Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1862 (age 27), Hogberg (Swaner), Helena (Sweden)

In the little town of Hofby in Lidkoping, Sweden situated at the edge of a forest, was the quaint and picturesque home of Severn Hogberg and his wife Catherine Setterberg. To this family was born a girl April 18, 1835 whom they named Helena Gustafa. When Helena was eight years of age her mother's health began to fail, and the family savings were spent in an endeavor to restore it; but to no avail, for after much suffering she died the following year. Her elder sister and two brothers were married, thus Helena became housekeeper for her father and another brother, which responsibility she carried until her father married again. Helena then went to live with her sister, helping in the care of the family. Later she worked as a housemaid at a neighboring estate where she remained a year.

Having grown to young womanhood, she worked as an apprentice to a tailor and later to a glove maker, learning both trades. Wishing to live in a larger city she, and her girl friend, journeyed to Gotenberg. After a time, she began hearing many adverse tales concerning a new religion called "Mormonism," but she was urged by some friends, who were members of the Church, to attend their meetings and hear the Elders preach. Shortly after she was baptized, the ordinance being performed on April 18, 1860. Helena rejoiced in her new found faith, and went back to her native town, thinking her family would be as pleased with this new religion as she was; but to her great disappointment and sorrow they would have none of it. Helena's eldest brother was particularly strong in his denunciation of the new sect, saying that Helena was "now a disgrace to the family."

Being of an independent nature, Helena went back to Gotenberg, and here she encountered more difficulties because of the lack of employment. She then went to the mission headquarters and helped with the cooking, washing and mending for the missionaries. The desire to go to Zion grew stronger each passing day, but not having the necessary funds, she did not see how this could be accomplished.

To America
There was a large branch of the church in Gotenberg at this time, and a few of its members had means which they shared with others less fortunate. The president of the branch informed the authorities at Great Salt Lake City of their condition and money was sent from the Church fund to help bring worthy Saints to Zion. Immediately a large company began the long journey to Utah. After an eight weeks" voyage, Helena beheld the shores of the promised land. Landing at New York she went by train to Florence, Nebraska where the company was met by oxteams sent by the Church, and there began the never-to-be-forgotten trek across the plains.

Crossing the Plains
Nothing of great importance happened to this company as all the drivers were experienced in handling oxen; however, an independent train that was traveling ahead of the Church train had considerable trouble as their teamsters were not familiar with this mode of travel. A young woman with a family of small children had been run over and killed in a stampede. One of the drivers came to the Church train, and asked for help in caring for the motherless children. Helena volunteered, supervising the children the remainder of the journey. Being of a robust constitution, she walked most of the way across the plains without serious illness or other misfortune. The company entered the valley September 11, 1863, and here she was met by a family of Scandinavians with whom she made her home, doing all kinds of work in order to repay her immigration fare to the Church.

On October 3, 1863, Helena became the second wife of Jorgen Jensen Swaner in the Endowment House. Jorgen and Helena lived for a few years in Salt Lake City, and later moved to Ogden where they took up farming land. Being so far from church headquarters, Jorgen traded his farm for one in Big Cottonwood, where he could more easily attend meetings. Much of this land was uncultivated and their home now consisted of a one-room dugout. Soon they were able to procure better living quarters. Enjoying as he did the privilege of having a home of his own in Zion, Jorgen wished to share his good fortune with friends, named Peterson, who were still in Denmark. He informed them of the advantages to be had in the new land and urged them to come to Zion, offering to share his home with them. The offer was accepted and they made their home with the Swaners who now had seven children. Later the farm was divided and a home built for the Peterson family. Jorgen made furniture from native trees which proved strong and useful. The farm was improved, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers planted. Once more the home was shared with another immigrant family, the Wayman's, until they could build a home of their own.

In April, 1876 Jorgen Jensen swaner passed away, and six months later a girl was born to Helena, making eight children left without a father. Although not trained for pioneer life, Helena went forward, and with the help of the older children continued to improve the farm, even buying a mower and curing the hay herself. This she hauled to Salt Lake City where there was a ready market.

She loved the beauty of Utah's glorious sunsets, its changing skies, and the lofty mountains which surrounded her home. Death claimed her in her eightieth year, February 14, 1915.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.