Written by: Nellie Pearson Lang 1981
I thought I would start by bearing my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that the church is true, and that if we keep the commandments we will live in the celestial kingdom with our Heavenly Father. I am so thankful for my testimony. I am thankful for my father and mother who taught me to pray to him that loves us. I am thankful for my husband, he is a good man. I am also thankful for my dear sweet Grandmother, Christina Beckstrand Pearson (Pehrsson), for the example she set for me. She was devoted to the gospel every day of her life. I am thankful for the prophet Joseph Smith and all the other prophets. They are men of God. We should listen (heed) to them, they will teach us the correct path to follow. I am thankful for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My brothers and sisters, also my friends. I have always been thankful for the Sabbath day. Also, for the many opportunities I have had to serve in the church. I have taught from an early age in the Sunday School in the Talmage ward, and in the other wards that I have lived in Utah, I taught in primary, Sunday School, and Relief Society. I was secretary of M.I.A. in Talmage for 3 years. I have been in the presidency of Primary, as well as President. Secretary of Relief Society for 3 presidents. I have always worked in geneology in the wards as teacher, examiner and in the Duchesne, Utah Stake geneology library when I began as a librarian, which was July 1972. I took classes to learn how to be of help to Patrons. And then there is the baptisms of the Stake, I have been secretary for, I think since November 1969, which I still do. Also, I have had the pleasure of working in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. I have been secretary of this organization for nine years. Captain for 2 years. During these 2 years, I took care of the Captain work for Marie Kielbasa. She wasn’t able to attend our meetings because she worked. When my husband was President of the Utah Branch, for seven and a half years, I was clerk for five and a half years. I always did the reports and record keeping. I am happy to have been of service in the church. I have enjoyed going to the temple often in Salt Lake and in the Provo Temple since it was available in 1975. In 1958, Stake President, Elmer Moon called me on a two-year Stake mission. Helen Odekirk was called, so we labored together, until 1960, February about the time that Ralph died, which was 18 February 1960. I worked in the Provo Temple as a receptionist from 13 May 1977 until 31 May 1981. I was set apart on May 20, 1977.
I think I will go back as far as I can remember and tell a few things that I can remember back in Huntington. When I was two and a half years old. I was two and nearly five months older than my sister Alice. Alice was asleep on a small cot or a couple chairs placed together. Mother had gone down town. Lucy was there and Grandmother Pearson. I don’t remember of anyone else there. The house caught fire in the roof around the stovepipe. I remember Lucy (my sister 16 years older than I) lugging a big heavy ladder up from the corral, she put it up against the side of the house, so she could carry buckets of water that she got out of a ditch close by. Grandma would go out and call for help. I thought, why doesn’t Grandma call louder? Two or three men from across the street came to help. Lucy said, “Nellie go and see if you can see maw”. I looked down the street and could see Mama. I told Lucy, Yes, I can see her down by Mathies.” I was so worried about the baby, I wondered why she wasn’t carried out of the house. I would run in and out of the house taking a look at the baby to see if she was all right. They finally got the fire put out, but, the roof needed mending, don’t remember when. I was so glad the baby didn’t get burned up. Then Lucy said, “I can’t take the ladder back, it is too heavy.” I didn’t know why it was heavier now. Another time, mama and us kids went with papa up in the canyon, where he was building a reservoir, of course with the help of all the other men of the town. They had each a team of horses and a dump scraper. They would go each man and team following the other, scoop up a scraper full of dirt, then heap it upon the bank, they were pileing high. When they got it deep enough and wide enough, they filled it with water from the river, so when the river was low, they had water to give to the stock and whatever they needed it for.
We had an outhouse a way from the house. One day, I was in a hurry to go in and use it. When I opened the door, there sat papa, I slammed the door and ran, very embarrassed. I fell in a hole that was full of wood ashes. The ashes were used in the toilet to cover over the waste material from our body, this checked odors and kept flies off.
Because of my parents wanting their children to have a better education, they moved from Huntington to Castle Dale in January 1910. In Castle Dale there was an academy (high school). Lucy, Ervin, and Alton went to it, but, we moved away from Castle Dale to Talmage, Utah in 28 May 1918. I was just thirteen and in the seventh grade. Back in Castle Dale in 1910 ?Father, Ervin, Oren, and Zelpha went from Castle Dale to Talmage, 20 December 1918. (Their membership on this date). In Castle Dale, the water froze and ran all over the street by our place, so the whole street was ice. I took my little red chair out to sit on and slide down a slope. Well, the chair tipped over and I bumped my nose on the ice. I went to mama crying with a bloody nose. I did this two days in a row. In March, of this same year, Mama gave birth to a baby boy. This was 1910. Von was born 19 March 1910. Sister Christensen a very dear friend and neighbor of my mother came to help out with taking care of Mother and baby. I guess us kids too. The midwife that was there to help with the delivery was Natalia Anderson. Natalia Anderson and her husband and people took care of the Hotel in Castle Dale. I think perhaps they owned it. I went to see Sister Anderson, sent there by my mother, Sister Anderson was molding out dough and putting it in pans to bake. She was weighing each loaf. She told me she was weighing the dough because she was selling these loaves of bread, they had to be the same size.
While we lived in Castle Dale in the summer, we liked to go to the far end of town to Jeff’s place to see their ducks, geese, peacocks, and a lot of other foul. They had a large pond where the ducks and geese swam. We saw their eggs on the bottom of the pond. We always had fun riding a milk cow or old black mare “Pet” we called her. We always went to primary and to Sunday School and Meeting and always walked. Grandma Pearson lived with us. She had a room of her own. The nice things she did for us. I believe she loved us. I know we loved her. She was blind in one eye. She was not very big. She would walk to her meetings and conference, and Relief Society. She would tell us stories about the old country. She would also talk to us in Swedish. She was teaching me the Lord’s Prayer in Swedish. She got sick, so she was moved to Huntington to stay with Aunt Elvina Black. She lived a couple months. She died 16 October 1915, so, she would have been 90 years old December 24th. I think of lots of time about Grandma. What a nice friendly and good lady she was. I have always hoped that I could be as good as she. I am trying, but, I make mistakes. My mother was good to, they both my ideal and would like to be like them. Mama was always so kind to me. So was my Father. I am glad, I was born to these dear people. In grandmothers diary she said she was a member of the Lutheran church and going to school, they taught the bible. It was used as their reader. She said she read it in her lifetime 103 times. She said it meant a lot to her when she was taught the gospel and joined the church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints she was glad to have been taught the bible. Now it was more understandable and clear to her. The true meaning came then. This was in 1861. My Grandparents sailed from Sweden to America in 1863. They had one daughter Anna Maria, three years old to bring with them. They came to Salt Lake and like a lot of other people were sent elsewhere by Brigham Young to start new settlements and build up the country. They were sent to the Southern part of Utah in 1865 Father (John Peter) was born in Deseret Millard Co. 16 January 1865.
