Wednesday, April 2, 2014


August Christian Fredrick Bluth (known as ACF Bluth) was the youngest of eight children born to John Christian Fredrick Bluth and Wilhelmina Liding.  He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, 24 August 1842, two months after his father’s death. 

He had three sisters and two brothers: John M. L. Bluth, Carl Wilhelm, Fredricka Wilhelmina, Amelia Matilda and Hedvig Charlotte.  He was the only one of the children to have blue eyes.  His hair was dark brown. 

Childhood without His Father

The family was very poor.  His father had been a tailor by trade.  August helped his mother gather wild berries to sell, to help with the family finances.  He was very close to his mother and was a great comfort to her after his father's death, and he lived with her and his siblings in their small island home by the sea.

August made his own fishing net when he was 3 years old.  He would put the net into the sea at night and in the morning empty its catch into a bucket, which he took to a small store in trade for other foods needed at home.  Fishing was a good business in Sweden, and he enjoyed it as a sport, but it also helped to feed the family.

He went to a Lutheran minister each day for reading of the Bible, and came to know it well - memorizing many passages.  He had a fine singing voice and sang in the Lutheran Choir when he was ten years old.  Years later he sang in Mormon choirs, and men liked to sit by him in rehearsals because his ability to correctly hear and sing were great help to them.

Training to be a Master Carpenter

At that time in Sweden every man was expected to learn a trade.  When August was 12 years old he began an eight-year training program for a diploma in carpentry.  He graduated with high honors in May of 1862, and at the age of 19 began building houses and doing fine-finishing carpentry work. 
 In later years he told his children, “that many nights he had slept in coffins he had built.  It was not very comfortable, but circumstances, not sport, had caused him to do it”. 

August Christian Fredrick Bluth

His First Marriage and Eldest Son

When 23 years old, he married Johannah Hammerstrom in St. Jacobs Church in Stockholm, Sweden on 10 May 1867 (some writings say it was 30 October 1865).  Johannah was born 15 October 1838 in Lind, Orbero, Sweden to Lars Eric Hammerstrom and Christena Larson.  Johanna ran a small store in front of their home while he worked at his trade.

They had one son, Fredrick Zacharias Bluth, born 6 September 1868 in Stockholm.  It was not long before Hannah died on 14 June 1875 of consumption, and after her death August closed the store.

Conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

One evening when he was returning home from work he saw a crowd of people listening to some Mormon missionaries who were preaching on the street corner.  August listened to the missionaries (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and knew that the truths that they were teaching were what he had been seeking for years.  He was converted to that faith and was baptized into the Church 16 February 1876, by Elder John C. Anderson (some records show C.A. Eck) in his hometown, Lidingobro, Stockholm, Sweden. 

Through his testimony his oldest brother, John, and five members of his family also were baptized members of the LDS Church.  August was among 270 Swedes who joined the twenty-three LDS branches, increasing the Swedish membership to 1581 in the year 1976.  (Jensen 545)  The Book of Mormon was translated into Danish in 1851, but not available in Swedish until 1878, so it is unlikely that August had a copy of the Book of Mormon in his native language.  However, there were many LDS tracts and pamphlets printed in the Swedish language.

From the journals of John Vitalis Bluth, August's nephew:  "I had an uncle named August CF Bluth, who lived with his family in another part of the city.  Elder John C. Anderson of Grantsville, Tooele, Utah, had been visiting with my Uncle August.  He had talked with him and his family and had left books there to read.  My Aunt who lived with us, Frederika Bluth Schultz (and her children Matilda, Selma, Julia and Anna) visited between our family an his and had listened to their conversations and begun reading their books.  At one time she told father of it and said she would bring some of the literature home.  Father, who had a horror of the name Mormon (as has many another honest heart because of misinformation) told her she needn't bring any such things home ... and that he would certainly throw such things into the fire ... and that she surely could be better occupied than in running after false doctrine.  Notwithstanding this threat, she did bring some books home and read them secretly.  On one occasion she forgot her caution and left one of the books on the bureau.  Father spied the strange book, took it up and finding it to be a Mormon publication (THE VOICE OF WARNING), was about to carry out his threat, when the thought struck him that as there was no one to see him, he might as well look into it and see what it had to say for itself before he did so.  He began to read and never left off reading until the book was finished.  When done, the book was replaced with another instead of being burned.  He was convinced of the truth of the message and had so informed mother."

