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Mrs. and Elder Westrup, Shanghai, 1907. 

From Adventism in China Digital Image Repository, www.adventisminchina.org.

Westrup, John Johansson (1863–1945), and Hulda Josephine (unknown–1942)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: February 24, 2022

John Westrup ministered to Scandinavian communities in America prior to mission service in Henan Province, China, 1905 through 1914.

Early Years

In accordance with Swedish custom, John Westrup’s birth was recorded as Johan Johansson Englesson, meaning Johan, son of Johan, grandson of Engle. He was born on March 20, 1863, in Lilla Harrie, southern Sweden. His siblings were: Jöns (b.1857, d.1864), Gertrud (b.1858), Anders (b.1860), Jöns (b.1867), and Kjersti (b.1871).1

In May 1881 Johan emigrated to America aboard the “City of Paris” from Malmö, Sweden. He settled among the Swedish community in Minnesota and attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary. On August 31, 1896, he married a Swedish immigrant named Hulda Josephina Westrup in the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at Hennepin, Minnesota. The marriage certificate records the fact that he had Anglicised his name to John Johnson. At his marriage he adopted Hulda’s surname as his own.2 They visited their homeland and returned to America in 1899. Onboard their ship was a Norwegian Seventh-day Adventist named Christopher Castberg who studied the Scriptures with them, culminating in their baptism soon after disembarking.3

Church Career

The 1900 United States Census lists John and Hulda at New Sweden in the extreme north of Maine where John was serving as the local minister.4 The following year he transferred west to the California Conference to minister at Fruitvale.5 He was ordained and appointed to go north to evangelize Scandinavian settlements at Cedarhome, Washington,6 and Montavilla, Riverside, and Portland, Oregon.7

Toward the end of 1903, John decided to support himself in ministry. In the winter of 1903-1904, he taught at the Royal church school in the vicinity of the Silk Creek Church and the village of Cottage Grove, Oregon. There were nineteen students aged between eight and twenty at the school. In the summer he found manual work.8

In 1905 John was appointed to mission work in China. Prior to embarkation he and Hulda visited all their Scandinavian friends in Oregon and Washington to say their farewells.9 They sailed with son Joseph from Seattle on July 20, 1905; their transportation costs were paid for by a Scandinavian church member.10

After the mandatory eighteen months language study, John and Hulda were assigned the Shang-tsai Mission Station in Honan Province (now Henan). John preached in the evangelistic meetings. During Sabbath School he instructed the men and Hulda conducted a class for the women.11 Later they transferred to a station at Hsiao Iao, Honan. He noted that prior to baptism Chinese women unbound their feet. This major decision invariably brought scorn and persecution to them.12

By 1910 Hulda’s health had deteriorated so an extended furlough was taken. The shortest route to Norway was via Siberia. They traveled on the Chinese railway to Mukden, then the Japanese line to Changchun in order to join up with the Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow. John spoke through an interpreter at some church meetings in Moscow and then the family traveled on to St Petersburg, Helsinki, and finally to his relatives in Norway. None of their kin were Seventh-day Adventists; so, after visiting for several weeks, they retired to the fellowship of church members at the Swedish Missionary School at Nyhyttan, Sweden.13 They concluded their furlough by spending further weeks with their kin before returning to California.

Hulda remained in California, ostensibly for twelve months in order for son Joseph to settle into academy studies. John departed for China alone on October 17, 1911.14 He was appointed director of the East China Mission with headquarters in Shanghai.15 Later he transferred to the familiar Honan Province as director.16 During this time he built the intermediate school to cater for students from Honan.17 At times he spoke of his loneliness, Hulda remaining in California longer than planned.18 He completed a three-year term of service and then returned to California.19

Sadly, the separation of John and Hulda proved to be permanent. John tried to minister as a single man, first in Portland, Oregon, among the Scandinavian members,20 and briefly in Nevada, Iowa,21 and at the Paradise Valley Sanitarium, California, until 1917.22

Last Years

John obtained divorce papers and married Christine Anderson of Swedish heritage on August 15, 1919.23 He made a brief return to the ministry, in the Los Angeles area,24 but then entered private commercial work. He retired to Hanford, California, where he passed away on March 5, 1945.25 Hulda predeceased him on May 20, 1942, and was interred in the Elsinore Valley Cemetery, California, after a Seventh-day Adventist funeral service.26 Christine also predeceased him on April 10, 1944, and was laid to rest in the Grangeville Cemetery at Armona, California.27 John was interred in the same cemetery as Christine, his headstone bearing the misnomer “John W. Westrup.”28

Sources

“California Conference Laborers.” Pacific Union Recorder, August 15, 1901.

