Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 5 July – 31 July 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 5 July – 31 July 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 14, 2013

(Previous installment)

Mon. July 5.

As it was dark when the boat came in the night before, we missed seeing two missionaries on their way to New Zealand. Bros Mack Roundy of Provo & J. Milton Olson of Emery Utah. However they came to the house the next morning and spent the day with us. After dinner we went with them to the wharf to see them off.

Tues. July 6.

We received in this mail our first issue of the mission paper since it had been stopped by the governor, and after taking it to the officials to have it inspected we prepared them for mailing.

Wed. July 7.

After breakfast Mr. Rossiter and I went shopping preparatory to his leaving on Saturday for a four months stay in the Tuamota Islands. There being no other food on these islands than fish and cocoanuts, we bought a supply of rice, beans, potatoes, sugar, milk & jam. Food can be bought on these islands from little trading vessels that call, but they ask such high prices for their goods which are of an inferior quality that it is better for one to take a supply of food for himself to break the monotony of eating the native foods.

Thurs. July 8.

It rained hard all day and no one came to my classes.

Fri. July 9.

Another rainy dark day. A native boy broke one of our chicken’s legs with his flipper, so we had to kill it and had boiled chicken and dumplings for dinner in consequence. In the evening Bro. Davis & I called to see Dr. Camp[b]ell and his wife. Had a very pleasant time with them. Mrs. Cam[p]bell remarked that the Mormon elders a[c]quired the language much quicker than any other people who came here, and said that she knew they must get help from a higher power or they would never be able to do it.

Mon. July 12.

A native man came to the house, saying that he was from Tubuoi and that he owed Bro Fullmer, the former mission president, three dollars, so Bro Davis looked on the books but could find no account of it. Then they had along discussion on baptism during which he appeared to be rational, so we asked him why he didnt come to church and he said he would if he could get a Mormon wife. Then he suddenly turned off into a demented line of talk about women so Bro Davis and Tahire (who had come in meanwhile) would not talk to him any longer & he soon left. However he returned again in a few hours, all dressed in new clothes saying that he had come to see about getting a wife and intimated that he wanted me. I was terrified and left the room, but came back in a few minutes to tell Bro. Davis that if he wasnt frightened to be alone, I would go over to one of the neighbors and stay until he had left. Bro. Davis told him that I was married and not to come around any more. So after asking a lot of questions about me that Bro Davis did not answer he left.

Tues. July 13.

Washday. Petro a young boy who had just moved into the neighborhood had never seen a washing machine and was naturally very enthusiastic about helping a wash so he turned one washer through, but his enthusiasm soon died out, for when he saw us refilling it he made a hasty retreat for home.

Wed. July 14.

This is the French national holiday, but on account of the war the annual celebration was very quiet this year. A short band concert, reception at the gove[r]nors, and a cannon salute constituted the days programm. Pupure a young boy the [from] Hikueru was at the house most of the day. The man from Tubuoi came again and Bro Davis wouldn’t shake hands with him and told him not to come again whereat he became angry and said that he would kill him or any other Mormon or American that ever came to Tubuoi for he said that he was king of the Island and didn’t want them there. Soon after he left a Mr. Brown from the States came to borrow some money on a note. Mr Rossiter being away we didnt have any authority to do it. This Mr. Brown came here in May on the same boat with Mr & Mrs. Howells who introduced him to us and told him to come to see us whenever he got lonesome. This he did however only when he was out of money and wanted [to] get some. He is a refined and highly educated man, but a perfect slave to liquor and had been put on the boat a[t] Fri[s]co while he was drunk and shipped to Tahiti by the company he worked for, who send him an allowance every month, the chief part of which goes for whiskey. He is only sober when he is out of money and it is at that time he comes to see us. Mr. Rossiter has labored hard with him to help him break the habit, and has felt quite encouraged about him at times, but of late he has been worse than ever. He wants to go back to the states but cannot hold on to his money until boat time, and wanted to borrow the amount from us, or have us arrange for his passage. In the late afternoon Bro. Davis, Terai and I went for a walk and bought10c worth of candy for our celebration treat and sat on a bench down by the sea to eat it while we watched some schooners come into the harbor. Soon after we arrived home some strange women and a boy came and asked to stay over night with us. Bro Bro [sic] Davis told them no, for we were afraid to have them sleep in our be[d]s for everyone is diseased here, and most of the people have nasty sores on them and we didn’t want to take a risk with a stranger. However he offered to find her a place to stay, but she declined his offer and got in her buggy and drove off.

Thurs. July 15.

Ironed and conducted the weekly singing and sewing classes.

Fri. July 16.

Bro Davis went to ask Tahuhu one of our members from Tubuoi about the man who had been coming to our house and found that he had just been released from prison and the insane asylum where he had been the past two years, for trying to kill a Chinaman by sawing his head off. His wife had died during his imprisonment. We also learned that he had one time been a Mormon, but had later become a corrupt man and joined the Protestants.

Sat. July 17.

Regular routine of work. I might note here that oranges are so plentiful now that we can buy a large basket containing from three to four dozen for five cents.

Sun. July 18.

Sunday in this land is a regular holiday and the streets are always filled with drunken people men and women, young and old alike. To-day a middle aged couple passed the house neither of them hardly able to walk and the man carried a large bottle of whiskey in his belt. Coming to some women who sat smoking by the side of the road, she asked them for their half burned cigarettes and went on, making a disturbance as she went. A prize fight is being held in the theatre this afternoon. And autos filled with drunken young boys & girls go racing through the streets singing and shouting every Sunday until along towards morning. We held our usual Sunday Ser[vi]ces with avery small attendance. Two at S.S. and five at the afternoon meeting. Went for a walk in the evening with Bro. Davis Terai & Hamau a young Josephite girl.

