This is another chapter of the Jonas history book compiled by Carvel Jonas. This one is on the Nilsson/Bengtsson line, which was anglicized to Nelson/Benson. Reviewing this information in FamilySearch shows some changes and updates to some of the information presented.
“Johannes Nilsson was born 4 Oct 1827 in Tonnersjo, Hallands, Sweden. His parents were Nils Nilsson and Pernill Larsson. He was the youngest of a family of four sons. He married Agneta Bengtsson who was born 9 Dec 1832 in Oringe, Hallands, Sweden. Her parents were Nils Bengst and Johanna Johansson. She was the oldest child of eight children, having four sisters and three brothers. They married 17 Nov 1855.
“Agneta had two children by an unknown suitor who failed to post the necessary dowry. They were Matilda, born 31 Dec 1853 and James Peter, born 13 Dec 1855. Both children were born in Veinge, Hallands, Sweden. James Peter was born less than a month after Johannes and Agneta were married.
“In 1862, Elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptized Agneta’s mother, Johanna Bengtsson, her sister, Ingar, and her two brothers, Nils and John. They immigrated to America in 1862 and settled in Sanpete County, Ephraim, Utah. Agneta’s father never came to America and died in Sweden. After this Agneta was baptized and the Johannes Nilsson family came to America in 1864. About a month after they got to Logan, Utah, our great grandmother, Annette Josephine Nelson (Jonas) was born. More details will be given in the following life story which was written by August Nelson, a brother of grandma Annie Jonas. The author has quoted August’s story and has omitted genealogical family line. Also, interesting facts have been added to this story to make it more complete. These facts are included inside the brackets.
L-R: Johanna Benson, Johanna Icabinda Benson, John Irven Benson, Nels Ernst Benson, Mary Ann Angel Works holding Merrill Lamont Benson.
“Nels August Nelson, third child of John and Agnetta Benson Nelson was born in Oringe, Hallands, Sweden, on May 18, 1857. “My memory of the beautiful country around our home is still vivid even though I was not quite seven when we left. In 1861 we moved to Tulap, near Marebeck, a Swedish mile from Halmstadt. We had two wagons loaded with household goods, mother and the four children were on the second wagon which father drove. I can still see the hayrack. It had four poles tow in the standard of the wagon, with holes bored and sticks driven in them to keep them apart the width of the wagon. Then there were holes in each pole on the upper side slanting outward so as to extend over the wheels gradually to about four or five feet high. Finally the pole crossed the top on both sides and ends to keep it from spreading. This is the pictures of it as I remember the morning we moved.
“Our new home consisted of two long buildings, I should judge considerably neglected because father was continually repairing them between the hours on the farm. There was a peat bed some distance to the south of the house, a steep slope to the West, a small stream to the east, and cultivated land on the other side. Father planted trees from the northeast corner of the dwelling due East some distance north and west to the northwest corner of the barn forming a beautiful hollow square. My recollection is that the trees were birch. A road ran due east to the nearest neighbors. On the west a path ran to Marebeck. A public highway went through our place and led to Halmstadt. The village near had beautiful homes and churches. A large bell rang out at twelve and six, possibly other times. It seemed to say, “Vin Vellen, sure sell, some balhang, slink in”, translated, “Water gruel, sour fish, come gulpdog, tumble in.”
“At the north end of the farm the stream turned east where the bridge was. Just south of the bridge the slope was steep and below on the herded the cattle land sheep. In the three years we lived there father broke up all the land except the meadow. This was all done by man power. A man would have a :shere chich” which he pushed with his body. It cut a sod about two inches thick and eight or ten inches wide. When the sods dried they were piled up and burned. The women did most of the piling and burning.
“We had such a heavy crop of potatoes on this new land that the land burst open along the rows and the potatoes could be seen on top of the ground from the road.
“Now a few incidents of child life in Sweden. The school teacher boarded round at the different homes of the pupils. I marvel now at the progress they made. My sister, only ten knew most of the New Testament, and my brother attended only one winter when he learned to read and write.
“One of our cows swam the river while we were herding one spring. When we drove her back she missed the ford and got her horns caught in the roots of the trees and drowned.
“Baking day was a big affair because mother baked enough bread to last a month. It seemed to improve with age. It took a lot of wood to heat the oven. On these day sister and brother had to tend baby and I had to herd the cows alone. One day I rebelled but it did no good. I was about five years old. James helped to drive the cows down to the pasture and about all I had to do was watch the path to prevent their return…After I got to Utah one fall a fox bit one of the lambs. Father must have seen him catch it because he picked it up and brought it home before it died. Oh how bad we felt. All the animals on the farm were pets.
“One winter there was no snow on the ground but there was ice on the river. Three of us went down to slide on the ice. We were forbidden to slide with our shoes on because it wore them out. At first we slid with our stockings on, then we took them off and slid barefoot. The ice was so clear and smooth that we had a good time. Then uncle Lars Benson came and helped put on our shoes and stockings. I was the smallest so he carried me all the way home.
