Jons Peter Ahlstrom

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About Jons Peter Ahlstrom

Liverpool to New York Ship: John J. Boyd Departure: 12 Dec 1855 Arrival: 15 Feb 1856

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 James S. Brown Company (1859) Age 24


Departure: 13-14 June 1859 Arrival: 29 August 1859

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Birth: Apr. 15, 1835 Malmö Skane Lan, Sweden

Death: Jun. 12, 1903 Manti Sanpete County Utah, USA

Jon[s] Peter Ahlstrom was a native of Sweden. He was born in Malmo, Sweden on April 15, 1835. He was the oldest son [to live to manhood] of Ole Nilsson Ahlstrom and Ingerborg Monsson. There were 12 children in their family.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about the years Peter Ahlstrom spent in Sweden or of his school days. However, he did learn the trade of a carpenter and cabinet maker before he left the old country. His father also was a carpenter.

The Ahlstrom family became converts to the LDS [Church] religion about the year 1854 or 1855. They began their journey to America in October 1855. Ole Nilsson Ahlstrom was 54 years old and Peter was 20.

After leaving their home in Malmo, Sweden they went first to Copenhagen, Denmark where they were joined by other Scandinavian converts until the steamship "Lyon" was ready to take them aboard for Kiel in Sliesvig. Then they went by train to Glenkstad where they embarked on another steamship to cross the North Sea. They had a stormy voyage to England and suffered much from sea sickness. They crossed England by train to Liverpool which was the port from which they were to sail for America.

There was a confusion of tongues aboard the John J. Boyd as it sailed from London on December 12, 1855. There were 509 Mormon converts from various parts of Europe, including 437 Scandinavians, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, and Icelanders who were all under the direction of Elder Canute Petersen. Also aboard were 30 Italians who looked to Elder Charles B. Savage and Britian [Britain] was represented among the crowd by 42 Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen.

A fair wind carried the ship smoothly for the first three days. The brethren established rules for governing the heterogen[e]ous crowd, which ordinarily would have been expected to relieve boredom by drinking and fighting while confined aboard ship, however, these were not ordinary emigrants. They did not drink. They were bound together in a spirit of brotherhood that submerged the differences of customary language. Every morning at the call of a trumpet, which no one could misunderstand, they prayed together. Separate meetings were held for the various language groups, but all heard and believed in the same doctrine.

After three days a storm began and it continued without let up until the ship anchored off Sandy Hook, New York, two months later. The weather got worse after crossing the Banks, so much so, that we were driven into the Gulf Stream three times, and many of our sailors were frost bitten. Freezing wind and snow stung the faces and hands of the sailors as they battled to keep the ship intact and underway. Sleepless and nerve racked, the superstitious Captain ordered the devout passengers to stop their singing. The mate grumbled that any ship with preachers aboard sure was a bad passage.

"About midway on our passage we fell in with the clipper ship "Louis Napoleon", from Baltimore to Liverpool, laden with flour, with all her masts and spars carried away and leeward bulwarks stove in; upon nearing the ship we found her in a sinking condition. The captain and crew desired to be taken off, which was done. This acquisition was of great advantage to us as the bad weather, sickness and exhaustion from overwork had made quite a gap in our complement of sailors. We had much sickness on board from the breaking out of measles among the Danish saints, chiefly among the children. The Lord heard our prayers and we safely reached our destination on the evening of February 15th, having been 66 days out from Liverpool. Our supply of water was almost exhausted. We had on our arrival only about one day's water on board. We found out also that there had been many disasters during the months of January and February; many ships had been wrecked. We had made the passage without the loss of a single spar." (Charles Savage)

After a few days in Castle Garden the journey was continued by rail to Chicago where the company was divided into three parts. About 150 souls went to Iowa, others to Illinois and the third to Missouri. Most of those who went to Burlington, Iowa remained there for a year or more working to earn means to continue the journey to Utah.

After arriving in New York the Ahlstrom family headed for Burlington, Iowa by train arriving on the 29th of February. They were placed under the jurisdiction of Chr. Christiansen who was sent as a missionary from Utah. He recalls the following: "I assisted them in the transportation of their luggage across the Mississippi River on the ice, and brought them to a house belonging to an apostate ‘Mormon' by the name of Thomas Arthur, of whom I had hired a room for the accommodation of the emigrants - the only one I could secure in the whole town. On that day the editors of the Burlington papers announced to the public the startling fact that the town had been ‘taken' by the ‘Mormons'. Without friends or money I stood in the midst of my poor brethren not knowing what to do, but I set to work in earnest and succeeded in finding employment for some of the brethren as wood choppers in the country, where I also rented a number of empty cabins for the Saints, who subsisted on corn meal, bacon and other articles of food which they received as advance payment for their labors. For the young men and women I also secured places as servants, and in Burlington alone I found places for 50 of them." The Ahlstroms remained in this city for a few years in order to accumulate means to continue their journey to Salt Lake.

