LIFE SKETCH OF BENGT NELSON AND
HIS WIFE ELLEN J. NELSON
Not many years will come and go before those who pioneered these western wilds will have passed away, and richly blessed will the posterity of those be who stopped by the wayside long enough to record the more important events of their lives. It mattereth not how humble one is, every day some lesson lived could be recorded that would benefit some struggling soul upon life's highway. And with the idea of leaving to posterity such stern and rugged lessons as are taught by a life of integrity and devotion to a cause held sacred by us all, while pioneering and building up these desolate Utah vales, after leaving comfort and quiet in the distant Scandinavian home this Autobiography of Brother Bengt Nelson is written and respectfully dedicated.
No one reading it can help but see the steadfastness of purpose and genuineness of this very soul, and also his dear wife's devotion to the cause of truth from the time of their acceptance of the Gospel to the present.
LIFE HISTORY OF BENGT NELSON, SR.
Birthplace and Early Childhood-Schooling and
I was born in Lomma, Sweden, about three miles west of Lund, September 28th, 1834. My grandfather Anders Anderson having died when my father was quite young, they being then in good circumstances, having a good farm of their own, but as his wife married again, it seemed that the property through some cause soon vanished away, and father did not get much of it. I was about five years old when father moved to Lillauppockra, and my grandfather Pehr Johnson Bergman died, leaving some property with which father bought a house and a small piece of land. My grandmother having died when my mother was but twelve years old, grandfather also married again, and he being a dragoon in the Swedish army, was in the war with Napoleon in 1807 when the gates of the city of Leipzig were shot down by the Swedish artillery, and two horses were shot from under him. But he got safely through and returned home and died as stated above in 1838. Father not being satisfied, moved from Lillauppockra to Torreberga where he rented a farm for ten years, paying three days work a week, the year around for the rent. I had started to go to school at Lillauppockra, but was transferred to Navitshog school where I got my education in the common schools of Sweden.
I would help father in the summer on the farm and go to school in the winter. Father kept a pair of horses, a cow, and about eight head of sheep. He hired some help as it can readily be seen that nearly half of his time would be spent away from home in paying the rent on his little farm. He was a hard working and honest man and very faithful in his labors. He was therefore much respected as his work was much needed at Torreberg. He was a handy man, could do anything mostly that was needed to be done on the farm. He was a good farmer and always ready and willing to do all he could, he therefore had many favors shown him. He would use his team in hauling brick to Malmo or Lund when he had not other work for them to do, which was a help to pay his rent and other expenses. My father was not a religious man but he would go to church and was anxious to fill his obligations to both church and state, but like most of working men he was away from home and we children were more under the care of our mother. She would take me by her side and got to church and teach me to be honest and truthful and she tried to serve the Lord to the best of her ability in accordance with the Lutheran church. She read to us the scriptures so I had, as I grew up, become well posted in the Bible, especially the New Testament. Then again the school books were mostly of a religious and historical nature, so I had a good opportunity to see as I grew older, my mind was constantly directed to serving the Lord. It made an impression upon me for life, but much of it was some what sectarian in character, but it has been a blessing to me and I give to my dear mother the credit for bringing me up in the fear of the Lord to the best of her knowledge and ability. Also my dear father did all he could to educate and support his family. His wages were small, he never in all his life had more than twenty cents a day. It can therefore readily be seen that he had to work constantly to make a living for himself and family. He threshed all his own grain in the night as it was all done in the old fashioned way with the flail. I had to go and work out as soon as I could when not in school. I learned to thresh with the flail, and would get from five to ten cents a day. I also herded swine at Torreberga for some time and would get from one dollar and fifty cents a month, which was good wages for a boy nine or ten years of age at that time.
Work on the Farm -Learning a Trade-Taking Contract to Build a Store-Father Helping Me
I was now approaching my teens, and being handy with tools father thought that blacksmithing would be a good trade for me. I had a cousin who had married a good blacksmith, and with him I remained a short time for the purpose of learning the trade. But the constant hammering and clang of the anvil very much annoyed me, and the stone coal smoke was also very disagreeable, so I gave up this line of work.
Mother had a brother who was a good brick-layer, and she prevailed upon him to take me as that line interested me very much. I remained with him about three years and enjoyed the work, and soon got so I could do fairly well along this line. My uncle also took a great deal of interest in me as I was always willing to do all I could.
As winter set in I remained home attended school; and as I grew older I did some teaming for my father. At the end of three years I went to work with a master mechanic at Lund with whom I had become acquainted while working on buildings at Torreberga. During the summer I remained there, we put up a very nice building.
I was now about 18 years old and had learned the mason trade fairly well from the building of the foundation to the finishing of the plastering, and was competent to take contracts on my own account. A widow who was running a store out in the country near where father lived, desired to have a building put up, and I took the contract for the whole job, I to furnish all the material. I hired a carpenter to do the inside work, father helped me with the roof, and hauled the brick, etc., for the building. The store was completed in good time and the old lady was well satisfied with it.
New Religion Comes to the Country-My Baptism-Emigration to America
Much Persecution and Excitement
Some time in 1853 I heard of a new religion that had come to the country. It created quite an excitement among the people, but it took us a long time before we could find out anything definite about it. The Elders representing this new creed, or Mormonism as it proved to be, had been cast into prison for preaching and baptizing, and one man had been transported for baptizing a man in Helsingborg.
All these stories we became aquatinted with. Finally my sister and brother-in-law had seen some of the elders and had been converted and were baptized. They persuaded me to go to Malmo with them, where a meeting was to be held in a private house, and this gathering proved to be the first conference of the Church held in Sweden. It was a room 15 by 16 feet, and there were present about 18 or 20 persons. What I heard there made such an impression upon my mind that it has remained with me up to the present time. I was thoroughly convinced of its being the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and felt justified in obeying it, and was therefore baptized the same evening, April 15th, 1854. This step that I had now taken made my heart full of joy and satisfaction.
Contemplating upon the glorious truths of salvation upon my returning home, I felt that my father's relatives and friends would at once accept of it as I had done. But not so, instead of friends, they proved to be enemies, and it seemed as though the whole world had now turned against me.
My mother had died in 1853, and this together with the lack of religious liberty in Sweden at that time, rendering us liable to arrest any day, decided us to gather together what little means we could and emigrate to America.
My father said very little about it, but the influence he was surrounded with and the feelings of the people generally, caused him to be rather indifferent and he did not embrace it. But all of his children could see the beauty of the Gospel as soon as it was taught in its purity; we having been taught in our youth the necessity of being honest and truthful and to serve the Lord continually. We were not blinded by the traditions of our fore-parents, and I can see that my parents were honest in their convictions, and were, by their teachings and examples, instilling into our minds the principles of truth and righteousness, to the best of their knowledge and ability. I therefore thank the Lord that I was brought up by honest parents, for it has been the means of making of me what I am today, namely, a Latter-day Saint. As I had now gathered together a little means and settled up all my affairs, I, in company with my brother-in-law and my two sisters, started from Torreberga to Malmo. Father hitched up his team and took us, and we bid him, and our fatherland adieu, never expecting to see each other again.