I want to tell a few things about my Grandfather Pehr Pehrsson (or Pearson). He was born 13 March 1828 at home Fleninge, Malmöhus, Sweden. I have never been told anything about the country. Only that in the winter months the sun doesn’t shine very many hours each day, and in the summer it shines most of the time. They did have many hardships while they lived there, he died 7 March 1902 in Huntington, Emery co. Utah. In Sweden, he was taught the gospel by two elders. He was baptized 9 June 1861. in the early days of the church. Many of the members were re-baptized. Grandfather was re-baptized 15 May 1964 after he came to America. The first time he was baptized, it was done by Niels Larson and confirmed by Niels Larson too.
Pehr Pehrsson married Christina Knutson Beckstrand in Sweden 26 December 1859. They were baptized the same day – 9 June 1861. I am going back a few years of their lives. Their parents died, so this left each of them without support, so they were bound out to the rich people of the country. They were signed up for a year, and they couldn’t break this contract they had to stay there and they could sign up for another year, or they would contract with other people. Their work was hard and long, they didn’t have any time given them for play or recreation of any kind. The boys and girls worked in the fields harvesting grain, vegetables, fruit, etc. They had to carry the harvested crops into the bins, on their backs. This hard work caused Christina to grow stooped, still she was healthy, she must have been when she said she had never had the headache in her life. Grandmother Christina Beckstrand Pehrsson lived to an old age. I was ten years old when she passed away, she told me many things. I am going to try to relate some of them. Grandfather Pehr Pehrsson and his wife, Christina’s first child was born 5 April 1860 in Hesslund Malmöhus, Sweden. Her name is Anna Maria Pehrsson (Pearson). I am going ahead of myself. I wanted to tell about when grandmother and grandfather met. It was at one of these places when they were bound out, as they called it. Grandmother said she had many times pealed two bushels of potatoes for one meal for people that were in the same circumstances as herself (bound out). While they lived in Sweden, there was a great famine in the land, no snow, and no rain. Nothing grew. Grandmother (Christina) said they would gather straw from the fields and grind it to make bread. They would peal the bark from trees, grind it and make bread out of it. This was during her growing years. She said she was stunted. She said she knew she would have grown to a bigger stature if she could have had good food. She weighed 98 pounds most of the time, she said she was fat one time, when she weighed 112 pounds. Two Elders came and taught them the gospel. They accepted it readily. Grandmother said she had read the bible 103 times in her life, of course she hadn’t read it this many times up to her hearing the gospel. She said the gospel gave her the true meaning to the scriptures. She and grandfather were members of the Lutheran church and the Lutheran school used the bible for the reader. Each year they went to school, this was done. I think the Lutheran church was a great help for her to learn the scripture in preparing her for receiving the gospel.
There was a clipping in grandmother’s belongings of the Deseret News. It told about coming to America. It didn’t say it was their experience, but, in as much as it was in her possession. I thought it must be, I am going to relate it. After hearing the gospel and being baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they started to prepare to go to America. This is what they were anxious to do. They wanted to come to Utah. They left Sweden 14 April 1863 on their voyage to America. They sailed on the John J. Boyd (1) ship. They were 6 weeks on the turbulent ocean. The waves were fierce most of the time. The ship rocked to and fro. Pehr Pehrsson was sea sick every bit of the way. This made it hard for him to eat and keep it in his stomach. He said sea sickness is a bad thing to contend with. He was glad to reach land, it looked good to him. When they reached Liverpool exhausted, but, they were working toward getting a way to travel the long trek to Salt Lake City. They brought their one daughter Anna Maria who was past three years old, she was born 5 April 1860 in Hesslund, Malmöhus, Sweden, she and Christina, her mother, stood the ocean voyage well. Captain John R. Murdock company of immigrants which arrived in Salt Lake City 29 August 1863. This was the first of ten company’s arriving in Salt Lake City Valley that year. It consisted of 375 souls, composed mostly of Scandinavians. The company was made up at Florence Nebraska on 29 June, of immigrants who crossed the Atlantic on the steamer John J. Boyd. About the time that the immigrants left Liver Pool, on the John J. Boyd. Captain Murdock, Captain J.M. Sanders and Captain W.B. Preston started east with the teams to meet them at the Missouri River. The steamer arrived in New York on 1 June, carrying 766 souls. Leaving New York by rail, they went to Omaha Nebraska, and then on to Florence where preparations were being made for their journey across the plains. On the way to Florence, they were shown the Hill Cumorah and a number of other historic places. Captain Murdock's Company was the first to leave. It was followed on 6 July by Captain Sanders Company, which arrived here on 6 September. Captain William B. Preston started west with the third company on 10 July, arriving in Salt Lake City, 14 September 1863. I am not sure which of these three companies Grandpa, Grandma, and Anna Maria came with. In trying to remember, it seemed like it was Captain Murdock Company.
