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 Catherine <I>Nielson</I> Alexander

Photo added by Judie Latshaw Huff

Catherine Nielson Alexander

  • Birth 17 Aug 1835 Sweden
  • Death 26 Jun 1904 Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
  • Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
  • Plot E-16
  • Memorial ID 19191936

Daughter of Niels Nielson and Martha Nilsdotter

Married Johannes Larsson, 24 January 1853, Gestad, Alvsborg, Sweden

Children - Maria Johanna Larson, Justina Larson

Married Alvah Alexander, 24 November 1866, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Phoebe Charlotte Alexander, Julia Etta Alexander, Joseph Franklin Alexander, Charles Oscar Alexander

Married Olof G. Kallstrom, 4 June 1892, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

History - Catherine Nilsson was born 17 Aug 1835, the eldest of six daughters, to Nils Nilsson and Martha Nilsdotter. She was christened into the Lutheran Church on 18 Aug 1835 at Frandefors, Alvsborg, Sweden. Her parents moved from their farn (Kalserud Ostra) in frandefors to a farm (Berg) in Gestad when she was two. It was on this farm that her sisters were born.

In August of 1852 banns were published at Gestad for the proposed marriage of Catherina Nilssdotter and Johannes Larsson of Frandefors. They were married 24 Jan 1853 at Gestad, Alvsborg, Sweden. They lived on her parent's farm for a time. Their first child, a daughter, was born there on 22 Mar 1854. She was christened, Maria Johanna on 24 Mar 1854.

Johannes moved his family to Bralanda on 15 Oct 1855. They lived on the farm Fogelmyren. On 24 Oct 1855, Catherina was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A second daughter, Justina, was born here on 31 Mar 1857 and christened on 1 April 1857 at Bralanda, Alvsborg, Sweden.

Catherina's joining the church caused problems in her marriage. Her husband's minister wrote in the clerical survey that her husband divorced her because of her affiliation with Mormonism and Johannes as given permission to remarry. Catherina left her home and family and came to America in 1865.

She and her sister, Mary (Maja Kajsa Nilsson on passenger list), left their homeland in early May with a group of 556 saints. They departed from Copenhagen on the steamer ‘Aurora' on May 4th. The next morning they boarded a train from Kiel, Germany to Altona then were taken by a small steamer up the Elbe River to Hamburg, Germany where they boarded the ‘B.S. Kimball', an American vessel, whose captain was Henry Dearborn. Peter Andersson paid their passage as far as Wyoming, Nebraska. The ship set sail on 8 May 1865 with 558 Scandinavian Saints on board. Elder A. W. Winberg was president of this company. The ‘B. S. Kimball' landed in new York on 15 June 1865. Both sisters are listed as debarking passengers.

What follows are some of the experiences of Catherine and Marys voyage as notyed in passenger accounts. Measles and scarlet fever broke out among the children. 25 were buried at sea and 3 adults died for other reasons. The Captain was very kind and accommodated the saints. They were served 3 warm meals each day. They were allowed to have dances and games to amuse themselves.

Strong winds blew in a terrific storm on May 18th. Per Holmgren, a fellow traveler, gave an interesting description: "The waves were large as mountains and it was a solemn sight to see how the ocean was disturbed. There was literally music in the masts and rigging as a result of the strong wind…I thought the vessel would capsize…no one could stand on deck without holding to the handholds at the rails and no one could sleep." The storm continued the next day and night finally abating on the 20th.

A week later they saw another ship coming their way. The captains spoke to each other and they traveled parallel with each other for a time. Both vessels were heading to New York. They saw an iceberg, experienced fog and rain. They got word from a passing vessel on the 5th of June that the Civil War had ceased. They held a meeting and cheered for the American Constitution, the reunion in Utah and also for Captain Dearborn. On 13 June 1865, they rejoiced to see America and two days later they debarked. The journey from Copenhagen to New York totaled 42 days.

Most of the group continued on the next day by rail from Albany. (Some did not have funds to travel on at that time). They took a ferry and then boarded another train. On the 17th, they passed Palmyra and several saw Cumorah. The same day they saw Niagara. The next day they were in Detroit, then Chicago, and Quincy. Here they crossed the Mississippi and then spent time on shore because of some problems with the train. The first night was no problem but then they were hit with a storm that drenched them. They were able to continue on the train the 22nd but Per Holmgren fully expected the cars to jump the rail, but they made it to St. Joseph and traveled by steamboat up the Missouri to Wyoming, Nebraska on 26 June 1865.

