Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 31 May – 14 July 1919 (Conclusion)

Venus in Tahiti: 31 May – 14 July 1919 (Conclusion)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 08, 2014

(Previous installment)

Sat. May 31, ‘19

Cleaned house. Teipo was taken ill, visited her three times during the day. Spent the evening singing & playing the piano.

Sun. June 1, 1919

Fast Sunday. Terai had dinner with us. All of the Stuart family came to church & later came in to spend the evening.

Mon. June 2, ‘19

Visited Mrs Coles. Teipo & Martha, talked about two hours with Martha on the gospel.

Tues. June 3, 1919

Richards birthday today. He is 30 yrs old and a bachelor. Called on Teipo, Martha, Mrs Henry & the Stuarts. We all went to Gauthiers to have our picture taken to send to the Era.

Wed. June 4, 1919

Spent most of the day recording conference reports, baptisms, ordinations etc. Held priesthood at 2 pm. Elder Streeper was appointed to join Elder Hubbard at Taaite. Elder Strong to join Elder Tillotson at Marokau & Elder Mallory to join Elder Steedman at Takaroa. Elder Larson was to remain in Papeete to assist Elder Heslop in the printing office until Elder McCullough arrived from Katui.

Thurs. June 5 ’19

Gave Terai a photo album and pasted all of her pictures in it. She was tickled to death when she saw it.

Fri. June 6, 19

Worked on “Mission History Book.” Gave one lesson & cut out a new dress. Spent evening at Marthas.

Sat. June 7, 1919

Cleaned house. Did some shopping & attended priesthood meeting. Elder Strong was expected to leave all day by the Fudora [?] for Marokau.

Sun. June 8, 1919

Elder Strong left for Marokau. An intoxicated American sailor fell from the wharf and was drowned. Teipo played the organ for church services for the first time to-day. Held song practice at night. Also S. School & Sacrament meeting as usual.

Mon. June 9, 1919

Gave one lesson. Finished dress I commenced last week. Changed the feathers in several pillows and washed the covers. Song practise at night.

Tues. June 10, 1919

Gave one less. Washed clothes. Translated “How Firm a Foundation” into Tahitian. Held song practise at night. Tevaite & Annie, two Reorganite girls came to visit me.

Wed Jun 11, 1919

The Elders whitewashed the fence. I gave one lesson. Also worked on “Mission History” book.

Thurs. June 12, 1919

Gave one lesson. Worked most of day on Mission History book. Mr. David Stuart came over to tell us that he had decided to let us adopt his little daughter Sophie.

Fri. June 13, 1919

Ern went to see te mayor and the American consul about getting adoption papers for Sophie. I gave one lesson. Ern and I called to see Teroro & Tepifae, two old Tuomotuan ladies who were ill. Held a himeneraa at 7: pm

Sat. June 14, 1919

Cleaned house, wrote letters, & made a dress for Sophie.

Sun. Jun 15, 1919

Teipo played the organ for singing in S.S. and Teura Mapuhi in the childrens class. Spent the evening at Stewarts. The news about Sophie has spread all over Papeete.

Mon. June 16, 1919

Made over one of my dresses. Rawana called & gave Ern and I a beautiful tifafae that the Hao sisters had made for us as a farewell gift. Teipo came over and we sewed all afternoon to-gether.

Tues. June 17, 1919

The American mail arrived. Received letters from Mother, Sadie, Dorothy, Lyda & Irene. We also received our honorable release from the First Presidency to return home as soon as President could arrange his affairs, which he will not be able to do for several months. I will however return by the next vessel, so as to arrive before the cold weather sets in, on account of my lungs & also to get our little Sophie acclimatized before the cold weather. President Rossiter must make a tour of the islands before leaving, to make final settlement with the natives whose affairs he has been directing the past few years, &^ he also is desirous of publishing a Tahitian English grammar before leaving.

Wed. Thurs & Fri. 18, 19 20, 1919

Shopping & sewing for Sophie preparatory of my departure.

