Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Warren Tonks was born on 24 September 1897 in Morgan, Morgan County, Utah, to George Moroni Tonks and Emily Ann Littlefield. The following year the family relocated to Victor, Teton County, Idaho, where George engaged in raising sheep and cattle. There Warren was raised and educated, and no doubt spent much of his time assisting his father on the ranch.
Warren received a call to serve a mission to New Zealand in 1920. Following the example of his father, who served two missions, he accepted this responsibility and left home on 5 January 1921. After arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, on 5 February 1921, Warren was assigned to labor among the Maoris in the Manawatu Conference. He immediately began learning the Maori language and also reported an increased interest in the gospel, noting that he “enjoy[ed] studying the scriptures for the first time in [his] life.”1 He quickly gained a love for the native people and the missionary labor: “I am learning to love my work and I sincerely desire in faith and prayer that the Lord will guide my footsteps in the straight and narrow path.”2
On 8 February 1922 Warren became president of the Hauraki Conference, where he succeeded in converting several people to the Church. Warren’s devotion is evident on Christmas Day, 1922, when he wrote: “Today is Christmas but no snow for Santa Clause. Our Santa Clause was our Heavenly Father and the Xmas Gift was His Spirit in our meetings. This is the greatest Xmas I have ever spent.”3 In 1923 he met Lord John Jellicoe, governor-general of New Zealand, and demonstrated the pride he felt as a representative of his Church: “I appreciated this opportunity of telling a leader of a nation that I am a Mormon Elder.”4 Soon thereafter Warren was released from his mission and returned home.
In Idaho Warren began courting Zara Hammond, whom he married on 4 September 1930; their union produced one son, Jesse Warren Tonks. They then moved to Springville, Utah County, Utah, where Warren worked as a pharmacist first for Stone Drug Co. in Spanish Fork, and then for Haymond Drug Co. in Springville. In the Church organization he fulfilled many callings, including High Priest group leader, Sunday School teacher, and member of the Stake Genealogy Committee and Stake Board of the Sunday School. Warren Tonks died of a heart attack on 5 April 1975.
1 Warren Tonks, “Diary, 1921,” 26 February 1921. MSS SC 835, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Ibid., 1 March 1921.
3 Tonks, “Diary, 1922–1923,” 25 December 1922. MSS SC 835, LTPSC.
4 Ibid., 27 February 1923
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 6 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
Daily Herald (Provo, Utah). Obituary of Warren Tonks. 6 April 1975.
Tonks family. “Biographies and Diaries, 1887–1970?” MSS SC 835, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University