When they arrived in Salt Lake City, they said the first thing they wanted to do was locate Christina’s brothers Karl Johan and Elias August Beckstrand, who had left Sweden on a Thursday 9 May 1961 crossing the ocean on the Monarch of the sea (2), the largest vessel to carry immigrants so far. There were 565 Scandinavians, 128 Swedish, 373 Danish, and 64 Norwegians. They reached Salt Lake City, Utah, (then called Deseret) on a Sunday 22 September 1861. They came in Samuel A. Wolley’s company. In the search for them, which wasn’t easy as there were a lot of Saints in the valley by this time. There were lots of homes built, even tents to live temporarily until they could get logs and lumber etc. to build homes. They were glad to be there in the valley, where they could have peace and safety. A log home was very welcome to these people. Large families were born and raised in log cabins. They did find the Karl Johan Beckstrand and Elias August Beckstrand families. Neither family stayed in the Salt Lake Valley very long. President Young wanted to spread out the saints and to start new communities. They had another child born while they lived in Deseret Millard County. This time it was a boy, they named him John Peter, 16 January 1865. Anna Mari at this time was a big help to her mother in helping to care for John. Christina still had to help in the fields, as well as cording and spinning wool, also weaving and sewing which was done by hand.
Grandmother, Christina, said while they lived in Dixie, they worked picking cotton in the cotton fields, and spinning it to make clothes. They also spun with linsey to make dresses. Pehr and Christina managed to organize their geneology that they had brought from Sweden with them, so that when the St. George and Manti temples were opened they could get the baptism, Endowment and sealing work done for their kin folk. As well as a lot of friends. Meanwhile, they were busy clearing land and planting crops, and building and taking care of their little family. Their third child, a daughter was born while they were still in Deseret. Josephine Christina Pearson was born 05 September 1867. They were happy to have their three children now, and they wanted to have the best for them, they were working so very hard to take care of them, to feed and cloth them. They were being taught the gospel. They were so glad to be able to teach them the gospel and instill in their hearts a testimony, which they themselves cherished so very much. Josephine was just a year old when she became ill and died, this was on the 04 September 1868. They were really saddened to have this come to them. They were again advised by Brigham Young to move to settle another place. Oak City, Utah, so they had to clear land and build a place to live again, of course there were other people sent there, like always. They did have many hardships, as they did have hardships in Sweden. But, their faith was strong at all times. They were always a help to other people. They always worked together for the same cause. While they lived in Oak City, Utah, another daughter was born to them, they named her Albertina. She was born 23 September 1869. The records said she is of Deseret, I don’t know if she was born in Deseret or Oak Creek. By this time, Anna Maria was nine years old and a big help to the family in caring for her sister and brother and helping with other needs around the home. Christina was a good teacher in teaching Anna Maria and John the scriptures and they were taught to read, they were permitted to go to school, but, that wasn’t so very much of the time, but it all helped. Pehr and Christina would read the scriptures whenever they could get the time. They always made use of their time. They were never idle. They always attended their meetings on Sunday and observed the Sabbath. Carl Johan and Elias August Beckstrand, brothers to Christina, must have come to America as single men, because the record says they came to America 22 September 1861. Karl Johan married Karren Pederson Roe, 28 February 1862 in the Endowment House. They had two children. Charles John Beckstrand, born 11 August 1863 in Salt Lake City, Utah. And Nels Peter Conrad Beckstrand, 27 January 1867 in Deseret Millard Co., Utah. Carl Johan baptized 26 June 1858. Christina’s other brother, Elias August Beckstrand was born 21 October 1832 in Granstrop, Villstad, Sweden. He was baptized 16 February 1859. He married his first wife, Anna Sophia Hegglund in Salt Lake City, Utah, 24 January 1862 in the endowment house. She was born 8 October 1833 in Rysby Kalmar, Sweden. They had 6 children. Elias August Beckstrand married his second wife 7 June 1869, Henretta Cecelia Nelson, she was born 17 April 1851, in Tagarp Barlov, Sweden. They were blessed with ten children, all born in Meadow, Utah. Della Dial said that Elias August Beckstrand came to America with his brother Carl Johan. They were both single men. They all told about the hardships in Sweden, especially after they joined the church. Both of Elias August wives were born in Sweden, but, they never married until they came to America. Karren his one wife, said she was 12 when she joined the church, she was disowned by her family, so she left and came alone. Elias August born 21 October 1832 in Sweden, baptized in Denmark 16 February 1859. Endowment 7 June 1862 year before Karl Johan. He died 26 February 1910. Elias August Beckstrand was superintendent in Meadow, Sunday School 30 December 1880 until 25 March 188, with Joseph H. Fisher Secretary. His 1st – John B. Bushwel; 2nd assistant, James Duncan at this time, there were 22 officers and teachers and 184 pupils. Sunday school was held in a log school house.
As I said before, Pehr and Christina Beckstrand Pehrrson moved to Oak City, Albertina was born 23 September 1869. They again felt they were really blessed with another daughter, having lost their daughter Josephine Christina. Anna Marie by this time was a big help to the family. The care was great in those days when every member of the family had so many responsibilities. They always worked so hard to keep food on the table and clothes to wear. One day when Albertina was four years old, the children were playing on a hay rack which was on a wagon. Albertina slipped and fell through two boards on this rack, breaking her neck. This was a terrible tragedy, to lose their baby girl again.
About 1874, Brigham Young assigned families to try out the Law of Consecration in the place called Orderville. Pehr and Christina and their family were assigned. The people worked together as if they were one big family. Cows had to be milked and herded, crops had to be planted, irrigated, and harvested. Vegetable gardens were assigned to certain people. There was cooking to be done, dish washing, and laundry, sewing, weaving, carding of wool and spinning, care of sheep, chickens, horses, pigs, and any other work, like building. Pehrs main job was to make brooms and care of the harvested crops, oversee this part of the work. His daughter-in-law Sarah Ellen Pearson, said of him, he was tidy with his work, one thing he did was to go around the hay stack, pick up sprigs that had been knocked down, or hadn’t been put in the stack. He would take these stocks and pock them into the stack, she said it was clean around the stack as if it had been swept with a broom. When Pehr came to America he could not speak English. Swedish was the only tongue he knew. It was hard for him to learn the English language. He would get English and Swedish mixed together. Making it very hard for people to understand him, if they didn’t know the Swedish language, and English. Christina knew the Swedish language and Danish, and could read and write in both. When she came to Utah in 1863, she soon learned to read and write and also speak the English language. She was busy with her studies all the time. I don’t know how she got her learning. Christian did her part while living in the United Order, doing every thing that was needed to be done. Her main work was preparing cotton and wool for carding, spinning, and weaving and making clothing, she also made wedding dresses for young women. She did a lot of knitting of clothing, stockings, and pretty lace sweaters. Her daughter Anna Maria helped her, but in 27 January 1872 she became very sick with a fever and dies. Anna Maria was the first person to be buried in the Oak City Cemetery. About the time that Albertina died in 1873. They were blessed with the good fortune of adopting a little five-year-old girl, Elvina Hancine Olsen, who was born in Alborg Denmark, 15 May 1868. Who had come to America. I do not know the circumstances, whether her parents couldn’t support her or whether they didn’t want her. Pehr and Christina were happy to claim her as their own. When she was 11 years old, 25 April 1879 she was sealed to them in the St. George Temple. Even as young as Elvina was, she was a big help to her mother, Christina, in carding, spinning, weaving, and sewing; they worked together. When she was 12 years old, the bishop gave her a recommend to go to the temple with her parents and help with the Endowment work for the dead. John Peter was just fourteen when he was ordained an Elder so he could help with the proxy temple work. He was ordained an Elder 23 April 1879 in St. George Temple.
