Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 15 September – 4 October 1917

Venus in Tahiti: 15 September – 4 October 1917

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 22, 2013

(Previous installment)

Sat. Sept 15, 1917

All week long the people have been moving to the other end of the island to dive, and there are just a few families left. We packed our boxes & tore down our house ready to be carried across the lagoon on Mapuhi’s gasoline launch. During the day the Propatria arrived & Mrs Lucas the captains wife came over to see me. At night Pres and I slept on the ground in the partially torn down shell house with the rest of the natives remaining in the deserted village. By morning we were nearly devoured by the fleas.

Sun. Sept 16, 1917

We held church in the selfsame half demolished shell house that we were living in, and we all sat around on grocery boxes, sacks of shell & piles of lumber during the services.

Mon. Sept 17, 1917

Pres. Elders Davis & Bulkley finished tearing down the shell house & carried it down to the shore. I spent the day chopping & boxing kindling wood & preparing their meals at Elder Davis’ house, where we are now all staying. Mapuhis house is the only other house now left in the village, all the other people having left this morning. Ashio our Chinese baker is still here he is living down on the shore under shelter of a few pieces of tin roofing. We slept out under the stars on mother earth, fleas are too prevalent in Elder Davis’ house.

Tues. Sept 18, 1917

Pres & I went across the lagoon on the launch and we towed five canoes behind that were filled with boxes lumber pigs & our knocked down thatched houses. Arrived at our new location a little after noon. It is a veritable desert, nothing but the blinding white sand, coral rock and the blazing hot sun, with a few cocoanut trees here & there. We gave our home to Mapuna so that it could be put up quickly because they had a sick child, and the Relief Society sisters set right to work to weave new palm thatches for our house. Pres. returned with the boat & I stayed with Temanaha & Tearo. Matuatua is doing the cooking for the Elders.

Wed. Sept. 19, 1917

I commenced clearing some of the rocks off of our land while the native brethren worked on our house. The Elders & other native brethren put up the church house & we held meeting in it in the evening.

Thurs. Sept 20, 1917

Natives finished our house & I moved my things into it & nailed up a few box shelves & cupboards. Pres. returned from below during the day & we slept in our cosy little low thatched house. Held Relief Society meeting at night. Kuraingo has asked once more for us to take care of her & says she wants to repent & to be baptized.

Fri. Sept 21, 1917

Fed Kuraingo olive oil every half hour & a little fruit juice, the only things that she can hold on her stomach, and she felt much better all day.

Sat. Sept 22, 1917

The house was filled with Catholics all night who kept trying to embitter her against us & she wouldnt take the oil so freely to-day. Towards night she became angry at something & acted as though she was possessed of evil spirits.

Held Elders priesthood meeting at our house at 7: pm in which we decided to set apart the following day for fasting & prayer in behalf of Kuraingo.

Sun. Sept 23, 1917

Held our usual Sunday meetings and a special fast & prayer meeting for the Elders after which they went up and administered to Kuraingo & cast the evil spirits out of her. elder Bulkley was the mouth piece & when he commanded the spirit to leave her, her whole body trembled & wilted down in a lump. Gov. Denio returned to the Island after his lightning trip to Papeete with the news that this end of the island was to be closed again & that we would all have to move back down there again. All of the natives were furious at the news & many of them said they would not go back, but would stop diving and return to their own islands. Others wanted to leave it with the Pres. to decide what to do, so we set the following day apart for fasting & prayer that we might have inspiration as to what would be the right thing to do. Our American mail came on the gov. boat, which we were very glad to get. Elder Bulkley received the news that he was once more a father & Elder Robertson the sad news that three of his brothers had been drafted into the army.

Takume, Mon. Sept. 24, 1917

Cared for Kuraingo all day. She is much better & can retain a little food on her stomach. While I was visiting among the saints Terahi gave me 7 yrds of material for a dress. She says it was to show her gratitude for my care of her sick child before it died & care of her since that time. I also translated “Love at Home” during the day & taught it to the people in the evening meeting. As a result of our fasting & prayer it was decided that we should remain here and dive instead of returning to the different islands. All were unanimous in the decision.

Tues. Sept 25, 1917

The shell house & as many houses as could be carried, were torn down & taken to the other end of the island. The launch towed one small sailing boat & about twenty canoes, all loaded with all they could hold. it was really a sight. It reminded me of a caravan of loaded camels crossing the desert. Pres. & Elder Robertson left also, to see that the natives build their houses in more protected places than they had them before, so that there wouldn’t be so much sickness among the children. Kuraingo had a bad spell & Elder Monk & I kept hot wet towels on her abdomen all afternoon & she was much relieved. had supper over with the elders.