New York to Nebraska had only taken 12 days but now the group had a 36-day layover. The problem was getting outfitted for the wagon trek. They had to wait for wagons and enough animals. One member of the company, Lars Petersen, accidentally drowned just a couple of days before they started out. (He had sold his farm in Denmark and had financed the trip for about 30 others.) If Catherine and her sister were in Miner G, Atwood's company of ox teams that was organized 28 July 1865 as thought, they left Wyoming, Nebraska on 31 July 1865 with 400 people and 45 wagons. They ended up traveling with some inexperienced animals, which slowed the journey. They were advised in Laramie that because of Indian problems they should not go on but they voted to continue.

Just three days out of Laramie they were ambushed at the noon rest stop by more than a dozen well armed Indians. I quote a poignant account of the tragedy written by Frants Christian Grundvig. "My wife got very tired and we fell behind the wagon train. Our son stayed in the wagon. The train finally reached a creek and there was lots of thick brush along it and a band of Indians were hiding in the brush. When the boys drove the cattle to water, five of them were wounded. Then every man in camp came out with his gun and drove the Indians away. At that time my wife and I were about a quarter of a mile from camp, and some of the Indians came towards us and with a bloodcurdling yell started to shoot at me, while some of them took my wife, put her on a horse and took her away. I was hit by 5 or 6 arrows, the last one lodged in my hip…Thinking I was dead the Indians left me." He was laid up for 3 weeks but no pain compared to the loss of his wife who was never found. They removed the arrows with common blacksmith pinchers.

At the Sweetwater a mule train bringing relief met them. The relief train took the wounded. They finally arrived in Salt lake Valley on 8 Nov 1865. After all they had been through one can only imagine how grateful Catherine and Mary were to come to the end of the trek. What happened next I'm not sure but it is purported that Catherine worked as a cook for one of the sawmills owned by Alvah Alexander. The sawmills were located in east Millcreek at or near Alexander Basin. I wonder if her sister was also hired or did she find employment elsewhere.

In 1866 Nils and Martha Nilsson, Catherine and Mary's parents, immigrated. Their sister, Anna Stina came too with her little daughter, Justine. Also Catherine's daughter, Maria Johanna accompanied them. They were here in time for Catherine's marriage to Alvah Alexander, which took place on 24 Nov 1866.

What of Catherine's daughter Justine? One account stated that Justine never came but that she did correspond. Another says that Justine left Sweden for America in 1877 (Source Clerical Survey G.S. #497,225)

Alvah and his first wife Phoebe Houston were from New Hampshire. After their marriage they moved to Vermont and this is where they joined the church and came west to Nauvoo in 1841 where they were endowed and sealed in the temple there in 1846. They had five children. Alvah and Phoebe came to the valley in 1852 with the Harmon Cutler Company. One son, Alvah J. and his family came with that group too. Since their children were grown and married, some came in earlier groups to the Valley.

Catherine was his fourth wife. They were married 24 Nov 1866 in the Endowment House. Catherine and Alvah had four children at East Millcreek. I could not find the family in the 1870 census even though the children were born there. I did locate Caroline living alone in Big Cottonwood. Henry was in Midway and Alvah J. was still in Millcreek. I did find the family in the 1880 census with Alvah and wives, Caroline and Catherine farming in east Mill Creek along with Catherine's four children and one farm worker.

Alvah died on 27 Mar 1890. I do not know how Catherine spent the next 14 years prior to her death. She was about 69 when she died on 24 June 1904 from cancer at Murray, Utah. She was buried next to Alvah in the Salt Lake City Cemetery on 24 June 1904.

Two years after the death of Alvah, Catherine married a Swedish immigrant named Olof G. Kallstrom (or Kahlstrom). The marriage was on 4 June 1892 at Salt Lake City, Utah. In the 1900 census Catherine and Olof are listed as living with Catherine's sons, Joseph and Charles Alexander at Huntsville in Weber County, Utah. Catherine died four years later, but her death certificate is filed under the name "Catherine Alexander" - not Kahlstrom. Olof died in March 1909 at East Millcreek, Salt Lake County, UT. The informant for the information on his death certificate is Catherine's son, Charles.

Utah Death Certificate

Family Members






  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Judie Latshaw Huff
  • Added: 2 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19191936
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Catherine Nielson Alexander (17 Aug 1835–26 Jun 1904), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19191936, citing Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .