Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Eugene Mousley Cannon
by Brian A. Warburton
Eugene Mousley Cannon was born 12 May 1871 to Angus Munn Cannon and Ann Amanda Harrison Mousley in Salt Lake City, Utah. He attended the 14th Ward School as a young boy and later attended LDS Business College and the University of Utah.
Eugene was called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to the Society Islands, leaving Salt Lake City on 25 February 1893; several members of his family accompanied him as far as San Francisco. He and his companions boarded a ship on 1 March 1893 and after a three week voyage they arrived in Papeete, Tahiti on 21 March 1893. When they arrived there was no one there to pick them up, or give them instructions so they rented a house and spent their time wandering around seeing the sights, reading, swimming and other activities to pass the time. Finally on 6 May 1893 James S. Brown the president of the mission arrived and met the new missionaries. Soon after the arrival of President Brown the missionaries began learning the language and were assigned to areas of labor.
Eugene and his companions began to go out and travel among the natives for several weeks at a time, depending on their kindness for shelter and food. Traveling in this manner took faith and determination as it was not easy to leave the other missionaries and the comforts of their home. Before leaving on one of these trips Eugene remarked “in bidding the brethren farewell, it reminds me a great deal of leaving home,”1 but he found the natives to be friendly and accommodating and he was always well taken care of. It took some time to learn the language and the missionaries came up with ideas to help themselves learn more quickly, “Bro. Cutler stated that he wished all the talking in the meetings to be done in the native tongue. We expect to hold a meeting every evening, I trust we will as I believe it helps us considerable.”2
As he learned the language Eugene began to preach the gospel to the Tahitian people and found some success, with several people being baptized. He also met with opposition, mainly from government officials. A governor of one of the islands told them they could “preach no more until we get permits from the governor at Tahiti to preach. That if he heard of our saying anything he would have us brought to the judgment bench of his honor.”3 The governor also forced them to pay a sum of money for “taxes”. After paying the taxes, Eugene and his companion quickly left that island. Thereafter, Eugene spent much of his time organizing branches of the church and teaching the new converts their duties as members of the church.
Eugene finished his mission in 1896 and on 14 June of that year he boarded the ship City of Papeete and began his journey home. He arrived in San Francisco on 29 July 1896 and, after spending a few days in San Francisco, he boarded the train for Salt Lake City. Upon arriving home Eugene was asked to preach at the Salt Lake Tabernacle about his experience as a missionary and he was also called to be a home missionary in the Salt Lake Stake on 26 August 1896. On 19 September 1896 Eugene asked Edna Cannon Lambert to marry him, she agreed and they were married on 1 January 1897. Eugene and Edna moved into their own house in the Forest Dale area of Salt Lake City and in 1904 he assisted in editing and publishing the Book of Mormon into the Tahitian language.4
Several years later on 19 December 1909 Eugene was called to be the second counselor in the Forest Dale bishopric. He wrote “I was very much surprised at being asked to act in this calling but manifested a willingness to do so.”5 He served as second counselor until October 1914 when the bishopric was reorganized and he was then called to be the first counselor in the new bishopric. He held this new position until he was released in March 1928. Then in December of that same year he was again called to be the first counselor in the new bishopric. Eugene served in this calling until 25 May 1931 when he was called to be the bishop of the Forest Dale Ward. He wrote that his calling as bishop made him feel “very humble and lacking in qualifications to fill this high and holy calling.”6 Eugene served faithfully as bishop and members of his ward later wrote that “he could always be relied upon as a faithful and trusted friend.”7
Eugene worked as the head of an insurance agency and also served as the secretary of the South Jordan Canal company. He loved horses and cattle and raised both for many years.8 He was released as bishop of the Forest Dale Ward in August 1938, after having served in the bishopric of that ward for nearly thirty years. Two years later Eugene was called to return to Tahiti as the mission president. He was set apart for his call as mission president on 15 July 1940 and he left with his wife for Tahiti later that same month. Eugene and Edna returned home 14 December 1940 because World War II caused the church to close the Tahitian mission.9
After nearly sixty years of marriage Edna died on 29 February 1956 and Eugene followed her a few years later on 7 October 1958. Eugene and Edna had nine children, seven surviving to adulthood.
1 Eugene M. Cannon, “Diaries, 1893-1940,” MSS 1002, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. 1 August 1893.
2 Ibid., 18 September 1893.
3 Ibid., 29 March 1895.
4 S. George Ellsworth and Kathleen C. Perrin, Seasons of Faith and Courage: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia A Sesquicentennial History, 1843-1993 (Sandy, Utah: Yves R. Perrin, 1994), 46.
5 Cannon, “Diaries,” 19 December 1909.
6 Ibid., 25 May 1931.
7 Golden Jubilee Committee, Golden Jubilee, 1896-1946, fifty years of progress of Forest Dale Ward, Granite Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Golden Jubilee Committee, [n.p.,] 1946), 27.
Cannon, Eugene M. “Diaries, 1893-1940,” MSS 1002, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Ellsworth, S. George, and Kathleen C. Perrin. Seasons of Faith and Courage: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia A Sesquicentennial History, 1843-1993. Sandy, Utah: Yves R. Perrin, 1994.
FamilySearch. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1999-2002. 26 February 2004 available from http://www.familysearch.org.
Golden Jubilee Committee. Golden Jubilee, 1896-1946, Fifty years of progress of Forest Dale Ward, Granite Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Golden Jubilee Committee, [n.p.,] 1946.