Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 5 October – 24 October 1917

Venus in Tahiti: 5 October – 24 October 1917

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 29, 2013

(Previous installment)

Takume, Oct 5, 1917

busy preparing for conference tomorrow. Men folks went out with the net to get enough fish for three days, which the[y] brought in and divided equally among all the families. The trees are simply filled with great strings of fish. Mr Mervin was struck with sort of a paralized condition & at times doesn’t have the use of his tongue & his head turns entirely around on his shoulders.

Sat. Oct. 6, 1917

Our conference began with Priesthood meeting at 7: am. General meeting 9: am. Baptismal services at 11: am at which two men, Tamakiki and Huri, and five children, Naia a Rua, Taipus daughter & Temariki’s little boy were baptized, Pres. Rossiter officiating. Meeting again at 3: pm at which they were confirmed.; In the evening Takaroa had their program, which consisted of the dramatization of parts of “Mr Durrant of S.L.C.” Varo, Tita, Tuhiva, Tufarina & Mahema were the actors & all took their parts well. Mahino made a hit by speaking a little English. Te ahuna Kataka $120 white spangled net over satin.

Sun. Oct. 7, 1917

Conference continued. Three native elders, Nanai, Pumua, Tehawri & their wives were set apart & Kuraingos baby was blessed & named Venita Takanga after me & her grandmother. Hickueru held their program in the evening. The missionaries sang several English songs. Almost all the people on the island were in attendance.

Mon. Oct. 8, 1917

Priesthood meeting from 7 to 11: am. also meetings at 11: am & 3: pm;. Two more grown people Rawana & Vaitoro & one child Matapo a Toriko were baptized by Elder Glenn Hubbard. At our afternoon meeting voluntary contributions were received to assist Rua, a native missionary laboring in Tubuai, also to assist the Tahitian soldiers at the front. Hao branch gave their program at night & Taipu the leader to be a little original gave all the ques [cues] to his performers by pressing a hand dry battery light (Tei te re ia Taipu ma), which caused not a little merriment.

Conference is over and every one is in high spirits and have enjoyed a wonderful portion of the spirit of the Lord in all of our meetings.

Tues. Oct. 9, 1917

We were called out just before day break to see Pepe who had given birth during the night to a baby boy. The baby was suffocated at birth and the mother was very ill, so the Elders administered to her & she was relieved instantly. Later in the day Hamani & I gave her a douche. Pepe in years past had been a very bad woman & had given birth to 13 dead babies. She was living with one of our people & the Elders promised her if she would marry & stop drinking & smoking the Lord would cleanse her system & she could bear living children. She did this & shortly after she gave birth to a child that was so infested with disease that its flesh fell from its bones, but her system was thoroughly cleansed by it & the next child she bore lived & was perfectly free from any disease. Of late she has entertained a very mean spirit & has commenced smoking again & Pres warned her if she didn’t repent & do better her former promises would be taken form her, but she would not listen & last night we saw it literally fulfilled, for although the baby was perfectly formed & not diseased in any way, it was suffocated at birth & the mother also was near death. It apparently has been a good lesson for her, for she is very repentant today.

I conducted our Relief Society conference meeting which lasted 3-1/2 hrs although it didn’t seem more than an hour. Besides myself, Terava, Teraro, Tukaro, Tuhiata, Kanaho, Mahia, Temihou, Takahotu, Katupu & Pres Rossiter were the speakers.

Wed. Oct. 10

San Francois arrived with mail from Papeete. Received a letter from Terai. Elder Davis received his release to return home after 4 years in the field. Finished embroidering a pair of rompers to send home to Marama with Elder Davis,. Called to see Pepe. Gospel class at night.

Takume, Oct. 11, 1917

The saints came pouring in all morning with presents for Elder Davis. Takaroa Hickueru & Hao Relief Societies each gave him a beautiful native patch quilt, among other things he received pearls, hats, heis, shells, embroidered pillow slips, pearl shell fish hooks, etc, etc. At 10: am we held priesthood meeting after which we had a dinner in honor of Elder Davis. Mr. Mervin also left on the St Francois for Papeete where he could get medical attention. Received word that the “Lutece” one of the local sailing vessels had been seized by the crew of a wrecked German vessel, which caused no little excitement. Held Relief Society meeting at 7: pm.

