Tag Archives | Missionaries

Death, Births, & The War of 1812: 10 Missionaries P2

Death, Births, & The War of 1812.  Here are ten more missionaries called to serve in 1852 and their back stories.  Please feel free to comment and correct information.  I will continue to update.


Benjamin Brown.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1794.  Age in 1852: 58.  From: New York.  DOD: 1878.  Father belonged to Society of the Friends of Quakers.


Perregrine Sessions.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: Maine.  DOD: 1893.  Mother was a midwife at 3,977 births.  Future founder of the Utah city of Bountiful.


James Pace.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1811.  Age in 1852: 41.  From: Tennessee.  DOD: 1888.  Father served with General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.


Levi Nickerson.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1853.  Died in Council Bluffs, Iowa on his way to serve his mission.


William Woodward.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1833.  Age in 1852: 19.  From: England.  DOD: 1908.  Arrived from England in 1850.  Was part of the Willie Handcart Company.  


James G Willie.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: England.  DOD: 1895.  Led the Willie Handcart company.


Daniel D McArthur.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1820.  Age in 1852: 32.  From: New York.  DOD: 1908.  Daughter born the day he was called on a mission.  Led the company just ahead of the Willie and Martin handcart companies.


William Empy.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1808.  Age in 1852: 44.  From: ??.  DOD: ??.  Emigration agent??.


Elias Gardner.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1807.  Age in 1852: 45.  From: New York.  DOD: 1891.  One of his wives was pregnant when he received the call.


Dan Jones.  Mission: Wales.  DOB: 1810.  Age in 1852: 42.  From: Wales.  DOD: 1862.  Jones was with Joseph Smith at Carthage jail.  He missed the martyrdom when he left on June 27 to deliver a letter.  Before he died, Joseph Smith told Dan Jones that he would return to Wales to serve a mission.  He had great success and baptized thousands.  1852 was his second mission to Wales. 

Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Ten 1852 Missionaries: P1

Ten 1852 Missionaries and their Backgrounds

The clerk called 107 names to serve serve missions at the August 28, 1852 special conference in Salt Lake City.  I created a database with their names, where they were called, date of birth, where they were born, date of death, and facts that caught my eye.

As I get confirmations for these elders, I will add it to the post.  Please feel free to add information and primary documentation as you have it.

Daniel Spencer.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1794.  Age in 1852: 58.  From: Massachusetts.  DOD: 1868.  Last mayor of Nauvoo.

Charles A Harper .  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1817.  Age in 1852: 35. From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1900.  Grew up Quaker.

John Van Cott.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38. From: New York?? (need to verify).  DOD: 1903.  Cousin of Parley P Pratt.

David Grant.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1816.  Age in 1852: 36.  From: Scotland.  DOD: 1868.  Wife died trying to reach Utah.

Edward Martin.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1818.  Age in 1852: 34.  From: England.  DOD: 1882.  Led the Martin Handcart Company.

John S Fulmer.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1807.  Age in 1852: 45.  From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1883.  Inclined as a Baptist in his youth, with the Prophet Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail.

John Oakley.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1819.  Age in 1852: 33.  From: New York.  DOD: ??.  Wife would divorce him upon his return.

William Clayton. Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: England.  DOD: 1879.  Penned the words to “Come Come Ye Saints” (popular Mormon pioneer song).

William Pitt.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 39.  From: England.  DOD: 1873.  Directed the Nauvoo brass band.

Thomas W Treat.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1811.  Age in 1852: 41.  From: New York.  DOD: 1860.  Grew up Quaker.

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Last Reason: Questionable Schemes

The majority of missionaries in Asia built schools and taught European languages and Western science, administered medicines and vaccines, performed surgeries, and facilitated many other valuable services.

Last Reason: Missionaries involved themselves in questionable schemes.  

A few Christian missionaries involved themselves in questionable schemes, knowing or unknowingly.  Some pocketed money from their parishes at home meant to benefit Asians and vacationed instead.  Some refused to administer desperately needed supplies and medicine unless the person became Christian, otherwise known as forced conversion.  Some missionaries interpreted for Opium smugglers paving the way for the drug to penetrate deeper into the interior of China.  Some acted as missionaries while secretly working for European governments aimed at undermining Asian states and ultimately at colonization.

