Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Harmon Silas Sowards
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Harmon Silas Sowards was born on 22 September 1888 in Manassa, Conejos County, Colorado, to Harmon Sowards and Jane Thompson. He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) on 1 October 1896. On 24 September 1908 he married Ida Rebecca Jensen, another Manassa native. They were blessed with six children, four of whom survived infancy.
In December 1911 Harmon left home to fulfill a mission for the LDS Church; he was assigned to the Eastern States Mission and arrived at mission headquarters in New York City on 19 December 1911. After receiving his first appointment to labor in Brooklyn, Harmon began studying and preaching the gospel. He spent the majority of his time tracting; one typical journal entry reads, “I stayed home and studied in the fore noon and in the after noon went out tracting and had several conversations on the gospel.”1 He noted rather quickly that some people “talked quite reasonable and some was quite prejudice [sic] against the mormons.”2 On 23 July 1912 he was transferred to Albany, New York, where he spent the remainder of his mission. In January 1913 Harmon and his companion realized some reward for their labors when they baptized a family of four. Harmon spent fifteen months as a missionary, and after receiving an honorable release he returned home on 16 March 1913.
After his mission Harmon moved his family to Vernal, Uintah County, Utah, where he worked as a representative for Continental Oil Company (Conoco) for fifty-two years before retirement. He became relatively wealthy through this profession and was able to afford a full-time servant. Civically he was a member of the Vernal Chamber of Commerce, president of the Vernal Lions Club, and 16-year member of the Vernal City Council. In 1946 KSL radio honored him as Vernal’s most outstanding citizen. In the Church organization he served as clerk for Vernal 2nd Ward, counselor in the Vernal 3rd Ward bishopric, and high councilman for the Uintah Stake. Harmon Silas Sowards died in a rest home on 5 August 1973 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
1 Harmon Sowards, “Diary, 1911–1912,” 9 January 1912. MSS 1294, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Ibid., 12 January 1912.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 12 April 2004 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
Sowards, Harmon. “Mission Diary and Day-Book, 1911–1913.” MSS 1294, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
United States Federal Census, 1930. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 12 April 2004 available from http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/usfedcen/main.htm.
Utah Academic Library Consortium. Mountain West Digital Library [database online]. 14 April 2004 available at http://www.lib.utah.edu/digital/mwdl.
Vernal Express (Vernal, Utah). “Funeral Services to Honor Civic Leader.” 9 August 1973.