Sat. June 21, 1919

Received our papers from Mr Stewart sworn to before the British Consul, that he gave us his free will & irrevocable consent to adopt his daughter Sophie Cora Stewart born Papeete Tahiti, Jan. 22, 1913. Held Elders priesthood meeting.

Sun. June 22, 1919

Usual Sunday meetings.

Mon. June 23, 1919

Packed boxes & made several sleeping garments for Sophie. Spent the evening at Stuarts making buttonholes. Sigare [?] charge us $20.40 for the same papers that the British consul charged us but $2.00.

Tues. June 24, 1919

Sewed. Visited Terava ma & Martha.

Wed. June 25, 1919

Sewed. Rawagave me the fine plaiting of aiho that she had woven for a hat for me.

Thurs. June 26, 1919

Toae & family & Teipo & Faukuia left for the Tuamotus, and I was so upset after saying good-bye to them for the last time, that I was quite miserable for the remaining part of the day, so I went down to see Mrs Coles to see if that wouldn’t make me feel better. Ern and I took dinner at the Hotel Diadem.

Fri. June 27, 1919

Preparations are going on all over Papeete this week for the arrival of the Tahitian Soldiers to-morrow. Manai & Tahouri, native missionaries & their families arrived from Faaite, where they have been laboring, on their way to Takaroa. They brought us a suckling pig. For the past two months I have had a spell of asthma almost every night, and to-day I had the first bad attack in the day time.

Sat. June 28, 1919

The eighth anniversary of our marriage. To-day the El Kantara arrived from France with 1500 Tahitians & New Caledonian soldiers aboard, returning from the front. A fleet of gaily decorated schooners went out into the bay to escort her in, with bands and school childrens choruses. Tave a Mervin, Timi a Timi, Taiko Williams were our boys who returned besides several others we had not met before. Attended services for the soldiers at the Protestant church with the Stuarts, and went to the singing contest at night.

Sunday, June 29, 1919

Held regular Sunday Services, numbers of returned soldiers were in attendance.

Mon. June 30, 1919

Received word that Germany had signed the peace terms. Sewed & remodeled my clothes all day. Visited Terai it he evening. Tupaupau.

Tues. July 1, 1919

We had two of the most severe earth quakes we have yet felt, one at 2: pm and one at 3: am. The first tremors since about 4 months ago.

Wed. July 1, 1919 [sic]

We are certainly in a carnal place since the 1500 troops have arrived, nothing but drunkenness and noise and fights on every hand. Felt another earthquake during the night.

Thurs. July 2, 1919

Ngroro a Tahauri, a little Paumotu girl who has never seen a doll showed me one that she had made herself, of rags, using her own hair for it. It was really wonderful how nearly she had made it to look like a real person. I was so pleased and surprised to see it, that I asked her for it, promising to send her a real doll as soon as I reached America, in its place.

Fri. July 4, 1919

The 5th time that we have spent the 4th of July in the islands. Tahauri sent us over a leg of nice fresh pork. I am sewing night a day to be ready n the boat arrives, so have turned the kitchen entirely over to Elder Larson. Went shopping with Sophie.

Sat. July 5, 1919

Cleaned house & sewed. Visited Pipi ma and Martha. Held priesthood meeting at 5: pm. Felt 3 quakes during the night.

Sun. July 6, 19

Fast Sunday. Took pictures of saints and friends.

Mon. July 7,1919

Terai came to spend the day, bringing a basket and fans that she as weaving for me. She gave me a beautiful fine aiho hei for the aiho hat that Rawana had woven for me. Bought a little outing hat for Sophie to wear on the ship.

Hiro a Temi who had recently arrived from Mautea related to us a most remarkable case of evil spirits that they had experienced at Marutea while he was there.

Tues. July 8, 1919

Have had all the bedding, curtains, table covers etc. of the house soaking since yesterday morning, waiting for the washer woman to come. So Ern and I pitched into them ourselves for fear of having them all mildew.

