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Homeward to Zion

Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia

Copyright Date: 1985
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Homeward to Zion
    Book Description:

    In the late nineteenth century, thirty thousand Mormons from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland immigrated to Utah, dissatisfied with conditions in their homelands. As their countrymen were farming rich fields in other parts of the United States, Scandinavian Mormons were making their way to Salt Lake City. Homeward to Zion tracks this movement from northern Europe to the western desert, examining the Mormon recruiting efforts in Scandinavia as well as the arduous journey across the Great Plains.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9208-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  3. Prologue

    • Promise
      (pp. 3-4)

      Cianute Peterson, just turned twenty, wanted a blessing, and Uncle John Smith, Mormon patriarch, had one for him. The old man laid strong hands on the young Norwegian’s head and spoke slowly for the recorder: “City of Joseph,” he datelined it, “October 21, 1844 . . .”

      . . . Thou art one of the horns of Ephraim and appointed to push the people together from the ends of the earth, and thou shalt go with mighty power. . . . Thou shalt have power to gather very much for the building up of Zion; thou shalt have power to...

  4. I. Proselyte

    • CHAPTER 1 Forerunners
      (pp. 7-17)

      The earliest Scandinavian converts to Mormonism were won not in Europe but in the United States among the Norwegian immigrants in the historic settlements at Fox River in Illinois, sugar creek in Iowa, and Koshkonong in Wisconsin Territory, all within missionary striking distance of Nauvoo, the rising Mormon capital of the 18405. Traveling elder George P. Dykes first found them in his tireless preaching up and down the country. In March 1842, he visited the Fox River settlement in LaSalle County and within a month secured a following of some distinction: a number of respected Haugean lay leaders like Ole...

    • CHAPTER 2 Keys and Covenants
      (pp. 18-30)

      The gathering,” not polygamy, was Mormonism’s oldest and most influential doctrine.² It was the signature of the “new and everlasting covenant” which the Lord had made with his elect in this last of all gospel dispensations.³ The doctrine reflected a tradition of golden dreams and fierce desires reaching back to the promises made to Israel and forward to the Second Coming. The gathering was as new as the latest proselyte, as old as prophecy. It was a still small voice and a mounting whirlwind, at once the product of a thousand personal decisions and of the Divine Will unfolding itself...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Siege of Babylon
      (pp. 31-64)

      The conference call of 1849 marked the beginning of a significant expansion of Mormonism’s transatlantic career with important consequences for the peopling of Deseret.² Soon strange tongues would be heard in the meetinghouses of Zion, and Yankee frontiersmen would teach inexperienced villagers from the Old World the mysteries of irrigation. Of all the countries—France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia — “opened” by Mormon elders the following year, Scandinavia would prove most fruitful, in time the annual number of conversions even surpassing that of Great Britain, where for thirteen years the movement had been reaping a remarkable harvest. At the moment,...

    • CHAPTER 4 “Zion, When I Think of Thee”
      (pp. 65-101)

      With his finger the Mormon missionary might trace the word “Zion” in a huge scrawl across the smoky ceiling of some lowly cottage. For the wonderstntck household, the moment materialized two myths, uniting them — the Mormons and the American West — and what had been rumor filled the dwelling with its reality, immediate and immense. The advent of the Mormons turned the fabulous into a fact and a disturbing force.

      Folk imagination in Scandinavia by 1850 had already been quickened by the growing number of “America letters” and “America books,” like Ole Rynning’s influentialTrue Account of America (Sandfaerdig Beretning om)...

    • CHAPTER 5 Ugly Ducklings
      (pp. 102-134)

      The conflicting claims of half a century in the lively tug of war between Zion’s advocates and its foes yielded Mormonism a harvest of wheat and tares in Scandinavia: 46,497 converts by 1905 for the life of the undivided mission, nearly a third of whom abandoned the movement almost as soon as they embraced it. But over two thirds of the remaining faithful emigrated, more than 30,000 when their children are included, enough to give Zion a markedly Nordic cast.² With the long-sustained immigration from Great Britain, Utah’s population was from the beginning, and remained, decidedly Anglo-Scandinavian.