It was on the 19th of November, 1854 that we took a small steamer bound for Copenhagen, as we desired to be ready to sail with the company of Saints leaving there on the 24th. We reached Copenhagen in safety, and left there on the steamer Cimbria, on the 24th of November, being over three hundred in number, all in good health and excellent spirits, and arrived in Frederickshaven, a seaport on the east coast of Gothland, where we embarked 143 more passengers, early in the morning of the 26th. Setting out for Liverpool our prospects were very fair till about 2 o'clock next morning, when the wind turned southwest, and began to blow so heavy that our captain deemed it necessary to turn back, and seek the nearest harbor in Norway, a port called Mandal, which is an excellent natural harbor, surrounded by very high and steep granite rocks.
Here we lay till the 7th of December, witnessing storms and tempestuous winds nearly every day or night, when the captain thought he would venture to start. About midnight it commenced blowing from southwest and the sea rolled high and violently, the waves looked like mountains and swept over the vessel like it was a mere plaything. Part of the bulwarks were broken in and some boxes crushed. It became worse and worse and finally the captain decided to put back. Instead of reaching Mandal we had to go clear back to Frederickshaven, where we landed on the 9th. We lay here weatherbound until the 20th, during which time we had rough weather and contrary winds.
After leaving port on the 20th we felt that our prospects were good but during the night of the 21st-22nd, it became more rough than ever, insomuch that we were obliged to turn about again, the ship was partially stripped of the riggings and about to sink. Soon the wind changed and we were able to steer for Hull, which place we reached on the 24th about noon.
We arrived in Liverpool in the afternoon about 4. I shall never forget the appearance of the ship's deck, planks were splintered and broken ends sticking every way imaginable. The water would have the appearance of huge mountains and then recede into valleys. There was considerable sickness among the passengers and some had very little to eat and drink. The cook was kind and distributed water among us.
I have crossed the North Sea twice since but never have I seen anything like this first experience of ours.
We rested in Liverpool several days and on the 11th of January 1855 went on board a sail ship bound for New Orleans, North America. Everything went well until the 11th of February when a tremendous storm arose and stripped the ship of all its sails, but next day it was fine and we could see some of the West India Islands, we passed these with favorable winds and arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi River where we cast anchor, until a river steamer came and towed us up to New Orleans where we landed on the 23rd of February 1855.
Arrival at St. Louis-Means All Expended Began Work with a Bricklayer-
Go to St. Riley- Trip Across Plains-Arrival in Salt Lake
The next morning, Feb. 24th, we boarded a river steamer bound for St. Louis, where we arrived on the 7th of March.
My sister Caroline and I had now expended all our means and had borrowed some to help us this far. It was necessary for us to seek employment but we were advised by our President not to stay in the south, as it was so hot and sickly, and would be especially severe on us who were used to northern climes. I met Bro. Erastus Snow here for the first time, he had been to Denmark and could talk the language a little, so I could understand him.
He recommended me to a brick-layer by the name of Charles Chard, with whom I stayed about four months plastering, whitewashing and doing odd jobs.
It was a very severe trial to me, and no doubt for those I worked with as well, because I could not understand English, neither could they speak my native tongue. During these four months I received for my labor only my board and clothing, but soon an opportunity presented itself for me to do better. The government was calling for masons to go to Fort Riley, this same man Chard was selecting a company of masons and I joined them, being promised two dollars a day and soldier's rations.
We left St. Louis the 6th day of July on a river steamer for Fort Leavensworth, then Indian Territory but now Kansas. From there to Fort Riley by wagon where we arrived the 18th of July 1855.
Our first work was building a lime kiln, then we erected five two story buildings for officers and soldiers and six stables each commodious enough to hold one hundred horses. The buildings were all of stone. We numbered about three hundred workmen and lived in tents during the summer. The Cholera broke out on 9th of August and 10 men died, including Major Ogden the commander of the Post. This made quite a stir in camp, some got drunk, and in a drunken brawl one man was killed.
I being a stranger to them all and young and not being able to talk much English, it was not very pleasant for me and I could understand that they were talking about me and how much money I would get and by their manner and talk some proved to be a hard lot men. But the excitement was soon over, work was again started and the buildings completed. We left Fort Riley the 18th of November by wagon for Atchison, Kansas, where I intended making my home for the winter with my brother-in-law, who lived a few miles distant at a place called Mormon Grove. Arriving there about the 25th I found several families of Scandinavians belonging to the Mormon Church. Some meetings were held there and I began to feel a little more at home, and felt that I could now breathe easier, not having up to this time, during my work, even seen a person that I could talk to in my own tongue.
At a meeting held May 1st, 1856 I was ordained to the office of a priest by N.L. Christensen and appointed Clerk of the Branch.
March 2nd I started for Atchison to seek work. I obtained it from a man by the name of Randolph at two dollars a day, boarding myself. I stayed there for about two months when some trouble arose and building was stopped.
Hearing that labor was in demand at Omaha I took passage up the river, and arriving there found work on the State House. I engaged with Mr. Bovey, who had the contract, to work for forty five dollars per month and board, with the understanding that I should draw fifty dollars after the first month if I was worth it.
After the second month Frank Woolley came up to get hands to drive teams across the Plains and I engaged to go with him, very much against the desires of Mr. Bovey, as masons were very hard to get hold of about Omaha. I had decided to take the first chance I could get to come to Salt Lake, so Mr. Bovey very kindly paid me a full hundred for two months service.
As I was now at liberty to go west to Utah I made every preparation for the event. I had promised my sister, younger than myself, to see her safely through to Zion the first opportunity I had, and now as the first chance that had presented itself. She had become acquainted with a Swedish girl by the name of Ellen Johnson, and was very anxious to have her go along with her for company, as they were the only two Swedish girls there and they had became very well acquainted. I talked the matter over with Brother Frank Woolley, and it was finally agreed that they could go along with the company and cook, and I would pay twenty five or thirty dollars extra, besides the work they would do. The starting point being Atchison, left Omaha about the 5th of August and arrived in Atchinson the 7th, and on the 9th we started with four yoke of cattle, three yoke being perfectly wild.
We had quite a time not being used to driving oxen and I found that most of the boys were just as green as I. But it was not long before I could handle them satisfactorily, and soon they were tamed. There were several in the company who understood the handling of cattle very well as Porter Rockwell, Frank B. Woolley and our beloved captain A. O. Smoot, and others whose names I have forgotten.
We arrived at Fort Kearney the 1st of September, nothing occurring of any consequences. Arriving at Fort Laramie the 27th, we continued our journey up the Platte; feed was getting scarce, the nights were cold, the teams were getting tired and tender footed. Snow was making its appearance on the mountains ahead of us, but finally we arrived at Fort Bridger October 27th. Here we rested a few days, as some of the teams were badly worn out.