The environment for the LDS missionaries and converts in Sweden was tense, as strict laws were enacted to prevent incursions into the “established way”, which had been a transition from Catholicism to Lutheranism, the latter becoming the national Church in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.  LDS missionaries found it extremely difficult to preach.  President Haight wrote to Orson Pratt, “As for Sweden, the circumstances are different.  The Elders are often arrested, dragged before both civil and clerical authorities, sentenced with fines and imprisoned, living on bread and water, and being mistreated as a consequence of the laws.  (Haight 538)  The civil laws of Sweden were such that no person except the Lutheran priest had the right to hold public meeting, preach or to administer ordinances (such as the sacrament). “The Elders who are sent of God are obliged to preach secretly and baptize under the cover of night and thus either break the law of the land, elude it, or keep the law of God.”  (Wengren 196) 

August had met Josephine Alberta Rose, and she too was baptized into the Mormon faith.  They were married 17 February 1876, one day after his baptism.

Sailing to America

Shortly after becoming a member of the Church, ACF sailed for America.  He brought with him his son and new wife, Josephine Albertina Rose, who was born 27 July 1844 in Kreplan Hatune, Uppsala, Sweden to Carl Wilhelm Rose and Brita Louisa Erickson.   

Swedish converts had begun to “gather to Zion” as early as 1850, being taught that they were literally building the Kingdom of God on earth in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The most common route took them across the North Sea to Hull, England, the overland to Liverpool by railroad.  At Liverpool the emigrants boarded ships bound for America, destined for New York.  Most Swedish Saints who immigrated to America travelled in companies carefully organized by Mormon leaders.  Groups were separated into companies with leaders planning and arranging every detail – since most of the saints were unacquainted with the incidents of travel.   
The LDS Historian’s Office records state: “On June 28, 1876, the Steamship ‘S.S. Idaho’ sailed from Liverpool, England with 628 Saints on board with Nils C. Flygare in charge of this company”. Conditions on the ship were crowded, but the Saints sang hymns, played shuffleboard, discussed religious topics and prepared for their new lives ahead.  On 1 July (Saturday) through 7 July the SS Idaho ran into storm weather that was recorded by a passenger Thomas Griggs:  “Rolling badly.  Our getting up felt rather uncertain.  Retched 2 or 3 times, laid down and felt better.  Washed and up on deck, no breakfast for Tom.  The decks have been covered with almost lifeless forms, the tables are poorly patronized…”    (Griggs)                                                     

Most of the trip across sea was pleasant weather, with exception of those days.   It is interesting to read a Captain Forsyth’s notes from a previous group of Scandinavian Saints of 1874 when a frightful storm was encountered at sea:  “A remarkable calm was observed among the Saints on that occasion, while the opposite was the case with other passengers, who were badly frightened.”  The non-LDS people were crying aloud, “Lost, we are lost!”  The captain assured them that there was no danger, because there were too many Mormons aboard the ship for the ship to be harmed.  A Catholic priest who was present took exception to this statement, but the captain said that he had never had heard of the loss of any ship carrying Mormon.  (Jensen 219020) 

They landed in New York 10 July 1876, continued by rail and arrived in Ogden, Utah, 18 July 1876.  The passenger list shows “August Christian Fredrick Bluth age 33, his wife Josephine Albertina Bluth age 32, his son Fredrick Bluth age 4.”

Bluth Family in Utah  

August and Josephine went to the Logan Endowment House where they received their endowments and were sealed, 14 August 1876 by Daniel H. Wells. 

The family settled in Grantsville, Utah, about 37 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, sponsored by the man who baptized him (Eck).  Here he built a one room log cabin.  While in Grantsville their first child was born, Tyra Josephine Bluth, on 19 August 1877.  August soon sold his home to his brother John and moved to Brigham City, Utah, where their child died.  It is thought to be 14 August 1878.  August’s saw many of his family members die early, and his knowledge of coffin-building was too often required in his lifetime.