“In the spring of 1862 mother went to the old home to bid her mother Johanna Bengtsson, her sister Ingar, and brothers Nels and John, good-bye before they started to America and Utah to live with the Mormons, she brought us all of Uncle John’s toys. One I remember especially, was a little cuckoo.
“It must not have been long after when the first Mormon Elders came to see us. Andrew Peterson of Lehi was one. Later Uncle Lars came to love the peace that entered our home. We children would run up the road to look for the Elders. I was five years old (if mother got baptized the same winter that we left in the spring then I was six) when the elders instructed father to get his family around the table and have family prayers. I got up from that prayer with the light of the Gospel in my soul. Everything had changed! A new light and a new hope had entered my being. Everything seemed joyous and more beautiful and even the birds sang sweeter.
“After we joined the Church there were numbers of people young and old who came to visit us. I remember Andrew Peterson, and the mother of the Lindquists who were undertakers in Ogden and Logan. When we were getting ready to come to America the sisters would come to help mother sew and get ready. The songs of Zion that they sang will ring in my ears and soul to the last moments of my life if I continue faithful to the end. “Heavenly Canaan, Oh Wondrous Canaan, Our Canaan that is Joseph’s land, Come go with us to Canaan!” are some of the words one of the sisters sang. Ye Elders of Israel and Oh Ye Mountains High were my favorites. The Swedish Language seemed to give these songs more feeling than the English. I had a Birdseye view of Zion and I longed to go there.
“I well remember the morning mother had promised to go to Halmstadt to be baptized. We all arose early and mother was undecided until father told her to go. In the evening as father was walking back and carrying the baby, he stopped and said, “Now mother is being baptized,” we looked at the clock and when mother returned she said father was right. The baptisms had to be done at night and a hole cut in the ice but mother felt not ill effects of the cold.
“We had a public auction and sold everything in the line of furniture and clothing that we could not take with us. I remember two large oak chests and a couple of broadcloth suits and over coats. One they brought with them and had it made over for me.
“Father was a steady and prosperous young man, he worked seven years in a distillery and seven as a miller. We had a small keg of whiskey every Christmas and the children could have what they wanted of it. We often sopped our bred in it as a substitute for milk. I never saw father drunk.
“Now came the time to sell the home and farm. The ground was all in crops and a rain made everything look good. Father said it was God who made it look so prosperous and we got a good price for it. James, Matilda, and I with a big part of the baggage were left with friends in Halmstadt while father went back for mother and the younger children. The morning we were to sail was a busy one. We all did what we seldom did before, messed the bed. Mother said, “The Devil cannot stop us,” and we were on deck in time. It was a beautiful Friday morning, 10 Apr 1864, (They left at 5 p.m.) when the Johanns Nelson family hustled along the rock paved streets of Halmstadt to the docks. The noise of the horses feet and the rumble of the vehicles drowned all the voices of the little ones who complained of the unceremonious departure. Then all were safely on board, the gang planks withdrawn, and before we knew it we were out at sea and the men on shore became mere specks.
“Later we were all startled by the sound of a shot ringing out and we were ordered below deck. When we could return to the deck we were told that a pirate crew had shot a hole in our ship just above the water line. In return our ship shot off their main mast. As we neared Denmark we saw all the ships in the harbor and could hear (cannon fire) as Denmark and Germany were at war. We walked around in Copenhagen and saw the fine homes, lawns, statues, in the beautiful city. This was the first time I had heard the Danish language. We stopped at so many places that I cannot remember all of them. Cattle and sheep were loaded on at one place. We were seasick too, and so many crowded together. Before we left Liverpool (Thursday April 21) we enjoyed watching the ships being loaded; fishing snacks came in and unloaded their cargo, and big English shire horses acted as switch engines. There was a large ship about finished in the dry dock. It must be a stupendous job to build a huge ship. There seemed to be some leak at the gates because we saw a man with a diving outfit on go down and men were pumping air to him. He was down for some time.
“The beautiful green foliage and sward through England has always remained with me. It passes into the sublime of my soul.
“The ship which we boarded to come to America was a huge one. (It was named Monarch of the Sea and there were 973 people on board.) Before it was loaded it stood so high above the water, and we had to wait some time while the sailors loaded heavy freight into the hold.
Monarch of the Sea, 1020 LDS passengers on this voyage.
“I have always tried to forget the journey across the Atlantic. Our rations were raw beef, large hard soda biscuits, water mustard, and salt. Sometimes we would have to wait most of the day for our turn to cook our meat. Brother James knew no sickness on the whole journey and was a favorite with the sailors. On one occasion he was riding the loose timbers, that slid back and forth with the motion of the ship. One time he went so dangerously near the railing that they sent him below. The winds and waves were so high sometimes that the flag on the main mast touched the waves as it rolled. Trunks and boxes had to be tied down. The vessel had three decks and there were bunks all around the two lower decks. I had seen several bodies go down the gangway into the deep. Then came the day that baby Amanda’s little body with a rock tied to her feet was lowered into the water. A little later it seemed as if it were my turn, I could not eat the crackers. Mother tried everything, but I got worse. Then she fed me the raw beef and I began to improve…We did see many varieties of fish. Sometimes the passengers, men and women, helped bail out water, when it seemed the ship might sink.