Christian said she was happy to work in the temple, she said this work is what I like to do. These two children were a great comfort to their parents as long as their parents lived.
Now, going back to Orderville, and what they did there. There were no refrigerators in those days, so they used the milk in making cheese and cottage cheese, at this time, cottage cheese was called Dutch Cheese. Their son, John Peter Pearson said when he would come in from the field working or from herding the cows out in the Meadows, or on the hillside. He liked to have clabber to eat, it would have the cream raised on the top. He would sprinkle sugar on it and with bread and butter he would enjoy his meal.
Everybody in Orderville had to keep busy with their own part of work, there couldn’t be any slackers, and Pehr and Christina and Elvina and John were not slackers. They knew what their assignments were and there wasn’t any question in their minds they did their part and more. I don’t know how many years they lived in Orderville. They left Orderville some time during 1882 to go to Huntington, Emery County, Utah. They were sent to help build up this part of the country. They did the same kind of work in Huntington as they did in the other places they lived.
Christina with the help of Elvina carded wool and cotton. Then, they would spin it into yarn or thread and knit clothes and sew too. Clarence Black said he and Roy Black would stay up nights to help them spin, of course, this was a lot later in years; because Elvina was married to Isaac Black and Roy Black is Isaacs and Elvina’s son. Clarence was a cousin. During this time, David Ira and Ellen Sophia DeGraw Frederick had moved to Huntington (1885). None of these people had very many conviences. Their lot was to work hard and endure hardships. After Pehr and Christina and their two children settled in Huntington (John 17 and Elvina 14). John was a grown young man by this time, so he did a man’s work on the place, helping to make adobes to build the buildings, they needed. He would help to get the lumber they needed to complete their home and other buildings. They had acquired a team and wagon, a hand plow. This is about all they had to get along with; only a shovel, hand rake and hoe. The things that were in Grandmother’s mind when they sailed for America and crossing the plains. (Well grandfather too) was to get some temple work done, for themselves and some of their parents and grandparents and their families. When they moved to St. George and the other places close by, they went to the St. George Temple and did work for their dead. I find a lot of the work they did has been done over again in the Temples. It was quite some time though before they found themselves in the temple to accomplish the work. They were so glad to be living close to the church in a ward where they could worship. Sunday was a special day for them. They had a testimony that would not be doubted or shaken. Endowment House record show Pehr Pehrsson and Christina Beckstrand were sealed wife to husband 21 June 1869.
Grandfather Pehr Pehrsson died a few years before I was born, so I had to be told of him. Oscar White of Duchesne said he knew my grandfather in Orderville. Oscar was a young man. He said the Pearson’s were great people. He said they were honest, and hard workers. They always did their work well. Grandfather was a yard caretaker, and he made brooms. I wish I knew what he made them out of and how he made them. He was the man to oversee the vegetable bins and distribute for the kitchen use. I talked one time to Clarence Black. He said one time he was out in the field with Pehr Pehrsson, they discovered a chicken in a great big wash out through the field. I think this was in Huntington, Utah. They had moved from Orderville, Utah to Huntington in September 4, 1882 and this episode was in Huntington. Grandpa couldn’t see this chicken staying down there in that great big wash. Clarence Black and Roy Black was there with him. Roy is a grandson to him. The boys ran away; they were afraid they might be left down in that great washed out canal with the chicken. Grandpa finally persuaded Roy to let him tie a rope around his waist and let him the 10 or 12 feet down into the wash. He caught the chicken and held onto it and grandpa pulled them up to safety. He was happy now that the chicken was up with the other chickens. Grandpa was like that, he looked out for everything and everybody.
Clarence said he heard grandpa scold a horse one time in the Swedish language. He called it an old “gamla fay” (fool) in Swedish. He was never well after he came in from the field hot and sweaty and drank a lot of ice water then lay in the shade of a tree. He should have stayed active until he cooled off gradually.
One time Christina was in church, next to her was a lady with bread dough around her fingernails. Grandmother thought how awful to come to church with dough on her fingernails. Then she looked at her own and low and behold, she said she too had dough in her own nails. She said it goes to show you shouldn’t be judging other people. We learn by our own mistakes.
A lady out at the Provo Temple in 1979 told me she is from Huntington some time back. She knew Aunt Elvina Black very well. Aunt Elvina told her that her parents were poor people and couldn’t feed and cloth her so she was given to them for a team of horses, maybe other things too. I don’t know whether Elvina was the only child or not. People, it seems, had babies to adopt away back in those good old days. They probably loved their 5-year-old girl, but wanted the best for her. I know that Pehr and Christina Beckstrand Pehrsson, my grandparents, were not rich but, they always managed to have as much as most everyone else. The people had to skimp and save.
I am going to tell more things about these people? I might tell of things I have already told. Christina Knutsson Beckstrand Pearson was born in Grandstrop Jonkopings Sweden 24 December 1825, a daughter of Knut Johan Beckstrand and Ingierd Jacobsson. She was a stooped little lady. She said her one eye just popped and ran out, as we know glaucoma now. It could have been glaucoma to have the pressure built up in her eye. The reason she was stooped was because of the straineous and hard labor she did working in the field along side of big strong men. She said she would sometimes faint because of the heavy loads that were piled on her small back. I don’t think she would have had to work so hard this way if her parents were there to take care of her. When she was left without parents she had to live with other people. There must have been people like now, wanting to get rich and get all they could at others expense and hard labor. Christina was always willing.