Wed. July 9, 1919

Managed to find another wash woman to come and finish the mission house washing for me. I washed my own clothes all day yesterday & ironed all day today. Was worn out at night A& dear old Terai insisted on coming in and massaging my tired arms for me. Poor old soul, she has almost shadowed me ever since we received our release and has even laid off work at the coprah sheds so that she can spend all of her time with me or making things for me when I leave.

Thurs. July 10, 1919

Washed and ironed again.

Fri. July 11, 1919

Finished packing and sewing. Took a freezer of ice cream over to St[illegible].

Sat. July 12, 1919

Nedda & Elder Paul Streeper left by the Kaio for the Tuamotus and Nanai & Tehourima left by the Moana.

Sun July 13, 1919

All the old sisters spent the entire day with me, weeping and loving me in turns. Elder Heslop didn’t ask me to give3 a farewell speech in meeting but asked Elder Larson whose departure was uncertain on account of the crowded passenger list of the Tafui. Rauana gave me a hand painted sea shell. Marama called to see me & towards evening she, Terai, Rawana & I walked along the sea shore out to Tepaerui taking a few last pictures of Tahiti. Terai and I were called to see Pancho’s wife who was ill and while angry at her husband had run up on the hill & was taken much worse. Terai my dear old Tahitian mother has been a veritable shadow to me for more than a week. Today she came at 8: am & returned home at 10:30 pm. The Stuart girls and their aunt Louise came over to see the box of clothes I had made for Sophie. Elder McCullough arrived about midnight by the “Vahine Tahiti” from Katui and Mahema where he has been laboring alone for the past 6 months. Several vessels that left Saturday were compelled to return to Tahiti on account of the heavy wind & high seas. The Tiare Taina was capsized around at Atimona & one child was drowned.

Mon. July 14, 1919

Awakened with one side of my face [diary ends abruptly at this point]




  1. The sad day has come. Venus’s diary has drawn to a close. [Tears.] It’s been an adventure just reading about all her adventures.

    [Reading it now.] Oh my. Mr Stuart let her take one of his girls? What a heart-wrenching decision. Sophie “Babette” Rossiter Homolya was born in 1913 in Tahiti and died in 1983 in Salt Lake City. She lived in San Francisco for part of her life, including in this awesome building. (Her married name is Hungarian.)

    And that’s quite an ending. “Awakened with one side of my face…” And she was called away, never to finish the sentence. Something to do with her teeth? Bell’s Palsy, perhaps? That can evidently be a stress response, triggering a dormant viral infection, and if leaving Tahiti and her Tahitian mother Terai and all their other beloved friends wasn’t stressful for the Rossiters, I can’t imagine what would be.

    Comment by Amy T — June 8, 2014 @ 8:59 am

  2. Venus, we will miss you!

    Comment by Mark B. — June 8, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

  3. It’s been a pleasure reading these entries every week. Thank you, Ardis!

    Comment by Matt — June 9, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  4. Thanks, Ardis. I was both happy and sad to learn of Venus’s release. But what a cliff-hanger …

    Comment by Gary Bergera — June 9, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  5. Did she keep a diary when they returned to preside in 1941-44? If so, do you have access to it? Also, I just realized they presided over the mission during both World Wars.

    Comment by David R — June 9, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  6. I have letters from that WWII-era mission, but am unaware of any diaries. Not long before that later mission, they adopted a small boy, Terry, who went with them. Venus, however, had asthma so bad that the squeezing and straining for breath bruised her already damaged heart. She was willing to stay but was bedridden, and the First Presidency called her back before Ernest’s call ended.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 9, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  7. Wow! Tahiti would definately not the best place in the world for someone with asthma. However, it was the place to be for a boy from the South. It was like 21 straight months of an extra humid July at home.
    I have really enjoyed this series and appreciate your hard work. It helped me re-live some very fond memories.

    Comment by David R — June 9, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

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