The father, Ole Nilsson Ahlstrom secured a job felling trees in a forest not far from Burlington. Here he continued to work until June 13, 1856, when he was killed in an accident caused by a falling tree. As he ran to get out of the way of the falling tree he stumbled and fell. The tree, which was on the hillside, rolled against the top of his head fracturing his skull. This was a sad blow to his widow and children. They missed his help and loving care but they grieved most deeply because he had not lived to see his hopes fulfilled of reaching Utah and doing his part to build Zion. Peter, being the oldest child, now 21 years old, tried hard to take his father's place. He was employed in a nursery where he worked hard and saved that they might accumulate means to resume the journey to Utah. His brothers and sisters also worked and sacrificed.

On February 21, 1857, just one year after coming to America Peter Ahlstrom was married to [Inger Marie] "Mary" Larsen, a beautiful brown eyed Danish girl who had come over on the same ship he had. Peter had admired her but he had no personal acquaintance with her. Another young man had always seemed devoted to Mary and she seemed to prefer his company to that of any one else. Peter was therefore surprised to be advised by authorities of the Church to court and marry Mary Larsen that she might not be led away from her religion. Wishing to obey counsel Peter bashfully explained the situation to Mary's parents who urged her to consent. They were married and went to live in a cottage near the nursery where Peter worked.

Peter was a very likable young man of 22 years. He was average height with light brown hair (that never did turn grey), blue eyes, florid complexion. He was of a jovial disposition, full of jokes and teasing pranks. He had little patience and was very quick tempered but soon over it again. He was honest, industrious and affectionate and always lived the life of a faithful Latter-day Saint.

In the spring of 1859 Mary's parents had secured sufficient funds to continue on their way West. Peter Ahlstrom said good bye to his mother, sisters and brothers and started with his wife's relatives for Zion. His people left Burlington, Iowa the next spring in 1860.

Some years after they arrived in Salt Lake his mother, Ingborg Ahlstrom and her youngest son John Godfrey moved to Toole county. Magmus Charles went to live in Cedar City, Utah. Inger Marie married William Asper, one of the architects of the Salt Lake and Manti Temples. His sister Wilhelimna (Minnie) married William Bracken and located in Stockton in Toole County. The Ahlstroms all had large families and many descendants are now scattered over the inter-mountain region.

After arriving in Salt Lake City, President Young advised them to continue to Sanpete County. They arrived at Fort Ephraim on September 10, 1859. Peter went to work in the harvest fields binding grain, digging potatoes and other work. He also helped haul wood on shares and this secured a supply of fuel for the winter for them. As there were no vacant houses or rooms to be found the young couple dug a cellar in the ground.

The next summer of 1860, Peter made adobes and built them a house. It only had one room with flat stones for a floor and a dirt roof but they were very happy to move out of the damp cellar. They were also happy that they were able to get a glass pane for a window where the sun could shine through.

In the summer of 1863 Peter continued to make adobes in his spare time, which he sold to other pioneers. Therefore, he was able to get a few carpenter's tools so he could work at his trade. He made doors and window frames and simple furniture such as beds, tables, cupboards, chairs and more. He used the cow shed for a work shop.

In 1865 the Black Hawk Indian War began. Peter Ahlstrom was called out with the rest of the men to go on trips after the Indians or to stand guard. During this time he had to leave his wife and three little boys. It was a time of worry and dread for the people never knew when the savages might be lurking around to steal or kill. Quite a number of persons were killed and tortured and many depredations occurred before peace was finally established. Ephraim played a large part in protection as the county's most important fort. It was built next to a sizeable Indian settlement.

In 1868 a call came for men to go to Echo Canyon to work on the Railroad. President Brigham Young was the contractor. Peter Ahlstrom went as did almost every man in the vicinity. The work was a great blessing to the people. It helped them to get the things they needed such as floors, shoes and clothes. When Peter came back he brought Mary her first stove and also a railroad song which all the men who had been working on the railroad love to sing.

The Railroad reached Ogden in 1869 and from then on times were much better. In September of that year sorrow came to the Ahlstrom family. Their beautiful two year old boy Willie died. As there were no doctors, the heart broken parents never knew the cause of his death. Peter, himself, made and lined the coffin. Kind neighbors came and helped all they could.

In the summer of 1870 Peter Ahlstrom secured a city lot in the east part of Ephraim on the Mill road. He made adobes and built a fine five room house with a shingled roof and board floors for his family. He also planted a large apple orchard. The family moved in the new home a week before Christmas and were happy beyond measure feeling themselves well-to-do even though only two rooms were furnished.

Then Peter got a job in a furniture shop owned by Brother Uckerman. They made all kinds of furniture, windows, door frames, etc. People were glad to bring produce to trade at the shop for what they needed. Now the Ahlstrom's felt they were prosperous. Real hard times were a thing of the past.

With a good roof over their heads, warm beds to sleep in, a cow, a few chickens, several head of sheep, a number of acres of land to raise hay and grain, Peter went home from the shop at night feeling that he might be envied by a king. In his prayers he always thanked God that the missionaries had found him in his native Sweden. He was glad to be in Zion and to help in its up building.

