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Our Pehrson Ancestors: John Solomon and Christina Nilson Pehrson

A long time ago, on a cold day in December, in the far away country of Sweden, there was born a new baby boy who later was to be one of the most important men in the history of the Pehrson family. His name was John Solomon Pehrson. (3 Dec. 1842)

In that same country, in the same town, three years later, a new baby girl was born (16 Mar. 1845) who also was to become equally as important to us. These two children were reared in their respective families in the usual Swedish fashion and traditions of that day. They thrilled with the joys and fun that the games of children in that country provided. They loved and grew excited over the Christmas seasons and all of the special days in that country. They learned to work hard, to be kind to others and to be thrifty and careful with everything they had. Many of these traits were embedded deeply into their characters and as they grew up they became fine citizens of whom their families were proud.

As they grew into young adulthood, they fell in love and were married. At this time, John Solomon was about 24 years old and Christina was about 21. They set up their own household and here practiced the industry and thrift with which their lives had been instilled.

The following year, 20 Oct. 1867, their hearts were filled with joy at the birth of their first child, a little girl, whom they named Petronella Amanda, but two months later, 22 Dec. 1867, they experienced the deep sorrow of losing this tiny baby. This of course, was a dreadful shock and disappointment to them. This little spirit had been with them just long enough to entwine their heart strings and their very souls ached with the pain of losing her.

However, God was good to them for two years later, 17 Jan. 1869, their first baby boy, Nils Anthon, was born. He was the beginning of a large family. There was Hilda Maria (27 Aug. 1870), Frans Lameck (17 Sept. 1873), Per August (8 Feb 1875), Carl Julian Wilhelm (21 Feb. 1881), Alma Augusta (6 June 1884), and four years later they again experienced the visit of death in their family when a baby boy was born to them and died the same day (23 Sept 1888).

This constituted their family and with these six living children, two girls and four boys they made their place in life, in their community and in their country. They taught their children the principles by which they had been raised. Encouraged them to work, play fairly, and deal honestly. They, like their parents before them, carried on the Swedish traditions and their family was happy together.

Grandfather John Solomon was a merchant by trade and as we understand it, had a little business of his own. He was a studious man and his thinking went deep.

One day, Grandfather John Solomon heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached and as soon as he heard it, he became converted and knew it was the religion he was waiting for. Up to this time the family had belonged to the Lutheran Church, but this new religion had a familiar ring to his ear and he readily accepted it. However, Grandmother Christina had been raised in a very strict Lutheran home and it took quite a bit of persuasion to convert her. During this time, the two Mormon missionaries, August Westeborg and J.S. MacDonald were in their home many times explaining the gospel to the family and also partaking of their hospitality. Grandmother Christina soon realized that this truly was the right religion and the family were all baptized by these two Elders who had first brought them this new Gospel.

Shortly after this, Grandfather and Grandmother had the very great misfortune of losing most of their belongings in a fire. This tragedy coupled with the call of the church to “come to Zion”, decided them to leave their home land of Sweden and come to America. In 1889, they gathered together what precious few things they had saved from the fire, a few clothes, some large copper kettles, a wall clock and a small number of household items and secured steerage class passage on the boat that was to take them to a new land, new home and a new way of life. They sailed for two weeks on the water before arriving in New York and then as was the custom of nearly all of the saints, they came on to Utah and settled in Salt Lake where they established their first home in America and where Granfather John Solomon procured work in the tithing office.

The family was all a little disappointed in America when they arrived. The two missionaries who converted them in Sweden had spoken almost reverently of America and had painted a very pretty picture. Of course these two missionaries were undoubtedly homesick and their perspective was greatly exaggerated and probably without meaning to, they implanted in the minds of the Pehrson family a place almost equal to heaven. When they arrived, they saw barren plains, rugged mountains, wide open spaces and very ordinary cities and they were greatly disappointed. However, they soon accepted it and made America their permanent home.

