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Guest Post: The Valentines Return from Switzerland, 1917

By: Amy Tanner Thiriot - November 06, 2013

Hyrum and Rose Ellen “Ella” Bywater Valentine arrived in Switzerland in 1912, served as President of the Swiss-German Mission and President of the Mission Relief Society through the difficult days of the First World War, and returned to their home in Brigham City in early 1917 as the war was still raging.

Ella noted, “After returning from our first mission we found it a very difficult task to adjust to non-mission life. I couldn’t help dreaming of the Mission and wished at night that I could wake and find myself in the mission field in the morning.”

The two were invited to speak in the Brigham City Tabernacle on March 4, 1917, and a local reporter gave this account of the meeting.

The services in the Tabernacle on Sunday afternoon, were characterized by two spirited talks delivered by Sister Ella B. Valentine and Elder Hyrum W. Valentine, who recently returned from Basil [sic], Switzerland, where they spent five years presiding over the Swiss-German mission. Sister Valentine gave a detailed account of some of their experiences and spoke very interestingly of some of her personal experiences in tracting and making friends among the German people. Also of her acquirement of the German language. She related a number of very touching incidents concerning the war in which members of the church were principal actors and she paid a glowing tribute to the character of the men and women who have accepted the gospel in that land.

Elder Valentine gave some statistics which spoke eloquently of the work performed in the mission during his presidency. Perhaps the most interesting feature was the tithing record of the church members who number some over seven thousand, who during the past five years have paid over one hundred thousand dollars or over half a million francs in tithing. The speaker stated that a franc, while only representing a value of about 20 cents in American money, in German commerce is equal to a dollar in American trade, so that the people of the Swiss-German mission have to them really paid over half a million dollars in the past five years in tithing.

He asked the congregation [if] the saints in Zion are complying with that law in the same degree of honesty as are the German saints.

Elder Valentine spoke of the war which he deplored most sincerely. He refuted the charge that Germany has been preparing for war for the past forty years and went on to show that in efficiency, every branch of industry has been developed almost to the point of perfection by the Germans and when war broke out, all those agencies were turned to the war and it was that efficiency which was just as essential to the peaceful pursuits of life and happiness, that makes their armies so capable and their means of destruction so great and terrible.

The services were presided over by Pres. L. A. Snow and the musical program rendered by the choir included the singing of the hymns “Mortals Awake”, “Ye Simple Souls Who Stray”, “O God Our Help” and the anthem “Let the Mountains Shout for Joy.” Between speakers Miss Annie Williamson of Ogden sang “O Love Divine.” The sacrament was administered by john B. Mathias and Elder Hatch under the direction of the First ward bishopric during the passing of which Elder F. W. Fishburn read the 27th chapter of 3rd Nephi. The prayers were offered by Patriarch Denmark Jensen and Bishop Brigham Wright. The attendance nearly filled the Tabernacle.

Picture of the Brigham City Tabernacle courtesy of J. Stephen Conn.

Picture of Hyrum and Ella Valentine surrounded by missionaries during their second mission in 1927 from Ella’s Memoirs.



4 Comments »

  1. I love these personal glimpses of people I have generally seen only listed in tables of names — lists of missionaries or mission presidents, in this case. These help to make them real for me. They were real people, who served and came home from real missions.

    Thanks, Amy.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 6, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  2. I’ll add my thanks to Ardis’s.

    It’s interesting to read what Bro. Valentine had to say about Germans and their war preparations. I’m not sure that the owners of the Krupp Steel works in the Ruhr would agree with him about the amount of time they’d spent helping the nation prepare for war. They were probably quite proud of their history of providing weapons for the German Army.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 6, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  3. I too appreciate the glimpse, and the understanding that American Saints would need continental monetary transactions explained I still find today that many members have a hard time with comparing currencies. (I recently had a conversation on the definition of 10% of a Euro, and whether people were cheating in paying tithing in a currency whose value fluctuates. The idea that every currency fluctuates, never was accepted by some.)

    Comment by Juliathepoet — November 10, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  4. Very nice article. My grandfather Alma Baker Spencer served in that Mission during the time Pres. Valentine was there. Curious if anyone has information on other missionaries accounts during that time.

    Comment by Jim Terry — June 3, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

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