“China.” Asiatic Division Mission News, September 1, 1913.

“Christine Westrup.” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/166228425/christine-westrup.

“Elder and Mrs. J.J. Westrup…” ARH, July 20, 1905.

“Elder J.J. Westrup left California…” ARH, October 19, 1911.

“Hulda Josephine Westrup.” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16596562/hulda-josephine-westrup.

“Johan Johansson Englesson.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://wwww.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/KFN1-QBR.

“John J. Westrup.” Pacific Union Recorder, June 27, 1945.

“John W. Westrup.” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/166228557/john-w-westrup.

“Notes.” Asiatic Division Mission News, April 1, 1914.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904-1920.

Westrup, John J. “China.” ARH, October 24, 1907.

Westrup, J[ohn] J. “From China to Sweden.” ARH, January 5, 1911.

Westrup, John J. “Honan, China.” ARH, February 11, 1909.

Westrup, J[ohn] J. “Honan, China.” ARH, May 15, 1913.

Westrup, John J. “Portland, Oregon.” Pacific Union Recorder, September 11, 1902.

Westrup, John J. “The Everlasting Gospel to All Nations.” Pacific Union Recorder, January 14, 1904.

Westrup, John J. “Western Oregon.” Pacific Union Recorder, April 27, 1905.

Wollekar, H.C.J., and J[ohn] J. Westrup. “Cedarhome, Wash.” Pacific Union Recorder, December 5, 1901.

Notes

  1. “Johan Johansson Englesson,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 14, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/KFN1-QBR.

  2. Ibid.

  3. “John J. Westrup,” Pacific Union Recorder, June 27, 1945, 13.

  4. “Johan Johansson Englesson,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 14, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/KFN1-QBR.

  5. “California Conference Laborers,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 15, 1901, 6.

  6. H.C.J. Wollekar and J[ohn] J. Westrup, “Cedarhome, Wash.,” Pacific Union Recorder, December 5, 1901, 4.

  7. John J. Westrup, “Portland, Oregon,” Pacific Union Recorder, September 11, 1902, 5-6.

  8. John J. Westrup, “The Everlasting Gospel to All Nations,” Pacific Union Recorder, January 14, 1904, 10-11.

  9. John J. Westrup, “Western Oregon,” Pacific Union Recorder, April 27, 1905, 5-6.

  10. “Elder and Mrs. J.J. Westrup…” ARH, July 20, 1905, 24.

  11. John J. Westrup, “China,” ARH, October 24, 1907, 12-13.

  12. John J. Westrup, “Honan, China,” ARH, February 11, 1909, 14.

  13. John J. Westrup, “From China to Sweden,” ARH, January 5, 1911, 10-11.

  14. “Elder J.J. Westrup left California…” ARH, October 19, 1911, 24.

  15. “East China Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1912), 148.

  16. “Central China Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1913), 142.

  17. “China,” Asiatic Division Mission News, September 1, 1913, 7.

  18. John J. Westrup, “Honan, China,” ARH, May 15, 1913, 464-465.

  19. “Notes,” Asiatic Division Mission News, April 1, 1914, 4.

  20. “Ministerial Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1915), 238.

  21. “Iowa Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1916), 54-55.

  22. “Ministerial Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1917), 286.

  23. “Johan Johansson Engelsson,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 14, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/KFN1-QBR.

  24. “Ministerial Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 348.

  25. “John J. Westrup,” Pacific Union Recorder, June 27, 1945, 13.

  26. “Hulda Josephine Westrup,” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021, accessed September 9, 2021, https://www,findagrave.com/memorial/16596562/hulda-josephine-westrup.

  27. “Christine Westrup,” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021, accessed September 14, 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/166228425/christine-westrup.

  28. “John W. Westrup,” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021, accessed September 14, 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/166228557/john-w-westrup.

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Hook, Milton. "Westrup, John Johansson (1863–1945), and Hulda Josephine (unknown–1942)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 24, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3JEM.

Hook, Milton. "Westrup, John Johansson (1863–1945), and Hulda Josephine (unknown–1942)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 24, 2022. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3JEM.

Hook, Milton (2022, February 24). Westrup, John Johansson (1863–1945), and Hulda Josephine (unknown–1942). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3JEM.