Their stay in Salt Lake was not long for they soon moved to Newton, Utah to find the new home that would satisfy them but Grandmother Pehrson hated it there because it was so muddy so they moved on to Logan, Utah and for a time they lived in the house that is now owned by Mrs. Marie Wallace, at 59 No. 5th East. Even later, they purchased a plot of ground from their oldest son Anthon, who was by this time making his own way and had established a home of his own. This lot was located at 1154 Canyon Road and to this lot was moved an old log house that had been standing at the head of the irrigation ditch, east on Canyon Rd., and here they made their permanent home. Their furniture in this home was very simple. For a time wooden boxes served as cupboards, chairs and other purposes until such time as they were able to afford and procure better furnishings.

John Solomon Pehrson worked at odd jobs when he arrived here in Logan in order to support his family, but mainly he made his living as a market gardener, selling his produce to the local downtown merchants. He was also a fair carpenter and soon,with his skill and the help of other carpenters, his house was remodeled and one room at a time was added and improved until it soon stood an attractive, modest home that they and the family were proud of. He then added a small barn where they kept their cows and other animals and then soon built a carriage house to house their buggy and his other implements. They had their own chickens and most often raised one or two pigs that they butchered or sold. Among his other accomplishments, he was also a successful Bee-Keeper and at harvest time would even extract the honey from the combs himself.

Grandmother too was very industrious and under her deft hands, this place was turned into a comfortable home where family and friends loved to come. She was a good cook, an immaculate housekeeper and a very frugal homemaker. She made the most of everything they had.

As time went on, their family grew up and married and all had established themselves in this community.

Anton had served an LDS mission in Sweden, returned and had married Johanna Hakanson. He was now established in the greenhouse business in Logan. They had two children, Nettie and F. Anton.

Frans was now working at a harness and wagon shop and was married to a widow with seven children. Her name was Augusta Olson. They had three boys of their own, LaVon, who died while he was very young, and William and Earl.

Peter was a very successful cement contractor in Logan. He married Esther Ecklund and they had five children: Evelyn, Lester, Leone, LeRoy and Ruth.

Carl was an electrical engineer and was working for the Utah Power and Light Co., and later went into business of his own. He married Elizabeth Larsen and they had six children. Phyllis, Erma, Ruth and Ruby (twins), Calvin and Carl. Young Carl died however, just a few days after he was born.

Augusta worked at the knitting mills until she met and married Boon Bunderson and then moved with him to St. Charles, Idaho where she helped him raise the younger members of his family and five of their six children: Virginia, Velma, Rula, June and Elaine. Evelyn died while a baby.

Hilda lived the longest with Grandfather and Grandmother. Later in her life she married Emanuel Peterson and helped him raise his family and after his death, she returned to live with her parents again.

Soon after this, their son Pete, died with the flu, leaving his wife and children. Grandfather and Grandmother Pehrson took Evelyn and Ruth into their home and loved them as their own. Ruth was just a little child and they idolized her. Two years later, this precious Ruth died, leaving another empty space in their hearts and in their lives.

The John Solomon Pehrson family had a friendly time together. Sunday was the gathering day for the family and friends. Hilda would prepare a large smorgasbord and everyone would be fed. The funny papers were read. Grandfather would play his violin and Carl would play his Edison records. These people had brought with them from the old country the traditions of hospitality and sociability that is a trademark of the Swedish people and they enjoyed these little parties and entertainments. They always spoke Swedish in their home and most of their friends with whom they associated also spoke in the native tongue. Some of their good friends were the Bertlesons, Westebergs, Lindaloves, Lundbergs, Mattsons, Andersons, Sjostroms, etc.

Grandpa John Solomon was a very good Mormon and kept the word of wisdom religiously. He would not drink coffee and wouldn’t let Grandma have any either. She loved her coffee however and contrary to his instructions, would always keep a little coffee pot and a can of coffee hidden.

Many times after Grandpa would go to town in his buggy, Grandma would get “coffee sugen” (coffee thirsty) and would whisper to Evelyn, “now, we shall have a little coffee”. Out would come the pot and the coffee and she an Evelyn would make and drink their coffee, hurry and wash the dishes and then hide the pot and the coffee again. Grandpa would come home and was none the wiser.

