Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Lafayette Cox Lee and A. Pearl Mortensen Lee
by Brian A. Warburton
Lafayette Cox Lee was born July 31, 1894, in Saint George, Utah and grew up in Hinckley, Utah. He was the son of Milton Lafayette Lee and Mary Elizabeth Cox. Augusta Pearl Mortensen was born August 21, 1893, in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico, to James (Jens) Mortensen and Ida Jane Pease. Lafayette attended Millard Academy and was involved in a school play entitled Men, Maids and Matchmakers.1 He was also elected student body president for the 1914-15 school year.
Lafayette and Pearl were married May 26, 1915, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later that same year they were called to serve a mission together to Japan. They were set apart October 29, 1915, and left Salt Lake City October 30, 1915. After spending a few days sightseeing in San Francisco the Lees left for Japan aboard the Nippon Maru November 6, 1915. They both complained of sea sickness on the voyage and neither enjoyed their time on the ship. They arrived at Yokohama, Japan, November 25, 1915, where they were met by other missionaries and escorted to the mission home in Tokyo. A few days were spent in Tokyo getting supplies and resting. The Lee’s first assignment was to labor in Osaka. A lot of the time in Osaka was spent learning the language and customs of the Japanese people. Another assignment was to help teach English to Japanese people.
The majority of their mission was spent in the city of Sapporo. They became good friends with the mission president, Joseph Stimpson and his wife Mary. Mary Stimpson would often spend the summer months with the Lees, because Sapporo was cooler than Tokyo.2 While on their mission Pearl gave birth to two sons, Marion born April 5, 1916, and Milton Elwood, born October 10, 1918. The Lee’s missionary spirit was manifested when Milton was born. Lafayette recorded “…wrote a letter to President Stimpson and wife…informing them of the safe arrival of the new missionary.”3
After their mission they returned to Hinckley, Utah, and started farming. Lafayette and Pearl had seven children; Marion, Milton, Garth, Hyrum, Evan, Ruth and Mae who died four days after birth, on September 12, 1924. Lafayette was set apart as the second counselor in the Deseret Stake presidency September 29, 1929, by Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl also served in several church positions including Relief Society President. The Great Depression and a drought brought financial troubles and they lost their farm to the government, causing them to move to Salt Lake City.
Lafayette was a compiler of folklore and Pearl was actively involved in genealogical research. Lafayette wrote an unpublished document that contains the memoirs of people he interviewed about the Prophet Joseph Smith. These people either knew the prophet personally at some point in their lives, or their families were acquainted with him.4
Pearl died November 29, 1959 of cancer. Lafayette later married Lilian Susannah Burton on September 13, 1960; he died nearly fifteen years later on February 18, 1975, in Salt Lake City, after suffering from a long illness.
1 Millard County Chronicle, March 1914.
2 Lanier Britsch, “Early Latter-day Saint Missions to South and East Asia” ( Ph.D. diss. , Claremont Graduate School, 1968) , 318.
3 Lafayette C. Lee Collection, 1915-1936. October 11, 1918.
4 Lafayette C. Lee. Statements, ca. 1890. It is hard to put a date on this document. The BYU library has assigned a date around 1890, but Lafayette was not born until 1894.
Britsch, Lanier. “Early Latter-day Missions to South and East Asia.” Ph. D. diss. ,Claremont Graduate School, 1968.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City) , 30 November 1959. (Obituary) Jensen, 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. 4. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jensen Memorial Association, 1936.
Lee, Lafayette C. “Collection, 1915-1936.” MSS 2313, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo.
Lee, Lafayette C. “Statements, ca. 1890.” MSS 915, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo.
Millard County Chronicle (Delta, Utah) , March 1914.
U.S. Census, 1930. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 26 November 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com.