Mon. July 19.

Spent the day sewing and studying. In the late afternoon a vessel arrived from Tubuoi bringing in several saints who brought us some taro and a chicken, and a basket of popoi (sour poi)

Tues. July 20.

Spent the day studying and writing letters.

Wed. July 21.

Studied most of [the] day. Held our singing class in the evening. Terai was the only one present. We gave her a large bowl of popoi, which is in reality a fermented preparation of taro & cocoanut milk, and half of the taro brought from Tubuoi.

Thurs. July 22.

Did not hold regular classes as some of the people were sick with a skin disease something like chicken pox. Commenced to make a dress for myself. In the evening I had a long talk with Tipo, one of our girl members who is living rather a wild life. At first she tried to laugh me off but she finally listened to what I told her and promised to try and do better.

Fri. July 23.

Studied & sewed. Bro Davis & I showed the men from Tubuoi through the house. They were particul[ar]ly interested and amazed at our bath-room, especially the shower bath. One of them gave us a franc to buy ice cream with.

Sat. July 24.

Cleaning day again. I also finished my dress and bleached my panama with lime juice and reblocked it making it look a[s] good as new. Took some hot ginger tea over to Toraki

Sun. July 25.

Were very happy to have an increase of 18 people at our Sunday School. Most of them from Tubuoi, some of them however were Papeete people who had never been to church since we arrived here. After church we walked home with Kuhi from Hau, who was staying with some friends out in the suberbs of Papeete. It was a long dusty walk and we were well tired when we returned to the house a little after dark.

Mon. July 26.

I have been troubled of late with my throat, small growths resembling a cluster of red currants have grown on both sides of my throat until the passage is only about one half of its natural size. Sometimes it is a little sore, but most of the time i[t] gives me little or no trouble.

Tues July 27.

Mahana Sue a pretty half cast girl came to the house with Pupure, one of our members from Hikeuru, and spent the afternoon. Although she is a Protestant she seemed quite interested in what we told her about our belief, and before she left asked to buy a Book of Mormon. Washed in the morning.

Wed. July 28.

Ironed & prepared the wrappers for the Hehuraa Api, the mission paper. In the late afternoon received a letter from Mr. Rossiter from Takaroa. I was quite surprised to hear from him from there as he had left on the Steamer St. Francois for Hao. Arriving at Apetuci he had met some of our saints in a small sail boat, who asked him to accompany them to Takaroa as the people were very anxious to meet him there.

Held our himeneraa in the evening with a good sized attendance. Some people gathered around on the outside to hear us sing.

Thurs. July 29.

Sewed & studied most of the day. Also cleaned the extra bedrooms for we were expecting some new missionaries on the next boat.

Fri. July 30.

Finished writing my letters & went with Bro Davis to see if there were any New Zealand missionaries on board the Maitai, which arrived at twelve o’clock, but we found none, so returned to the house and after preparing dinner spent the remainder of the day in study.

Sat. July 31.

Gave the house a thorough cleaning and went with Bro. Davis to see a Mr. Branland (that he had met in Borabora) who with his family of five little children were leaving on the Maitai for his former home in Wyoming. He was taking them to America to be raised & educated. His wife, a native woman, having died nearly a year before, he had cared for them himself even making all their clothes. They were certainly a credit to him, almost as good as a woman would have made them.

(To be continued)



  1. I see from Sister Rossiter’s skills at freshening up her panama that she was a fan of Catherine Hurst’s articles in the Young Women’s Journal. 😉

    Comment by Alison — April 14, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

  2. Aren’t we all? :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 14, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

  3. The title Venus in Tahiti evokes Captain James Cook’s mission to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus from Tahiti. (That task completed, he unsealed the secret orders for the next phase of his mission: Find Australia.) Did Venus Rossiter ever write anything about the previous Venus above Tahiti?

    Comment by John Mansfield — April 15, 2013 @ 8:47 am

  4. I haven’t run across anything like that, John, but I haven’t yet finished transcribing the diary, either.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 15, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  5. I love, love, love these Venus posts. My favorite bit from today’s diary entries is her description of the insane man who was imprisoned for trying to saw off a Chinaman’s head, especially her decisive summary: though he was once a Mormon, he “had later become a corrupt man and joined the Protestants.”

    Comment by Marilyn O. — April 15, 2013 @ 10:27 am

  6. Can you imagine being a young woman practically alone and having such a man call on you repeatedly??

    So glad to know you’re enjoying this. I do too — sometimes because she says something funny, and other times because of the cultural glimpses or something very Mormony.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 15, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  7. June 14 & 15 should be July

    Comment by David R — April 15, 2013 @ 11:24 am

  8. July 14 is Bastille Day

    Comment by David R — April 15, 2013 @ 11:31 am

  9. Whoops. I’ll doublecheck the original, and either correct the transcription or add a bracketed correction. Thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 15, 2013 @ 11:31 am

  10. Re “had later become a corrupt man and joined the Protestants”
    I wonder if the Protestants were saying that the Mormons had driven the poor fellow crazy.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — April 15, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

  11. #10 – Actually while on one of islands about 120 miles from the island of Tahiti, there was a Tahitian that we were giving the lessons and he was about to join the Church. His family found out and did have him committed to an asylum. I didn’t think of it until you mentioned this. This was 1978.

    Comment by David R — April 15, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  12. I am Venus Rossiter’s daughter-in-law. I never knew her. She died before I married her son, Ernest Terry Rossiter. Venus and Ernest were married for 26 years before Terry was born. He was their only natural born child. They adopted their daughter, who was born in Tahiti. I was able to get to know what an incredible woman she was by reading her journal.

    Comment by Julie Rossiter — December 25, 2013 @ 11:06 am

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