Ola Pearson was born Ola Pehrsson in 1818 in Hörby, in the south of Sweden.

Ola Pearson

He married Sissa Jonson Bengtsson in 1847 and the couple moved a few miles to Östra Espinge, now called Aspinge.

Sissa Jonson Bengtsson Pearson

Most of the land at that time was owned by the nobility, who rented it out to the poorer people. Ola was a tenant farmer, and paid his rent by laboring two days per week for his landlord, haying, herding animals and making liquor. Their first child, Ola Jr, was born in 1847. In total they had ten children in Aspinge, including two sets of twins. Only five survived to adulthood. 

The family, along with Sissa’s mother and sisters, were baptized as Latter-day Saints between 1855 and 1857 and began saving to emigrate. Anna, Sissa’s sister, moved south to Copenhagen (Denmark) to work in a textile factory. Sissa’s mother Elsa and sister Bengta (Betsy) were the first to emigrate, sailing on the William Tapscott in 1859 and crossing the plains in the George Rowley Handcart Company. They settled in South Cottonwood. 

Anna travelled next, along with two of Ola and Sissa’s children, sailing from Hamburg on the Electric in 1862. Four-year-old Anders died on board of measles. A year later, Ola was able to borrow enough from a wealthy neighbor to pay for himself, Sissa, and their remaining four children – Ola Jr, Niles (Nils), Eleanor and Elsie(Elize) – to sail on the John J. Boyd. Sissa served as midwife on board ship, a duty that she continued until the end of her days. She was almost left behind crossing the plains, being too sick to walk and insisting that she not overload the wagons. But when the pioneers realized, they sent back a wagon for her. 

They were reunited with the rest of the family in South Cottonwood and their first work was stripping sugar cane. Ola Jr went to work for Duncan Casper: in return for a year’s work, he was to receive clothes and a two-year old heifer. Niles went to work for Duncan’s brother William Casper in return for a two-year old heifer and six head of sheep. Niles moved to Peoa with the Caspers, arriving on 29 January 1864, lodging with Charles and Mary Casper Shippen at the mouth of Brown’s Canyon.

In the spring, Ola Jr received a wild heifer and her calf in payment for his work. Mr Nielson, the neighbor who had paid for their passage, offered to cancel the family’s debt of about $110.00 for the cow and her calf delivered in Sanpete County, a distance of 120 miles, and so Ola and Sissa walked to Sanpete County leading a cow with a young calf, taking with them a single quilt to protect them from storms and the cold.

Debts paid, the entire Pearson family moved to Peoa in October 1864. Ola rented land across from the Peoa Cemetery, which had been homesteaded by Levi Ritter. Their youngest child was born there in 1866 and they named him Levi, after their landlord. Sissa was unable to nurse him properly but the neighbors solved the problem by serving as wet nurse.

Eventually they were able to buy land of their own, and built a home from local sandstone. It was unusual in that the stones were placed vertically rather than horizontally, giving it a resemblance to a Scandinavian longhouse.

Reconstructed Viking longhouse in Ale, Sweden

It would have required careful balancing but needed fewer stones. 

The Pearson House

Sissa’s mother Elsa lived with her daughter until her death in 1873. In July 1875 while mowing hay, Ole Jr. went to get a drink of water from the spring. After some time he was missed by his father and brother Niles, who went to investigate and found Ole Jr. lifeless in the spring. 

Ola died in 1899 aged 81 and Sissa in 1910, aged 89. They are both buried in Peoa.

Their remaining children all remained in Peoa. Niles married Rebecca Avarilla Casper, daughter of Duncan Casper.  Eleanor married Hyrum Smith Wright and Elsie Cyrus Simpson Walker. Anna, who was named after the aunt with whom she emigrated, in 1862, married Franklin William Marchant, and Levi, the only Pearson child born in Utah, married Ann Maxell. In total Ola and Sissa had 38 grandchildren. 

The Pearson family

The Pearson house stood at 5880 N State Road 32 until the 1950s.