Fri. Oct. 12, 1917

Visited among the saints most of the day. The divers have taken courage & new life since our conference & are bringing in more shell. Teraki while ironing had one of her peculiar spells & ironed both of her legs burning them quite badly. I put cold wet cloths on her head until she was relieved & was acting natural again.

Sat. Oct 13, 1917

Rawana came over & spent the entire morning embroidering a pillow slip for me. She is an entirely different girl since she has been converted to Mormonism. Two years ago when I met her at Hao, she was living with a man to whom she was not married, smoked & could not say enough mean things about us, while now she is as fine a girl as one could find among the Maoris. She is half Spanish. Held priesthood meeting at 9: pm. Cooked a large pot of beans while the Elders were in bathing & sent a dish full to each of their houses.

Sun. Oct. 14, 1917

Fast Sunday. Nothing unusual.

Mon. Oct 15, 1917

Pres. dreamed that he was stabbed through trying to settle a quarrel among the natives. Said he was expecting trouble of some sort.

Tues. Oct. 16, 1917

Daha gave me three tavai feathers which are very rare & valuable, as there are not many tavai birds & only one of these big red slender feathers grow in their tail. It is Pres. birthday so we invited all the elders over to dinner. Makina gave us a chicken so I boiled it and made dumplings, and had sweet potatoes, beans & cocoanut cream, beef & curry sauce, stewed prunes, pineapple & bread. We haven’t a table so I took the mattress off the board bed & spread newspapers on it for a cloth & we all sat around it on dry goods boxes. Every one was invited to bring their own dishes knives forks & spoons. Pres. is 35 years old. Went over to the city to bathe & dress Kaoka & his wife’s feet who both have terrible looking sores on them. Also applied iodine to a big sore on their little girl’s (Ema) leg. Ema is almost white and I have often thought of taking her to raise, but when I saw those awful sores on her to-day, I have quite changed my mind. She looks just like Nellie Lawrence, a little English girl at home.

Held gospel class at 7: pm. It hasn’t rained for over two weeks & there isn’t a bit of drinking water except one large jug down at Makino’s, so after meeting Pres & I went down there to get a drink. When we were returning we noticed a crowd of men talking so Pres stopped to talk with them, but I went on home. During the day Tuhiva had come to the house and wanted to draw his shell money out in advance & Pres. wouldn’t let him have what he wanted so he went away angry & had stirred up the rest of the natives to such a condition that they were almost wild with anger & were planning all sorts of things to do, & things were just as their height when we came along. Pres. reprimanded them all & sent them to their houses & then they started after him saying that he was helping Mapuhi get out of debt at their expence & exertions etc.

Wed. Oct. 17, 1917

Held a sewing class for all the women, & we enjoyed it very much. Visited among the saints. Elders Burbidge & Compton arrived from Ravahere just as we were about to commence evening meeting. Pres. didnt go to meeting & the native men who were in the mixup the night before, were quite concerned over it & held a council meeting after church to decide what they could do to gain his favor once more.

Thurs. Oct. 18, 1917

Compiled R.S. reports. Attended R.S. meeting. Pres. also remained home today. The abscess in my tooth is troubling me again & my face is all swollen up. The people are all upset and have asked to have a meeting with Pres so they met at night in the church & each one who had anything to do with the trouble had to stand up & repent before all the others & the missionaries.

Fri. Oct. 19, 1917

Rawana brought the pillow slip she had been embroidering for me. Held sewing class with the sisters, who asked to have it every day instead of three times a week. Matangi had a spell of rheumatism in his back and I put hot plasters on it until he was releaved. He lay on the floor & groaned & cryed all the time I was doing it.

Sat. Oct. 20, 1917

Fasted as usual on the 20th. Held Elders priesthood at 3: pm. Sold the shell to Mr Levy. Mahia President of the R.S. from Taenga gave me a pretty patch work pillow cover & her husband Tefau gave me a beautiful pearl worth about $100.

