Elias August Beckstrand 1832-1910
Elias August Beckstrand was born 21 October 1832, at Granstrop, Villstad, Jönköping, Sweden, a son of Knut Johan Beckstrand and Ingerd Jacobsdaughter. Elias August's great-grandfather, Knut Gunnarsson Beckstrand, graduated from Uppsala University in Sweden and was educated as a priest as was his father before him (Gunnar Knutsson). This was the highest education to be obtained in Sweden at the time. Elias August's father, Knut Johan, was a Staff Sergeant 1st Class in the army.
Elias August was the youngest of a family of three children. He had an older sister, Christina (born 24 December 1825), and an older brother, Karl Johan (born 26 June 1829). He also had an older half-sister, Catharina Elisabeth (born 17 July 1802), the daughter of his father, Knut Johan, and first wife, Elin Pehrsdotter.
Elias August was left an orphan at the age of fifteen years. From this time, he started to work for a livelihood. Work was more plentiful in Denmark, so he and his brother went there. His brother was hired as a painter and Elias was hired as a coachman for a rich family by the the name of Gissing. He drove the family's span of horses and took the wife and daughter out driving along the shores of the Baltic Sea which separated Denmark from Malmö, Sweden. He remained with this family for fifteen years where he received wonderful cultural training. The family lived a rich, aristocratic life and he was treated with a great deal of courtesy.
While in the employ of this family, the temptation of wines and cigars was placed before him. Since he had not been accustomed to these things in his father's home, he had the courage and manhood to resist them. When the Gospel came to the people of Denmark in the year 1857, Elias rejoiced over the fact that he had no bad habits to overcome and he was soon ready to receive the Gospel.
He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 16 February 1859, and was ordained an elder on 19 November 1859. At this time he was called to serve a two-year mission to his native land, Sweden. He was now 27 years old.
When his mission was completed, he desired to emigrate to Zion. Elias and his brother, Karl Johan, traveled with other Saints on the ship Monarch of the Sea (1). They left Liverpool, England, on 16 May 1861. Elias was 29 years old. Another passenger in the group was Anna Sophia Hegglund. They traveled many weeks, crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They then made their way to Florence, Nebraska, and eventually became part of the Joseph Horn Company. They crossed the plains and arrived in Salt Lake City in the summer of 1861. After his arrival, Elias was hired to drive a yoke of oxen to get logs for the home of Joseph Horn. When enough logs had been secured for the building of this home, Elias asked for the privilege of using the oxen to bring out logs sufficient to build his own two-room cabin. He intended to marry the young girl he had met, Anna Sophia Hegglund. She was, at this time, working in the Horn home.
He had purchased a lot at the corner of West Temple and North Temple Streets in Salt Lake City. After his home was completed, Elias and Anna Sophia were married, 24 January 1862. In the same year, on 7 June 1862, they were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. They lived in this little home for one and one-half years. Their first child, Anna Judith, was born there on 21 November 1862.
In the spring of 1863, Brigham Young called this young couple to go south and settle in Deseret, Millard County. They traded their home for a team, covered wagon and a few cooking utensils and started for their new home. There they helped build a fort for the settlers for protection against the Indians. The settlers built a dam on the Sevier River to enable them to run water over the dry, dusty section of land which the people had plowed and planted into grain. Year after year they plowed and planted but each year they were disappointed as the water would wash out the dam and their crops would dry out.
Two children were born to the young couple while they lived at the fort in Deseret: John August (born 19 March 1865), and Albertina Sophia (born 4 March 1867). About this time, Elias received a call to send his team back to Fort Laramie to meet a company of immigrants who were on their way to Utah.
The people in Deseret became very discouraged and when Brigham Young came down and saw the situation, he told them to move to other places if they desired. Elias and his family moved to the little settlement of Meadow (also in Millard County) in 1868. He was given a lot on which to build his home. It was situated one block east of the church building and two blocks east of Main Street. This first home was a two-room frame house lined with adobe. A new Beckstrand home was built near the "Old Hollow" and directly below where Chief Walker had his camp. This home was built from rock quarried in the area and was completed in 1896. It was down this hollow that a flood came following a cloud burst in the canyon (1896). Hearing a roaring noise, several boys riding horses went to investigate and returned very excited saying a flood was coming. All the animals corralled along the creek bed were turned loose and all the people went to the south of town and to higher ground. Elias had a big stable on one bank of the hollow and a huge haystack on the other. As the flood came, carrying mud, huge trees, and boulders, it pushed down the stables, corrals and haystacks. It took a lot of rebuilding and cleaning up after this disaster. No lives were lost. (This family home has been remodeled and still stands today.) Once settled, they planted an orchard, purchasing trees from Joseph V. Robison in Fillmore. Next they took up ten acres of farming land east of the ridge and planted grain and corn.
Three more children were born to Elias and Anna Sophia: Joseph Conrad (born 10 March 1870), Ida Christina (born 3 April 1872), and Mary Elizabeth (born 12 August 1874). Ida Christina died on 6 May 1875 and Mary Elizabeth died five days later on 11 May 1875.
During the division of farming land in Meadow and while Elias was superintendent of the Sunday School, he asked the town supervisor to grant forty acres of land with six shares of water to the Sunday School, the proceeds from the acreage to be used for books for the Sunday School. As a result the Meadow Sunday School was the first to be supplied with textbooks and songbooks in Millard Stake. He also took up 160 acres of farming land above town which has always been known as the Beckstrand Farm. In the pasture below town, he sowed wild hay for the animals' winter feed until alfalfa became known.
Elias took an active part in the church. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday School. He was ordained a Seventy on 3 December 1862 and was set apart as president of the 42nd Quorum Of Seventies on 25 November 1883. Later he was ordained a High Priest. On 25 November 1901 he was ordained a Patriarch in Millard Stake. He served as Patriarch until his death.
On 7 June 1869, Elias married Henrietta Cecilia Ahlquist as his second wife. To this union ten children were born: Elias Hyrum (11 May 1870), Charles Alfred (9 February 1872), Heber William (18 March 1873), Almeda Henrietta (16 February 1875), Rachel Dena (11 April 1876), Nephi David (1 November 1878), Alma Neil (4 Jun 1881), Eva Ellen (16 July 1884), Knut (26 December 1888), and Arnold Asael (7 May 1891).
Charles Alfred, Almeda Henrietta and Knut died in infancy. In the fall of 1888 he served four months in the penitentiary for his religious convictions (practicing polygamy).
Elias was an ardent believer in education. In the fall he would hitch his fine black team to the spring wagon loaded with food and clothing, and take his older children to Provo for the winter to attend the Brigham Young Academy. He would rent living quarters for them and then take his children to the president of the school, pay their entrance fees and say to the president, "These are my children. They have come here with a good name. I want you to see that they bring it back home just as good."
His entire life was spent in service to his family and church. He died 26 February 1910 in Meadow.
(History written by Thelma Beckstrand Fisher, a grandchild, with sections from Rachel Dena Beckstrand Bennett, a daughter)Source:
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