Wed. Sept 26, 1917

Still moving. Wrote letters & visited among the remaining saints & cared for Kuraingo.

Thurs. Sept 28, 1917

Ruita Mervin called in & we talked on baptism for an hour or so. Kuraingo had a bad spell in the afternoon & Elder Monk had a great time putting hot applications to her stomach. She was almost unmanageable but we kept at it until she was relieved of pain & her stomach was much reduced.

Fri. Sept 29, 1917

The gypsies are moving camp again. I packed may boxes & bedding & the native brethren came & carried my house away whole and fastened it securely to to two canoes ready to tow across the lagoon. Besides my house there were three other houses towed across on the canoes besides ten boats of building materials & one sail boat & Mapuhis gasoline launch. it looked just like a small village afloat on the water. Everything went along fine until just before we landed, when one of Kirianas canoes filled with water & sunk which caused his house to tip over on its side. We sounded our distress whistle and before much damage could be done, the natives on shore rowed out in their vaas to assist in unloading & throwing the load into the water to let it float ashore which saved it from sinking entirely. Kuraingo was pretty well exhausted in making the trip & the excitement of our accident. Kanaho boiled up some fish & “dough boils” for supper & we all slept on the floor in the store & shell house. Ane hoi e te tutera e.

Sat. Sept 30, 1917

Kuraingo commenced sinking & was not able to speak or move. While we were there beside her, her aunt an old Catholic woman ran for the Catholic priest to perform last rites for her, and as she was also a Catholic, although she had applied for baptism in our church, we could not interfere. At noon she passed away & her body was warm until the next day & warm perspiration stood out on her forehead.

Sun. Sept 31, 1917

Held our regular Sunday and attended burial services at the grave for Kuraingo. All day long the wailing of the people sounded like a pack of coyotes in the hills. Her body had begun to turn purple & black in spots & her abdomen was swollen twice its regular size. Her brother Vais feels terrible to think that she was buried by the Catholics, but takes comfort in the fact that her work in the temple will be taken care of. Poor Taukura, her husband goes round like a poor lost sheep, my heart just went out to him tonight when he came walking slowly up to our house.

Mon. Oct. 1, 1917

Pres & I went over to the city to buy some clothes for Taukahas children with fast donation money. Poor things almost have to go to bed while their mother washes their clothes. While I was visiting among the people Matuatua gave me a new hat for Conference week.

Tues. Oct. [2], 1917

We are all fixed up in our new location once more. Vaio cleared off the land & the R.S. sisters covered the floor & door yard with pure white gravel that they carried in sacks on their backs from the sea shore about one block away. This is the prettiest spot on the island. The house is nestled in a regular nest of small cocoanut palms & tema [?] trees. I call it “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Dell” it is such a picturesque homey little place.

Takume, Wed Oct 3, 1917

Wrote letters & helped the secretaries of the Relief society make out some new report blanks. Mr Ellis the Josephite minister came passing tracts through our village and stopped for a talk with Punua & Toae. Pres. happened along & they started a discussion that lasted several hours. Several times when Mr Ellis was getting the worst of it he picked up his hat and started to go but Pres made him sit down again and listen until he was through with him. Finally he was so stumped for something to say that he commenced reviling the temple & the garments & Pres. told him if he didn’t repent of such wicked lying the Lord would surely make him account for it. Mr. ellis surely makes an A No. 1 Josephite minister for he is as slick as an eel & is blessed with an extraordinary oily tongue.

Held gospel class at night with Elder Monk conducting.

Thurs. Oct. 4, 1917

The sisters carried white sand for the floor of the meeting house ready for conference. Held R.S. Meeting at 3: pm. Learned that the Catholics had secretly baptized Kuraingos baby. So Pres & Taukura went over to Amety the Catholic priest to annul it, for the father would not give his consent to it. Since we returned form the other side the men go to dive half heartedly & it is hard to keep them up.

(To be continued)



  1. The interreligious tension in Venus’ life was so thick, one must have been able to cut it with a knife!

    Comment by JB — December 22, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  2. Yeah, but I’m sure it was always the other guy’s fault, aren’t you? 😉

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 22, 2013 @ 11:21 am

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