Nilsson family on the Monarch of the Sea passenger list
“Finally we reached New York, and the main body of the saints took steamer for Albany, New York. (They reached New York the morning of Jun 3rd). We crossed New Jersey by train to the Delaware River. We had to wait a number of hours for the ferry, and when we got aboard it was so suffocating that sister Matilda succumbed. Mother laid her out under some tree on a beautiful lawn. The setting sun, and approaching dusk cast a hallowed gloom over the scene. We sat silently watching by the side of mother, while father was off looking for a place to bury her. It was a beautiful, and sad sight to see father and another man carrying her body away from her loved ones to be laid in an unknown grave. The setting of clear, blue sky, and the twinkling of the stars overhead, shining down through the trees made a variegated carpet where we sat. It would be impossible to describe mothers feelings as she was the guiding star of the family, and she knew we would meet Matilda again beyond the grave.
“We went by train from here, and the first incident of note was the crossing of a very high, and long bridge; large vessels with high masts could pass under it. The train stopped on the bridge while another train passed us. A few days later we were informed that the bridge had collapsed. We saw much of the country that had been desolated by the Civil War. Then we were joined by the group that went by way of Albany. They were riding on boards in cattle cars.
“(Some time about this time in the story of Johannes Nilsson was baptized. It was 25 Jun 1864. He was confirmed the same day and later that year he was ordained an Elder)
The car we rode in had no cushions on the seats. Sister Josephine’s cheek began swelling; we thought from the jolting of the car. Some people recommended a certain poultice which ate the flesh off her cheek. Next we went aboard a steamer on a river. It was restful for a few days. All of us made our beds on the floor, starting in the center of the main mast or flag pole. Then another circle started at the feel of the first. Brother James and I slept on a board which formed a shelf on the side of the ship. The space between each shelf was large enough for a full grown colored gentleman so there was plenty of room for us boys who were small for our ages. There seemed to be two streams in the river, one quite clear, the other very muddy. By this time we were getting tired with never any rest or change and the vermin were getting unbearable. Josephine steadily got worse and mother realized that it was only a matter of time until she would go to join her sisters. When we reached Omaha Josephine was a corpse. With the dead child and the luggage to carry father and mother could not help me. I remember that I crawled and walked alternately, with my parents waiting and encouraging me. We finally go to the top of a hill where mother laid me on the grass among some shrubs while she and father went for more luggage. When I became able to walk I went down by the river and watched the people do their washing, and try to get rid of the cooties before we started on the tip over the plains. Several graves were dug in this place. (The family reached Omaha in Jul. They rode the steamer from St. Joseph, Missouri up the Missouri River to Wyoming. They had taken a train from Albany, New York to St. Joseph Missouri. LDS teams took them from Wyoming to the Salt Lake Valley)
“In due time bays and wagons from Utah arrived and everything was loaded for the trip. There was a stove and tent in each wagon. Then the luggage and two families were piled in and we were off for Zion.
At first there was an abundance of grass. I liked to watch the donkeys in the train. Day after day we traveled and the only living thing of any size was an occasional stage coach and the station built along the way. One day I got out of the wagon and ran ahead until noon. After that I had to walk most of the way. One day two young women sat down to rest. All at once the screamed and jumped up. Then a man killed a large rattler where they had been. I have seen families take a corpse out of the wagon, dig a shallow grave and then hurriedly catch up to the train which did not stop. Then we got a glimpse of the mountains in the distance. We also saw large herds of buffalo. While camping one night a herd was coming directly towards us. Some men rode out and turned them. To avoid a stampede of our oxen we started out and the teamsters were able to keep them under control.
“The first Indians I saw was at the stage station. There must have been several hundred of them and we could see their wigwams in the distance. We were now getting into great sage brush flats and everybody was warned against starting fires. One day at noon we joked up in a hurry because someone had let their fire get the best of them.
