Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Joseph Markham was born on 27 August 1868 in Spanish Fork, Utah County, Utah, to Stephen Markham and Mary Lucy Curtis, the ninth of their thirteen children. Unfortunately, his father died when Joseph was ten years old, leaving his mother to care and provide for the children. Young Joseph spent his childhood working on the farm for most of the year and attending school during the winter months, and on 7 September 1879 he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). He excelled in his studies and advanced to Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah, where he received his formal education during the late-1880s.
In 1892 Joseph was called to be a missionary for the LDS Church in New Zealand. He labored in the Bay of Islands District, primarily among the Maori people. As a traveling elder he had no permanent home, but journeyed from village to village, teaching families in their homes and holding meetings in rented halls, finding food and lodging where he could. A typical day’s journal entry reads: “Called at Mr. Pattens and he gave us the privaledge [sic] of the School House he also gave us dinner. We then notified the people of our meeting…At sunset we called at a place & told him who we were. He started in and we talked untill [sic] ten o’clock…[then] we went down the valley and slept out.”1 Almost every day he spent preaching the gospel, as on one occasion when he recorded: “I spoke on the gospel a little and bore my testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel as preached by L.D.S.”2 Clearly Joseph possessed a firm conviction that he was performing the work of the Lord, and that the gospel was “the only road to salvation.”3 Joseph willingly served as a missionary in New Zealand for five years and finally returned home to Utah in the fall of 1897.
After arriving home, Joseph began a career in law enforcement as marshal for Spanish Fork. In the Church organization he served as ward clerk of the Spanish Fork 2nd Ward, and then for several years as president of the Mutual Improvement Association. On 18 January 1899 Joseph married Mary Catherine Lewis, the daughter of immigrants from Great Britain; they had two sons and a daughter over the course of their marriage. In 1911 the family moved to Provo where Joseph became deputy sheriff for Utah County and Mary worked as a teacher in the public schools. Upon retirement from law enforcement, he found employment as a gardener for the Utah State Mental Hospital. At the age of sixty-four, after a month-long battle with Bright’s disease, an acute kidney malfunction, Joseph Markham passed away at home on 11 April 1932.
1 Joseph Markham, “Diary, 1895–1897,” 11 February 1896. Vault MSS 703, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Ibid., 23 March 1896.
3 Ibid., 6 September 1896.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 1 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
Deseret News. Obituary of Joseph Markham. 13 April 1932.
Markham, Joseph. “Diary, 1895–1897,” Vault MSS 703, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Pardoe, T. Earl. The Sons of Brigham. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Alumni Association, 1969.
Salt Lake Tribune. Obituary of Joseph Markham. 13 April 1932.
United States Census, 1920, 1930. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 1 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/search.