History of Jons Christofferson
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF JONS CHRISTOPHERSON
Jons Christopherson (Christofferson) was born 12 July 1808 at Allaryd, Sovestad, Sweden. Allaryd was the name of the farm owned by his father, Christopher Akesson and his mother, Anna Olasson. The farm was in the parish of Sovestad, county of Malmöhus, in the land of the midnight sun, Sweden. He was the fifth child in a family of eight children. The brothers and sisters were Lars, born in 1802; Anders, born 1803; Else born 1805; Jons, born1807 - who died two weeks later; Jons, born in 1808; Pehr, born 1811; Ake, born 1814; and Nels, born 1819.
The family engaged in farming, and as is usual in Sweden, the father and sons were all
apprenticed in some trade. This family was trained in some of the house construction skills.
This extra training helped with household expenses and made for a higher standard of living, besides training the men so that they could build their own homes.
Jons received a common school education, as it was law in Sweden to attend school for
so many months a year, for 14 years. Education is highly prized in all the Scandinavian
He grew up in a religious home, where daily reading from the Bible was the expected
beginning and ending of each day. He and all his family attended the Lutheran Church, the
state religion of Sweden. Jons took part in social activities, dances, parties and athletic events. During his social activities he met a young widow, Dortea Bengtson Nilsson, who had two children - a girl, Karna, five years old and a boy, Jons who was three years old. (Dortea’s first husband, Anders Nilsson died in 1831) Jons Christopherson fell in love with this lovely, blue-eyed woman who was 12 years his senior, and they were married 11 April 1832. They lived at Lillie Karap, the farm that Jons had bought. Their three children were born there: Anders Jonsson, born 1832; Ellen Jonsson, born 20 August 1835, and the youngest son, Nils, born June 1, 1844.
Life went on much as usual for any Swedish family, with family outings, attending
church together, sleigh riding parties in the winter, good food in abundance at family
gatherings, Bible readings around a well scrubbed table, all the wonderful things that makes for happy memories. Ellen was confirmed in the Lutheran Church at the age of 14, while she was living with her half-sister, Karna Andersson, who had just been married.
In 1853 there was a great stir in this section of Sweden, as there had appeared two
missionaries, introducing a new and very different religion. Many became interested and
investigated its truths. Ellen Jonsson; her brother, Anders Jonsson; and the half-brother, Jons Anderson were among the first in their locality to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the day of baptism, the gospel truths became a great and important part of their life. They were baptized in February 1854. Since there was no religious liberty and a great amount of persecution, Ellen was forced to leave home and go to Copenhagen, Denmark to get work in a cotton factory.
Jons and his wife missed their children very much, but there was nothing they could do
to break down the narrow prejudice in their small Parish, even though they didn’t join the
Church at this time.
Ellen returned from Denmark with President Van Cott to attend the district conference.
Her parents agreed with Ellen that she and her half-brother Jons should make speedy
preparations to emigrate to America and Zion. The sad partings were said, and in Ellen
Jonsson’s record is written, “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 hold so dear, and hence I felt equal to the occasion.”
It was November 1854 when Ellen left her parents. Her mother was 50 years old, and
she spoke of them as old folks, but she was only 19, which shows that times haven’t changed a lot.
Jons and his wife, Dortea, were baptized March 25, 1862 and their son Nils had been
baptized in 1860. Immediately they started making plans for their removing to Zion, as the
persecution of family, neighbors and friends was more than they could stand. Jons made
preparations to sell the farm, then a letter was written to Ellen, who was now married to
Bengt Nelson, another young Swedish convert, and they were living in Utah. A letter had
come from Ellen before she had left St. Louis for Utah, telling her parents and his young wife of the death of her half-brother, Jons Andersson. He had died of exposure and a run down condition following the ocean voyage. In order to earn extra money, he had started cutting down trees in the low swamp lands near the Mississippi River. Ellen went on to Weston, Iowa, where she was taken down with a virulent form of small pox. She nearly died, but through God’s mercy and her faith, her life was spared, and she was able to finally reach Utah.
It had been eight years since Ellen and Bengt had arrived in Cedar City, where they had
undergone all the hardships of pioneering in a barren wilderness. They had had a chance to learn to speak the English language, and they were very happy with their adopted country, despite the many trials and hard work necessary to even exist. In the meantime, Bengt had been ordained an Elder in the Church and he and Ellen were anxious to be sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. When the letter from Ellen’s parents came saying they were planning to migrate to Utah in the spring, they decided to make a trip to SLC to serve both purposes, as they were forced to be thrifty.
With the money received from the sale of the farm, Jons was able to buy food and
clothes for the voyage on a sailing ship. Anders, their oldest son, his wife, Karoline, and Nils went with them. As was the custom with all passengers going to America, they first went to Liverpool, England, where they arrived in May 1862. Their trip on the ship was not easy as they had chosen steerage in order to save money.
Very little is known of their experiences crossing the plains, but they had a wagon, and
it is very likely that Jons drove the oxen and his wife who was 66 years old, rode all the way while the others in their party walked most of the way to save the strength of the oxen. They arrived in Salt Lake City the first of October 1862, very possibly in Joseph Horne’s company.
They had been expected to arrive September 27, but it was a few days later according to
Grandfather Nelson’s journal. There was a grand welcome for Jon and family when they did
arrive. The trip down to Cedar City was uneventful. Quoting again from Grandfather’s
journal, “The cattle were full of life, as the long rest in Salt Lake had done them much good,
and we reached Cedar in due time with all of the party in good health. My wife’s people
were just as we were eight years before, they could neither speak nor understand the
language, so it was impossible for them to understand all that was going on around them.”
Grandfather Bengt Nelson was quite poor, possessing few of the necessities of life, but
he insisted on Ellen’s parents and brother, Nils, staying with them in their small home. He
was away many months of the year building homes, stores or public building in Cedar and
surrounding communities. Jon and Nils helped with the farming and gardening.
A small adobe house was built for Jons and family, very close to the homes of their
children. But he suffered a great shock, when his dear wife Dortea died July 27, 1867.
Jons and Nils continued to live in their little home, raising vegetables and fruit for their
own use. Many spoke of his beautiful flowers and fine vegetables. He never accumulated
much worldly wealth, but he did have a wonderful testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
and His divine mission to save mankind. He loved his fellowman, and shared with those
who were less fortunate than he.
He learned to weave rugs and carpets, and this activity helped to pass many lonely
hours after his dear companion had passed away. He lived alone with his son as long as he
could do for himself, then his daughter did all she could to make his last days comfortable.
He died September 4, 1878, and was buried in the Cedar City Cemetery by his wife. He was 70 years old.
Written by Caroline Nelson Westover, Great granddaughter of Jons Christopherson