Asians had reasons for distrusting European and American missionaries.

Take a look at this Al Jazeera report about missionaries working in Thailand in 2009.

Source: Lovell, Julia. The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China. London, Picador 2011. Pgs 26-27
Source: Bacon, George. Siam: The Land of the White Elephant as it was and is. Compiled and arranged by George Bacon. Revised by Frederick Wells Williams. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893.
Take a look at this blog post: The Influence of Early American Missionaries in the Development of Northern Siam. http://americanexpatchiangmai.com/influences-early-american-missionaries-development-northern-siam/
Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Reason 1: Condescension & Dismissal

If Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism spread through Asia as originally foreign to some group or another, why is the spread of Christianity so controversial? After all, Christianity’s birthplace is in Asia.

Reason 1: Condescension and Dismissal

In the 1850‘s Europeans often dismissed the Asians whom they taught Christianity. Evidences of this can be found in condescending language. The word “savage” to describe Asians for example, frequented their journals and correspondence. Although many did study Asian culture, history, language, and generally wished the best for their Asian counterparts, enough Westerners demeaned Asians to be considered a common practice. Primary literature is full of demeaning language.

Many Westerners had little context beyond a few reports from friends and family about what they would witness upon their arrival to these countries. British soldiers often came as tradesmen or farmers and couldn’t always read or write. With few explanations for what they experienced, they formed opinions without thorough study and easily misunderstood what they saw.

They often noticed the ills of Asian society without acknowledging their own society’s destructive patterns. An Asian in a European country of the 1850‘s could similarly misinterpret what they experienced, reporting back the social ills of Europe regarding their own society as ultimately more civilized. So while a Westerner may innocently desire to improve the conditions of an Asian country through Christianity, they might not be conscious of their own prejudices.

Whether or not a Westerner intended to benefit Asia with Christianity still does not resolve one fundamental imbalance in the interaction. Westerners shared knowledge, philosophy, and religion but in exchange they preferred Asian products. Many European’s lacked interest in the philosophies and approaches of Asians despite noted exceptions. Europeans as a group, therefore sent an underlying message intentionally or unintentionally that Asian philosophy was not worth their attention compounding negative stereotypes of Asians.

Asian products, though, witnessed of the superiority of some aspects of Asia compared to Europe. Europeans found it difficult to produce products Asians wanted to purchase in return.

Ironically, Christianity is originally Asian. Theoretically Asians might understand the context, depth and layers of the Christian Bible set in an Asian land with more clarity than Europeans.

Here is an example of European reportage of Siam in 1881 which highlights the complexities of missionaries and their understanding of Asians:

When Sir John Bowring came in 1855 to negotiate his treaty [opening up trade with the West and establishing British extraterritoriality rights], he found that, instead of having to deal with an ignorant, narrow, and savage government, the two kings and some of the noblemen were educated gentlemen, well fitted to discuss with him, with intelligent skill and fairness, the important matters which he had in hand. Sir John did his work for the most part ably and well. But the fruit was ripe before he plucked it. And it was by the patient and persistent labors of the missionaries for twenty years that the results which he achieved were made not only possible but easy. –George B. Bacon 1881

Another reading of this passage could be that this interaction actually demonstrates Siamese skill, not savagery, in adapting to changing political realities.

Source: Bacon, George. Siam: The Land of the White Elephant as it was and is. Compiled and arranged by George Bacon. Revised by Frederick Wells Williams. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893.
Source: Luddington, Elam. Correspondence to the Great Salt Lake. 1854. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Archives.
Source: The Oriental Herald and Colonial Review. Vol III. September to December 1824. London, J. M. Richardson, 23, Cornhill.
Source: Guha, Ranajit. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. London, Duke University Press 1999.


Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Special Conference III: Called without Warning

S pecial Conference: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA August 28-29, 1852

On August 28, 1852 Brigham Young, a carpenter, blacksmith and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called 98 men without previous warning to serve missions throughout the world. India, Siam, China, as well as England, Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Capital of Prussia, Norway, Gibralter, Nova Scotia, West Indies, British Guiana, Texas, New Orleans, St. Louis, Iowa, Washington City, Australia, and the Sandwich Islands.

In October ten more men were called. Among them, our missionary to Siam, Elam Luddington.

[The figure 108 comes from articles I read, however, looking at the primary source that I have, the minutes of the October conference, it seems to give a less specific number.  Does anyone know where the 108 number comes from?  From my understanding there are 98 called in the August conference which would mean 10 more in the October conference.]

[Update 8/29/2013: I found the discrepancy.  The primary source reads, “The clerk read 98 names of individuals who had been proposed to foreign missions.”  Then after the conference was adjourned they reconvened at 2pm.  Then it reads, “The following elders were then appointed to their several missions:”.  107 names are then listed with their mission locations.  Why the discrepancy?  The number 108 may come from an additional elder called not on the list.  Perhaps that person was Harlow Redfield who is mentioned in General Epistle #7 but not in the list from the conference.]

The elders met in the “Tabernacle”
The Mormons did not meet in the Tabernacle currently in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. A gabled roof, or A-line, building made of adobe was completed right as their April 1852 conference concluded.

What does “tabernacle” mean? The word tabernacle comes from the Hebrew scriptures and is used to denote the tent or dwelling place of deity. Later the Israelites built the Temple in Jerusalem to replace their tabernacle.

What did the Mormons use the Tabernacle for? Brigham Young directed Truman O. Angell to design a structure to house large audiences for conferences.

Related Post: The newspaper announcing the conference Special Missionary Conference II: Getting the Word Out

Source: Deseret News, –Extra. Great Salt Lake City, U.T., September 14, 1852. pg 10. Digitized by the Internet Archive. “Minutes of conference a special conference of the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assembled in the…” Accessed at: http://archive.org/stream/minutesofconfere04unse#page/n1/mode/2up on 3/9/2013.
Source: Grow, Stewart L. “Buildings on the Temple Block Preceding the Tabernacle” in The Tabernacle: “An Old and Wonderful Friend,” ed. Scott C. Esplin (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2007), 107-136. Accessed at: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/tabernacle-old-and-wonderful-friend/thesis/3-buildings-temple-block-preceding-tabernacle on 6 March 2013.
Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Special Missionary Conference II: Getting the Word Out

Church conferences were normally held in April and October.  This Special Missionary Conference  came a little early, August 28-29, 1852.  Another conference occurred in October as well with more missionaries called.  On Saturday, August 21, 1852 the Deseret News, the only newspaper in Salt Lake City at the time, published this announcement:

Special Conference of the elders of Israel, to commence, Saturday 28 Aug. 10 a.m. at the Tabernacle.  All elders, within reach, read and attend.

The original typesetter included the italics for the words read and attend in the quote.

The paper also included calls for several of the quorums, or groups of men, to report to their leaders.  The first and quickest Mormons crossing the plains in 1852 already just arrived.  Many more were now still out on the plains or crossing the mountains on their way to Great Salt Lake City, as they called it then.  The population would half again in 1852.

Source: Deseret News vol 2, Saturday, Aug 21, 1852 No. 21 Pg 3
Source: Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database http://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/home?lang=eng
Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Special Missionary Conference of 1852: I

I am researching the Special Missionary Conference of 1852 in Salt Lake City, UT.  From this conference the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) called about 100 men to serve missions all over the world.  In the next few posts I will share with you what I’m learning.  We have the minutes of the conference so we know who spoke and what they said.  Now I’m piecing together what it looked and felt like to be there.  If you have your own questions, comments, reactions, please post.

