias August.
Christina went to school which was provided by and taught in the Lutheran Church. She learned to read and write both the Swedish and Danish languages. The Holy Bible was used as their reader and she read it many times. She said during lifetime she read the Bible through 103 times. She had pretty well memorized. She was always zealous in her studies and had a great desire to learn.
Christina and Pehr were both bound out to work for rich people when they were young. A year contract had to be signed and could not be broken. At the end of the year, another contract could be signed or work could be contracted with someone else. The work was hard and long and no time was given for any kind of play or recreation. The boys and girls worked in the fields harvesting grain, vegetables and fruits. They had to carry the harvested crops on their backs into the bins. This hard work caused Christina to grow stooped. She would sometimes faint because of the heavy loads that were piled on her small back.
Christina told of a famine in Sweden when she was growing up. She and her family nearly starved to death. There was no snow or rain and nothing grew. They would gather straw from the fields and would peal the bark off of the trees and grind it up to make their bread. Christina was very thin and weighed less than one hundred pounds. In some of the places where she worked, she helped in the kitchen, cooking for all the people who were working there. She would help peel as many as two bushels of potatoes for one meal for the people where were in the same circumstances as she.
Christina and Pehr met at one of the places where they were both "bound out" as workers. The contracts they had signed were binding but marriage could break the contract. They were married in Hasslunda, Malmöhus, Sweden, on 26 December 1859, and began to make a home of their own. Their first child, Anna Maria, was born in Hasslunda, on 5 April 1860.
Christina and Pehr heard the message of the restored gospel from the missionaries in 1861. They accepted the gospel readily and were baptized on 9 June 1861, by Niels Larsen. Before being baptized, they had been members of the Lutheran Church. Even though she had read the Bible at an early age in the Lutheran school, she didn't understand it very well until after she heard the message of the restored gospel. She knew that it was the word of God and was glad that she had studied it. The gospel gave her the true meaning of the scriptures.
Pehr and Christina had the spirit of gathering and wanted to come to America to be with the other members of the church and to have the blessings of the temple. They left Sweden on 14 April 1863. They sailed on the John J. Boyd (1) ship and were six weeks on the ocean. The waves were fierce, the ship rocked to and fro and Pehr was seasick every bit of the way. The steamer arrived in New York on 1 June 1863, carrying 766 passengers. They left New York by rail for Omaha, Nebraska, and then on to Florence, Nebraska. Here preparations were made for their journey across the plains. They traveled in the John R. Murdock Company which arrived in Salt Lake City on 29 August 1863.
When they arrived in the valley, they located Christina's two brothers, Karl Johan and Elias August. The brothers had left Sweden on 9 May 1861, crossing the ocean on the Monarch of the Sea (2). They had reached "the valley" on 22 September 1861 traveling across the plains in the Samuel A. Wooley Company
Christina and Pehr did not speak English which made it difficult to communicate with others. It was hard for Pehr to learn English. He would get English and Swedish mixed together. Christina could speak, read and write both Swedish and Danish. After she came to America, she soon learned to read, write and speak English.
President Brigham Young called them to settle in Deseret, Millard County, in south-central Utah. He wanted the Saints to spread out and start new communities. Their second child, John Peter, was born in Deseret on 16 January 1865. The family surname was called "Pehrsson" in Sweden, but he spelling was changed to "Pearson" after John Peter was born. Anna Maria was a big help to her mother in caring for young John. Christina had to help in the fields as well as card and spin wool, weave and sew which was done by hand. They wove flax and also gathered cotton and wove it. When a herd of sheep passed through a barbed wire fence, the wool would collect on the fences. They would then gather the wool off the fence. They were busy clearing land, planting crops and taking care of their little family.
Their third child, Josephine Christina, was born in Deseret on 5 September 1867. They were glad to be able to teach the gospel to their children and instill in their hearts a testimony which they themselves cherished so very much. Josephine was just one year old when she became ill and died on 4 September 1868. Pehr and Christina and their family were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on 21 June 1869.
The family was again advised by President Young to move and settle another place -- Oak City (first called Oak Creek) in Millard County. They had to clear the land and build a place to live again. Another daughter, Albertina, was born to them on 23 September 1869. Christina taught Anna Maria and John to read and they read the scriptures. They attended school when they could.
Anna Maria became ill with a fever and died on 27 January 1872, at age eleven. She was the first person to be buried in the Oak City Cemetery. When Albertina was four years old, the children were playing on a hay rack. Albertina slipped and fell through two boards on the rack and broke her neck. She died on 27 September 1873. This was a terrible tragedy to lose their daughter.
In 1873 Pehr and Christina were blessed with the good fortune of adopting a little five year-old girl Elvina Hancine Olsen. She was born in Aalborg, Denmark, on 15 May 1868. She was sealed to them on 25 April 1879, in the St. George Temple.
The Oak City Relief Society was organized on 3 May 1874, Christina was one of the first visiting teachers along with three other sisters, Later in 1874, Pehr and Christina and their children, John and Elvina, were assigned to move to Orderville in Kane County, and live the Law of Consecration. The people worked together as if they were a big family. Christina's main work was preparing cotton and wool for carding, spinning, weaving and making clothing. She also made wedding dresses for young women. Pehr's main job was to make brooms and to oversee the harvested crops. He was very tidy with his work. Everyone in Orderville had to keep busy with his or her own part of the work. There couldn't be any slackers. Pehr, Christina, Elvina and John knew what their assignments were and they did their part and more.
Pehr entered into polygamy and married a second wife -- Elizabeth Mahala Billingsley -- in St. George, Washington, Utah, in the summer of 1879. She was born in Provo on 3 May 1862. A daughter, Anna Cecelia Pearson, was born to them in Orderville on 4 August 1880. The child died on 22 November 1894, at the age of fourteen years and was buried in Huntington, Emery, Utah. Pehr and Elizabeth were later divorced.
The family left Orderville in 1882 to go to Huntington, in Emery County. They were sent to build up this part of the country. They did the same kind of work in Huntington that they had done in the other places they lived. Pehr died in Huntington on 7 March 1902. He was honest and a hard worker. He looked out for everything and everybody. He was kind to animals and to people. He was tidy, neat and never wasteful. He didn't show signs of anger very often. After Pehr died, Christina moved to Castle Dale to live with her son, John, and his family. Shortly before she died, she returned to Huntington to live with Elvina. Christina was faithful and prayerful. She often walked to all her church meetings, sometimes as far as ten miles from Huntington to Castle Dale to attend stake conference. She died in Huntington on 16 October 1915.(History written by Nellie Pearson Lang, a granddaughter.)
Histories Compiled and Edited by Sue Anne Beckstrand Thompson
Our Beckstrand Heritage: Christina Beckstrand Pehrsson, Karl Johan Beckstrand, Elias August Beckstrand and their families
(Logan, Ut., self published, 2003)
(1)For passenger list and personal accounts of the voyage see:
Mormon Immigration Index, part of the Family History Resource File CD Library
(2)For passenger list and personal accounts of the voyage see:
Mormon Immigration Index, part of the Family History Resource File CD Library