The Captains desired to leave some of the wagons and go on over the mountains. We left Bridger the 31st, and very soon it started to snow, and it was not long before we were travelling in snow three feet deep and were compelled to camp right on the tops of the Rocky Mountains, tying the poor animals to the trees without a mouthful of anything to eat. It was bitter cold, but there was plenty of timber and we made big fires to warm ourselves and teams. Most of us were young and it is a wonder that we did not get our feet frozen, as I had to thaw my boots before it could get them off my feet.
The next day we met teams that had been sent out from Salt Lake City with corn for the cattle, this was a great help to us. We arrived in Salt Lake November 9th 1856.
A Dream - Marriage - Council of Authorities -
Trip to Cedar City
Experience at Iron Springs
I had a dream on the plains that I should marry Ellen Johnson, the girl companion of my sister. I asked if she thought it would come to pass. She said: "Yes. I have dreamed the same thing, and Frank Woolley is to marry us." Accordingly we were married by Frank B. Woolley in his father's house November 16th, 1856.
As I had always prayed in my heart to the Lord to guide me and to inspire my heart that I might get a wife with whom I could live happily, it was made known to both of us in a dream that which should take place, and the same was literally fulfilled. Having taken upon myself the responsibility of a wife, I first went to Jedidiah M. Grant for a job on the temple, but his answer was, "not any fresh hands until spring."
The council at that time was for those who had no employment to move into the settlements, so I decided to take the first chance I could get to leave the city. Bishop Woolley thought it best to go south. The first man I found was Bishop Klingon Smith from Iron County, who was up to get people to go to Cedar City to help build up the iron works, which had already been started. So in company with the Bishop and others we left for the south.
On our way we suffered a good deal with the cold. In Round Valley, now Scipio, we were lost in a fearful snow storm and could not find the road leading up to the canyon. Reaching a clump of cedars on the west side of the valley we camped for the night, and next morning it had cleared up, but we had about two and a half feet of snow. During the whole of that day we had to walk ahead and break the road in front of the teams as they could not go through it. These were the two worst days we had on the journey, we had some snow and cold weather after that but it was not so bad. We finally reached Cedar City November 29th, 1856.
Winter was approaching and the weather was cold. I was very anxious to find something to do to provide ourselves with the bare necessities of life; we were strangers without friends and feeling very lonely. Of course, it was not long before we found friends and good ones, too.
The Bishop sent me out to herd cattle at Iron Springs, west of Cedar about 8 or 10 miles. I was more than willing to accept of any job to earn our living for the winter. This insured us something to eat, but we were getting nearly destitute for shoes and clothing, what little we had in this line being pretty well worn out before the winter was over. We were not very pleasantly surrounded. Our home was a dugout in the bank of the creek and a fireplace dug out in the bank served as our stove. Willows served as walls, a loose board for a door, and for the roof, some boards laid level with the ground at the top of the bank.
Upon one occasion a band of Indians numbering about a dozen, came to our dugout, crowded in, and demanded everything we had. We knew it meant death to us if we parted with our food and bedding and possibly death if we refused them, so we thought we might as well die first as last, and refused them with exception of what food we had. The drew their knives across their throats to show us what would become of us if we did not accede to their desires. After giving them practically everything we had in the line of eatables they left us. We were told afterwards that they only wanted to scare us, but we were strangers in the country and they looked and acted very warlike; several times after that they visited us but there was no further attempt to use any violence or interfere with us in any way. We were eight or ten miles form Cedar and they could easily have killed us both, without anyone knowing the details of the affair, as we had no friends or relatives at Cedar to have bothered about it. Of course we felt to thank the Lord for softening their hearts that they did not kill us, as we were at their mercy and could not have helped ourselves.
The time spent at Iron Springs, about three months, was passed by me in looking after the stock and necessarily my wife was left much of the time during the day alone, thus making it anything but pleasant.
This was our first winter in Utah.
Short Sketch of the Life of Ellen Johnson- Birth-Joining New Religion-
Leaving Parents and Native Land for its Principles
I was born in Villiga Socken in south eastern Sweden, August 20th, 1835, being the first daughter and second child of Johns Christofferson and Dortea Bengts. I had the opportunity afforded to children of those days of attending the common schools in our little place, and my childhood days were passed with my parents at home. I later went to live with a married sister, remaining there about a year. I received my confirmation in the Lutheran church at about the age of fourteen.
In 1853 I heard of a new sect or religion that had come to the country, and having been brought up by religious parents, I was well posted in the scriptures, and began an investigation of the new religion. I was soon satisfied of its truth and expressed my willingness to embrace its principles. Accordingly I was baptized on the 21st of February, 1854, and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There being so much persecution at that time and such a lack of religious liberty, I was compelled to leave Sweden and go to Denmark. I arrived in Copenhagen May 1st, 1854. and obtained work in a cotton factory, remaining there until the latter part of August, when I left for Malmo, Sweden, in company with President Van Cott and others, to attend conference. I remained with my parents until the latter part of November, when, in company with my half brother Johns Anderson we started for Copenhagen on the steamer Cympria.
This was the hardest part that I had to perform, to leave my good old parents, not expecting to see them again on this earth. But I had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Gospel that I held so dear, and hence was equal to the occasion.
As our passes had only been assigned to Copenhagen we were arrested and driven off the boat, and had to back to Sweden for new papers. We did not touch Malmo until late Saturday, all business was closed and the governor was out taking his evening walk. It was feared by the elders and saints that we would not get our passes, but I felt sure we would, although we knew the Governor was very bitter toward the Mormon people. We hunted him up, and to our surprise, he came with us, gave us our papers, and never charged us a cent for them. We hardly knew what to think when we considered how bitter he was toward our cause, and surely it was nothing but the hand of the Lord and it was great proof to me that God can soften the hearts of men for the benefit and good of his cause.
On our return, our steamer having gone to Copenhagen, it was necessary for us to select another route in order that we should not be delayed. We embarked on the 29th, and arrived in Kiel in the evening. We journeyed by train to Hamburg next day, and after resting three days took a steamer for Hull, England, reaching there December 7th, and arriving in Liverpool December 8th.
We were just in time to take the passage on a sailing vessel bound for America, but had only made a good start when a great storm arose, and colliding with another ship a large hole was broken in our boat's side which made it necessary to tow it back to land for repairs.
We waited for six long weeks and finally chartered another ship bound for the new world, sailing January 25th, 1855. The voyage was a long hard one, most of our provisions were stolen, and for three weeks we subsisted on oatmeal and black tea. It was about the 1st of April when we landed at New Orleans, and we at once boarded a river steamer up the Mississippi, and landed in St. Louis April 11th, 1855.
My brother and I had now spent all our means and we decided to find work in order to enable us to continue our journey on to Utah. He found work across the river cutting timber, but the the privations experienced on board ship, and the heat of the rived bottoms he sickened and died at St. Louis in October 1855. Being out in service I never had learned the date of his death, nor what happened to him after his demise at the hospital.