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Mormons who Begin Journeys II: 40 Rooms with Staff and Servants

Let me introduce you to Harry McCune who may fill in some blanks on our Elam Luddington’s three year South Asian journey.  Harry, a young British lad of 17 lived in a bungalow of 40 rooms with a staff of servants in the heat and congestion of Calcutta in the late 1850s.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Harry McCune’s life

He survived his sister who died soon after birth and another brother who died from a mad dog bite.  He also survived the Asiatic cholera which killed hundreds of English including his two brothers.  Harry, however, would live to age 84 and die in Salt Lake City, Utah.

His father Matthew, an officer in the British Royal Army, arrived in India with his new wife by sail boat in the mid 1830s before there were steam ships.  They threw merry parties in their lovely home hosting young British soldiers and talking late into the nights on a range of topics.

It was at one of these parties where the conversation turned to religion in their small circle they called the Plymouth Brethren associated with the Baptist Church of India.  A couple of eighteen year old adventure sailors, Benjamin Riches and George Barber, stopping at the Calcutta port on their way back from Singapore heading to London were in the circle that night.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Matthew McCune’s life and his son Harry’s life and the rest of the family and some of their friends.  George and Benjamin had just become Mormon in London before they shipped out.  They were about to begin a journey they thought would be just another seafaring voyage and so it was.  But they also inadvertently became missionaries, too.  They were likely surprised at converting others as much as they were surprised to be converted themselves.  In George’s words,

“Through my acquaintance with Miss M A Wingfield who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of [Latter-day] Saints the Gospel by her was introduced to us and strange and marvellous [as] it now appears both Benjamin and myself was [impressed] with the Truth of the same and about 3 weeks after was bapized in London on the 3 day of IS by Elder H. Savage.”

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives, Joel E. RicksCache Valley History Collection, COLL MSS 46, Folder 14, Page 4)

Matthew and Harry McCune would now cross paths with Elam Luddington on his sea voyage.  Elam’s purpose was missionary work but it may have been more seafaring adventure less missionary work than George Barber’s.
Read full story · Comments { 6 }

Mormons who Begin Journeys I: Elam to Siam

Mormons begin a lot of journeys they don’t finish.  Or at least they don’t accomplish what they set out to do.  Stories in Latter-day Saint Church history abound of people who think they are pursuing one goal but later find out there might be a different purpose for their journeys.  Or is that just another way of excusing failure?  Elam Luddington may be just such a man who began a journey this way.

I never lacked for meals, victuals or was without purse or scrip.

Elam Luddington reports that he almost died three times as a youth in his autobiography, a portent of his future life as a converted Mormon.  But interestingly he writes more about Indian encounters and the Mormon Battalion than his three years in Southeast Asia as a missionary from 1852-1855 for which he is now credited as the first Mormon missionary to Thailand.  Yet he doesn’t have much to say about the trip.  In his own words,

“Then I was called on a Mission with three others, namely, Chaney West, Franklin Denny and Levi Savage to go to Bancock, Siam, Further India.  We started October 21, 1852, together with fifty-two elders for different parts, namely, Siam, Calcutta, Australia, Sandwhich Islands, South America, etc.

I spent three years on this mission in the East Indies.  I visited Calcutta, Malacca, Siam, Calunthan, China, etc., and was on three sailing ships.  I travelled thirty thousand miles, baptized 16 converts and returned home in the fall of 1855.  I never lacked for meals, victuals or was without purse or scrip.”

(Elam Luddington, Luddington family and all existing portions of an autobiographical sketch, FHL US/CAN Fiche 6018292, located at the LDS Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah)

In six sentences he summarizes three years, thirty thousand miles, three others, 16 converts, and several cities. The phrase “without purse or scrip” alludes to a great adventure.  It comes from the Bible, in Luke 10:4, for example, which means that a missionary will not carry money or belongings but live day to day by what people provide him or her on the journey.

Luckily others wrote more details about Luddington and his companions’ mission, walking in their footsteps, estimating their travails, but most importantly publishing the story of Elam’s “etc”.

In the next posts, you can judge for yourself if they accomplished what they set out to do and decide how Elam Luddington stacks as the first Mormon missionary in Thailand against other Christian missionaries of his time.
Read full story · Comments { 0 }