“Now we began to meet companies of soldiers. They generally led horses with empty saddles. Next we saw where a fire had burned some wagons in the company in which grandmother crossed in 1862. The whole country round was black and the grass had not started. When we crossed rivers they were not too deep, the men and women waded. Two government wagons were caught in the quick sand near where we forded. As we got into the hills there was a lot of elk, deer, and antelopes. One man on a gray horse did the hunting for the group. Several times the oxen tried to stampede. On parts of the trail men had to hold the wagons to keep them from tipping over. The most interesting of all to me was at Echo Canyon where they told how the Mormon scouts had marched round the cliff and made Johnston’s army believe there were a whole lot of them when in fact there were very few. We found chokecherries along the road but they were too green. The last hill seemed the longest and steepest and we did not reach the top until late in the evening. Next morning everyone was happy. Cherries were riper and so good to eat they failed to choke. Happy beyond expression we hastened to get a view of Canaan and Joseph’s land, where the Elders of Israel resided and Prophet’s and Apostles to guide the Latter-day Saints. (They arrived about the 15th of Sep in Salt Lake City)
“Having seen some of the big cities of the world you may imagine our disappointment when we looked down from Emigration Canyon upon Great Salt Lake City by the Great Salt Lake. We saw Fort Douglas where some of the soldiers were stationed. One aged man exclaimed, “why the children cry here as they did at home!”
“We entered the dear old tithing square and rested for noon. Now it was for us to decide where we wanted to settle. We decided to go to Logan and it happened that John, our teamster was going there too. While in the yard Sister Lindquist who had visited us in Sweden brought us a large watermelon, the first I had seen in my life. She was a beautiful young woman and I thought was very nice.
“We soon headed north with John driving the wagon and mother, father, James and I walking behind the wagon. As we were nearing the outskirts of the city a good lady sent a little girl out to us with two delicious apples. How good people were to us. It would certainly be a pleasure to know these fine people. It was about sundown when we passed the Hot Springs and we kept going until quite late. When we got to the canyon above Brigham City we over took a number of wagons and Scandinavian Saints. When we reached what was called Little Denmark, now Mantua, we were feted by these good saints, and given a new send off. It seemed such a long trip through the canyons, but interesting as the teamsters had a number of bear stores it tell. Later we learned that some people had been attacked by bear at this place. We camped just below Wellsville near the bridge above Cub Creek. The people here gave us some potatoes. They were boiled and their jackets all cracked open. This was a treat I shall never forget. We arrived at the Logan public square about noon. There was a liberty pole in the center. On one corner was a lumber shack where all our worldly good were put and the teams drove away. Father located a short, robust Swede who hauled our wealth into his cow yard and we made ourselves comfortable. We cooked over the fireplace in the log cabin. For a few days father did not have work so all four of us went out gleaning. When threshing began with the fall, father was in his glory and never lacked a job.
“The most important thing ahead was to prepare a shelter for the winter which was fast approaching. Logan was planning to take care of the emigrants and her future by digging a canal north along the East bench. All newcomers were given a city lot to be paid for by work on this canal. At the same time the number of acres of farm land was apportioned with the number of cubic yards of dirt to be removed to pay for the land.
“The first homes were mostly dugouts in the side of the hill. That first winter, Father carried willows from the Logan River bottom which was our fuel. He cut some small green sticks short and buried a few of these in the ashes each night to start the fire with in the morning.
“We were just moved into our home when Annetta Josephine (Grandma Annie Jonas) was born on 18 Nov 1864. She was the first child born in Logan Fifth Ward. Mother was alone except for James and me. James was sent to fetch father who was threshing wheat for John Anderson. When he arrived with a sister, mother had already taken care of herself and the baby.
“All went well until January when it began to thaw. Soon our dugout was filling with water. It was knee-deep when father made a path so we could get over to the neighbor’s cabin. We carried water out all day, and the rest of the water soon soaked up. So that by laying a few boards on the floor we were able to go back in the evening.
“It was the most severe winter. The snow was deep and it drifted so that only the tops of the houses could be seen. Thatcher’s mill, the only on one in town, was frozen up, and we had to get along on bran bread. Father moved the cow to the side of the house that afforded the most protection from the wind.
“As soon as spring started, all hands set to work on the canal. The men and boys had to pass our place on the way to work. The boys seemed to delight in calling us “Danishmen.” James and I carried the water from the old Fourth Ward canal down on the river bottom. We always took a slide down the hill. This was alright as long as the snow was on the ground, but as soon as it began to thaw, we got soaking wet, and we usually ended up sick with bad colds. Poor mother had not time to be sick.
“The first Sunday School we attended was in the cabin of John Archibald. Soon there were so many that we could not get in. The Superintendent was Sandy Isaac, a fine young man.
“The summer was a happy one. Father bought two ewes, and they each had a lamb. This, with the cow, made a herd for me to care for. Most of the town drove their sheep past our place up on the college hill to feed. While we herded we also picked service berries. The boys showed us where the best berries were over on Providence flat. One day mother and two other women went with us…
“This fall we were much better prepared for winter than we were a year ago. We had two cows, four sheep and a yoke of steers. There was a barn for the animals, and we had a log house. We raised 120 bushels of wheat on six acres, and mother had done considerable gleaning.