Peter had an uncle named Victor Bunderson who was still living in Sweden with his family. He wrote and urged Peter to send one hundred dollars to help the Bunderson family emigrate to Utah. Peter felt it his duty to do this. When the oldest daughter arrived from Sweden she went to live with Peter and Mary.

She was a fine looking girl of nineteen years, pleasant and a good worker. As time went on Peter came to feel that she would be just the right person for his second wife but he hesitated to ask her because she was eighteen years younger than himself. Finally Peter persuaded his wife to approach the subject with the girl. To their surprise she accepted the proposal. Peter soon set about finishing the remaining rooms of the house so that each wife could have her private sleeping apartment.

In the autumn of 1874, fourteen men were called from Ephraim to go to St. George to work on the temple for the winter. Peter was one of those men and he felt it a great privilege to help build the first temple in Zion. Toward spring his family received word that Peter had been injured while lifting a heavy load. The hernia he received at that time was a serious handicap to him as long as he lived.

Peter owned a small ranch on the west side of the Sanpitch River, so the three oldest boys aged 14, 12, and 10 started to farm and herd the town sheep during the summer.

In the winter of 1877 they started to tear down the hill on which place the Manti temple now stands. They found that they needed a carpenter and a blacksmith to keep the tools mended and sharpened so Peter got a steady job there. He built him a shop on the hill which he used while the temple was being built.

The family was thankful that Peter had steady work. He worked six days a week and then walked the seven miles to Ephraim on Saturday evenings to spend Sunday with his families. Peter continued to work on the temple from December 1877 until the dedication in May of 1888 when he was set apart as caretaker of the building. His duties were multitudinous and the hours he worked would make workers of today think they were much abused. It was his duty to supervise the cleaning of the temple. A group of women would come each Saturday to clean under his direction. He also had charge of the temple clothing which was rented out to people who came for ordinance work. He would send out the laundry and check it in again, he also filled the font for baptisms and conducted people through the building.

Peter's work became so arduous with so many stairs to climb during the day and his trips up and down the hill to his home (he had bought a home close to the hill in the eastern part of Manti for he and his second wife sometime earlier) that a vacant room was fitted up for him in the temple where he slept. He also ate his meals in the temple. In April 1889 he moved his first wife from her pioneer home in Ephraim and bought her a home for herself in Manti. About that time the U.S. Marshal arrested him on a charge of unlawful cohabitation and he served a term of ninety days in the Utah State Prison. He spent much of his time there in wood carving and brought home many unique and useful articles which he made with his pocket knife. From a piece of board, for example, he made match safes, rattles, fans, etc.

Peter's mother moved from St. Johns in Toole [Tooele] County, where she had been living with her youngest son, to Manti to be near the temple to do work there. She died April 10, 1894 at the age of 84 years.

Peter Ahlstrom's health continued to fail and on June 12, 1903 he passed away due to what was commonly known as a stroke. He was sixty-eight years old. His funeral services were held in the Council House and he was buried in the Manti cemetery which is just at the foot of the temple hill.

Peter Ahlstrom was the father of 21 children, he helped to build two of the first temples in Utah [St. George and Manti] and he worked hard all his days. His life was a useful one and may his many descendants follow his worthy example.

--Sources: Sarah Ahlstrom Nelson, daughter, "Biography of Jons Peter Ahlstrom,"; Ahlstrom Family Genealogy and Biographies, www.everdene.com; accessed online, transcribed (some editing) by Annie Duckett Hundley, 7 May 2011. __________________________________________________________________________


Family links:

Parents:
  • Ole Nilsson Ahlstrom (1801 - 1856)
  • Ingerborg Monsson Ahlstrom (1810 - 1894)
Spouses:
  • Mary Victor Bunderson Ahlstrom (1854 - 1907)*
  • Inger Marie Larsen Ahlstrom (1836 - 1924)*
Children:
  • Anna Olena Ahlstrom (1853 - 1858)*
  • John Michael Ahlstrom (1859 - 1910)*
  • Ole Ahlstrom (1864 - 1948)*
  • Hannah Ahlstrom Weaver (1870 - 1915)*
  • Charles Delbert Ahlstrom (1873 - 1948)*
  • Benjamin Franklin Ahlstrom (1875 - 1952)*
  • Sarah Ahlstrom Nelson (1878 - 1945)*
  • Ann Geneva Ahlstrom Buchanan (1883 - 1960)*
  • Myrtle Ahlstrom Clinger (1890 - 1918)*

Burial: Manti Cemetery Manti Sanpete County Utah, USA

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Jons Peter Ahlstrom's Timeline

1835
April 15, 1835
Malmö, Caroli, Skåne, Sweden
April 19, 1835
Malmö, Caroli, Skåne, Sweden
1853
February 12, 1853
Age 17
Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
1857
February 21, 1857
Age 21
Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
1859
March 24, 1859
Age 23
Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
1864
February 21, 1864
Age 28
Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, USA
1867
September 1, 1867
Age 32
Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, USA
1870
June 14, 1870
Age 35
Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, USA
1872
November 10, 1872
Age 37
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
1873
September 7, 1873
Age 38
Manti, Sanpete, Utah, USA