Monday, June 30, 2008

Ola Larson: Conversion and Mobs (Part 1)

[Editors note. this is based almost entirely on a journal written by Ola Larson himself. I find it remarkable that he wrote so well since English was not his first language.]

In the spring of 1874 Ola Larson and his family left Sweden for New Zealand. There trip was largely eventless except for the birth of a daughter in Spetember some of the coast of Africa. They arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand on the 25th of October that same year and were subsequently shipped to Akaroa, and finally finding work and a home in Little Akaloa. Ola and his family learned English and moved again to Christchurch.

In the fall I left there and went out in the country to make more money following a threshing machine. Work was very hard but we made about $5 per day. This is where I first got acquainted with the Mormons or Latter Day Saints. There were several of them working with the machine. But I was not yet ready to receive the Gospel. One of the men that presented it to me had been an immoral character. I know him from [illegible] and could not receive his doctrine.
Ola changed jobs again, finding employment at a large estate. After working there two years, he goes on

I was greatly favored by the gentleman and his family, and I had a great many friends but this is the time I received the Gospel. I got acquainted with a missionary by the name of Thomas A. Shrives from Salt Lake City, Utah. … I was converted to be baptized and on the 6th day of October 1878, I, together with my wife and daughter Elida, was baptized by Elder P. J. Norstrand and was confirmed two days later by Elder Shrives. Elder Shrives at that time was the only missionary in New Zealand.
I at once opened my house for missionaries and for to hold meetings in. We rejoiced exceedingly in the Gospel and had great many manifestations of healing of the sick and dreams and visions shortly after Elders E. F. Pearce and George Batt, missionaries from Utah, arrived, and a great many people received the Gospel. The Christchurch branch soon numbered 120 souls. We engaged the Oddfellows hall for our meetings on the fifth of Jan 1879. I was ordained a priest, and one month later ordained elder and a short time after I was set apart as first counselor to the president of the branch, Elder P. J. Nordstrand. And shortly after that was appointed secretary of the whole missions, still continuing as counselor to Brother Nordstrand.
Then Ola related his first instance of persecution.
We were mobbed one evening at our hall in Christchurch and I at the time was doorkeeper. One man turned out the lights on us in the hall and I saw him doing so. So I called a policeman and arrested the man and that caused the mob. I was at the time living 3 miles out of town in a place called Papanui and a great many of the mob knew that I was living there, so when the meeting was over an immense crowd was awaiting outside the hall. They tried to get hold of me because I arrested that man, but after some difficulty I got away together with my daughter Elida. But the saints followed us and after came an immense mob that the police estimated to be about 1,500. Before we got out of town the greater portion turned back, and about 300followed us home. I took my family to the house and returned to a crossing of the road, a few hundred feet from the house, and waited until the [mob] came up so they could see me and then took another road to mislead the mob, but it seems that they would not follow me. I ran home another way, and arrived at the house before the mob came. I blew out the lamps, arranged for my family and the saints to go into the back part of the house so if they broke the windows they should not be hurt. At this time nearly all the saints in the branch had arrived. Not knowing what the mob intended to do, some of the saints were very much frightened and some of them a little hurt in trying to keep back the mob so we could get out of their way. After having arranged for my family and the saints in the house, I went into the hallway of the house with the intention to give myself up to the mob if they would save those in the house. I offered up a short and very sincere prayer in words similar to this: "O Lord save my family and those in the house. I am willing to give myself up to the mob and if necessary offer up my life to them if thou will save those who are inside." I put my hand on the key and opened the door and intended to ask the mob if they would allow me to speak to them from the veranda. At that time they were all standing against the fence facing the house, there being a small lawn between the house and the fence. At the same moment as I opened the door a wagon load of armed police drove up in front of the house, arrived from town, and the mob was scattered in a few minutes. Only about 20 or 25 were left and upon inquiring we found these to be our friends. They all had big sticks in their hands and pieces of lumber and all kinds of weapons whereby they had kept the mob back, else they supposed that some of us would have been killed. These men came into the house together with the police and they took these men as witnesses and made lots of inquiries. Next day I had to go to court and I found out that the man I had arrested proved to be a Methodist minister. He was finally dismissed and the head of the police promised us that he would protect us even if he should call out the military of soldiers to protect us. I will here state that afterwards nearly all the men there who had protected us from the mob embraced the Gospel.
More to come...

1 comment:

Gavin D Thompson said...

Bruce, Please contact be re this family

Gavin D Thompson, Tasmania Australia