The Latter Day Saints were living the "United Order" at this time, and most of August's income went to help this great cause.

August's nephew, John Vitalis Bluth, recorded in his journal:  "On July 14, 1877, we reached Salt Lake City, almost 30 years after the advance scouts of the Pioneers.  All the emigrants were taken to some place to wait for friends to call for them, most of them going to outlying settlements.  A day or two after arriving, our Uncle August came in with a team from Grantsville, Tooele County.  He had settled there the year before, it being the home of John C. Anderson who first brought the gospel to him.  All our little belongings were soon packed in the wagon.   Six of us, Uncle August and the driver.  We found ourselves crossing the alkali lowlands between Salt Lake City and Grantsville, a distance of 37 miles almost due west.

Here we found our uncle living in a one room log house, used for kitchen, dining room, bedroom, parlor and carpenter shop.  Here we all piled in, two families, nine of us - for the night.  The loghouse stood on a barren gravel lot, covered by a scanty growth of sagebrush and greasewood, and cactus, while a small ditch passed the house in the street, around which the sagebrush grew luxuriantly.  Everything appeared to have a heated, suffocating appearance.  I could scarcely breathe the rarified air, heated by the July sun.  I saw nothing but the mountains in their somber hue and the gray sage-covered valley sloping gently from the hills.  No water, either lake, or river as was in Stockholm.  I longed and yearned for it until my whole being seemed consumer with thirst.  But, through it all, I felt that this was Zion, and here we were to work out our destiny and learn new things.

Their 2nd child was born in Brigham City and given the name of Bearnard August Bluth.  August records the birth as 2 December 1878.  Another record gives the date as 8 January 1879.  This baby died young.  The only name recorded near the spelling of Bluth in Brigham City records is the death in 1879 of Ban. H. Blouth age 8 months with a notation that says “Mother dead.”  Josephine Albertena Bluth had died as a result of childbirth in Brigham City, Utah, 2 December 1878. 

After Josephine’s death August was boarding with the Ossmen or Ossmin Family.  While here he met Mrs. Matilda Ossmin’s sister Johanna Olausdotter Johansson (we come from her line).  Matilda had assisted Johanna financially to come to America.  Not long after her arrival, Johanna and August were married 9 October 1879 by Daniel Wells at the Salt Lake Endowment House.   
Johanna Olausdatter  Johansson

Their first child Johanna Augusta Bluth was born Sep. 4, 1880 in Brigham City, Utah.  They moved from Brigham City to Ogden, Utah shortly after her birth.  Five months later this child died, 25 February 1881 and is buried in Ogden City Cemetery.  Their 2nd child, Rosia Elvera Bluth was born 6 December 1881 in Ogden and died 25 September 1882.  She also is buried in Ogden City Cemetery. 

While living in Ogden they had 4 more children:  Rosemilda Ranghilda (known as Hilda), Oscar Emanuel (our grandfather), Jared William and Carl Emil – all who lived. 

When his first son, Fredrick Zacharias, was 19 years old, he obtained employment in an Ogden co-op store.  While he was delivering goods in a wagon the horse ran away.  Fred fell from the wagon and was dragged to his death on 12 June 1998.  He was buried in the Ogden City cemetery.    His death was almost more than August could bear!

While living in Ogden he resided on the west side of Jefferson Ave. between 25th and 26th Streets.  Also above Washington Ave. known as Five Points.  He labored away from home much of the time in an effort to support his family.  He even went as far as Evanston, Wyoming. 

He was diligent in his church work and a firm believer in all the gospel principles.  He accepted the principle of Plural Marriage, commonly known as Polygamy, which was practiced at that time.  Because he was a faithful, obedient man, he was asked by Church leaders to take additional wives to care for, and he married two more women:  Sophia Anderson, 14 Aug 1887, and Hulda Josephine Ossmen, 8 June 1888, each in the Logan Temple..

