Johanna Christina Pahlsson Cook

A Short History by Wendy Bentley

(From Carl Cook’s journal as well as an account of her life written by her granddaughter, Eva Covey Madsen - published in the Phineas Wolcott Cook Newsletter - April 1999. The dates were added from LDS Church and Swedish official records.)

Johanna Christina Pahlsson† Cook was born August 8, 1945 in Malmo, Sweden. Her mother’s family was of the landed gentry of Sweden and her father worked as a coachman on their estate. When they married, Johanna’s mother was disinherited and after a short time her husband left her. Johanna, as a child was placed in a government nursery while her mother worked to support the two of them. As a teenager, Johanna was employed in different households tending children. She fell in love with, and became engaged to, a young man named Carl who was a fireman on one of the first railroads in Sweden. There was a serious accident and Carl was seriously injured. Before he died he asked his friend, Jim Jensen, to take care of Johanna.

Two years later Johanna and Jim married. In 1871 they accepted the gospel and were baptized. The next year Telka, was born followed by Hilma in 1874. Before the birth of Alvira, in 1875 Jim sold much of what the family had to finance a trip to Zion promising to return for his wife and girls when he was settled. Johanna received one or two letters from him and then there was silence. She never knew if he had died or just deserted them.

Johanna took in washing and mending to provide for her little family; and constantly prayed for a way to be opened for her to come to Zion. One day she received a letter from an old friend telling her that a Brother Cook had offered to loan money to bring members of the Church from Europe to Zion. Things were arranged and Johanna, Hilma and Alvira arrived in New York on July 10, 1878. Eight days later they arrived in Salt Lake by train and shortly thereafter traveled on to Swan Creek to work for Phineas Cook.

September 13th, just two months after arriving the debt was forgiven and Johanna and Phineas were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Seven children were born to this union: Carl in 1879, Moses in 1880, Kib in 1882, the twins Emer and Omer in 1884, Parley in 1886 and Idalia in 1889. Shortly after Idalia’s birth Phineas, who was now 70 years old, moved the family to Afton in Star Valley, Wyoming where he died eleven years later. After his passing Johanna lived another 29 years, served faithfully in the Stake Relief Society and was affectionately known throughout the valley as “Grandma Cook”. Her testimony of prayer and the restored gospel were unshakable and she left a legacy of faith to her numerous posterity.

† The spelling of Paulsson is subjective. Various records spell it differently: Polson, Palson, Poulsen, Paulsson. Her granddaughter Eva Madsen and her eldest child, both used Polson. Family Search RIN KWJF-KM8 uses Pahlsson. Her fathers name was spelled Pahl Jonsson.