Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 25 April – 26 May 1917

Venus in Tahiti: 25 April – 26 May 1917

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 10, 2013

(Previous installment)

Wed. April 25, 1917

Ironed. Went to dentist. Held singing class at night.

Thurs & Fri April 26 & 27 1917

Cold & stormy. Felt miserable. Mended.

Sat. April 28, 1917

Mahana & Tevaite came up while we were eating breakfast & stayed all morning. Held priesthood meeting at 3: pm. Pres. & I went for a walk down to the turtle pens where there were about 30 immense turtles, they had just killed one so we bought a nice turtle steak for Sunday. We also called to see Tioti & Teata, Papati & Tahuhu & family to remind them to come to Church. For some time Sister Compton has not had enough nurse for her baby, so she decided to set to-day apart for fasting & prayer, that she might have enough. Towards night she became very weak & nearly fainted, so she drank the juice of an orange & the milk immediately commenced flowing into her breasts & she had more than the baby could take. Pres. R. and I went down to see Tihoti & Teata, also called to see Tahuhu & family.

Sun. April 29, 1917

Attend S.S. & meeting as usual after which we all took a walk down to Tindalls, some fellow passengers of Elders Bulkley & Heslop on the Moana who had come to Papeete to start in the automobile business. We also called to see the American consul Mr. Layton.

Mon. April 30, 1917

Elder Touse arrived from Hao by the San Francois and a few minutes later Elder Stephens walked in & surprised. He had also come down from Hao, but on a different vessel. His eyes needed attention.

Tues, May 1st, 1917

Went down to Terais to take the dirty clothes & she told me that a child over at Ferahis house was very sick so I went up to see what was the matter with it. The poor little thing was nearly dead & one ear was nearly rotted off. I went home and made some strong boracic water to wash its ear & mouth out with, gave it a good dose of physic & took it upon myself to feed it, giving it a little milk and olive oil every half hour. In the same house there was another little girl who[se] whole leg was a mass of running sores. I also bathed her leg with boric water & put sulphur on it several times during the day. Besides these two there was a young man dying by inches with consumption, a young girl with terrible sore eyes & an old lady with a bad disease in her foot. These and about a dozen other natives were all living together in the same little one-roomed house.

Wed. May 2, 1917

Spent the entire day with the sick. Held song practise at 7: pm. Received a letter from Te Mouri at Hao, addressed “Mr. Venus woman missionary for the Mormons”

Thurs. May 3, 1917

Stayed all morning with the sick baby. Terahi wanted to have it administered to, but Ern said he felt that it was going to die but Terahi insisted so she brought it over to our house & the elders administered to it. But shortly after they took it back home it commenced breathing hard & in a few minutes passed away. The little thing was born two hours after its father left for the front in France, & its mother had since deserted it & gone to live in a Chinese den. In conformity with the native custom we held a short meeting at their house in the evening. But I stayed home to take care of Sister Comptons baby as we did not care to take it over there. While they were gone, Mr & Mrs Tindall & Mr & Mrs Cole came in to spend the evening. [W]e had a very pleasant time & had the pleasure of telling them quite a bit about our religion & Salt Lake.

Fri. May 4, 1917

We conducted the funeral service for the baby. It was buried out at Taaa where we were taken and brought back in a big five seated auto.

Hei called to see us. She had been round at Punaaiua for the past three months, being doctored by a native medicine man Tuirai for a poisoned foot she had been suffering with, which was caused from stepping on a poisonous fish. Rirava through some foolish native idea had gotten it into her head that she was going to die so after the old native custom, she cut her hair, finger nails & toe nails & put them in a certain sea shell, sealed it up & threw it into the fire, which when it bursted caused quite a loud explosion which is supposed to have broken the power to the spirit that she thinks had come to get her.

Sat. May 5th, 1917

Housecleaning. Priesthood meeting with Elders Orton, Touse, Stevens, Heslop, Bulkley, Sisters Rossiter & Compton present. Pres. Rossiter conducting.

Sun. May 6, 1917

Sunday School & Fast Meeting. Received word that Taremata one of our saints had died so went down to see the family. At night held a meeting at their house.

Mar. May 7, 1917

Held funeral services for Taremata & all went out to the cemetery in autos. The Josephite ministers came, but stood outside of the door.

Tues. May 8, 1917

Washed. Called to see Rirava ma & Terai. While at Riravas a native girl gave me a fancy native dress made from hemp & a paperish cloth pounded form the wiu fruit.

Wed. May 9, 1917

Mail boat from America arrived at daybreak. Helped with mission paper.

Thurs, May 10, 1917

One hundred Tahitian soldiers left for the front so we went down to the wharf to see them off. Mared, Mahana & Tevaite came up & spent the afternoon.