Grandpa had a heston, or a horse, that he hooked to a wagon and would go to town and take his vegetables and fruit. It took him to town very slowly. The only time he could get it to hurry was when it was on the way home. Then it would come home in a rush.

Grandpa and also his son Anthon, raised strawberries for market and would employ young girls and boys in town to pick them at harvest time. One day, near the end of harvest season when the strawberries were small and not so many, these young people were getting discouraged. They weren’t making as much money now as they were when the patch was at its peak so they decided they would go on strike for higher wages. They sat down in the field and waited. They soon saw a man coming toward them and they fully expected it to be Anthon with whom they were ready to stand their ground and state their demands, but instead it turned out to be Grandpa Pehrson with his soft blue eyes, his long beard and his aged bent back. At sight of him, their hearts melted and they went back to berry picking without a word. Their only though was, “how could we strike against this kind old man.”

Grandpa was a very calm person and Grandma, in contrast, had a little quick temper. This combination went well together for they were very happy and never quarrelled.

During his declining years when he found his work too strenuous for him, Grandpa spent his time doing a great deal of Temple work. He did many many endowments for the dead and enjoyed the time he spent there.

For many years he had suffered severely with Asthma and on Dec. 29, 1920. Grandpa John Solomon Pehrson died in the clutches of the dread disease. He is buried in the Logan City Cemetery.

Grandma Christiana lived on in their home with Hilda by her side for two years and then on the 30th of Sept. 1922, she died from caused due to old age and she too was laid to rest in the Logan Cemetery, beside her husband.

From these two illustrious people have sprung a posterity, at last count, of 97 living people, all of whom I feel sure they would be justly proud.

It has been said many times that the Pehrsons are good providers. They are like the squirrels: they work hard and save for a rainy day. They have never gone hungry. All of these characteristics have been handed down to the children by these two people, John Solomon and Christina Pehrson, our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and now great great grandparents.

The home that they made here in Logan still stands and with some remodeling and a few things added and some taken away, it now houses the great grandchildren and the great great grandchildren of these mighty ancestors of ours. We owe them much. Through their courage, understanding and strength, we have been given the greatest gift God has given his people today, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ.” They were the first of our Pehrson ancestors who heard, understood and accepted its meanings. Through their fortitude and faith, we are living in the most blessed land on earth and are free to do our own choosing. Our thanks appreciation and gratitude to you dear grandparents. May we live to make us worthy and to make you proud of the efforts and struggles you put forth to give it to us.

Things to be added to the history of John Solomon and Christina Pehrson:

Some of the other people who were close friends of the Pehrson family were: Lindaloves, Johannes Pehrsons, John Lundbergs, Matts Mattsons, Selma Monson, Mr and Mrs. Anderson and the Sjostroms. The latter, the Sjostroms, were real “Swedes,” and many were the Christmas Eves they spent together, eating Lutfisk and reveling in all the old Swedish Yule season. Some time the Sjostroms would come to their home for the evening and at others the Pehrsons would spend Christmas with them at their home. In this case, they very often would stay all night because it was so far to come home in the cold and their only mode of transportation was to walk or to ride in the wagon they owned.

Grandma always made Lutfisk for the holiday season, using the method she had learned from her family while in Sweden.

Grandpa had a little schooling while he was a child and he could read and write but Grandma didn’t have the opportunity of any schooling at all but taught herself how to read. However, she never learned how to write. When she came to America she was at a disadvantage again because she couldn’t read English. So her reading material was confined to her Swedish “Biblin” (Bible), some Swedish books that they brought with them and some Swedish newspapers.

Grandpa’s horse was name “Prince.”

Grandpa and Grandma were married in the fall sometime.

After Hilda’s husband died she returned to live with her parents and took in washings and ironings to earn her money. Grandma of course helped her with this work. She had a washing machine with a hand pump that was worked back and forth to get the clothes clean. She also had a copper tub that she rinsed the clothes in. Phyllis mentioned visiting with them on different occasions when this washing process was going on and remembered how beautiful the blueing water looked in the shining copper tub.

John Solomon and Christina Nilson Pehrson were married 22 April 1866, at Vra, Knonoberg, Sweden.

—Compiled and written by Gwen Pehrson.