They had to harvest mostly by hand, and she had hard task masters, so did Pehr Pehrsson; his parents died too and left him to do for himself wherever and however he could. These two people met at this place where they were bound out. They had to sign a contract, it was binding, not less than a year. Then they were free to go elsewhere or sign for 1 or 2 more years. They had to keep this contract, it was binding, Lutheran Faith was their religion, in school it was taught, as well as church. They were happy to be Lutherans. That was their way of life. Christina and Pehr met and married. When they were married this broke their contract. So, they made a home of their own. The Holy Bible was their lesson book both at school and church.
Christina said she made friends in Denmark as well as her own native Sweden. She learned to speak Danish and read and write in both languages. Christina had two younger brothers, they were also bound out for their board and keep. They joined the L.D.S. church sooner than Pehr and Christina and came to Utah.
The short time that I knew Grandma, I learned a lot about her, she was so faithful and prayerful, one time I opened the door of her room quietly and peeked in to see if she was resting or reading. She was kneeling by her bed praying. Without her knowing I was looking in on her, I closed the door softly and tip toed away. She one day after our noon meal slipped out of the house to go out to the outhouse, we heard her calling for help in her low weak voice. Papa hurried out there to see. Each time she would struggle to get up off the ground, this big calf would back off and knock her down again. This calf was trained to chase and hunt. I remember Oren, my brother, would bellar like a bull and chase the calf. In turn the calf would chase him. He would run to the grainery and jump up on the workbench. He would keep this up for hours. He had to keep it locked up so it wouldn’t injure us children. But it got on the loose this time. It made grandma stiff and sore. Oren got a Scotch blessing from Papa. I don’t know why grandma had to walk, but, I remember of her walking ten miles to conference. She must have been living in Huntington at this time with Aunt Elvina and she walked the ten miles to Castle Dale to Stake Conference. In Castle Dale, Relief Society was held in a different building than the church house. It was called the Relief Society building. It was clear at the other end of town. She would always get out and walk to Relief Society. This building had a large bell in the bellfrey. I used to like to hear this bell ring to remind the sisters it was time for Relief Society meeting. Mama would go to this meeting too. The bell rang so loud it could be heard all over town. Grandma would go quite often to the neighbor’s Sister Mall Berg, and visit with her. She came from Denmark. Grandma could speak Danish as well as Swedish.
Ervin departed for his mission 1 October 1913 to the Society Islands. He was a seventy at age 20. His return was July 1917. The night of the testimonial, we children were left with grandmother. We were glad for this opportunity. I was eight years old at the time. Grandma proceeded to tell us about Sweden and the gospel. She would teach us the Lords Prayer in the Swedish language. It sounded strange, we commenced to laugh. She stopped telling us until we promised not to mock this sacred prayer. We promised we wouldn’t, she finally gave in and started the teaching again. I was doing pretty well with the course. But, after grandmother died I forgot it. I was ten when she died. She told me she had never in her life had the headache. She would hold me on her lap. I was about as big as she. I would tell her “I am too big to hold”, she would say that I would never get to big for that. Grandmother went through so many hardships through her life, working in the fields, hauling hay and grain, potatoes and anything that needed to be harvested and after she came to Utah, down in the Dixie country, a saint, and angel, a devoted person, she was so happy to have her testimony of the gospel, everybody who knew her, loved her. She knew the gospel was true the minute it was taught to her. After reading the bible so many times, she said the true meaning of the scriptures came with the gospel of the Church of Latter Day Saints. She did real nice delicate needlework. Knitted lace, socks, sweaters, mittens, shawls, weaving, sewing dresses, even wedding dresses. She did weaving of linsey cloth, carded wool and spun the yarn. She successfully spun flax and wove it into linen. She made tablecloths, sheets, pillowcases, and towels.
They lived in Deseret, Oak City, Orderville, and Huntington, Utah. Pehr Pehrsson died in Huntington 07 March 1902. His second wife was Elizabeth Mahala Billingsley. He married her in St. George Utah. I haven’t found the exact date. It must have been in the summer of 1879. She, I have heard, was blind. She endowed 04 July 1877. A child was born to them, Anna Cecelia Pearson. She was born in Orderville, Utah, 04 day of August 1880. Her mother mistreated her. I guess she was really mean to her. The child was mentally retarded. I can’t say whether it was because of the mistreatment or not. Christina took her and cared for her and loved her. Grandmother said, one day she found her with her arms around a horses leg. They said the horse was a treturous animal, it would kick and bite. They marveled at this incident where it showed gentleness to this little girl. Grandmother wrote in her diary that she took Annie on the train from Huntington to American Fork to the training school for handicapped people. They wanted her to have as much education as life would afford for the child. I don’t think Anna was there very long. I don’t know how many months and I don’t know whether she died in American Fork at the school or if it was in Huntington. She died 22 November 1894, this would make her 14 years of age. She was buried in Huntington, Utah. Anna Cecelia Pearson was blessed 22 August 1880 by her grandfather Elijah R. Billingsley. Pehr Pehrsson divorced his second wife. He kept Anna. Elizabeth Mahala Billingsley was born 03 May 1862 in Provo, Utah. To Elijah R. Billingsley and Mary Degraw. Mary Degraw is a daughter of Jacob DeGraw and Sophia Dutton Degraw. This makes Mary a sister to my Grandmother Ellen Sophia DeGraw Mathis, Frederick. Elizabeth later remarried.
Pehr Pehrsson and Christina Knutson Beckstrand Pehrsson received their Endowments in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, 21 June 1869 and were sealed together the same day. Most of their children were sealed to them. In 1879 they went with their two children John and Elvina to the St. George Temple and did the baptisms, Endowments and sealings for their dead ancestors as well as friends. They had brought these names and dates with them from Sweden. Christina in her own words, “I feel happy that I live to this day and I hope that I shall live so that I may be worthy to go there (to the temple)”. She also said each time she went to the temple how grateful she was. She said she always felt good for the work she had done. John was ordained an Elder at age 14 on the 23 April 1879 in the St. George Temple, so he could help his parents with this proxy work in the temple. The children that were sealed to Pehr and Christina were John, Elvina, and Anna Maria; but, Josephine Christina wasn’t sealed to them until 24 November 1965, Albertina was sealed the same day.
