Guide to the Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence,
1891-1894

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Bridges, Charles H., 1865-1925
Title: Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence
Dates: 1891-1894 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Collection Number: USU_COLL MSS 308
Summary: This collection contains two diaries kept by Charles H. Bridges, Jr., during his LDS mission in Samoa, a journal with Bridges' Samoan language notes and studies, an 1892 Deseret News article discussing Bridges' work in Samoa, and a family group sheet with Bridges family's genealogical information.
Repository: Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives
Manuscript Collection

Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
3000 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3000
Phone: 435 797-1663
Fax: 435 797-2880
Email: scweb@usu.edu

Languages: Collection materials are in English. 
Sponsor: Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Biographical Note

Charles Henry Bridges, Jr. was born February 25, 1865 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory the son of Charles Henry and Frances Elizabeth Pearson Bridges. In 1866 the Bridges family was called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to move north and settle the remote Bear Lake Valley. They settled in modern day Dingle, Idaho where Charles Sr. worked as a farmer and school teacher and Frances worked as a midwife.

Charles Bridges, Jr. received his basic education from his father and spent his youth working the family farm. In 1887 Bridges met Mary Ellen Nate from nearby Paris, Idaho. After a year-long courtship the couple was married in the Logan LDS Temple on October 4, 1888. They settled in Dingle to farm and later had eight children who lived to adulthood.

In 1891 Bridges was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in the recently opened Samoa Islands Mission, Pacific Ocean. Bridges was one of the first missionaries to proselyte in the Samoa Mission after it was opened in 1888 and he labored there for three years.

The first LDS missionaries were sent to Samoa in 1862, but no other missionaries were sent to Samoa until 1888. After the mission was opened the church continued to send missionaries to Samoa during the 1890s even though in 1888 and 1892-1894 various political and tribal wars erupted on the islands as natives fought for independence from western powers such as Germany, France, and the United States. Also during this time a number of LDS missionaries in Samoa died of various diseases, such as typhoid, because of the tropical conditions and the lack of available medical facilities. Beginning in the 1890s the LDS Church opened schools and established various work projects in attempt to win public support for the church and to improve living conditions on the local islands.

During Bridges' time in Samoa he proselyted on the Savaii and Upolu Islands of Samoa. He made regular trips to remote areas to proselyte and baptized numerous people. He also taught English to the local natives and took part in various work projects designed by the LDS Church. In the summer of 1893 Bridges' work slowed when he became ill, but he recovered within a month. Although Bridges recovered from his illness, he was left temporarily visually impaired. He struggled to see clearly and accomplish basic tasks for a period of two months before his eyesight was fully recovered.

In March 1894 Bridges was released from his missionary service and set sail for the United States. One month later he arrived home in Dingle and resumed farming. In 1894 Bridges was called to be Ward Historian for his LDS Ward. Bridges lived in Dingle until his death on February 8, 1925.

Sources:

Britsch, R. Lanier, Unto the Islands of the Sea, Deseret Book Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986, 349-430 (USU Special Collections call # 289.351 B777).

Daughters of Utah Pioneers, History of Bear Lake Pioneers, Utah Printing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1968, 88-90 (USU Special Collections call # 979.2091 H117).

Content Description

This collection contains two diaries kept by Charles H. Bridges, Jr. during his LDS mission in Samoa, a journal with Bridges' Samoan language notes and studies, an 1892 Deseret News article discussing Bridges' work in Samoa, and a family group sheet with Bridges family's genealogical information.

The diaries span the period of 1893 to 1894 and contain detailed daily entries about Bridges' missionary labors. His diaries discuss missionary work, local congregations, opposition to the LDS Church in Samoa, local customs and social life, the political conflicts that occurred in Samoa during this period, and other similar topics. Each daily entry also lists the town or city Bridges was then laboring in. His diaries also contain a dated list showing which towns and islands Bridges visited over the course of each year, a list of all letters received, a financial record of expenses, a record of baptisms performed, and the 1893 diary (Fd 1) contains a photograph of Bridges. The 1893-1894 diary (Fd 2) contains a month of entries while Bridges was in Dingle shortly after his return from Samoa. These two diaries were numbered Journals 4 and 5 by Bridges, the location of Journals 1-3 is currently unknown.

The journal with a Samoan language notes concerns Bridges' study of the Samoan language and contains speeches, prayers, and various notes in Samoan. The Deseret News article discusses the October 1892 travels of Bridges and island's LDS conference meeting where Bridges spoke. The family group record shows birth, death, and marriage dates of Bridges and his wife and children.

There is also a collection of incoming and outgoing correspondence associated with the Charles H. Bridges, Jr. missionary diaries. One group of letters is from Bridges’ fellow missionaries in Samoa, including George E. Browning, Hatten Carpenter, George M. McCune, Joseph H. Merrill, C.W. Poole, R.M. Stevens, C.R. Thomason, Adelbert Twitchell, and Frank Van Colt. This correspondence includes words of encouragement, as well as reports of progress in the Samoan Mission. While in Samoa, Bridges also received a number of letters from family and friends, the majority of which come from his wife, Mary Ellen. These letters provide Bridges with updates about life in his hometown of Dingle, Idaho, like one letter from his father-in-law, Sampson Nate, which announces the birth of Bridges’ son. Another includes a lock of hair, probably clipped from one of his children.

In these papers is also a series of outgoing correspondence from Bridges while he was serving as a missionary in Samoa. The majority of these letters is addressed to Mary Ellen and offers an unusually personal insight into Bridges’ feelings and experiences while living overseas. There is also a letter to the 19th Quorum of the Seventies that details the progress of the Samoan mission after missionaries had been on the island for three and a half years.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  Restrictions

Open to public research.

Restrictions on Use :  Copyright

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Utah State University Libraries, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Permission to publish material from the Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation :  

Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence, 1891-1894. (COLL MSS 308). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Arranged in numeric sequence according to Box and Folder.

Acquisition Information :  

The diaries and journals in this collection were purchased by USU Special Collections from a dealer in 1997. The correspondence was purchased from Orrin Schwab in 2011 using funds from the Milton R. Merrill Library Collection Endowment.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Diaries, 1891-1894
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Diary
(contains photograph of Bridges)
1893, March-September
Box
Folder
1 2 Diary 1893 September -1894 September
1 3 Ledger, Samoan and English language notes 1891-1894
1 4 Copy of Deseret News article discussing Bridges missionary work in Samoa Oct 12, 1892.
1 5 Copy of Bridges' family group record showing family genealogy

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Missionary Correspondence, 1891-1894
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Incoming correspondence to C.H. Bridges, Jr. in Samoa from family and friends
Box
Folder
2 1-35 Mary Ellen Bridges (wife) and children
(Fd 12 includes letter with lock of hair sewn in).
2 36 Frances E. Bridges (mother)
2 37-38 Grace Bridges (sister)
2 39-42 T.P. Bridges (brother)
2 43-44 Charles and Frances E. Bridges (father and mother)
2 45-49 Frances E. and Grace Bridges (mother and sister)
2 50-51 T.P. and Grace Bridges (brother and sister)
2 52 Mattie Burgoyne
2 53 Charles Dalton and Mattie Burgoyne
2 54 H.A. Dayton and Mary Ellen Bridges
2 55-57 David and Marian Follick (brother-in-law and sister-in-law)
2 58 Elizabeth Follick (niece)
2 59 Henry Hillier
2 60-62 Sam Humpherys (unknown)
2 63 C.H. Hussey (cousin)
2 64 Fred and Ettie Nate (brother-in-law and sister-in-law)
2 65 Mary G. Nate (sister-in-law)
2 66 Sampson and Elizabeth Nate (father-in-law and mother-in-law)
(Sampson informs Bridges of the birth of his son)
2 67-68 Annie D. Stevens
2 69 Annie D. Stevens and Sarrah Hilton
2 70-71 Seymour B. Young
2 72 Rose and Jim (unknown)
Incoming correspondence to C.H. Bridges, Jr. in Samoa from fellow missionaries in Samoa
Box
Folder
3 1-6 George E. Browning
3 7 Hatten Carpenter
3 8 George M. McCune
3 9-10 Joseph H. Merrill
3 11-16 C.W. Poole
3 17 R.M. Stevens
3 18-23 C.R. Thomason
3 24-27 Adelbert Twitchell
3 28 Frank Van Colt
3 29 Hatten Carpenter and Joseph H. Merrill
3 30-32 Joseph H. Merrill and Adelbert Twitchell
3 33 Hatten Carpenter, C.W. Poole, Adelbert Twitchell
3 34 "Ed."
3 35 Missionary cards: George McCune, C.W. Poole, G. Matuni
3 36 Loose envelope
Incoming correspondence to C.H. Bridges, Jr. in Idaho
Box
Folder
3 37 Martin Kunz
3 38 Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Lambert
3 39 Eliza Rasband
Outgoing correspondence from C.H. Bridges, Jr. in Samoa to family
Box
Folder
3 40-61 Mary Ellen Bridges (wife) and children
3 62-65 Charles and Frances E. Bridges (father and mother)
3 66 Thaddeus Bridges (brother)
3 67 Thomas Bridges and Grace Bridges
Other correspondence and loose items
Box
Folder
3 68 C.H. Bridges, Jr. to Mary Ellen Bridges
(Bridges announces his arrival in Ogden after Samoan mission)
3 69 C.H. Bridges, Jr. to the 19th Quorum of the Seventies
(Bridges describes the state of the Samoan mission)
3 70 David R. Morgan to Mary E. Bridges
3 71 Miscellaneous missionary expenses in Samoa
3 72 Anonymous correspondence
3 73 Loose envelopes

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Subjects

    • Personal Names :
    • Bridges, Charles H., 1865-1925.
    • Subject Terms :
    • Mormon Church--Samoa.
    • Mormon missionaries--Diaries.
    • Mormon missionaries--Samoa.

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