Sun. Oct. 21, 1917

Attended usual Sunday meetings. Went with pres. over to the city to dress Tamachi’s sore foot. It was the most terrible looking & smelling sore I have ever looked at, and I almost fainted at the sight of it, but Pres. bathed it in strong carbolic water & cut out some of the decayed flesh with his knife. Elder bulkley and I sang a duet in evening meeting.

Mon. Oct. 22, 1917

Hickueru Hao & Taenga branches left on the Hinano. Elders Hubbard & Bulkley went with Hickueru & Elders Compton & Robertson to Hao.

Tues. Oct. 23, 1917

Nothing unusual. gospel class at 7: p.m.

Weds Oct 24, 1917

Kautaka & Mahotus wife came to spend the afternoon with me. I was cooking beans over the campfire so we sat out in the yard and visited. While they were here Kautaka told me how she was converted to Mormonism. Following is an account of it.

“It happened while they were here at Takime in 1909 diving for pearl shell. She was a Josephite at the time and had been very ill for about a month & a half & at last she became so low that she lay unconscious & unable to speak for days. The Josephite elders were caring for her & had administered to her several times, but she only kept getting worse. Her family was gathered around her bed side to see her die & while they were beside her she dreamed that four Josephite brethren came into the room, carrying her coffin & were just about to put her dead body into it when a Mormon Elder came in and stopped them. Shortly after that she gained consciousness long enough to say that she wanted the Mormon Elders to administer to her, for she knew that they were the only ones who had the power of the priesthood with them, & when she had finished speaking she sank into unconsciousness again.

Towards evening of the same day she partly gained consciousness again & being unable to speak she made motions with her hand three times, first holding it out full length towards the door, then placing it on her head. As she did it the third time, she looked up & the Mormon Elder was standing in the door. she made it known to him by her motions that she wanted him to administer to her, which he did, & when he had finished she got right up from her bed as though there had never been anything the matter with her and the next morning she was about doing her work.

That was Wednesday & the following Saturday she went to the house of a friend about midnight & asked her to go down to the sea with her. they went down to the sea together & sat on the sand in the moonlight talking. She told her friend that she – that this was the only true church & that on the morrow she was going to be baptized. And the friend answered her saying “Yes, I know it too, and to-morrow not only you will be baptized but I also.” (This other woman was also a Josephite & had had a child instantly cured during the week through the administration of our Elders.) Another strange thing happened that night. While these two women were down by the sea shore talking to-gether, the Mormon Elder dreamed that two women came to him & asked him for baptism & the dream impressed him so that he couldn’t sleep any more so got up & dressed & went out for a walk and who should he meet but these two women coming back from the sea. They told him of their desire to be baptized the following day & he in turn told them of his dream & his sleeplessness afterwards & how he had started out for a walk not knowing where he was going & was led to where they were. they were both baptized the following day and to-day they are both good faithful women in the church, with a burning testimony of the Gospel.

Held R.S. meeting at 7: pm.

(To be continued)



  1. Goodness. Does that answer the question of what she was doing at the dentist all that time? And is she without a good dentist now, so it’s getting worse? (Wikipedia has a sufficiently stomach-turning set of pictures if you don’t know what an abscessed tooth looks like — and it can lead to serious medical problems if not adequately treated.)

    Comment by Amy T — December 29, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

  2. I’ve had an abscessed tooth — you get it treated, and take some antibiotic, and all is well. I hadn’t thought about this in pre-antibiotic days when she might need to have the abscess drained day after day after day. And that kind of inflammation when she already had a damaged heart?!! Poor Venus!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 29, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  3. I had been worried about why she needed to go to the dentist so much. It is nice to know. It made me smile that they made Ben E. Rich’s pamphlet, “Mr. Durrant of Salt Lake” into a drama.

    Comment by Jeffery Johnson — December 29, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

  4. I smiled at that, too, Jeff! Not only is it fun to think of Durrant appearing with Tahitian characters, but it reminded me of how important the Durrant pamphlet was to my grandmother’s family in Alabama at this same time.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 29, 2013 @ 11:11 pm