I have been told by my parents as well as my sister Lucy that Pehr Pehrsson and Christina Knutson Pehrsson (Pearson) met at one of the places where they were working.
I found a history of Pehr’s parents this is what it says; His father’s name was Pehr Olsson and his mother was Anna Swensson- in Swedish it was Svensson. Ola Larsson and Karna Bengtsson were his grandparents?of Pehr Pehrsson; his grandfather was a Lutheran Minister.
They must have been servants to rich people too, when they signed a contract to stay it was binding, they couldn’t leave unless they married. This would break the contract. Their contract was not less than one year, it could be more, but it had to extend the full year; two years or however many years they wanted to work. It seems as though they didn’t have to be orphans. They were poor people working for the more well to do people. Pehr Olsen was born 14 December 1791. Anna Swensson was born 9 July 1784.
Grandmother Pearson (Christina) died 16 October 1915, so I was ten years old and past. I remember going to the funeral, seeing grandmother in her casket. She died in Huntington. The funeral was in Huntington and she was buried in the Huntington cemetery by Grandfather. I can remember in the church house there were beams or posts in uniform places to hold up the roof. These beams as I remember were just like the ones in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah. I don’t remember seeing these uprights in other Church Buildings. I can remember how sad we all were. For years after I saw grandmother Christina Pearson in her casket. I would dream about her being in her casket, but she wasn’t dead. She would be up and about in the day and at night she would sleep in her casket that was placed by the wall of a great long hallway. I can still remember these dreams of her. In her later life when she lived in Castle Dale with us I don’t remember of her knitting lace like she used to. She did knit wool socks and mittens. She read a lot and mostly without glasses. Like I stated earlier she was blind in one eye. I think it was her right eye. Glasses those days were not like the ones today. They would go to the store and try glasses on that were in the showcase until they found a pair that would fit. It was always reading glasses that they would use. I don’t remember of them wearing them for every day.
My father John P. Pearson would say, “Nellie, will you bring me my glasses?” then he would take the paper (Newspaper) and circle the coal oil lamp so that he could see to read the News. The paper those days always came in the mail. It would be printed just two or three days each week. Never on Sunday. The paper then was not as big and bulky as it is today. He subscribed to the Deseret News, same as now. Father, Papa as I called him, liked to spend his evenings as much as possible reading, the scriptures, Improvement Era and Newspaper. He kept up his diary, records. Mama (Ellen) kept the records, she must have done this when she was alone, because I didn’t know she did until after she died and we found all these things in the bureau drawer or under it. All their church records and receipts were there. While Father was on his mission, he kept a diary.
When us children were growing up we would have family home evenings. We enjoyed circling around the fireplace (In Castle Dale) and listening to papa tell us bible stories. Joseph sold into Egypt was our favorite, as I recall. We would pop corn and play games.
I used to like to go with papa in the fall after the crops were in up in the hills a few miles from Castle Dale to get loads of wood for our fuel for the winter. I would gather pine nuts and pine gun too. Then I would share with my brothers and sisters on our return home. I don’t remember of the other children going after wood with papa like I did. Maybe they did though.
After we moved to Talmage, when I was thirteen, I would go with papa after wood, it was some closer there than it was in Castle Dale. Like I said earlier, in Huntington I remember of going with him, Mama went too when he worked on a reservoir outside of town. I would go to the farm, I think it was east of town. It was close enough that Zelpha and I could walk to it to take their lunch. They had left earlier in the day to work on brick making, or adobes they called them. It is vivid in my mind how he did it?mixing is something like they do cement, only the adobes were made out of sticky blue clay. He would mix and mix and press into molds. The Molds were dampened so the adobes would slip out like cake out of a pan when he turned it over. He had several molds that he would use. The adobes were hard as a rock, then he, if he wanted brick, would somehow get the adobes hot and they would end up being brick. They made buildings with these, as the men use logs or lumber now. They would have dirt floors and most of the time dirt roofs. That clay on the roof inside of the milding board around the eves and gables. They would fill it full on a board roof of course. This would keep out the rain and snow, and it was warm too.
Right after me moved to Castle Dale from Huntington, late winter or early spring 1910 my brothers, Ervin and Alton, in a team and wagon went to Price for a load of something. I was five. I went with them to Huntington to stay with Grandmother Christina Pearson while they went on to price for their load. In my mind it seems like some kind of machinery. They were gone one or two nights. I remember grandmother had a board floor, a small rug was by the kitchen door, it was a screen door, wood frame with a spring on it. When I would go out the spring was tight and the door would slam shut. I remember the looks of the door. A homemade one a wood or board frame, with wire screen tacked on it, and it wasn’t painted. I remember having hot water poured over a slice of bread sprinkled with sugar for my supper. The next day, I was getting home sick, I went out of this door, it slammed shut. I went down the corner of her lot. There were trees there. I stood in the corner of her lot by the fence and was watching for my brothers to come, because I was anxious to go home. I was glad when I saw them coming. They were tired and hungry. Grandma fed them bread and milk gravy. Von was born 29 March 1910 in Castle Dale, we hadn’t been living in Castle Dale very long. The nurse or Mid wife had been there. Her name was Natalia Anderson. Sister Christensen came down from her place a couple blocks away. She was holding the baby in a blanket. The baby hadn’t been cared for yet. She said she was going to take Von home, of course we thought she meant it and Alice and Zelpha were opposing greatly. We were glad when she went home without the baby.