I was now left alone in a strange country among strange people who spoke a language I did not understand. But the Lord proved to be my friend and guided me along the proper path. I left St. Louis and went to Weston in April 1856. There I was taken was down with small-pox, and was stricken nigh unto death, having it in a very virulent form, but I was providentially restored to health and the way was opened up for me to reach Salt Lake City. After my recovery I went to Omaha and there I fell in with Bengt Nelson and his sister Caroline. He had engaged to drive a team across the plains and his sister did not desire to go alone, so I was invited to accompany her, we to do the cooking for the company. They were due to leave Atchision August 9th, we therefore boarded a river steamer and arrived at Atchison August 7th, 1856.
Everything was now in readiness for the journey we left camp on the 9th, and got along fairly well, although we found a long tedious trip ahead of us. The work was more than we expected, often times there were 18 persons to cook for and many times we would sit up over half the night to bake bread, and at times we drove team during the day when they were short, approached the mountains and the more the season advanced the colder it became, and by the time we reached Fort Bridger we had snow and plenty of it. Across the mountains we waded through snow three feet deep. It was the very thankful hearts that we beheld dry ground on our approaching Salt Lake City, where we arrived November 9th, 1856, having been on the plains three months to the day.
Making a Home-The Iron Works-Farming and Building the New City
Returning from Iron Springs, the first thing I did was to secure a lot on which to erect a home for myself and wife, the new city, the present site of Cedar, having been surveyed the year before. I secured a city lot from the Bishop and was the third settler in the new city, as the people had not started to move up from what was called the old Fort, but as I was expected to work at the iron works I came direct to the new location as it was much nearer the iron works than the old Fort. I dug a cellar, but having no lumber, I used willows for the roof, then covered them with straw that I obtained from a kind farmer, and then covered that with dirt, but it proved to be a rainy season, and the roof leaked badly. I tore the roof away, made some adobes, walled up the cellar, and built an adobe room on top of it. I succeeded in procuring some old boards for the roof, and covered them with dirt. But not having any boards for the floor we had quite a time, until I got hold of a few pieces and made them answer for the part of a floor, at least.
We learned economy and patience, and found that a good many things that would be considered absolute necessities today, could be gotten along without. After building my little house I devoted the rest of the season laboring at the iron works. This ended our first year in Cedar.
It might be interesting to write a few words about our financial condition. We brought very little clothing with us, and that was soon gone. There was no place to buy more, and further we had nothing to buy with. Money was almost unknown, and various articles that could be raised or produced were the commodity of exchange. Nothing was manufactured nearer than 1200 miles, and we either had to do for ourselves or go naked.
Some families had moved down in the southern part of the Territory, in the region we called Dixie, and they were raising cotton. The Bishop brought us some cotton, we picked the seed out of it, got some hand cards, such as we had in Sweden, then she carded and spun the cotton into warp. My wife then spun twenty pounds of wool for Sister Hamilton to get five pounds for herself. She then procured a loom to weave it and thus the cloth was made for the first pair of pants that I had in Cedar.
It was fortunate for us that my wife had learned weaving in the old country; but this is not a tithing of what we endured and passed through, and I do not believe anyone can read these lines, and then say that we were not sincere in the faith that we had espoused and for which we came to this new country enduring many hardships, a sample of our experience being mentioned above.
It was rather discouraging to think that after long days of hard work one received just anything that the person had, for whom the work was performed, and a very high price was paid, too. For instance: I built a house with two rooms in it and plastered it for two sheep. Those sheep cost me thirty dollars putting an ordinary valuation on my labor. I do not blame the man, not at all, it was just the condition existing. I was thankful to get the sheep, and thankful for the work. Sheep were as scarce as clothing, and those that had a few did not want to part with them.
It helped us a great deal when President Young made the call to settle up Dixie, as we traded grain to them for a few things to wear such as we needed, and some powder and lead that we traded to the Indians for buckskin, with which we made clothing, it being the best and most durable in the dry weather, and many of us wore buckskin for years. In 1858 the ironworks were discontinued and many of the people moved away from here. Out of a settlement of about two hundred families only about forty remained, and the most of those left were poor, as only about one family in four had a team or cow. Those who were remaining at the old fort were being continually urged to come up to the new settlement, and I being the only bricklayer left, my services were in great demand, but all I could get for my labor was service in return, so I decided to get some land as I understood farming and had a good chance to get land from those who were moving away. I purchased five acres from John White who was moving to Beaver, for twenty-five dollars. And I rented twenty acres from Isaac C. Haight for one-third of the crop, he furnishing everything except the labor. I run this farm for two years. Brother Haight also let me have a cow for forty-five dollars in wheat. From this cow, I raised a steer, and worked for Father Hamilton for another steer. I thus became the owner of a yoke of cattle and was able to do my farm work.
Between times I did some building and as the town had changed from a manufacturing to a farming community, the most of the building was done in the fall of the year after harvest, and this aided me in getting something extra to do outside of the farming I did for Brother Haight during the years 1858 and 1859.
In 1859 the land owners concluded to move their land nearer home, so they cut off the 7th and 8th blocks of the old field and took up the land which is now the west field. Timothy Adams and I drew together the ten acres just below the knoll in the west field. I afterwards bought Adams out, this was in the spring of 1860. Besides running my little farm I did a good deal of building in Cedar as well as in Hamilton's Fort, this was during 1860 and 1861.
For many years I was kept especially busy in laying up buildings in Cedar City. When the city was first located no buildings had been erected and I had the honor of putting up nearly every house that was built in the place. Adobes were used then almost exclusively, and later I also built about half of the present brick houses in the place. I have built and superintended all our public buildings, with the exception of the Ward Hall, and of this I did a good deal of the building but did not supervise it. I also did a good deal of work on the first Normal building.
Going to Salt Lake City - Getting our Endowments - Meeting my Wife's Folks -
Organization of Co-Op Store and Sheep Company
In the fall of 1862 having a yoke of oxen I fitted up a wagon out of several parts of old wagons that I had obtained, after paying out about one hundred and forty dollars, the same today would be worth not more than ten dollars. I also got another yoke of young steers to break going to the City, and with this outfit we started. The two yoke of cattle were nearly wild but I was young and active and could out run them. We left Cedar about 1 o'clock in the afternoon and before sundown reached Parowan. The next day I could ride more and keep them in the road better. We had fifteen bushels of oats and a few other things we were taking with us to sell in Salt Lake. With this load, as we were travelling over the rocky road down Pine Creek Canyon 2 or 3 spokes in one of the hind wheels broke. At Cove Creek I had it wrapped with raw-hide so that it stood the rest of the journey nicely. At Corn Creek I had to get one of my oxen shod, as he was getting tender-footed. Nothing further befell us, the team was getting gentle and we arrived in Salt Lake September 25, 1862. The emigration train which was bringing my wife's folks had not arrived, so I found a pasture for my cattle, and during our stay of a week we received our endowments in the Endowment House, September 27, 1862.