      The harvest was...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  5. II. Emigrant

    • CHAPTER 6 Bootstrap Redemption
      (pp. 137-156)

      Although in Mormon thinking emigration was practically synonymous with conversion, it was fully a year and a half after the founding of the Scandinavian mission before the first proselytes set out for Zion. The delay was deliberate. Apostle Erastus Snow, for a while fearful of banishment, wanted local congregations strong enough to advance “the work of the Lord” unaided should his fears be realized. Headlong emigration would have weakened the young churches and deprived Snow of able and energetic converts who now comprised an effective native ministry, multiplying the efforts of the handful of American missionaries. Eager as the proselytes...

    • CHAPTER 7 Journey to Zion
      (pp. 157-186)

      Only good news came back from the handful of emigrants who had left Copenhagen early in 1852. TheItalyhad brought the “little flock” from Liverpool to New Orleans by May 10, “all well in body and spirit.” They had proceeded up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to Kanesville, Iowa, where they had joined a large encampment of Saints getting ready to cross the plains. In July Erastus Snow had caught up with them and, as part of Captain Eli B. Kelsey’s ox train of one hundred fifty wagons, had led them into the Salt Lake valley on October 16....

  6. III. Settler

    • CHAPTER 8 Mormon Villagers
      (pp. 189-225)

      The first thing we did,” Anders Thomsen remembered, when he arrived in Spring Town in mid-October 1853 with a number of the Forsgren immigrants, “was to go down to the river bottom and cut some frozen grass. We had some ox teams which had to be cared for. when we had done this we had to build a fort wall against the Indians.”² Because the colonists were almost out of provisions, they divided into two parties, one to stay home and build the walls while the other went to the older settlements in Utah County fifty miles away to work...

    • CHAPTER 9 Seed of Abraham
      (pp. 226-247)

      We shall be called to account for every blessing we receive,” Erastus snow told the quarterly conference of the Sanpete Stake in 1878. With their own Canute Peterson presiding, the Scandinavians, who formed a large part of the audience, heard the apostle with respect. He had first brought them the gospel in the Old Country and now it was always good to hear him talk about the affairs of the Kingdom in his regular visitations. His advice, as usual, was practical: some of the brethren thought there were not births enough reported, but he thought there were not marriages enough;...

    • CHAPTER 10 Mother Tongue
      (pp. 248-273)

      For the Mormon immigrant, the break with the Old World was a compound fracture, a break with the old church and with the old country, often with family and friends who disowned him and made him glad to leave the past behind. Besides, Europe was Babylon; Utah was Zion. The new church was an American church interested in unifying the brotherhood, not in perpetuating backward-glancing cultural differences. English was the Lord’s favored language in which he had spoken his will in this last dispensation. The old tongue was tolerated only as an expedient mediator, a means of teaching the gospel...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 11 Inroads: Conflict and Crusade
      (pp. 274-302)

      It is ironic that Mormonism, as native to the United States as Indian corn, once seemed notoriously un-American. To the Christian Convention gathered in Salt Lake City in 1888 to review “the situation in Utah,” it seemed, in fact, anti-American. Rev. A. S. Bailey, addressing all the denominational workers in the territory, believed that a traveler visiting Utah would find not simply “more that is European than American,” but “a spirit foreign to the spirit of Americans . . . a system indigenous indeed, but hostile to American ideas.”²

      His charges were familiar: Mormonism restrained trade in forbidding the Saints...

  7. Epilogue

    • Fulfillment
      (pp. 305-308)

      On The weekend of July 26 and 27, 1902, Brigham City, seat of fruitful Box Elder County overlooking Salt Lake Valley from the north, swelled to over twice its size. The whole town turned inside out to accommodate the estimated four thousand visitors to the great Scandinavian reunion. They arrived by team from the surrounding towns and by special trains from the north and south. On Saturday night the Scandinavian Dramatic Association of Salt Lake got things under way at the Opera House with a performance ofThe Fisherman from the North Sea.On Sunday morning at nine, eighteen coaches...

  8. Sources and Notes
    (pp. 311-354)
  9. Index
    (pp. 355-376)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 377-377)