Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 21 April – 18 May 1918

Venus in Tahiti: 21 April – 18 May 1918

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 16, 2014

(Previous installment)

Sun. April 21, 1918

Held regular Sunday meetings.

Mon & Tues. 22 & 23

Washed & ironed, nothing unusual.

Wed. Apr. 24

Went tracting with Elders out in Tepairui valley. Visited a Mrs Smith, a white lady the elders had met a few weeks previous, and the Phillip Poroi family. Tecopu is so interested in her organ study that she has commenced practising in the evening by lamp light, besides her daily period for practising. She now plays some church hymns.

Papeete, Apr. 25, 1918

Received a letter from Ern, stating that he had arrived in Hickueru the morning of Apr 6, just about an hour before time for the first meeting for conference, an account of which he has written in another letter, but hasn’t arrived yet. He will leave Hickueru for Taenga [at] the end of April, & from there to Takaroa & on back to Tahiti.

Fri. Apr. 26, ’18

Worked all day on Relief Society sketch. Met Rosalie Bivins down to Terai’s & spent a hour or more explaining succession to the Presidency to her, much to her satisfaction. She is a half caste woman, who has become interested through reading our mission paper.

Sun. Apr. 28, 1918

Regular Sunday services were well attended although it poured rain all day.

Mar. Apr 29, 1918

Wrote on R.S. Historical sketch all day. Called on Terai & Mrs. Edwards & Cole in the evening.

Tues. Apr. 30, 1918

The Moana arrived from America bringing 42 Tahitian soldiers from France. They had passed through Salt Lake and had attended services in the Tabernacle, taking sight seeing, banquetted and otherwise royally entertained by the Returned Missionary Society in Salt Lake.

Wed. May 1, 1918

Elders Monk & Benson by Heiperion for Tubuai. Elder Monk carried money with him with which to buy the land on which one of our meeting houses were built, & the owner had since apostatized & was causing a little trouble.

Thurs. May 2, 1918

Elders McCullough & Steedman both left on the first trip to the upper islands on the Propatria, which also carried the lumber for the new meeting house at Hickueru. Tamanava ma arrived from Tauere by the Hinano. Terai, Tecopu & “Aruore,” August Arnold Heatane, who had just returned from the front, came up to spend the evening. He had been shot through both legs. “Paloona” arrived from New Zealand.

Fri. May 3, 1918

Called to see Terai and Rosalie, left 5 tracts with the latter. Elder Monk has had several gospel conversations of late with Mr. Thos. B.G. Layton, the American Consul, and he seems deeply interested. He made the remark that he hadn’t been fortunate enough to be born “one of us” but he was afraid he was too old a dog to learn new tricks now. Before Pres. Rossiter left for the islands, he had left several books & tracts with him & they seem to have favorably impressed him towards us, for he & his wife are unusually nice to us. Yesterday he told Mr. Coles that the Mormons were the best people in Tahiti.

Sat. May 4, 1918

George Perry a returned soldier called to show his appreciation of the treatment received in S.L.C. The stay of the Tahitian soldiers in Salt Lake has caused quite a stir among the people here, everywhere we go someone stops us to express their appreciation.

Sun. May 5, 1918

Had the largest number present at services than for a long time past. Several soldiers came down from the barracks to attend and many Saints I had never seen at church before, besides a few strangers.

Mon, May 6, 1918

Moina, Marama & Moina commenced taking organ lessons. Emil Collett and [blank], returned soldiers, called to see us. One of whom said, “You can never tell me again any of those stories about the terrible Mormons,” for he now knew them to be the kindest people on earth and would never forget the hospitality received in Salt Lake City by them. Later, Clement Copenrath, Louis Juventin & Philiburt Montaran, also returned soldiers, called to see us. Washed clothes.

Tues. May 7, 1918

Ironed. Gave 5 lessons. Called to see Tetua Mervin and family in evening who said he had been watching us for a long time & it wouldn’t be long before he was one of us. He told us how we were respected by the business men of the town, even those who had formerly bitterly opposed us.

Wed. May 8, 1918

Gave 5 lessons. Called on Teata, Edwards, Coles, and Teina Mervin. Had quite a talk with Coles and Edwards about Brigham Young & his family.

Thursday, May 9

A French Holiday. Went to dentist. One of the 18 cocoanuts I have planted in the yard is beginning to sprout. My Bouganville vine & poinsetta are also beginning to sprout. Elder Orton has a heavy cold so I gave him a hot lemonade & put his feet in hot water before retiring.