Persecuted and Driven to Mexico

Bitter feelings were brought against the Church and the people who accepted this principle.  The US government joined the fight which resulted in the persecution and imprisonment of devout believers.  Many others went into hiding. 

The state of affairs induced the prophet, John Taylor, and George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency of the Church to obtain “a place of refuge under foreign government to which these people could go.”  In 1885 President Diaz of Mexico informed the Mormon Apostles that the Mormons were welcome as colonists and that the government was anxious to have them help in the development of the country, should they find suitable locations in the State of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. 

By 1886, after many expeditions, large tracts of land were obtained in the north western part of Chihuahua along the Casas Grandes River.  Colonia Dublan, the largest of the colonies in Mexico, but not the first, could be said to have had its beginnings in the later part of 1888.  George M. Brown, whose home was at Provo, Utah, negotiated with a German-Mexican by the name of Lewis Huller for 73,000 acres of land in the Casas Grandes Valley about 6 miles down the river from the Mexican settlement of Casas Grandes. 

Colonia Dublan is located approximately 150 miles south of Deming, New Mexico, and nearly 170 miles from El Paso, Texas.  At the time of its founding, the nearest railroad point was Gallego, 110 miles away.  To make the trip there and return by team and wagon required 8 days.  Since a large percentage of the merchandise consumed must be imported from the United States, the task of supplying the Colonists was not an easy one.  By 1897 a railroad was built to a point 12 miles beyond Colonia Dublan. 

The first dwellings were tents and wagon boxes.  Later adobe houses with mud roofs.  The house furnishings generally were scant of rude quality, the chairs usually boxes or homemade benches.  The food was course.  Most of the people on arrival were in poverty.  Few of these could understand the language.  As a result, misunderstandings were frequent.  But the greatest handicap of all was the galling grind of poverty.  The majority of the immigrants’ substances having been depleted during the previous years of persecution.  To add to their financial strain were the duties that must be paid in passing over the boundary line.  But worst of all was the seizure of personal effects because the owners could not pay the duties. 

The people at first were hired out as mechanics or farm labor.  Wage earners were poorly paid.  In 1892 the highest wages 53 ½ cents to 18 ¼ cents the lowest per day.  Some were more fortunate to work for the railroad or in the mines for $1.50 per day.  These were the conditions in Mexico when August decided to leave Utah. 

They left Ogden May 15, 1889, going by train to Deming, New Mexico.  While in Deming, diphtheria broke out and four of his children contacted the illness.  His little son Jared William died, June 1, 1889 and was buried there. 

From here the family with its remaining 3 children traveled by team and wagon to Colonia Dublan, arriving there June 24, 1889.  Dublan was a barren flat with only four Mormon families living there:  the Carltons, Whipples, Fosters and Lakes.

He made his families as comfortable as possible.  They lived in a tent with a willow shed built in front for another room (a bowery).  Because of the bad weather and extreme hardships August developed bronchitis and was very ill.

A bed was made on the floor of the tent for Hilda Josephine when she gave birth to a baby, Ellen Josephine, born 5 March 1890.

They had severe pioneer struggles with privations common to dwellers on the frontier.  It required patience and much faith.  They met with many adverse conditions of the natives that lived in the land.  The most prevalent ones were small pox and malaria.  Food was very scarce. 

Over time August made adobes of mud mixed with straw.  When they were dry, he built them a 2-room adobe house.  Many of the houses were built with a flat roof, but he built his with a steep roof style.  It was quite a nice looking house when it was finished.

In September 1893 Hulda, August's last wife, gave birth to a son, Earl Lawrence, but Hulda died from childbirth.  Johanna, his 3rd wife, cared for the child, but the baby died in a few weeks.  Once again the grief-stricken August made the coffins and buried his precious family members.

His wife, Sophia, and her son Fred had come from Ogden into Mexico with Albert and Sarah Farnsworth.  Sophia gave birth to a son, Oliver Ferdinand, on 23 March 1893 (5?).  The family called her "Aunt Sophie", and she was greatly loved.  She worked hard to help support the family, and with August worked at the Corralitos Ranch.  Our Grandpa, Oscar Bluth, loved Aunt Sophie, and remembered that his first pair of shoes were a gift from her.

