Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bengt Nelson

Bengt Nelson was born on September 28,  1834 in Lomma, Malmohus, Sweden. 

Bengt first heard of a new religion that had come to the country in 1853.  It took a long time before he could find anything definate about it.  Finally, his sister had seen some Elders and had been converted and baptized.  She persuaded him to go to Malmo to the first conference of the church held in Sweden.  He was thoroughly convinced of its truthfulness and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that same evening - April 15, 1854.  Soon after, Bengt, in company with his brother-in-law and two sisters sailed for America arriving in New Orleans February 23, 1855.

Bengt was 21 years old when he crossed the plains in the Abraham O. Smoot Company.  The company included 33 wagons and 1 carriage.  The party also had 375 oxen and 12 horses.  The company traveled to Salt Lake City at the same time as the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies and encountered the same disastrous weather conditions.  The company arrived in Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856, arriving the same day as the Willie handcart company. 

To read more about the Abraham O. Smoot company you can visit the LDS Church History site,

After arriving in Salt Lake City, he relates the following, "I had a dream on the plains that I should marry Ellen Johnson, the girl companion of my sister.  I asked her if she thought it would come to pass.  She said, 'Yes, I have dreamed the same thing and Frank B. Woolley is to marry us.'  Accordingly we were married by Frank B. Woolley in his father's house November 16, 1856." 

In our family history book this photograph is labeled as Bengt Nelson and Ellen Johnson.  But, Kanani and I don't think that it looks like him.  Do you?

Kanani and I were in Cedar City last summer and we stopped at the Frontier Homestead State Park. We went into the outdoor sheep shed and started to watch a video that was playing. As we watched, I saw my 2nd Great Grandfather Bengt Nelson on the video. I asked the museum curator if I could get a copy of the video. It was not for sale, but he said he would make a copy for me for a donation to the museum. I gave him a donation and about six months later, I received the DVD in the mail. I was excited! There are only a few seconds of Bengt Nelson, but it tells of how he started a very successful sheep business that is still functioning in Cedar City to this day.

A historical sketch of Bengt Nelson was published in the church magazine "The Instructor" in June of 1945.  You can read the entire article from "The Instructor" at the end of this blog. A paragraph of the sketch reads:

 A plaque stands at the rock church in Cedar City recognizing the old Cedar City Tabernacle.  The plaque mentions Bengt Nelson as the director of building. 
The plaque is at  N 37° 40.652 W 113° 03.654

The 1900 Federal Census lists Bengt living in Cedar city.

 Bengt Nelson died April 22, 1919. 

Bengt Nelson is buried in Cedar City next to his wife Ellen Johnson.  The coordinates of his headstone are at N 37° 41.427 W 113° 03.772.  The location is marked on the map with a green arrow.  Bengt Nelson is my 2nd Great Grandfather from the Mendenhall side of the family.

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