Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 27 October – 16 November 1918

Venus in Tahiti: 27 October – 16 November 1918

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 13, 2014

(Previous installment)

Sun. Oct. 27, 1918

Attended regular Sunday services. At our Sacrament meeting four children of Tamatoa were blessed and named, twin boys 5 years old, a girl 7 yrs old and a baby one year old.

Mon. Oct. 28, 1918

Held childrens class. Helped the sisters clean windows in the new church house.

Tues. Oct. 29, 1918

Ern and some of the native brothern left by a small 9 ton cutter for Rikarika to buy pigs for our dedication feast.

Wed. Oct. 30, 1918

After childrens class visited Torongo, one of our members who is an invalid and also the sick child of Hickatakima. Conducted sewing class from 1 to 5 pm. The girls are beginning to do some very nice work now, embroidering pillow slips, childrens rompers, centerpieces, doyles [doilies], collars, cushion tops & others are doing some very nice tatting. Attended meeting at 7: pm.

Thurs. Oct 31, 1918

Conducted childrens class 8:30 am, sewing class 11:am, Relief Society at 2: pm. Infant child of Hichatakima passed away after two months illness.

Fri. Nov. 1, 1918

“Vahine Tahiti” arrived with the Catholic Bishop aboard who had come for the dedication of their new church. Received the American mail. Letters from Mother, Sadie, Gene, Margaret, Ell, Ede & Libbie. Song & journals from Margarette & journals from Sadie. Received news that my brothers Gene & Richard were in the U.S. Army. Mr. Ellis Pres. of the Reorganites for months past has been scattering the word among the natives that the Hedrikites had joined with the Reorganites & that the Temple Lot at Independence Missouri was now in their hands. However, today we received a letter from Pres. Bennion from Ind. Mo. also lately refuting his statements, also that D.C. Evans one of their apostles had withdrawn from the church and led away a following of between 800 & 1000 persons. Mr. Ellis was very much chagrined and confused when the facts were first made known to him.

Sat. Nov. 2, 1918

Ern returned from Rikarika with a load of pigs & chickens & 1000 cocoanuts for our dedication feast. They had had a wet disagreeable trip, having rained almost incessantly ever since they left & they were absolutely without shelter. Also had high wind and a heavy sea, their boat being partially inundated during the entire trip.

Sun. Nov. 3, 1918

Fast day: The Catholics held their dedication exercises, followed by a banquette to which all of the white people on the island were invited, excepting the Mormon Elders. Before night many of them were drunken and had to be assisted home, others in their revelry broke dishes and were having a gay time playing the accordion & singing. A most disgraceful affair, especially for a church banquette. In the evening I conducted with Elder Hubbard a review of the work done during the past month in our children’s classes.

Mon. Nov. 4, 1918

Conducted children’s class & 8: am & song practise at 7: pm. Wrote letters home.

Tues. Nov. 5, 1918

Received more mail from America. News that George & Nettie had had a baby boy left on their door step & had I been home they would have given it to me. Also received a letter from “Phillipi” the man who had agreed to bring our food from Tahiti for our feast, saying that his plans were changed & he was not coming to Hickueru. It is very evident that it was a plan on his part to spoil our feast, as he had many chances by boats coming from Tahiti to inform us in time that we could make different arrangements, but had left it until the very days planned for the feast to inform us. However, the work of the Lord cannot be thwarted, no matter how our enemies may try to disrupt our plans. As soon as Ern told me of the contents of his letter, the thought dawned on me like a flash to buy the whole load of fruit on the “Zellie” so Pres. hurried down to the wharf and bought everything getting a much better assortment & paying $200 less than the order with Phillipi called for. It is most remarkable &that we were fortunate) that we were able to buy the food for the “Zellie” had been in port nearly half a day before we inquired about it when usually all the white and Chinese merchants are on the wharf waiting when a vessel arrives to charter its entire cargo. It seems that they were stayed by a supreme power in order that we could get the food for our feast.

Wed. Nov. 6, 1918

All the committees are busy at work decorating the new chapel, constructing the bowery for the feast, collecting food, tables, dishes, etc. The invitations were distributed & when the two Popes and the Catholic Bishop received theirs, they threw them out on the ground through the window entirely ignoring them.

Thurs. Nov. 7, 1918

Vahine Tahiti left with the Catholic Bishop, amid pealing of bells & a solemn procession of natives following the futs [?] which slowly carried him to the wharf, where a general hand kissing took place. Mr. & Mrs. Falco also left for Tahiti.

Fri. Nov. 8, 1918

The dedication services were held for our new meeting house at 8: am with all the white people on the island, & about 200 of the leading Reorganites & Catholics, and between 600 & 700 native saints in attendance. Services outside commenced with the hoisting of the French Flag & singing of La Marseillaise after which we filed into the building singing “Te Tomo Iroto Nei.” Dedication prayer was offered by Pres. Ernest C. Rossiter. History & report of the building were given by Tiretu and Mapuhi. The building was beautifully decorated with the flags of the Allied Nations.