Fri. May 10, 1918

Makino & Tuterai arrived form Takaroa, the latter had separated form his wife and had come down to see Pres. about [it]. Received a letter from Elder Burton and $75 which they had collected at Conference to be given to the Governor to assist the Tahitian soldiers. I have taken a severe cold. Put my feet in hot bath & retired early.

Sat. May 11, 1918

Mrs. & Miss Edwards came in to have ice cream & macaroons with me. I gave Miss Edwards a tatting shuttle, freak pearl and a dozen small shells to make coat buttons. Mrs. Coles & Madam Falco were unable to come, so I sent ice cream down to them. Old gentleman from Hao gave Elder Orton a dirty yellow sock full of shells down on the crowded wharf as the San Francisco was leaving.

Mon. May 13, 1918

Woke up in the night with heavy cold on my lungs, could hardy breathe until I had drank and rubbed some olive oil on my chest. Timanava & Makotu came in to spend the evening. Received an invitation form Dr. W.J. Williams the British consul and his wife to attend an art exhibit of Miss Edwards paintings on Wednesday afternoon.

Tues. May 14, ’18

Renovated my only white dress, made a new sash girdle, retrimmed an old hat & mended my old gloves to attend the art exhibit. In the evening Terai & later Mrs. Edwards & Coles called in. Mrs. Coles brought us a lovely layer cake.

Wed. May 15

Attended the exhibit at Dr & Mrs Williams apartment. The Gov & his staff and their wifes, the foreign consuls & their wifes, and all the prominent people of Papeete were in attendance, besides several wealthy Americans who were here on their vacations (Wakefield & Davisonma [?]) Miss Edwards had about 25 or 30 pictures on exhibition ranging in size from tiny miniature portraits to several life size pictures. Most of her pictures were sold, the Gov & Dr Williams buying the two life sized ones. Her work shows great promise, for she is still just a young girl.

Thurs. May 16, ’18

Mended Elder Orton’s clothes. lessons.

Fri. May 17, ’18

Called to see Mahana who is ill. Tahukuma, Tura a Toae, Mokina and in the evening Elder Orton and [I] went down to Edwards & Coles, met a Mrs Wilson who had spent some time in Utah. She had also been a fellow passenger with Pres. Smith and party on board the steamer from Hawaii the summer before.

When we returned home Ern had arrived and climbed through a window into the house. The native saints from Taenga had brought him down on their small sailing boat & had landed two days previous around at Fautira. He bought them 2000 oranges for food on their return trip. They had called at Raraka Taaite & Mehelia on their way down & brought several chickens the natives had given at each island, also lots of beautiful Taenga shells & a few chicos, and other curios. He reported a very successful conference at Hickueru. Nicola’s vessel who had slipped off and left him after he had arranged for passage on it had not profited by their trick, for it went on the rocks at Mahemo & lost all its cargo. It apparently doesn’t pay to persecute the elders and try to thwart the work of spreading the gospel. Being left by Nicola’s vessel, he left by San Francois for Mahemo where he hoped to make connections on another boat in the attempt to arrive at Hickueru for conference. Arriving at M. through providence a small boat was leaving next morning for Rarutea which he chartered to carry him over to Hickueru, arriving there just in time to change his clothes and attend the first meeting of conference, in spite of our enemies trying to prevent his getting there. Shark followed boat 2 days & 1 night on return trip. Immense whale loitered around them all one day while they were caught in a dead calm of Mehetea. It was much larger than the boat they were on, but didn’t cause any trouble.

Sat. May 18, ’18

Salmons sent over a bouquett of chrysanthemums & a basket of Tahiti oysters. Another returned Tahitian soldier called to see us. He said at the front the native boys had always remembered their morning & evening prayers, much to the amusement of their more ? enlightened European comrades, but they were unashamed by their jeers, and before long their friends commenced uncovering their heads while they prayed, and finally when they were more humbled by their terrible conditions & sufferings of war, they too joined with the simple hearted native boys in prayer and thanksgiving.

(To be continued)



  1. Here’s the only news item I can find about the Tahitian soldiers in Salt Lake City:

    Officials of the local Red Cross chapter report that the forty-two Tahitian soldiers who passed through Salt Lake recently en route for the Pacific coast, were met at the local chapter and provided with rooms at the Peery hotel. The Red Cross also furnished them breakfast and lunch on the following day, as well as providing transportation for them from the station to the hotel. Salt Lake Herald, April 2, 1918, 3.

    Comment by Amy T — February 16, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

  2. I’ve got a little bit more from some papers of the Tahitian Returned Missionary Society — I’d hoped to get that post up last week in anticipation of this installment, but now will try to get it up to follow. I didn’t realize the Red Cross had done anything, though — this adds to the story somewhat.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2014 @ 6:19 pm

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