“When mother went gleaning, I had to stay with the baby. One day I left her on the bed while I went out to play. She rolled off the bed and got a big lump on her head. She was still crying when mother came home. Some days she took both of us with her. When baby slept then I could help glean. Mother would carry a two-bushel sack full of heads on her shoulder, and set the baby on top. It surely looked like a load to carry. James was with father. He would rake the hay while father cut it with the scythe and snare. Father did not like to have mother go gleaning, but the money she got from the wheat was her own, and she liked good clothes and to be dressed well.
“In the fall the ward organized…The old meetinghouse had a fire place in the east end. and the door in the west. We held school in the same building…Dances generally kept up until morning…They began around seven o’clock in the evening. About nine there would be some singing…after singing, we had games of strength, wrestling, and boxing. In the wee small hours we were ready to go home. These dances were opened and closed with prayer…
“I almost forgot one incident that happened in 1866. Father turned his steers on the range in the spring. One of these was to be given to the Indians to keep them friendly. The other one Bill, could not be found. Father located the first one in the Indians herd. We went down and told them that this steer was his. “How can you prove it is your steer?” Father went up to her, took hold of his horn and led him to the Indians. They laughed and told him to take it. He led the steer home, a mile away, by holding to the horn. James hunted every where for Bill. He searched in almost every cow herd in the valley. In the anguish of his soul he knelt down and prayed. As he arose a feeling of satisfaction entered his bosom. He was soon rewarded by finding the long, lost steer. He succeeded in driving him home, and all were joyful and recognized the hand of Providence in answering James’ prayer.
“More and more people moved into the ward. A great many of them were Scotch. There was a sixteen year old girl who used to visit with mothers.One day she told mother she thought Mr. Nelson was a lovable man, and that she would like to be his second wife. Mother was delighted and did everything to get father to accept her, but in vain…
“(In 1867 they went about 90 miles and were sealed in the Endowment house in Salt Lake City. The Endowment House records for 4 Oct 1867: Johannes Nilsson and Agneta Bengtsson Nelson received their endowment and were sealed.)
“Father made a fish trap out of willows like the one mother’s family had in Sweden. We had fish all of the time.
“Every other week we herded cattle down in the fork of the Logan and Bear Rivers. It was seven miles from Logan. The banks of the river were covered with willows, where lived bars, wolves, snakes, skunks, and other pests. James herded alone most of the time. The Indians called him a hero. I stayed with him one week. The dog went home, and I was ready to leave. The wolves looked defiantly at us, and at night the snakes crawled over our faces. I was glad to stay home and herd the small herd near home, I had my prayers answered in finding sheep when they were lost…
“On June 14, 1867, mother had a baby boy whom she named Joseph Hyrum. That fall we moved into the Fourth Ward. I soon learned to love Bishop Thomas X. Smith…
“On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we stayed up on Temple hill all night so we would be ready to serenade early in the morning…
“Our grain completely taken by grasshoppers in 1867. The sun was darkened by them they were so thick. We had to sell our oxen, but got $175.00 for them when the usual price was only $125.00. We had bought them four years before, and father always kept them butter fat. We bought a pair of two years old steers for seventy five dollars, and grain with the other seventy five. Then father worked on the railroad and James and I gleaned corn. James traded a good pocket knife for corn. Again we traded corn for shoes. There wasn’t enough money for us to go to school that year, but father bought a large Bible, and the two of us read through to Chronicles the second time. Here I gained the fundamental principles of the gospel which helped me throughout the rest of my life, and I always knew where to go for information, God and the Bible.
“Father traded his oxen for a team of young mules, very poor, but gentle. The first time we tried to drive them was to a funeral. On the way home a dog rushed out at us and the mules were off. They ran home, and stopped at the corral. We learned they had run away the first time they had been driven. As long as we owned them we were in danger of our lives because they could not be handled. Mother did a better job than any of us in driving them.
“The year that the grasshoppers took our grain I furnished fish which I caught in the Logan River. There were chubs and some trout. The time when the hoppers were so thick I will never forget. I was fishing down in the river, and an electric storm was over near Clarkston. There seemed to be an air current in that direction and in a little while I could scarcely find any bait.
“I think it was in 1869 that we had a glorious 4th of July celebration. A whole band of boys dressed as Indians and tried to pick a fight. Some of us really thought they were Indians. Then we saw President Brigham Young with mounted men riding along side his carriage. Quickly we all formed in line along the main street, and as he came along he would bow to us bare foot children. We really loved these men and rarely missed a chance to go to the Tabernacle to hear them talk. One time he asked the grown ups to leave while the boys and girls gathered around the stand to hear Martin Harris bear his testimony about seeing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was taken. We were told to never forget these things and to always tell the boys and girls during our lives this story. I have sometimes forgotten to do this. Martin Harris was a school teacher when a young man, and came to the assistance of the Prophet by giving the money necessary to get the Book of Mormon printed. A short time before he died in Clarkston, he related the whole story of the part he played in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
“This year (1868) we planted two acres of sugar cane on some new land up by college hill. We hoed and petted that cane until it surpassed any thing around. We barely took time out to eat our lunch. Men working near said we were foolish to spend so much time on it. James was a very good worker and a good leader for me. In the fall he worked at the molasses mill down town, receiving a half gallon of molasses for twelve hours work. Father hired a boy to help me hoe the cane at the same price. He never came to work on time so I sent him home and did the work myself. From one acres we got 175 gallons, and the other 225 gallons, a small fortune.