Later August helped build the Jackson flour mill near Old Casas Grandes.  August walked to work many miles to work Monday morning, staying at  the worksite until Saturday evening, then walk home again.  His salary was 50 centavos per day.

August was able to apply his trade of carpentry., building many of the big brick homes in Colonia Dublan.  Some of the homes he built were the Lewis Cardon home, the Rueben Farnsworth home and the Mike Larson home.  He also helped build the Relief Society building and the Mexican Branch church.  He made all the coffins and lined them for the people that were buried in the Colonies. 
Claudius Bowman Home

August planted an orchard.  He had an apiary of many bees and sold a lot of honey.  He even raised cotton.  Each year he had a nice garden.  When the water became scarce, he and his family carried water from a well to keep the trees alive.  Finally he was able to purchase a windmill and he built the tower of lumber himself, thus giving them a better supply of water.

Mexican Revolution - Driven out of Mexico

The pioneers had barely placed their feet upon Mexican soil, when attempts were made by local Mexican officials of the State of Chihuahua to have the Colonists driven out.  If it had not been for the strong arm of the federal government, the colonies would have been short lived.  During the years there likely was no more friction between them than can usually be found in any country where there is an intermingling of races whose ideals, traditions, and habits were so radically different as were theirs. 

After August had lived in Mexico some 20 years, work for carpenters was not too plentiful.  He was about 60 years old at the time and had a desire to return to the United States.  His daughter Hilda and her husband, Heber Farr, were then living in Tucson, Arizona.  They had interested him in a corporation of farms, on which he could do carpenter work. 

In March of 1910, due to the Mexican Revolution, he took his wife Johanna and the children, Oliver and Ellen, and went to Tucson.  He left his son, Oscar, to run the 20-acre farm in Colonia Dublan.  Sophia and Fred also stayed in Mexico.  His brother-in-law, Heber Farr, had purchased several hundred acres of land, and together they formed a company.  They lived in the Rillito Ranch (later named Binghamton).  The corporation went broke and the land was then divided among the stock holders.  Each received 20 acres of land.  This he farmed for a while and also did carpentry work. 
August Christian Fredrick Bluth

The revolution had broken out against the government and the American Colonies.  Rebels occupied their towns.  The Revolution started by Francisco I. Madero against President Diaz’s regime of Mexico.  It was the signal for uprisings.  In the course of a few months bands of rebels were terrorizing the inhabitants and ravaging the country.  The Revolutionary leaders had little difficulty in securing a following.  He promised his men a substantial living and a few acres of land at the close of the war. 

The followers of Madero could scarcely be called an army.  They were little more than a mob.  Many were without uniforms and some of them were Indians from the mountains - - a spectacle to behold with their straight black hair streaming wildly down their backs and no clothing, save a cloth girdle about the loins. 

Madero’s promised reforms did not materialize as speedily as were expected.  This gave rise to a general spirit of discontent.  In the north many rallied to the standard of revolt raised by Pascual Orosco. 

During the Madero Revolution the colonies were promised that they would not be molested if they remained neutral.  However, the promise was not kept.  Their homes and stores were looted.  At first it was money and supplies they wanted.  Then the demands made of them were unreasonable.  In the name of their General they demanded guns, horses, saddles and food.  In February 1912 there were six principal colonies in Chihuahua and one in Sonora.  At that time the Mormon settlers numbered about 4,000 people.  They are generally thought to be the well-to-do people in the church, possessing large tracts of land.  Their farms improved and stocked with cattle and machinery.  An irrigation and canal system had been completed.  A Church Stake House, office building and schools had been built with the colonists’ own contributions. 

Conditions grew worse and the rebel raids were more frequent.  Pancho Villa of Chihuahua, one of the most ruthless rebel leaders, had taken matters into his own hands.  He declared vengeance on all Americans.  The dislike for America was not their religion, but economical and racial differences, and if anyone objected to his demands it could result in the loss of their life. 

