Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Albert Stephen Jones
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Albert Stephen Jones was born on 15 January 1871 in Provo, Utah County, Utah, to Samuel Stephen Jones and Julia Bodilstine Ipson. His father was a prominent pioneer and Church leader in Provo, and at the age of eight Albert was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He received his primary education and then studied at the Brigham Young Academy under the tutelage of Dr. Karl G. Maeser. He also learned how to succeed in business from his father, a successful entrepreneur, and for a time helped manage the family-owned charcoal kiln in Spanish Fork Canyon.
On 30 December 1893 Albert received a call to serve a mission to the Samoan Islands. After a months preparation he left his home in Provo and journeyed to Samoa, arriving on 25 February 1894. He remarked that “the island is a pretty place,” but three days later he was assigned to labor on the Tongan islands.1 The missionary work on Tonga was just beginning at this time: there were very few native members of the Church, and the missionaries struggled with both the language and with government opposition. After a year of study and preparation, however, Albert and his companions began proselytizing in earnest among the native Tongans. On one of the first attempts Albert recorded their desire to do the work of the Lord: “We…humbly asked the Lord…that we may be able to do some good and sow the seed [of the gospel] in good and fruitful soil.”2 After a successful meeting, he remarked that they “rejoice[d] at the privilege of spreading the gospel to a few natives.”3
Albert eventually succeeded in mastering the Tongan language and even wrote his own 200-page Tongan-English dictionary. However, very few natives accepted the teachings of the Church, preferring to remain part of the government-sponsored Tongan Free Church. Therefore, the decision was reached in December 1896 to close the Tongan Conference and either send the missionaries back to Samoa or release them to return home. Albert recorded his feelings when he received word of this change: “I hate the thoughts of seeing this mission closed, as I don’t know what kind of an explanation we…will make to those who has [sic] stood up in the mists of the triles [sic] and mockery and went down into the water of baptism and joined the true fold of Christ.”4 However, he received his official release from the mission field and on 24 December 1896, Albert left Tonga and journeyed home to Provo.
Immediately after returning from his mission, on 12 May 1897, Albert married Sarah Elizabeth Fletcher, also of Provo, with whom he had corresponded during his three-year absence. They were blessed with four children over the course of their marriage, one son and three daughters. Albert made his living as a retail manager, specializing in dry goods and clothing. In the Church organization he served for several years in the Provo First Ward Sunday School superintendency, and as a member of the bishopric of that ward for fifteen years. He also avidly supported the athletic programs of Brigham Young University, and hardly ever missed a home basketball game. Albert was blessed with a long, healthy life, and a large family, which included thirteen grandchildren and twenty-nine great-grandchildren. Albert Stephen Jones finally succumbed to the effects of old age on 1 July 1962 at the age of ninety-one.
1 Albert Stephen Jones, “Diary, 1893–1894,” 25 February 1894. MSS 350, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Jones, “Diary, 1894–1895,” 28 March 1895. MSS 350, LTPSC.
4 Jones, “Diary, 1896–1902,” 4 December 1896. MSS 350, LTPSC.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 11 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
Daily Herald (Provo, Utah). “Prominent Provoan Dies at 91.” 2 July 1962.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 2. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Co., 1901–1934.
Jones, Albert Stephen. “Diaries, 1893–1902.” MSS 350, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.