“The last spring that I herded, father had about 75 sheep and 50 cows. There was no snow late in the fall and water was scarce. When I started home at night the cows would almost run to get to Springs where Greenville now is. Then before I could get them they were in somebodies field. I usually had a lamb or two to carry and had to run till I was exhausted. At last a small Swiss boy with only one cow to herd helped me out. He soon got tired of mixing with me but I did not let him quit. I have herded in the spring when it snowed so I could hardly see the animals. All others had gone home, but I had to stay because we did not have fee feed at home. My clothes would be soaking wet, and when a sharp wind blew, I got mighty cold. One time two of the ewes got lost. They had been shorn late so they could not stand the cold and I found their carcasses later.
“Mother sheared the sheep, washed, carded, spun, and wove the cloth to make our clothes. It was about 1870 (born 9 Dec 1870 and died the same day. They were buried 10 Dec, 1870) when mother had the twins, Jacob and Jacobina. They were very tiny and lived only four hours.
“Father was a hard worker. He cut hay with a scythe and swath. One time a neighbor was vexed because his five acres had not been cut. Father went down on Sunday and did not come home until he had cut all of it on Monday. The man could hardly believe that it could be done.
“Mother led the social set in this part of the Ward. I would listen as she related different incidents told her at these parties. One pertained to our friend…He married a young woman after his first wife had no children. But after consenting to the new wife, she gave birth to a son and they very soon after two sweet girls. Almost the same thing happened to a fine young Danishman who moved into the community….When his wife consented to give him a second wife she had a son herself.
“In the fall of 1871 father bought ten acres of land planted to hay and right along side the other five. I was sent out to drive a team making the road bed for the Utah Northern Railroad. I was fourteen, weighed 75 pounds, and had never driven horses. I was given a broken handled chain scraper and a balky team. With these handicaps, and jeers from some of the men, it was a hard moth of two for me. We had good food, so I gained in weight, strength, and experience. With the money earned, father was able to bend the bargain on the land, and the fellow he had agreed to sell.
“About this time we had a new baby sister come to our home. (She was born 16 Dec 1872). She was named Charlotte Abigail….to my mind the baby was a jewel.
“I gave the money I earned herding cows to mother who bought all of her clothing, and always had a dollar or two on hand when it was needed most. She always looked nice in her clothes, being very tall and slender, with beautiful golden hair. At one time she weighed only 90 pounds. She loved her children dearly, but required obedience, that we be neat and clean, and attend our church duties. One morning before Sunday School she asked me to do some chore before I left. I said “no” though I really wanted to do it. Mother grabbed a strap lying on the floor, and hit me a smart rap across my shoulders. A buckle on the strap cut my back and I yelled with pain and so did mother. She washed my back quickly, and put a plaster on it, so it would not be seen through the thin shirt, which was all I had on my back. Many times after in life I have thanked God for that blow. It was just what I needed to get over being coaxed to do anything. I also learned to love mother more if that were possible.
“Mother furnished the house and bought his tobacco with the butter and egg money. Father was surely miserable at the end of the week when his weekly supply was gone. When I was allowed to go to the store to buy tobacco, I would put it in my hands and hold it over my nose so I could get a good smell of it. Father had quit the habit on the way to Utah, but some foolish men persuaded him to take a bite, and he never could quit again. He tried one time, and was so sick he had to go to bed and get a doctor to bless him.
“Brother James was quick to learn, and was especially good at entertaining and on the stage. A Mr. Crowther from the Salt Lake Theatre gave him a part of a colored boy, and with only two rehearsals and no book, he made good, and people were wondering who the darky was. Mother was proud of her boy…
“All the boys in town received military training down on the tabernacle square…
“About this time we had our last episode with the mules. They tried to run from the start. We boys got out of the wagon to fix the chin strap on one of them. They leaped in the air, and as they came down they broke a line and away they ran. One by one parts of the wagon were left behind. Father was thrown out with the bed. When we finally caught up with them, the tongue, one wheel, and a hub of the front axle was all there was attached to them. We were grateful that no one was hurt. We traded them off for a team of horses. The man who bought them drove along the railroad through sloughs and no roads and beat the train.