I don’t know how soon after we moved to Castle Dale when Grandma came to live with us. It might have been a year or two or three. Grandma always had a mint to give us children to make us happy. I think because of Grandmother giving her grandchildren a mint?that is why I like to slip one to my grandchildren. I feel like she is close by me sometimes. Some day we will all be together again. I don’t know whether there will be mints or not?I hope so. When I put my mind to working, I can see her moving about with a cane in her hand to assist her. I don’t ever remember of seeing her angry at us or anybody. She was and is a dear little lady. Read her patriarchal blessing sometime and you will know she is special and that Heavenly Father loves her. She has a promise that she will be with me at resurrection time. Maybe she is now. I think grandfather is just as special. He died before I was born, so I don’t know of him, only by heresay. Grandmother was short and grandfather wasn’t a tall man. The ones that knew him said he was a tidy and neat and saving manner. He was never wasteful. He was kind to animals and people. I think I do know him, when I look at his photo, I see a kindly face, and an understanding face. When they heard the gospel, it didn’t take long for them to know it was true. And after they were baptized in 1861 it didn’t take them long to know that they wanted to come to America which they made preparations and after 6 weeks on the water, all the days of their lives they had hardships and were pioneers. They never had a car, or a dishwasher, or water in the house, or a furnace to keep warm by. They had to stuff wood in a pot-bellied stove and cook stove where all their food was cooked and baked. When their son John P. Pearson was mayor of Castle Dale he put the water in residents houses. Just one tap with a bucket under it. There was no sink there to drain out the water, now a bathroom to take a bath. Bathing was done in a washtub, then carried out and dumped on the ground. The toilet stood a hundred feet maybe a little more or a little less from the house, which they used day or night, summer and winter. For the little children to use at night, in the winter was a little pottie that was pushed under the bed out of sight. This was carried to the outhouse in the morning and dumped out. In the outhouse was a sears catalog to use for toilet paper. Toilet paper was unknown. To our family it was unknown anyway.
Our neighbors were all in the same fix. We had to create our own fun and games. We didn’t have a television. I think that was good. We didn’t have anything to keep us from doing our homework. We called it getting our lessons. We always had chores to do. Mild the cows, feed the pigs, calves, chickens, gather the eggs, get in the wood. When I was real small my job was to get in a pan of chips to have ready for morning to build a fire. After the fire was made, it took a while to warm up the house, and get breakfast started and cooked, table set for a big family and on school mornings mother would have us three girls hair combed and braided lunches fixed, as we didn’t have school lunches. We always took our lunch in a sack or little bucket. I don’t remember of having napkins. Maybe we did.
I got a letter from my cousin, Della Dial, in Shelley, Idaho, she said year ago, a man by the name of Frank George, who lived there near her, knew Christina B. Pearson. This man said she was a very kind person. He knew her when she lived in Huntington.
Grandfather Pehr Pearson was a kind man. My father and mother used to tell me about him. He didn’t very often show any signs of anger. Clarence Black told me how kind they both were, so did Oscar White. He knew grandpa in Orderville. When they lived there those early days, most of the people lived in log houses, dirt roofs and dirt floors and were happy to have that much. Most of the houses were just one or two rooms. They didn’t have utilities in the house. The little outhouse with a hole dug underneath, they covered the passages with dirt or ashes. Toilet paper wasn’t heard of. They used papers from the sears and montgomery ward catalogue for the purpose of toilet paper. The water they used was carried from the ditch and heated on a wood-burning stove. This kind of heat to cook on and warm the home. They took a bath in a washtub. The water was used to pour on a tree or bush to keep it alive.
I want to go back to Carl Johan Beckstrand born at Granstrop Jonkoping Sweden, the 26 day of June 1829. The son of Knut Johan Beckstrand, a soldier of the ocean, and Ingerid Jacobson, who was very religious and took her children many miles through deep snow in the winter to attend church. Neither of his parents had a chance to hear the gospel, when he and his brother Elias August were grown, they went to Denmark as painters, where they remained seven years. They heard the gospel there and joined the church. The following account is the Journey and voyage of Carl John Beckstrand and Elias August Beckstrand taken from Andrew Jensen’s “Record of Scandinavian Emigrants.”
“On Thursday, 9 May 1861, a company of 565 Scandinavian Saints 373 Danish, 64Norwegians, sailed from Copenhagen by steamer, “Waldemar” President John VanCott, who accompanied them to England, joined the immigrants at Kiel.” Elders Hans Olin, Hansen, Niela Wilhelnsen, Jens Nielsen, Gudtal A. Ohlson, Saamund Gudmundsen, Carl W.J. Nicker, Anders Frantzen, and others returned home with this company after having labored faithfully as missionaries in the Scandinavian Mission. The company had a successful voyage as far as Kiel and arriving there on the morning of May 10. At once they were forwarded by special train to Altona, where they arrived at noon. In Altona the company was divided into two groups, one of which (about 200 saints) immediately boarded the steamer “Brittania” and departed for Hull, England about three p.m. the same day. They arrived in Hull on May 12. The second division (169 saints) having been quartered in a large hall over-night left Hamberg on May 11 at 3 p.m. by steamer “Eugenia” which after a pleasant voyage arrived at Grunsby, England of the morning of May 13, the Captain treated the immigrants with kindness and respect, while the opposite was the case on the “Brittinia”. The two companies joined at Grunsby, where they were cared for until the morning of May 14. They then proceeded by special train to Liverpool, England, arriving in the City at two p.m. Two hours later, they were placed on board the ship sailing vessel, “Monarch of the Sea.” Which was the largest vessel that had carried immigrants across the sea up to that time. This company was also the largest to cross the ocean on one ship up to that time. On May 16, they were organized by President Amasa M. Lyman, Charles C. Rich, and George Q. Cannon who appointed Elder Jabez Woodard from Switzerland as President and Hans Olin Hansen and Niels Wilhelmsen as his counselors. At 11 a.m. the great vessel lifted its anchor and amid the great cheers of parting friends they left the wharf and began the long voyage.
Later the large company was divided into districts with the Scandinavians in seven, and the English and German in three or four, each being under a president. The names of these presidents were Edward Read, John J.P. Wallace, Horace Pegg, Peter Nielsen, Saamund Gudmundsen, Gustaf A. Ohlson, Aaron G. Oman, Lars C. Geertsen, Johan Fagerberg, and Rasmus Nielson, the latter also acted as Marshall for the Scandinavians. The Saints were treated kindly by both officers and the crew on board the ship, and the provisions were good and sufficient. The company was so large that there were not enough kettles, so each family could only cook five times a week. From Copenhagen to New York, nine persons died, most of them being children. Fourteen couples were married and four births took place on board. Eleven of the couples married were Scandinavians. The weather was favorable most of the way. The ship had to battle against the wind a few days. Large icebergs were passed, one towering over two hundred feet above water. On June 19, they reached their destination, New York. Having been met by Elders Hones and Williams and lodged at Castle Garden. Apostle Erastus Snow, who was in New York at the time spoke to the Scandinavians in the Danish Language. From New York, the company traveled by rail and steamboat (part of the way in two divisions), to Florence, Nebraska. The first division arrived there on July 1st and the second one on July 2. The route taken was by Dunkirk, Cleaveland, Chicago, Quincy, St. Joseph, and etc.
