Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
by Brian A. Warburton
Henry Moss was born in Bountiful, Utah, 15 November 1869 to John Moss and Rebecca Wood. He grew up helping his father on the farm raising stock. On 20 December 1893 Henry married Minnie Mahala Atkinson and a little over a month later, on 1 February 1894, Henry left on a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). After spending a few days in San Francisco he sailed for Hawaii on 11 February 1894 and arrived in Honolulu on 18 February 1894. Henry was first taken to the Mormon owned plantation at Laie where many of the missionaries spent their first few months working while learning the language. Like many other missionaries in Hawaii Henry expressed great frustration about learning the language, “Today I have been much bother about the language. I was quit discouraged, but study, time and indurence will acomplinashe it”.1 While at the plantation Henry was assigned to help teach at a school. Throughout his missionary journals Henry constantly expressed his great love for his new bride and the sadness he felt at being away from her. “I have felt very sick at the thoughts of being from my dear wife so long, and to me the thought is like dagger pearcing my heart”.2
After spending a few months on the plantation Henry was sent to the island of Hawaii, arriving there on 19 May 1894. He spent most of his time studying the language and traveling around the island visiting members of the church. There were times that food was scarce and Henry mentioned that they were often half starved, “we were nearly starved, and food was something of importance, rice was a treat and when we could get that we felt blessed; how I wished I had the crusts and crumbs from the table at home.”3 After several months he was reassigned to the island of Kauai where food seemed to be in greater abundance. As he learned the language Henry began to have greater success in teaching the gospel to the Hawaiian people, “I baptized a little native girl Lilua it being the first time I ever performed such ordnence it was done in the native language.”4 After this experience Henry recorded many other baptisms and he also started speaking in conferences and other church meetings. After two years in the Sandwich Islands Henry remarked “my faith in the gospel has been strengthened and my experiences many and useful”.5 He spent the rest of his mission visiting with members and teaching them their duties in the gospel; he received his release from his mission on 6 April 1897.
After his release he spent the next few weeks preparing for the trip home and on 26 April 1897 he left Honolulu amid cheering and singing from many Hawaiian saints that had come to the dock to say good-bye. After sailing to Vancouver he and the other returning missionaries took a train to Ogden, Utah, where Henry was reunited with his wife on 7 May 1897. “I was over joid at seeing her so much that words fail to express my great happiness, I could heardly realize for a moment that it was her”.6
After his return home Henry helped on his father-in-law’s farm while his wife, Minnie, worked at a store. They were soon able to purchase some new furniture and they built a new home. Henry gained employment in a store, working on the sales floor and keeping the books. Henry and Minnie had six children together, three surviving to adulthood. Minnie died 24 March 1926 and Henry later married Edith Farr Moyes on 19 December 1929. Henry died suddenly of heart failure a few years later on 25 October 1933.
1 Henry Moss, “Diaries, 1894–1898,” MSS SC 534, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. 2 March 1894.
2 Ibid., 10 March 1894.
3 Ibid., 16 June 1894.
4 Ibid., 17 March 1895.
5 Ibid., 18 February 1896.
6 Ibid., 7 May 1897.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 26 October 1933.
FamilySearch. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1999–2002. 20 February
2004 available from http://www.familysearch.org.
Moss, Henry. “Diaries, 1894–1898,” MSS SC 534, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.