“Mother made dances for us boys, and served refreshments to all who were present. We had attended two terms at the dancing school the year we had so much molasses, and mother went with us the one term. This made us the best dancers in Logan…
“I found James working on a gravel train, and began working with him. Two would load a car, each one his half. George Watson, the boss, told me I could not shovel the gravel fast enough. I told him I could do anything my brother did. I almost failed the first few days. We would load as fast as we could, then jump on the car and ride to Mendon, unload and back again. When this job was completed James got work on the section at Hampton, and father and I on a railroad spur between Dry Lake, near Brigham City to Corinne. When we reached Corinne we were treated to all the beer we wanted. On the way back to Brigham City, the crew and all the workers were feeling the effects of the beer. Father said, “you act as though you were drunk,” I retorted, “I have never been drunk in my life.” A man thirty five years old said, “That isn’t saying much for a boy. If you can say that as a man of thirty five you will be saying something.” Right then I made the resolution that I would never get drunk. Now at sixty nine I can say that I have kept this resolution.
“This was a prosperous year for our family. (1873) We bought a fine team of horses to do our farm work, and we had had work on the railroad. In October, mother gave birth to a little boy, Moses Nelson. (born 25 Oct 1873) She was very sick, and we had a nurse to care for her. I always felt inferior to James, but one day mother called me to her and said, “August, if I die I want you to care for the children.” That had always been my job around the house. Later one evening, mother kissed me and said, “You have been a good boy. God bless you.” With a smile she turned her head and breathed her last. (died 4 Nov 1873) God alone knows what little children lose when mother is gone. While sick I had heard her say, “I do not want to leave my little children.” Little did I know or realize what home would be without her. She was more than ordinarily ardent and spiritually minded, with high ideals, and a comprehensive knowledge of the gospel. (buried at Logan Cemetery 9 Nov 1873)
“After mother was laid away, I was sent up to Richmond to work on the railroad. The weeks passed in a whirl. Soon baby Moses died, (died 12 Nov 1873 and buried 14 Nov 1873 in Logan Cemetery) and father came up to work with me. James was with the children and took care of the things at home. We soon returned and James started school. I did all the house work except the starching and ironing. I was 16, Annette 9, Joseph 5, And Charlotte 2. The washing was a stupendous job. The water was hard. I tried putting the clothes in a sack when I boiled them to keep the hard water from forming on them. If only some friend had called and told me how to break the water and to put a little soda in the bread when it soured, it would have been a God send. It would have meant better bread and cleaner clothes for the next three years. I also had to shear the sheep. This had been mother’s job. I managed for the first day, and in time finished in some fashion…
“Sometime in January Uncles Lars and Nels Bengtsson came and took James with them to Spring City in Sanpete County. I always loved that brother, the only one left who had come with me from Sweden. We sometimes quarreled, but we were always together. Now we had no work from him for over a year.
“The baby, Little Abigail, generally asked for milk during the night, but she would not accept it from me. One night I told father to lie still and I would give it to her. She refused to take it from me. I went outside and cut a switch from a current bush. When she called for milk again I held it out to her. She refused. I said to father, “Cover up,” and I struck the covers over him with considerable force. I sat down and began reading. Pretty soon she called for milk. I said “Here it is Lottie,” she drank it and never said “no” to me again in my life. She grew to be a tall and slender; had light golden hair and had a sensitive disposition with high ideals. I have seen her swing on our gate most of a Sunday all alone, because she felt her clothes were not good enough to mingle with other children. Before I left home in 1876, I could pick her up from the floor and dance with her. She had perfect rhythm and enjoyed going to the dances to watch and oh how her little soul leaped with joy when she could get on the floor and dance. (Charlotte Abigail died 23 Nov 1902. She never married. She missed her 31th birthday by a few weeks. She is buried with Annette and August in the Crescent Cemetery.)
“My soul cried out for a mother’s love and care. I am very fearful that when mother sees me, she will say, “You have done tolerably well but you failed to care for the children.” In my weak way I am still trying to care for children, everybody’s children, God’s children.
“I remember when father married again. The woman had several children of her own. It was a sad day for mother’s three little ones when step mother and her children moved into out home…
“I had my try at tobacco too. An exbartender from Salt Lake City was smoking a pipe. I asked him to let me try it, and began puffing away. Father called me to one side and said in an undertone with so much soul that it penetrated my very being, “Don’t be a slave, be a free man. You have seen me try to quit the habit, even suffer because I couldn’t.” His advice, I felt, was too good to discard, and I never took up the habit…
“It was the 16 Oct 1876 when I and three other fellows started for the smelters in Sandy… John Benson took his team and wagon and took James and me to Sanpete County. We went to Ephraim to see grandma Johanson, who left Sweden several years before we did. She was delighted with her grandsons. She had told her neighbors what nice people were hers in Sweden, of course they thought she was boasting, but now they could see that it was the truth. How nice it would be if we always lived to be a credit to our ancestors.