Preparations for the journey across the plains were at once made and all who were without means to outfit themselves for the long journey were assisted by teams from Utah, who for the first time had been sent in large companies by the church to the Missouri River to assist the poor saints gathering in Zion. Most of the Scandinavians gathering were assisted in this manner, they crossed the plains in Captain John R. Murdock’s company which left Florence in the first part of July and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 12. Those who had sufficient means to help themselves, left Florence a few days later under the leadership of Captain Samuel A. Wooley with about sixty ox teams. After traveling for some distance, the company divided into two sections and Elder Porter was appointed captain of the second division. On Sunday, September 22, 1861, this company arrived safely in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Carl Johan Beckstrand, (Dela Beckstrand Dial’s Grandfather) was in Captain Wooley’s company. He had purchased a gun in Florence. One evening after all the saints had camped, and were preparing supper, he saw a skunk nearby. Not knowing what it was, he shot and killed it. The result was they all had to move camp. Della Dial said Carl Johan met her grandmother Karen Rov Nielsen Pederson in the same company. They were sealed in the Endowment House by Daniel H. Wells on 28 February 1863. After working in the timber for about three years, they moved to Sippio, but, remained there only a short time, then moved to Deseret, Millard Co. Utah. They stayed there only a short time, then moved after five years, because the dam in the river broke and they couldn’t afford to rebuild it so all the saints had to leave. Carl settled in Oak Creek and his brother Elias August, went to Meadow, Utah and had a large family, two wives. They were Anna Sophia Hegglund and Henretta Cecelia Nelson.
John N. Hinkley was first Stake President with Edward Partridge and Joseph Robinson Counselors.
Karen Nielsen Peterson Rau came in this same company. She walked the whole way; bare foot most of the way. When she saw a clump of grass, she would put it in her big tie apron to feed the cow at camping time. It doesn’t give the names of those who were married on the ship. We don’t know if they were married before being sealed in the Endowment house in 1863.
Knut Johan Beckstrand, the father of Christina Knutson Beckstrand Pehrsson, Elias August Beckstrand and Karl Johan Beckstrand, had a first wife, Elin Pehrsson born , they were married 10 April 1796, they had one child Catharina Elizabeth, born 17 July 1802, she married Ander Anderson, she died 21 September 1820. His first wife Elin Died in 1823. Then he married Ingierd Jacobson 13 February 1825. She was born 12 September 1792 in Hokaberget, Villstad, Jönköping, Sweden. She died 13 January 1844. She was baptized 22 May 1872, Endowed 24 April 1879, sealed to her husband, Knut Johan Beckstrand 22 May 1879. He was born 3 March 1775 in Salsans, Långaryd, Jönköping, Sweden. He died 18 September 1847. His father was Conrad Beckstrand, his mother was Juliana Berchman. Conrad Beckstrand, born 11 February 1747; born, Prob. Hucklinge, Östergotland, Sweden. Died 13 September 1818. his father, Knut Beckstrand, mother Sarah Jacobson. Married 11 May 1774 to Juliana Berchman. Baptized 12 October 1870, Endowed 8 May 1879, sealed in Endowment House to wife 22 May 1972.
Pehr Pehrsson, born 13 March 1828, Flendinga, Malmöhus, Sweden, was married to Christina K. Beckstrand, they were endowed 23 April 1870 S.G. His father was Pehr Olsen, born 14 December 1791, Proby, Sweden. Died 31 December 1847 in Sweden. Baptized 22 May 1872.
Jacob DeGraw, his wife Sophia Dutton, with their family of nine came across the planes in 1852. They settled in Lehi, Utah, Utah. Their tenth child, a girl, Ellen Sophia DeGraw was born in Lehi 5 September 1855. They stayed in Lehi for several years. Jacob was quite a young man when he died in Lehi 5 January 1856. They said his early death was due to the great hardships that he and his family had to endure. Nothing was easy for these people, and they never had the kind of food to make them healthy. The clothes they had were never store bought. Most of their dresses and shirts were made of calico. Calico, we never hear of it anymore. It made a hardship on this large family to have their husband and father taken away from them. The winters were hard, lots of snow and cold. For warmth in their little log houses they had to haul wood from the Canyon, or mountains and even melt snow for water to wash and for culinary use.
Sophia Dutton DeGraw met and married another good man 19 December 1856, Willis Boren. He was born 11 March 1796 in North Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee. He lived to be an old man. He died and was buried in Emery, Emery Co., Utah. One son was born to them. Willis Boren Jr. He was born 22 June 1860 in Heber City, Utah, Wasatch Co. But, when Sophia DeGraw Boren died they took her to Emery, Emery Co. Utah for burial. She died 17 November 1902. Her granddaughter Sarah Ellen Mathis Pearson said she was a happy woman, always looked on the bright side of life, she was energetic all her lifetime. Her great granddaughter Lucy Pearson Cook said that (Sophia) her great grandmother always had a witty joke to tell, she said she enjoyed her very much. Lucy was 13 years old when her great grandmother died. (and Mine)
Their tenth child Ellen Sophia DeGraw was married to John Tomas Mathis in 1870. I haven’t been able to find where, I think it must have been in Utah. But, soon after they were married, they moved to Springvalley, Ney Co., Nevada. They had hardships there too. While they lived there their first baby daughter, Sarah Ellen was born. John Thomas Mathis had never been baptized, although his parents John Mathis and Sarah Ann Dowdle Mathis were members of the church. I think they must have become disaffected with the church. John Thomas Mathis was born 28 April 1849 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa. He and Sarah Ann Dowdle Mathis were married in the summertime of 1849.Footnotes:
(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