In July of 1912 the rebels demanded all the Colonists’ guns and ammunition.  A meeting was held and the people thought it best to comply with the order, as the town was filled with rebels.  The LDS people delivered to the school house all the guns and ammunition that they could not hide.  It was also decided to send the women and children to El Paso, Texas by train.  It was a difficult and terrible time, with much suffering, loss of possessions, and the women and children stayed in a lumber yard in El Paso, using blankets to separate spaces to sleep.  The people of El Paso helped as much as they were able.  Many never returned to Mexico.  

The persistent rumors among the Mexican people of intervention by the U. S. Government aroused the natives to such a pitch of anger that Americans, other than the colonists, left in large numbers.  The colonists felt that conditions were not serious enough to justify returning to the U.S.  Pilfering and destruction was everywhere.  The revolution affected other members of the family who remained in Mexico.

While August was away from Mexico he received word that his stepson, Axel Fredrick, had drowned on 5 August 1911.  While crossing the Casas Grandes River Fred's horse had stepped into deep water.  Fred's body was not found until a week later. 

In October of 1916, August’s daughter Ellen decided to be married in the Salt Lake Temple in Utah.  August and his wife, Johanna, accompanied them.  His return to Utah was a joyous occasion.  He enjoyed visits with relatives in Salt Lake City and his brother, John and family in Ogden, Utah. 

Miracle of Returning to Mexico

About 19 June 1918, he sold his property in Tucson to return to Colonia Dublan.  When he arrived at the border at El Paso, Texas, he learned it was impossible to obtain a passport because of the revolution.  Not having much money and his wife being ill, and he being 76 years old, he was next to desperate to get back to his home.  With the aid of a 12 year old American boy, a brother to his daughter-in-law, they were able to miraculously cross the border. 

The boy worked around the bridge that crossed the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  He told August not to bring any luggage and to come to the bridge at the same time that the street car arrived at the bridge.  The boy watched when the American officials entered the street car for inspection.  Then he gave August and his wife a signal to run across the bridge when the inspectors were not looking.  They felt the Lord blessed them to cross that bridge without being seen or shot.  It is quite a long bridge. 

When on the Mexican side, they were met by their son, Carl Emil.  With his Mexican papers he accompanied his parents to the Mexican officials.  They asked to cross into the United States. Their request was refused.  They were informed to return to their home town.  This was what they wanted them to say, so they could return to their home in Colonia Dublan.   

From the proceeds of selling his farm August built a nice small brick home across the street from Bishop Anson B. Call's home, where they lived for several years.  His grandchildren loved to visit him!  He raised fruit and kept bees, selling hone and honeycomb to the townspeople.  He enjoyed making doll furniture for his grandchildren. 

Their health became so poor that they sold this home and moved near their daughter Ellen, where she could care for them.  She was a dutiful daughter, and no one could have done more for their aged parents than she did. 

August suffered for years with gall bladder trouble.  He had an operation from which he survived for a short time.  He died March 25, 1930, in his 89th year.  When he died he was survived by two wives, five children, 39 grandchildren, 70 great grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren.  He had seen many of his family die during his lifetime, yet he faithfully carried on, burying his sorrows and losses with his knowledge in the Plan of Salvation and eternal families and true to his membership in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

1.        Belnap, Della A.          Our Bluth Family, 1570-1975

2.       Griggs, Thomas.           Journal of Thomas Griggs, June 28, 1876, Church Archives, Salt Lake City, UT

3.       Haight, Hector C.         Millenial Star XVII, (1856)

4.       Jensen, Andrew          History of the Scandinavian Mission, 219-220, (Salt Lake City, Deseret News Press, 1927)

5.       Wengreen, A Dean    History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Sweden 1859-1905.  PhD dissertation to the Department of Graduate Studies in Religious Instruction (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1968)

6.       Whitlock, Lynda  

7.      Hatch, Nelle Spisbury   Stalwarts South of the Border, Pg 51 (submitted by Ellen Josephine Bluth Jones, daughter) 


No comments:

Post a Comment