Back (l-r): Virgil, Lawrence, Fidelia, Moses. Front: Paul, Nels, Fidelia, August
“Uncle Nels had two little girls, one could not walk as the result of a fever. I began to take part in the talk and general pleasure, and stood well with all. Uncle lectured every evening on doctrinal subjects…a patriarch came to the home and every one had a blessing. Uncle Nels, his wife Philinda, and her sister Fedelia, and their blessings John was promised a family; James, a stupendous power over the elements but no family….My blessing has come true as far as I have lived for it….(date of blessings 16 Sep 1890)
“It is just possible that I shirked my duty and promise to mother to care for the children. Father offered me my lot, home of the land, and would help build a house if I would take the children. but I wanted to go and make money. When I think of mother’s charge to me, and the sad life of the children, my whole soul weeps over my dereliction, but fate drew me to the south…
“It is difficult to note details by memory, but I have this to record for 1893. My sister Charlotte Abigail lived with us that summer. When she went to Logan that fall she had the fever. Later she went to Washington to visit my sister, Annie, wife of Joseph Jonas. (Jul 1901) Annie had been sick for a long time, but none of us knew the nature of her illness until Charlotte brought the whole family to Utah with her. It turned out to be mental illness. She kept running away so we finally had to put her in the institution at Provo, where she died a short time after…(She died 23 Dec 1907 and was buried Christmas Day)
“…When Charlotte brought to Jonas family to us there were five children. It was sad to see sister in her condition. I had not seen her since 1873 (28 years). The last letter I had written her was from Bristol, Nevada. I suggested to her that she should marry a Mormon boy. Her reply was that Mormon boys were not as genteel as Gentiles… Her husband destroyed her letters to us, so we never knew what she was going through… The Jonas children became ours. My sister Lottie, worked in Logan until she became so sick and weak she came to our home where she died, 23 Nov 1902. Father died 20 Nov 1902, and Annie was sent home from Provo a few years later (1907). From father’s estate I received about $700.00 and the same amount as guardian of my sister’s children. Mothers last instruction to me keeps running through my mind. “August, you have been a good boy, God bless you.” Oh, Father in Heaven, have I at least with all my weakness striven with a desire to do my duty to them and to my mother?”
“…I had three of my sister’s boys and two of my own to help (while two of his sons went of missions). We put up as high 400 tons of hay and had at the ranch nearly two hundred head of cattle, and often over 200 head of hogs, besides the milk cows. We had 160 acres on the State Road and rested 80 acres from Men Mill for many years. There were two homes on the farm at that time two on the ranch. Forty acres on the ranch were cultivated and irrigated, and the 1000 acres was divided into different sized pastures open at the top.
“The work that my lads did seemed to others beyond their power. I had some hired help most of the time. The boys were generally out of school two months of the school year, but never lost a grade…
“So ends Nels August Nelson’s history of his parents, siblings, aunts, uncle, and grandmother. The following is an account of the voyage that Johannes Nilsson and Agnetta Bengtsson made. It is recorded from the History of the Church. “On 10 April 1864 at 5 pm the Swedish Steamer L. J. Bager sailed from Copenhagen, carrying 250 emigrants from Sweden and Norway and some from Frederica Conference, Denmark, in charge was J.P.R. Johansen. This company of saints went by steamer to Libeck, then rail to Hamburg, thence by steamer to Hull, and thence by rail to Liverpool, where the emigrants joined the Company from Copenhagen on the 15th of April…”
“On Thursday 28th of April, the above emigrants sailed from Liverpool, England, in the ship ‘Monarch of the Sea’, with 973 souls on board. Patriarch John Smith was chosen President of the Company, with Elders John D. Chase, Johan P. R. Johansen, and Parley P. Pratt as counselors. Elders were also appointed to take charge of the different divisions of the company. During the voyage there was considerable sickness and several children died. On the morning of June 3rd, the ship docked at New York where the landing of the passengers at once took place.
That evening they were sent by steamer to Albany, New York, and from there by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri, thence up the Missouri River to Wyoming, from which place most of the Scandinavian saints were taken to the valley by the church teams of which 170 were sent out that year.
“Thus about 400 Scandinavians crossed the plains in Captain William B. Preston’s Company of about fifty church teams that left Florence Nebraska in the beginning of June and arrived in Salt Lake City on 15 September.
“Agneta Bengtsson had blue eyes and reddish brown hair. Her son, August, said she had golden hair, so it must have been a lighter shade. We don’t know what color eyes and hair Johannes had, although he most likely took after the traditional Scandinavian. After Agneta Bengtsson died Johannes married two different times. One marriage took place about 1876, and the second sometime after 1884. The county clerk of Cache County wrote the following when Johannes Nelson died in the death record p. 18, line 112, “Johannes Nelson died Nov 26, 1902 age 75. He was a farmer, had lived in Cache County 38 years…He was a Caucasian, white male and lived in Logan. The cause of death was General Debility.” He is buried at the Logan City Cemetery and was buried Nov 30, 1902. Johannes had given the church a donation of money which was considered a large sum in those days. When hard times came Johannes asked for some of the money back. Since there wasn’t a receipt made he wasn’t given the money, or a part of the money back. Because of the money not being returned he decided not to pay his tithing to the Church the last years of his life.