I should have made mention of the fact that I was invited to a special meeting by Bishop Lunt on the 19th of February, 1860, and there ordained an Elder by Bishop Henry Lunt.
In the company that we were waiting for were my wife's father, Johns Christopherson and his wife, her brother, Anders Johnson, and his wife and a younger brother, Nels.
They all decided to return with us, and we were soon on our way. The cattle were again full of life, the rest having done them much good, and we reached Cedar in due time with all in good health. My wife's people were just as we had been eight years before, theyl;] could not talk the language, nor yet understand anything.
We were quite poor, not possessing many of the necessities of life, but we had the folks stay with us that winter, and the old folks and their younger son Nels we kept and took care of as best we could. I had a house to build at Harrisburg, so I remained there during the winter of 1863. Coming home in the spring I went to farming, at times working at my trade.
Having had our patriarchal blessings I will here record them as we prized them very highly.
Cedar City, Iron County, December 13th, 1861
A blessing by Elisha H. Groves, Patriarch, upon the head of Bengt Nelson, born in Sweden September 28th, 1834, son of Nels Anderson.
Brother Bengt Nelson, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood in me vested, I place my hand on thy head and seal upon thee a Patriarchal or Father's blessing, which shall rest upon thee and thou shalt realize the fulfillment thereof. Thou has left thy native land, thy kindred, and thy friends, choosing to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season; which was pleasing in the sight of thy Heavenly Father, and shall return unto thee many fold. Because of thy faith and the integrity of thy heart thy sins are remitted unto thee and thy name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Thy guardian Angel hat watched over thee for thy good, in all thy meanderings from thy childhood. He will still be with thee. In his hands thou wilt be borne up and delivered from all thine enemies. Thou shalt aid in the redemption of Zion and the avenging of the blood of innocents on them that dwelleth upon the earth.
The arm that rises against thee shall wither; the tongue that speaketh against thee shall be brought to naught. Thy voice shall be heard both by Kings and nobles upon the earth. Many by thee will be brought into the new and everlasting convenant. Thou shalt become a Savior to many of thy kindred both of the living and the dead.
No miracle shall be too hard for thee to perform whether by land or sea, which may become necessary for the accomplishment of thy work.
Thou art of the seed of Abraham, of the loins of Joseph and blood of Ephriam. A legal heir to the fullness of the Holy Priesthood, which thou shalt receive in due time, that thou mayest be able to stand in thy proper lot and station in the redemption of thy progenitors, many of whom will be made know unto thee by Holy Messengers, who will commune with thee from time to time, revealing the genealogy of thy fathers.
Thou art a father in Israel. Thy posterity shall multiply and become numerous upon the earth; wealth will flow into thy hands, and all things needful to render life happy and agreeable.
It is thy privilege to behold the coming of thy redeemer, the reign of peace established upon the earth, to receive many blessings and privileges in the Temple in Zion, to be annointed a King and a Priest unto the most High, to receive thy crown, kingdom, power and eternal increase; to be numbered with the hundred forty and four thousand, and thy inheritance with the faithful sons of Ephriam in Zion. Be thou therefore faithful, yield not to temptation, and these blessings will be certain unto thee. I seal them upon thy head, in the name of Jesus our Redeemer, even so. Amen.
Cedar City, Iron County, December 13th , 1861
A blessing by Elisha H. Groves, Patriarch, upon the head of Ellen Johnson, daughter of Johns Christofferson and Dortea Bengtson, born in Sweden, August 20th, 1835.
Sister Ellen, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood in me vested I place my hands upon thy head and seal upon thee a Patriarchal or Father's blessing, which shall rest upon thee, and thou shalt realize the fulfillment thereof.
Because of thy faith and the integrity of thy heart thy sins are remitted in thee. Thy guardian Angel hath been with thee from thy birth in all thy privations and afflictions, and he will be with thee. In his hands thou wilt be borne up and delivered from the influence and powers of thy common enemy. Thy life will be precious in the sight of thy Heavenly Father. Thy days will be multiplied upon the earth. Thou art a daughter of Abraham, of the Loins of Joseph, and blood of Ephriam, a legal heir to all the privileges, blessings and powers which pertain to the Holy Priesthood, according to thy sex, which thou shalt receive in due time, that thou mayest be able to stand, in connection with thy husband, in the redemption of thy progenitors.
Thou art a mother in Israel, thy posterity shall multiply and become numerous upon the earth. Thy name shall be handed down to the latest generation as an honorable mother in Zion, inasmuch as thou wilt be faithful in keeping all the commandments of the Lord, thy God, and harken to the counsel of those who are placed over thee.
Thou shalt behold the winding up scene, the coming of the redeemer, the reign of peace upon the earth, receive many blessings and privileges in the Temple of Zion, be annointed a Queen and Priestess, receive thy crown, dominion, power and eternal increase, thy inheritance and thy benefactors in Zion. Be thou faithful and these blessings shall be sure and certain unto thee. I seal them upon thy head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, our Redeemer. Amen.
Ordination - Labors in the Ward - Co-Operation Buildings - City Councilor - Mission to Sweden
Richard Burbeck called on me for my genealogy as he had been instructed to get up a Seventy's Quorum on the 18th of April 1863, the quorum was organized and I was ordained a seventy becoming a member of the 63rd Quorum. Henry Herryman, one of the first Presidents of Seventies, ordained me. I was also called by Bishop Lunt to act as Ward Teacher and presided over the Lesser Priesthood,and took general charge of our meeting house. Taking care of the Lesser Priesthood was a hard mission for me, but I did the best I could, and held the position until called on a foreign mission.
I was elected city treasurer, marshal, and assessor and collector during 1867-68, and in my home affairs I was kept busy farming and building, laying up two or three houses every year according to the size of them.
The Co-operative Mercantile Company was organized the 3rd of March, 1869. I took $25 in the concern, being all I could do at that time. It was made up of small stockholders and was kept by John M. Higbee in his granary.
The Sheep Company was organized into a Co-operative Sheep Association May 20th, 1869. I put in 68 head valued at $344.50.
I took the contract of building the Co-op Store for part capital stock and part merchandise. O completed in Dec. 17th, 1876.
I was elected a member of the City Council August 7th, 1876 and labored in that office until the spring of 1877 when I was called on a mission to Sweden. I was called at the conference held in the St. George Temple, April 8th, 1876.
I immediately made preparation for my my departure, and left Cedar the 23rd, arriving in Salt Lake City May 5th. Travel from Cedar to Salt Lake was by team and at times very difficult owing to bad roads. A meeting of the missionaries was called to be held in the Council House and I was there set apart by Apostle Orson Pratt to northern Scandinavia. This was the afternoon of May 5th, 1877.
