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Finding the L.D.S. emigration for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emigrating from Sweden may be an important step for building family history. LDS Swedish emigrants often are not found in the major emigration sources for the country of Sweden. Interesting and helpful information can be found in the LDS emigration records.
From the beginning of the Church in Sweden, members were encouraged to emigrate and join the body of Saints in Zion. The members had a strong desire to follow this counsel and escape the persecution they experienced in Sweden. They desired to live in a place where they could live the principles and teachings of the Church in peace with others who believed as they did. They wanted to be close to their leaders and also to have the blessings of the temples. Religious reasons were the main reason for the L.D.S. emigration to Utah. Others in Sweden were emigrating for different reasons such as: poverty, opportunity to own land, the great class divisions, famine, lack of right to vote, and opposition to military service. These reasons played a very minor role for the L.D.S. emigrant.
Nearly all L.D.S. Swedish emigrants traveled in companies organized by Mormon leaders in Scandinavia. These emigration companies usually traveled as "independently chartered" journeys. The comany leaders would plan and arrange every detail as most of the saints were unacquainted with the incidents of travel. The Scandinavian L.D.S. publication, “Skandinaviens Stjerne”, was used to give plain and minute instructions to the emigrants. Converts were guided by experienced leaders every step of the way, whether purchasing tickets, choosing routes, selecting commodities, and so forth. Prearrangements were made for every detail. This process enabled leaders to obtain the most affordable and reasonable prices and to meet the needs of the converts.
The cost of emigration was usually paid by the emigrant, by money sent from friends and family residing in Zion, by monies received from the Perpetual Emigration Fund, or any combination of the three(the Perpetual Emigration Fond ended in 1887).
1850 - 1867
The journey from Scandinavia began in Copenhagen. To begin with the journey went through a port in Germany, then to the east coast of England, across England by train to Liverpool. This took about 3 days travel. The ship from Liverpool to New York, took anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months depending on the weather. The first large company of Scandinavian Saints left Copenhagen December 20, 1852 under the leadership of John E. Forsgren, the first missionary to Sweden who was returning from his mission. This company had only three Swedes – John E. Forsgren, his brother, and sister.
Many companies followed. As missionaries completed their missions in Scandinavia, they would return to Utah with the L.D.S. emigration companies. One or more of the missionaries would be called to be their leader(s). Later companies sailed direct from Copenhagen to England. The first 5 large companies sailed to New Orleans and then went up the Mississippi by riverboat to Kansas City where they were outfitted to cross the plains by wagon or handcart. These companies experienced cholera outbreaks on the Mississippi riverboats that caused many deaths. Subsequent companies sailed to New York and went by rail to Iowa. Beginning in 1860 emigrants went by steamboat from Iowa City to Florence, Nebraska. From Iowa they crossed the plains by covered wagon or handcart which took 3 to 4 months. Altogether, it took the first companies about seven to eleven months to arrive in Utah.
In 1867 the first steamship with L.D.S. emigrants left from Liverpool and arrived in New York. It took approximately 9 to 12 days for a steamship to travel from Liverpool to New York.
1869 – 1900
The year 1869 marked a great change for the emigrants. All companies at this point were able to cross the Atlantic Ocean by steamship rather than sailing ships. In 1869 the Union Pacific Railroad was completed all the way to Ogden, Utah. On June 25, 1869 the first locomotive with emigrants arrived in Ogden, Utah ending the need for covered wagons and handcarts. It took approximately 6 to 9 days to travel from the East Coast to Utah via railroad. Altogether with the steamships and the train, the journey usually took a little under a month.
In 1910 President Joseph F. Smith visited Sweden and counseled the members there to remain in Sweden and build up the church there. There was little emigration after 1930 except for a couple of years after World War II ended. From 1850 to 1930 there were 8,545 members that immigrated to Utah, the great majority coming prior to 1900. About 250 members from Sweden emigrated during the years 1948 and 1950.
L.D.S. Record Sources
- Scandinavian L.D.S. Mission Index
- Records of Members, 1852 - 1951
- Records of deceased members of the Scandinavian Mission up to March 1, 1895.
- Early Church Information File
- Sweden: L.D.S. Branches and Wards
- Sweden: L.D.S. Conferences, Districts, and Stakes
1. Höglund, Inger and Johansson, Caj-Aage. Steg I Tro., Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sista Dagars Heliga: Italy. 2000.
2. Anderson, Shauna C.; Manness, Ruth Ellen; Black, Susan Easton. Passport to Paradise. Geaealogical Services, Utah. 2000.
3. Jenson, Andrew. History of the Scandinavian Mission. The Deseret News Press. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1927.
4. Zobell, Albert L. Jr., M.S. Under the Midnight Sun. Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. 1950.