At 12: m. all gathered at the palm bowery where a splendid 9 course dinner was served from five long tables seating about 500 people. Pres. Rossiter acted as toastmaster, both in french and Tahitian. The dinner consisted of five courses of meat, pork, chicken, fish & turtle, liver, green peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, egg salad, several kinds of poi, pineapple, mangols, watermelon & lemonade. The bowery & tables were cleverly decorated with imitation flowers made from the cocoanut palms in innumerable designs by the native women. The ceiling was covered with native patchwork quilts, which made it a gay scene with their gorgeous designs & colors.

In the evening “Mr Durant of S.L. City” was dramatized by members of the Takaroa Branch.

Sat. Nov. 9, 1918

The second day of our dedication exercises. Preaching services at which Hao branch exercises at 8: am. Another banquette at 12 o’clock at which about 600 persons partook. I took a look around the cook house. Much of the food was prepared in tubs & canoes were used as dish pans. Altogether the food consumed amounted to 30 pigs, 8 turtles, chickens, 7 tons of fruit & vegetables, 1 ton of fish, loaves of bread, 1500 cocoanuts, besides boxes of sugar, canned vegetables, etc.

Taenga exercises were supposed to have been held, but the downpour prevented the people from coming out so it was postponed until Sun. afternoon. The few of us who did come out were oblidged to sleep part of the night on the benches in the church, until the downpour of rain lulled for a short time.

Sun. Nov 10, 1918

First Sunday Services held in new chapel. Elders Compton & Hubbard were the speakers at the morning services. In the afternoon before Sacrament meeting the Taenga Branch held their exercises, about 50 of Reorganite friends were in attendance & participated in the singing contests. At 7: pm the Hickueru branch held their exercises, a pretty feature was the costumes of the people who were divided into classes of six, each class were dressed alike, 10 classes in all.

Mon. & Tues Nov. 11 & 12 1918

Heavy rain and high wind with barometer going down steadily with indications of a cyclone. Some of the merchants figuring on going to the other side of [the] island for safety. Recommenced children’s class.

Wed. 13, 1918

Children’s class, sewing class & evening meeting. Ruita Johnston brought me some sea urchins and the cured skin of a very peculiar, horned fish.

Thurs. Nov. 14, 1918

Conducted children’s class from 8-10, sewing class from 11 to 3, & Relief Society from 3 to 5 pm

Fri. Nov. 15, 1918

After class, I was stamping articles to be embroidered almost all day long. Atutu and Futai came in for an embroidery lesson.

Sat. Nov. 16, 1918

Attended Elders weekly priesthood meeting.

For the past year the Takaroa sisters have been preparing some gifts for Pres. & I, so to-day we were asked to go up to the Takaroa village where the sisters were waiting to present them to us. Torava made the presentation speech, telling how they had planned & worked to get these articles to give to us in appreciation of their love for us and the work we had done among them. The gifts consisted of 2 gorgeously colored native patch-work quilts, 2 pairs of embroidered pillow slips, 3 pairs of patch work sofa pillows, 2 very old cocoanut shell baskets, so old that the shell had turned nearly black, a small native floor mat very finely woven, an ancient grass dress, trimmed with immense buttons of hand cut pearl shell, such as their ancestors wore in the days before they knew of cloth & a model of the ships that were used in the days before the white men came among them. It is hand carved by a very aged man; its sail made of a grass woven mat & the riggings made from the fibre of the cocoanut trees. We were certainly delighted with them & each made a speech of acceptance & thanked them for their great kindness to us & assured them we would keep them and cherish them always, in remembrance of the dear sisters of Takaroa.

(To be continued)



  1. Ardis, A couple of questions:

    “News that George & Nettie had had a baby boy left on their door step …” Do you have any idea if this was common in Utah?

    “Attended Elders weekly priesthood meeting.” Again, something common?


    Comment by Gary Bergera — April 13, 2014 @ 9:22 am

  2. Gary, I don’t know how common it was, but I know of another instance from roughly the same time: James and Sophia Anderson — their reaction, and this assumption by George and Nettie that they had a right to keep or give away the baby left on their doorstep, makes me think it was not the freakish once-in-a-lifetime experience we might think if it happened today.

    Venus seems to have usually attended the “Elders weekly priesthood meeting” — although she called it “priesthood meeting,” I wonder if it wasn’t something more akin to our current “district meetings” among missionaries than our weekly meetings of quorums. Just an impression, though; I don’t know anything definite.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 13, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  3. Weekly district meeting makes sense (at least, it would have in the mid-1970s …)

    Comment by Gary Bergera — April 13, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

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