Fri. May 11, 1917

Nothing unusual.

Sat. May 12, 1917

Elders Touse & Stephens left at 9: am for Rairoa. Pres Rossiter & Elders Orton, heslop & Bulkley attended a banquet given by the Governor in honor of the American Consul & all American citizens living in Tahiti, to do honor to America enter[ing] the War on the side of the Allies. Held priesthood meeting in the evening.

Sun. May 13, 1917

Attended S.S. & sacrament meeting. Teata & Tihoti spent most of the day with us.

Mon. May 14, 1917

Hiro gave Sister & I each a picture of himself taken in his soldiers clothes.

Tues. May 15, 1917

Washed & spent the remainder of the day helping with the paper.

Wed. May 16, 1917

Ironed. The Elders cleaned the yard & buggy shed. Rirava brought us up a basket of avotas.

Thurs. May 17, 1917

Called to see Mrs Henry. Went to dentist. Mr. Simpson came over to help the Elders with the language.

Fri. May 18, 1917

Elders Davis & Pearson arrived at 7: am from Rairoa.

Sat. May 19, 1917

Mahana and Tivaite called. Were busy most of the day preparing Pres. Rossiter’s boxes to leave on the Papeete for the Tuamotus.

Sun. May 20, 1917

Held priesthood at 8: am, S.S. at 10: am & Sacrament meeting at 3: pm at which we had an exceptionally good turn out & an unusually good spirit prevailed. After meeting, everyone spoke of it. Elders Davis & Pierson & Pres. Rossiter were the speakers. At night called on Terai.

Mon. May 21, 1917

Elder Bulkley left for Hao on the Papeete & Pres. Rossiter decided to remain at Tahiti a short time longer. Worked in the office all afternoon. Took the dirty clothes down to Terais & on the way home learned that Mrs. Falco was ill & alone, so Sister & I went down & spent the evening with [her] until an aunt came who was going to stay all night with her. Her husband was around the island at their plantation.

Tues.. May 22, 1917

Washed & printed pictures. Called to see Terai & watched [her] prepare the dinner in a native oven.

Wed. May 23, 1917

Nothing unusual. Ironed in the morning. Prepared the meals & held singing class at night. Elder Davis made me a pair of Indian clubs.

Thurs & Fri. May 24 & 25

Set apart for fasting and prayer on account of my health.

Sat. May 26

Saturday work & priesthood meeting in the afternoon. About 2: am Terahi came over to tell us that Tipapa, the woman whose husband had recently died was taken with evil spirits. So all of the Elders & Pres. dressed & held prayers here at the house before going over to administer to her, & as soon as they had finished it left her body & she was able to sit up & converse naturally.

(To be continued)



  1. I love this blog, and I love this series. Sister Rossiter’s journal is a fascinating one for the sheer down-to-earthness of the work she’s doing among the people of Tahiti and for the glimpses she gives of local practices (especially the ritual on May 4)! Now she’s got me wondering what a “nice turtle steak” would taste like…

    Comment by JB — November 10, 2013 @ 7:14 am

  2. Thank you, JB. Isn’t it amazing what stories she can tell in just a few lines, too?

    Never had turtle, myself …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 10, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  3. Turtle. Kind of tastes like chicken. At least it did in the soup at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.

    And, once again, another great installment from Keepa’s favorite diarist. (Who have we had so far? Elder Jones and Venus? I can’t remember any more right now. It’s Sunday evening and I’m tired.)

    Comment by Amy T — November 10, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  4. I like the calm surety of the May 26 casting out of evil.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — November 10, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  5. It is pleasure just to see her world with her eyes. I look forward to each installment.

    Comment by Jeffery Johnson — November 10, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  6. I had turtle (freshwater) in Central America on my mission — the meat was dark, gamy, and rather strong tasting. Also had sea turtle eggs — the “shell” is leathery and translucent, and the egg doesn’t completely set up when cooked, so you bite an opening in the shell, then suck the contents out. I don’t recall liking that all that much either. :-)

    Comment by Bfwebster — November 12, 2013 @ 7:28 am

  7. And, yes, I love these posts.

    Comment by Bfwebster — November 12, 2013 @ 7:29 am

  8. I had Green Sea Turtle stew in the Cayman Islands a few years ago and thought it was pretty good. It was a lot like beef in color, texture (a little chewy) and flavor. The chef informed me that you have to be very careful in trimming the meat because the fat has a strong rancid flavor, and a little bit in your stew can spoil the whole pot. With that in mind, I would imagine it was a welcome change for Sunday dinner.

    Comment by Carl C. — November 12, 2013 @ 8:34 am

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