- Johanna Charlotta Scherlin
- Born: February 22, 1832 Karlskrona Blekinge, Sweden
- Died: August 15, 1915 Thatcher, Arizona
- Related through: Dan's grandfather Heber Otto Langford
Karlskrona is a seaport, and life there centered around the sea. The Scherlins were middle-class people, and Johanna’s childhood was considerably different than Hans’ childhood. Her father’s position as a civil servant did not require him to move about looking for work as did Han’s father, and judging from the homes they lived in, he brought in a good salary.
Nils Magnus- Scherlin was the Stads Mätaren, interpreted, that means he was the "city measurer." Apparently it was his duty to estimate the value of an incoming ship’s cargo to determine its value for duty purposes.
The children, including the daughters, received a good education. When the boys were old enough, they were placed as apprentices to learn trades. Johanna had a lovely soprano voice and could accompany herself on the guitar. When her father asked her what she would like to study, she told him she would like to learn how to weave. She may have become interested in weaving by watching the many weavers at work in the city. Even though her brothers teased her about wanting to learn such a "practical" trade, her father supported Johanna in her desire. The brothers probably expected Johanna to learn something more suitable to the social position of the family, such as music or painting. Her choice turned out to be an excellent one because when she immigrated to Utah, she earned her living by sewing and weaving until Hans finally joined her.
Johanna is described as being about five feet six inches in height, with lovely blue eyes and black hair. She was always slender, even in her older years, and her hair remained black almost all her life. Her granddaughter, Zina Charlotte Chlarson Langford, remembered her as being kindly and efficient. She always kept herself busy. She was firm, yet loving, with her children, and it was said that once she made up her mind, nothing could change it.
On December 20, 1854 her father, Nils Magnus Scherlin, died leaving her mother, Ulrica Lovisa, a widow. Johanna was 21 years of age at the time of her father’s death. There is no will for Nils Magnus Scherlin, so we do not know who supported her and her minor children. Perhaps the older brothers helped support the rest of the family. Most of the homes or apartments where the Scherlin family lived were within easy walking distance of the harbor, where Nils Maqnus did his work.
Charlotte Langford, granddaughter of Hans and Johanna, recalls some interesting traditions, which her grandmother had related to her. In the city as well as in the country, there was no running water in the homes. All water had to be carried from community wells. It seems the people would save up their laundry all winter, and when the spring thaws came, the washerwomen would collect it and wash it in the streams and lakes. Another was that because of the ground being frozen during the winter, they would collect the dead and keep them frozen during the winter to bury them in the spring when the ground thawed.
Johanna and her mother were receptive to the message of the restored Gospel brought to them by missionary Hans Nadrian (her future husband). However, the "Mormons" were not looked upon with any more favor in Karlskrona than other places where the missionaries served. When the Schelin brothers found that their mother and their sister wanted to join the Church, they absolutely forbade it. They threatened to send the women to an insane asylum if they persisted with their foolishness. Nevertheless, Johanna was baptized February 1, 1861 and her mother, Ulrika Lovisa Scherlin, was baptized January 22, 1862.
Johanna was 29 years of age; Hans was two years her junior. The young couple must have fallen in love while Hans was teaching the gospel to Johanna and her mother, because they were married on September 20, 1861.
Because the brothers were so against the Church, Johanna and Hans would probably have had to be married secretly. Every girl has dreams of what her wedding will be like, but, of necessity, all the formal traditions of a Swedish marriage would have had to be waived. The marriage record has not been found. It may have been too risky to have had banns published three weeks in a row — and it was common that these be read in the bride’s parish church. The couple was probably married by the local LDS Branch President.
The young couple and Johanna’s mother left Karlskrona and moved to Rbnneby, Blekinge. In the Rbnneby Lutheran birth registers is listed Heber Otto’s birth (that is the name he was known by on the church records in America) as noted by the excerpt from Hans’ journal.
Hans says in his personal history: I continued preaching until 1861 and on the 20th of Sept. I was married to Johanna Charlotta Scherlin from Carlskrona, Blekinge. For my living I worked as a photographer. In March 1862 I sent my wife’s mother, Louisa Ulrika Scherlin, to America. She arrived at Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Saints gathered the same year. On the 17th of November 1862 our firstborn Otto Hebor Andanius was born. In the month of March 1863, I sent my wife and new son to America. My business affairs prevented me from going with them. She arrived there the 29th of August, the same year; at this time I left the Fatherland for Denmark. In Feb. 1864 I went to Germany and back again in July of the same year. Soon after I left for America.
Johanna and Heber Otto left the Skane Conference in the spring of 1863 and sailed on the "John J. Boyd" from Liverpool on the evening of April 30 - The voyage lasted 29 days, and all arrived safely in New York harbor on Sunday, June 1.
On the evening of the same day the company boarded the train to Albany, and from there went on to Florence, Nebraska, arriving there June 11. One passenger wrote: "The journey by railroad was more pleasant that we had expected to find it, as the train stopped often and at some length at some of the principal cities we went through, giving us opportunities to straighten our legs and move about, see some of the country and satisfy our ever increasing appetite for sightseeing. An old conductor, who claimed to have been acquainted with Joseph, the Prophet, was clever enough to stop the train when we arrived at Palmyra, NY, where the Prophet first entered upon his remarkable career. He showed us the house in which the Prophet resided, the woods in which he received heavenly visions and the Hill Cumorah, where he obtained the Book of Mormon plates. This information went like wildfire from car to car and all who possibly could do so got out to have a view of these dear historic places, and to pluck a flower or blade of grass from the locality as a memento to carry away with them. A few moments later, after the whistle of the engine had signaled for ‘all aboard’ the train again glided onwards towards the object of our journey."
Hans says Johanna arrived in Utah on August 29 of the same year, which means she went in the company of Captain John R. Murdock who led the first team to cross the plains in 1863.
One of the stories to come from that trip across the plains is about Johanna. She had been told to get a sunbonnet to shield her face from the sun. When she went shopping, she fell in love with a frilly little bonnet and bought it instead. She must have received considerable teasing from the other members of the wagon train. She is reported to have received such a heavy tan crossing the plains that she never did lose it all.
It took Hans several years to join his wife in Utah. He had a series of adventures on his way west, including a shipwreck and fighting in the U.S. Civil War. During all this time, in Salt Lake City, Johanna was earning her living with her sewing and weaving. It had been a few years since she last saw Hans. He had planned to be with them as soon as possible. She had received no mail in all that time from Hans. What had happened? Was he still alive? In addition to her anxiety about his absence, she was being pressured to join families as a polygamous wife. She was not getting any younger. If she was to have other children, she needed to be having them. Family tradition says she took her problem to Brigham Young. He asked her if she thought her husband was still alive, and if so, did she think he would try to find her. She said, "Yes." Brigham Young advised her to follow her heart. What she didn’t know was that the local postmaster, who was in love with her had been withholding her mail. Hans had written, but she had not received one of his letters.
Hans was reunited with his family in October of 1866, when Heber was four years old. Later Hans entered into polygamy which both he and Johanna looked upon as a commandment of the Lord. When persecution against the practice of polygamy became acute in Utah, he moved his families to Thatcher, Arizona, where he owned a sawmill business and also built homes throughout the area. Hans died November 10, 1910, and Johanna Charlotta died August 15, 1915. They are buried in the Thatcher, Arizona cemetery.
This history was researched and written by Ida-Rose Langford Hall. Taken from her paper. THE VIKING IN US From Sweden to America (1832-1866): The Life Story of Hans Nadrian Chlason and Johanna Charlotta Scherlin. It was rather long so I abridged it, but you can read the whole thing here.