I, in company with 24 others, left Salt Lake May 8th. At Ogden we changed cars for Omaha where we arrived at 5 p.m. on the 10th. Crossing the river over the large bridge we changed cars for Chicago, and on through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia arriving in New York May 14th at 6 a.m. During our stay here we visited the large reservoir that furnished water to the city; we were told it contained forty million gallons of water. We also went to see the zoological gardens where all the wild animals are kept, also birds of all kinds. The large animals from the lion down were confined in iron cages, those that were tamed, such as the buffalo, were either in stables or out in the pasture.
On the 15th of May at 4 p.m. we boarded the steamer Nevada, bound for Liverpool. There were four of us going to Sweden. Our ship was 353 feet long, 40 feet wide, and carried 300 horse power. Crossing the ocean I was very sea-sick, and could eat practically nothing. When I felt a little better I improved my time reading the Swedish Testament, thereby helping me with the scriptures as well as my native tongue. I had been away from Sweden nearly 23 years and had continually tired to learn English, never once thinking I would have occasion to use my mother tongue again. We all tried to get first cabin accommodations, but they were full, and some of us had to take quarters next to the stables where about 30 horses were kept and the odor from there, together with the rough stormy weather we had helped to make our voyage the more unpleasant and our seasickness worse.
Reached Liverpool May 27th, rested one day, then took the train for Hull. On May 30th we took steamer over the North Sea for Hamburg, Germany, and on June 1st, travelled by rail from there to Kiel. Taking the steamer we landed at Kasor, on the Denmark side, and by cars up to Copenhagen. Here we met President Liljenquist and others. This was June 2nd, 1877, and the next day we crossed over to Malmo, Sweden.
My Labors as a Missionary - Dreams and Other Manifestations
Sunday morning June 3rd, 1877, in company with President Liljenquist and others, I took steamer for Malmo, Sweden to a conference that was to be held there, where I had the privilege of meeting with a goodly number of Latter-Day Saints and strangers of my own nationality. I found that I had become a stranger in my own country; the habits, customs and even the language seemed to be different. At the conference I was appointed to labor in the Shone conference, comprising the following branches: Malmo, Lund, Christianstad and Blakinges. First I was permitted to go and visit my relations. I first sought my sister but to my great surprise found she had been dead twelve years, having died in childbed. I found five of her children, the youngest being 12 years old, out in service, the father having married again. I visited them all, but their minds had been so poisoned against me, they did not care to talk. I found a great deal of prejudice existing among the people but I did not feel discouraged. I looked up as many of relatives as I could find, and many of my old acquaintances, and made a good impression of many of them.
Two of my father's sisters, who were very old and feeble, were very glad to see me, but they thought they were too old to understand our faith, and they were imbued with the traditions of their fore-parents, and grounded in the religion of their country that no change was made in their belief.
I also had a long talk with my mother's brother and his wife. He was a man well informed in the scriptures and repudiated the idea of a boy like me telling him what was found therein. Of course, I did not dispute him but simply said, "you do not understand it," and I gave him some of our tracts. After looking over them he said, "This looks like the word of the Lord." "Yes," I said, "it is not the church of Luther, nor the church of any man, it is the church of Jesus Christ as it was in his day." He did not acknowledge at that time the entirety of my statement, but after careful investigation he found I had told him the truth and sent for me to come and baptize them. The message came just I was preparing to return home from my mission, and I sent another Elder to go and comply with their desires. Both he and his wife were baptized and confirmed members of the church. They did not live long after this, and I have since had the privilege of doing their work in the Temple for them. This was the man I had learned the mason trade from.
At the time of my arrival in the mission, I was given a young Elder as a a companion and we started out. It was over 23 years since I had left Sweden, and I had forgotten some of the language. I had had no previous experience in missionary work, and altogether began to feel discouraged and thought that I could not do justice to the cause I was to represent. Arriving in the city of Helsingborg I felt tired and my head ached, so I asked the sister if I could lie down on the lounge. Permission was given and I soon fell asleep. It was on the 6th day of July 1877 about 2 p.m.
And while I slept I thought I saw a building, the largest I had ever seen. The walls were up and the roof on, but a great deal of work was yet to be done. There were so many arches of wood and of brick, so many braces and supports wherever I looked that I thought I had never seen anything like it before. And while I looked I learned that I, too, had to work in this building. It made me feel very timid to think of working in such a spacious place where all the workmen could see me. But as I looked around and saw all the busy workers, I felt that I could do just as good work in the mason lines they were doing, and went after my tools, which I thought, had been left in a corner of the house. It seemed that my tools were a little different from the others, and as I returned all the people in the building turned round to look at me. It seemed that I was sent there to work and had it to do, and I could see the necessity for it as there was a great deal to be done and few to do it. And thus I awoke.
This dream gave me encouragement and I felt much better and realized that the Lord had answered my prayers. I also received the interpretation of my dream to my perfect satisfaction. The meaning is this: The building is the church, the arches, braces and supports being the holy scriptures to support the building and also to support me in my administration or work in the building. I being a mason by trade, my tools were the language. These, I felt, were not the same kind of tools I had been using, and this made it somewhat awkward for me. But now I felt that the Lord was with me, and knew that I was there in the interest of his work. I therefore labored to the best of my ability for the salvation of the human family to bring souls unto the Lord.
I will here mention another remarkable incident that happened in Trelleborg, a small sea-town on the southern coast of Sweden. A young woman applied for baptism and the sea was the only place where we could perform the ordinance. It had been blowing all day and the waves were rolling heavy. A young man who was with me was taking the applicant into the water, and I cautioned him before going in to be careful and watch the waves so they would not take them under. But to our surprise the water was perfectly smooth for about a rod around them, and as soon as they came out of the water the waves came rolling after them as bad as before. There were seven persons present and three were not church members, and when I asked them if they saw that, they said they had never witnessed anything like it before.
In my travels I have seen may wonderful manifestations, and it has proven that the Lord has been with me. Also many persons afflicted with diverse diseases have been healed by being administered to, in my travels among the people. In my humble way I feel to thank my Father in Heaven for his protecting care that has been over me as I have visited and talked in nearly every city and village in the branches before mentioned. I travelled on foot nearly 3000 miles, held 125 meetings, baptized 9, confirmed 11, ordained one Elder and two Teachers, and blessed one child. I presided in the Lund branch the last six months of my mission. Having suffered much with cold and my health not being the best during the previous winter. I was released to return home the last company leaving Denmark. After having settled up my business affairs with the branch I again left my native land the 7th of September, 1878. Arriving at Copenhagen with the saints who accompanied me from Sweden, we met the main company who were leaving for Utah. Embarked on a small steamer for England on the evening of the 8th, arriving at Hull on the 10th, and after a six hour ride on the train we reached Liverpool.
September 12th we boarded the steamer Wyoming. There was quite a company of saints from England and the whole company was presided over by Henry H. Naisbit.
At high noon on the 14th we set sail; encountered some story weather; the sea did not seem to agree with me and I was sick most of the time. We arrived in New York the 25th, and remained at the Castle garden overnight. Took the train for the West the next day. I had charge of two cars of Scandinavian saints, as they were quite helpless without the language. We had prayer regularly, and I saw that all their wants were supplied. Reached Pittsburg on the evening of the 27th, and changed cars for Chicago, changed again to Council Bluffs; passing over the bridge to Omaha we had a continuous passage to Salt Lake City, where we arrived October 3rd at ten o'clock at night. We had 890 passengers and reached Salt Lake just in time for conference, which I attended before starting home.
My wife and oldest son Bengt were there to meet me with the team, as there was no railroad then. We started for home on the 7th, and arrived in Cedar City October 17, 1878.
Labors at Home - Offices Held - Buildings Erected
I found all well at home; prosperity had attended my family; crops were bounteous during my absence, and the boys did well in their family work by being assisted and directed by my wife. They even hauled their tithing wood, and did better than many men would have done, although the eldest was but 18 and the next 14. The work was hard, and especially so without machinery to farm with. They had to bind their own grain, and not only that but bind for others to get their grain cut. They did this for two years. It had been a very dry summer, water was scarce and it was impossible to get enough to water a nice patch of corn which they had planted. But a nice rain came and they had an excellent yield of corn, which brought a good price and enabled them to repay some of the money I had hired for my journey to Sweden. It was thus proven to us all that the Lord never requires anything us, but that the way is opened for its accomplishment, inasmuch as we are willing to obey His laws and work for the advancement of his Kingdom upon the earth. I therefore feel to thank Him for the manifestations of his goodness toward us.
On the 26th of October I was called upon by Bishop Lunt to act as Ward Teacher. On the 21st of November Apostle Erastus Snow invited me, in connection with Bishop Lunt and Brother Arthur to a conference that was to be held in Minersville, Beaver Stake, and from there to Beaver City, around to Paragonah, Parowan, and home to Cedar, arriving here on the 25th.
I was elected a member of the City Council of Cedar October 31st, 1879. I was chosen vice-president of the Co-op Store board December 20th. Was also selected as the head of the committee on Christmas dances for 1879. At the Stake Conference held at Parowan, December 28th, I was chosen second counsellor to Bishop C.J. Arthur, and was ordained a High Priest and set apart to that office by Henry Lunt, then second counsellor in the Stake Presidency. I labored in this position until the 19th of April 1884, when Henry Lunt was put in Bishop, Brother Arthur having been called on a mission to England.
In 1881 I took the contract to build the District School House, furnishing the tending and building for $5.50 per thousand amounting to $375. The foundation and dressing the rock amounted to $107.60
I was chosen at the head of the committee for the 24th of June 1882, and in connection with the rest of the members, we got up one of the best programs we had ever had for pioneer day. There were represented the ox teams, the wagons and the pioneers on foot. Also the handcarts and the emigrants, men, women and children with their effects on the carts, and pulling them along, making the scene very realistic and touching. Then came the people dressed in the comforts and fashions of the day, making quite a contrast to the hardships and sufferings that our forefathers passed through in order to bring us, their children, to a land of freedom, away from their enemies, where thy might serve the Lord without being molested or made afraid. We can read in the history of the church the reason the Lord inspired his servants to lead them into the valley of these Rocky Mountains, where we have lived in comparative peace for over 60 years.
In 1883 the boys and I decided to pull the house down and build it up again, it having sunk and badly cracked. It was a big undertaking but the boys were all at home and we accomplished the work nicely and remodeled it more to suit us.
At the September term of court held in Beaver I was drawn as juryman, and was obliged to serve for two weeks. It was while I was still busy with my house and I was very anxious to get home, having only one room plastered and living at the time in a rented home.
In 1883 I was called upon to draw a plan for a new Tabernacle. I did so and it was accepted by the Board. I was then appointed superintendent of the building. It was started in 1884 and completed in 1885.
At a meeting of the stockholders of the Co-op Store I was elected Treasurer March 20th, 1880. I was appointed vice President of the Cedar Sheep Association January 26th, 1880, and at a general meeting of the stockholders November 7th, 1881 I was elected Vice President for the following two years.
The Tabernacle was plastered under my supervision, by myself and others, in 1888.
The Kanarra meeting house, having burned down in 1892, I was asked to come down and examine the condition of the brick walls and report on the roofing of the building. They engaged me to go ahead with the work, and after completing the building I plastered the basement in February 1893.
I was present at the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple and was admitted April 6th, 1893.
At the election of school trustees in November 1893 I was elected for two years, but the law being change in 1892, I held over until the 2nd Monday in July 1896.
At the general meeting of the North Field Irrigation Co. I was elected director for two years.
In the spring of 1895 I was engaged by the Parowan Dramatic Co. to come up there and superintend the building of their hall. I started April 22nd, 1895, but having been drawn a juryman for the May term of court I had to go to Beaver the 6th of May. The Dramatic Co. not having a man to take my place, got up an affidavit and sent to the Judge and I as released an returned to Parowan and finished the building.
In November 1895 I was elected a member of the City Council for two years, and re-elected in 1897, continuing in office until January 1900.
February 8th, 1898, at a general meeting of the North Field Reservoir and Irrigation Co. I was elected President.
In 1897, the Co-op Store having been closed by our creditors in January, an agreement was entered into with Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution at Salt Lake, they being the heaviest creditors, to have a board appointed to continue the business, and for them to give their note of nearly $15,00 payable in three installments of six months each. Uriah Jones, Francis Webster and myself were chosen as said board, the notes were paid in time as per agreement, and the Board honorably released.
Positions of Trust - Short History - Work for the Dead - Golden Wedding
I have held many positions of trust in Cedar City and have labored faithfully to the best of my knowledge and ability for the interest and welfare of the people in whatever capacity I have been called to fill, and whenever I was up for office I have never yet been defeated at the polls.
I am the only man of my father's and mother's people who embraced the Gospel and came to Zion. In this respect I have let out and got to the Temples and performed the work for our dead; and now that our work is nearly finished we hope that our children will continue on in the labor we have begun, for great will be our joy to meet them hereafter and find that they have finished the labors we were unable to perform, as it has been our great desire to accomplish this task, and we know there is yet much to be done, as many names of our ancestors have not yet been obtained, and the connecting link has not yet been made complete.
When my wife and I, in our youth, left our native land we did not realize the great necessity of getting as complete a genealogical record of our ancestors as we could, and therefore we have been lacking in this respect. We left our native land, our relatives and friends and all, purely for the Gospel's sake, and we have been blessed in temporal and spiritual affairs, more than we possibly could have had we remained in the old world. We read in Matthew, 19th chapter, 29th verse: "And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brother or sister or father or mother or wife for my name's sake shall receive a hundred fold and shall inherit everlasting life.
November 16, 1906 was the 50th anniversary of our wedding day, and we had the honor of an invitation from our son John and his wife to celebrate the event at their house. We only regret that all could not be present as a very pleasant evening was spent with the family and friends who had been invited. Quite a contrast to conditions existing at the time we were married.
After helping with the building of the Normal boiler room and finishing the chimney for the same I also helped build the north west room of the district school house.
On the 6th of October I took a trip to Salt Lake to visit with Charles and his family. We had a pleasant time and arrived home well.
I busied myself after my return in building a house for Joseph Melling, and some other jobs. Since then, my health failing me, I have given up, for the most part, my mason work. I have a desire to live long enough to visit my eldest sister, who is nearly 82 years old.
There is still some work in the Temple that I desire to perform for our dead and also ourselves. I will be 75 next September and my wife 74 in August. I feel to thank the Lord for preserving our lives so long.
Since writing the above my wife was going out into the yard about midday of the last of December, 1909, it had rained and the snow was slippery, she fell and broke her thigh bone near her hip joint. All was done that could be for her but the injury was severe, and she so advanced in years, that it proved too much for her and she breathed her last on January 10th, 1910.
My health not being very good the last year or two it proved quite a shock to me, but my condition improved to such an extent that I was able to make my long desired visit to my aged sister. I left Cedar February 19th, 1910 arrived in Santaquin the morning of the 20th; stayed a week with my sister, who is nearly 83 years old, and had a pleasant time talking over childhood days and early experiences. Continued journey on to Salt Lake where I stayed with my son Charles and his family. While there I purchased marble headstone for the graves of my father-in-law, his wife and son Nels. I then looked up a monument for myself and wife. They have all arrived here and I have put them in place. I made the foot stones out of cement. The total cost of all, delivered here, amounting to near $350. I feel satisfied with my labors which have been complete so far.
After returning from Salt Lake City, my son Bengt and I made a trip to the Temple at St. George, where I obtained my second annointings March 24th, 1910 and finished up the work I had to perform for the dead. Besides the work Bengt and I did, I engaged hands at the Temple to finish our labors, there being 38 names in all. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I must say I never experienced such a heavenly feeling as was made manifest there. Returning home it turned out very cold and stormy, and I was nearly frozen, and took quite a bad cold.
I now feel thankful that my desires have been accomplished. I am not yet through with my labors but will feel satisfied whenever the Lord desires to call me.
Before concluding I will mention one or two experiences I have had.
Not long ago I was visited by a young man from Mayfield, San Pete Co., Utah, by the name of Nelson, whose father, now nearly 80 years age, was especially desirous that he should call and see me, and tell me of the remarkable incident that brought him into the church. It seems that while I was laboring in Blakinge, Sweden, I was preaching in a place called Hallarum, where this man Nelson lived. I was the first Elder he had ever heard, and while speaking, he saw a halo of light over my head, and my simple but powerful testimony of the Gospel made such an impression upon him that he and his family joined the church and emigrated to Utah when I returned home, and are now living in Mayfield, San Pete Co.. I write this as a testimony to those who may read it, of the wonderful ways of God in bringing about his work upon the earth, and in convincing the children of men of the truths of his Gospel. May He have the honor for it all, for it was the manifestation of his power through a humble servant.
On the morning of December 17th, 1905, a little after 2 o'clock, I awoke and was lying on my left side toward the wall. As I opened my eyes the room was light and so brilliant that I cannot describe its beauty: Its brightness exceeded the noon-day sun. As I lay still and looked I felt a personage at the side of the bed and felt the quilt carefully lifted and drawn over my face. Then I began to feel nervous but remained perfectly still, and heard some person moving around the room. A bottle on the chair near the bed was lifted up and set down again. I lay motionless for perhaps five minutes, then raised the cover, the room was dark and I heard no more.
This little history will be left to my children, grandchildren and future posterity. It is a brief story of the experiences of my life and that of my beloved wife, who has been called away from me, and I have been called to mourn her loss in my declining years.
To those who may read this sketch, consider the circumstances that have surrounded us in obtaining the liberties and blessings of the Gospel, which we received in our native land. 'Tis true we have suffered privations, but the Lord has ever been mindful of us and has blessed us with comforts of this life that we never could have received in far off Europe. Still it was with a desire of an eternal reward that we embraced the Faith and like Paul of old it could be said: "If in this life only we have hope we would be of all men the most miserable."
We had an abiding assurance in our hearts that we had obeyed our Father in Heaven, and with that assurance our trials and sufferings have been endured with patience, and much love has grown up in us for the principles that we have embraced. It is a pleasure to live the life of truth and righteousness for Jesus has said: "My yoke is easy and my burden it light."
I want to warn all to lay aside all evil habits which God has forbidden, evils which are growing among the Latter Day Saints. Jesus said, "Let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." If you are wronged by anybody do not worry over it, there will come a day of reckoning for the sinner. Those who have wronged me in this life have never benefitted one cent, and in every case are not so well off financially as I am.
The Lord has blessed us in our labors. For years my wife and I took charge of the sacrament, furnishing the same and seeing that all was in readiness. Many positions that I have held among the people have taken me away from many of my family duties, and work has been left for my wife to perform that I should have attended to. When leaving for my mission, my children were young and just at an age when they very much needed my support, but my wife was blessed in taking charge of affairs; things prospered in their hands and the Lord returned me home in peace and safety.
And now, my dear children, I want to bear my testimony to you and to all who may see this that I know that the Gospel I have espoused is the same as taught by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who in very deed returned after his resurrection and revealed himself unto the Apostles. (See Mark 16 chapter beginning at the 14th verse.)
I would desire that you read the 1st and 2nd chapters of the Acts of the Apostles showing how the power of God was made manifest unto them.
Refer to the 9th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles of the conversion of Paul or Saul as the Lord called him.
We read in Galatians 1st chapter, 8th verse: "But we though, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
I quote these passages for the benefit of those who may not be satisfied as to the divinity of the cause, that you may take the admonition of James, 1st chapter, 5th verse, wherein he says to ask God for wisdom and thus prevent deception. As recorded by John The Revelator the angel has in our time delivered the Gospel to the Prophet Joseph Smith, also the Book of Mormon which is the record of the ancient inhabitants of this the American continent and the dealings of God with those people.
We have many witnesses to testify to its truth in this generation and I have no fear of its outcome, all I need to do is to be faithful to my covenants which I have made with my god, being able to serve him much better than I could do in my native land. I therefore bear my testimony to you that I know God lives and is the Father of this work.
I have born this testimony to thousands of people, and am happy to say that many have embraced the Gospel through it. Some of my own kin have received this knowledge, and for many of my dead I have done work in the house of the Lord, and happy will I be to meet them with the assurance that I have performed for them what they could not do for themselves.
I am now nearing 76 years of age and according to the allotted life of many my stay here is not long. I am in the hands of God and abideth my time.
Bengt Nelson, Sr., died on April 22, 1919 at the age of 84 years.