Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "French Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 267-69
FRENCH MISSION (The) comprises France, Belgium and the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It is divided into six conferences, or districts, namely, Paris, Lyons, Marseilles and Bordeaux (in France), Belgian and Swiss, with a total Church membership of 671, including 15 Elders, 19 Priests, 16 Teachers, 23 Deacons, 544 lay members, and 54 children. Headquarters of the mission are at Rue Saint Cloud, 40, Ville d'Avray, Seine-et-Oise, France, near Paris (1930).
The first L. D. S. missionary to France was William Howell, of Aberdare, Wales, who in July, 1849, was sent by the presidency of the British Mission to open the gospel door in France. He proceeded to the seaport of Le Havre and on July 30, 1849, baptized Augustus Saint d'Anna, a young foreigner, who could speak several languages. He then went over to the island of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, where Elder Wm. C. Dunbar had been laboring for some time, and had made some converts, among whom was Philip de la Mare, a French official, and later a valuable member of the Church in Utah. But Elder Howell's mission being to France he returned there, and after preaching at St. Servan (Ile-et-Viliane), where he baptized a man named Pebble and a young lady (Anna Browse), and later a few others in Boulogne-sur-mer, he, on April 5, 1850, organized the Boulogne-sur-mer Branch with six members, it being the first, branch of the Church organized in France. On the same occasion he ordained one of these members, G. Viett, a Priest, and set him apart to preach the gospel in the French language. Elder Howell then returned to England to join Apostle John Taylor, who, with Curtis E. Bolton, had been set apart in Salt Lake City, Utah, to open the French Mission.
On June 18, 1850, Apostle John Taylor with Elders Bolton and Howell arrived at Boulogne, and after visiting the small branch of the Church raised up by Elder Howell, they proceeded to Paris. Having been joined by Elders John Pack, Fred Piercey and Arthur Stayner, missionary work was commenced, and on Dec. 8, 1850, a branch of the Church, consisting of eight members, was organized in Paris. Among these members was Louis A. Bertrand (editor of a Communist paper), who later rendered great assistance in the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Early in 1851 the translation of the Book of Mormon into the French language was commenced by Elder Curtis E. Bolton, who had spent some years in business in France before emigrating to America. A Mr. Lazare Auge was engaged to assist, under the direction of Pres. John Taylor. The book was published in January, 1852.
In May, 1851, the publication of "L'Etoile du Deseret" (Star of Deseret) was commenced by John Taylor. This periodical was continued for one year only. Later, "Le Reflectour" was published in French by Elder Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, at Geneva, Switzerland.
On Nov. 2, 1851, a branch of the Church was organized at Le Havre with James H. Hart, an Elder then laboring in the Channel Islands, as president. But owing to the disturbed condition of affairs in France, due to the attempt to overthrow the government of the Emperor Louis Napoleon, it was difficult to interest the people in religion, and almost impossible to hold meetings, as all gatherings were looked upon with suspicion as possibly being of a political nature. On this account, when the first conference of the French Mission was held in Paris Dec. 21, 1851, presided over by Apostle John Taylor, it was attended only by the Elders and a few officials of the Church from the Channel Islands. On this occasion Elder Curtis E. Bolton was appointed president of the French Mission with Louis A. Bertrand as first and James H. Hart as second counselor. Elder Bertrand was ordained a High Priest and appointed to preside over the Paris Conference, and Elder Hart the Le Havre Conference. After this conference Elder Taylor went to England.
On Jan. 2, 1852, the Valenbroughs family left Le Havre, France, for Utah, as the first emigrating saints from the French Mission.
In 1851 the Channel Islands were transferred from the British to the French Mission.
At the conference held in St. Heliers, Jersey, July 24, 1853, nine branches of the Church were represented, with a membership of 337. Of these 48 resided in France and the remainder in the Channel Islands.
In 1859 Louis A. Bertrand, one of the first converts in Paris, having emigrated to Utah, was called to preside over the French Mission, which had dwindled to very meagre proportions. He, however, founded a branch of 13 persons in Paris. While laboring in France he published a book entitled "Memoirs d' un Mormon," which had quite a large circulation. After his return to America in 1864, the Channel Islands Conference, which included the few saints in France, reverted to the British Mission.
In 1913 the French Mission was again organized to comprise France and the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, the latter being detached from the Swiss and German Mission. Edgar B. Brossard (of French descent) was chosen as president. He was succeeded the next year (1914) by Benjamin F. Howells, but the World War breaking out soon afterwards the missionaries were called home in 1914.
In August, 1923, at a conference held at Lausanne, Switzerland, attended by Apostle David O. McKay, it was suggested that a new French Mission be organized, to comprise France, Belgium (then a part of the Netherlands Mission) and the French-speaking portions of Switzerland (a part of the Swiss and German Mission). On Dec. 26, 1923, Russell H. Blood was chosen to preside over the newly organized mission, with headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland. During the following year 200 persons were baptized. Elder Blood was succeeded in August, 1925, by Ernest C. Rossiter. In 1927 ground was broken for a L. D. S. chapel at Seraing, Belgium, the first Church edifice erected to the saints in the French Mission.
Peter Rulon Christensen succeeded Ernest C. Rossiter in 1928. Special efforts were made by him to interest the young people in the study of the gospel; this effort met with considerable success.
Golden L. Woolf succeeded Peter R. Christensen as president of the mission in 1929, and he acted in that position on Dec. 31, 1930, at which time the mission owned two fine chapels, one at Seraing and the other at Liege, Belgium, and missionaries were laboring in 33 cities. The headquarters of the mission had been changed from Geneva, Switzerland, to Villa d' Avray, Seine-et-Oise (near Paris), France.
Following are the names of the presidents of the French Mission: John Taylor, 1850-1851; Curtis E. Bolton, 1851-1853; Andrew L. Lamoreaux, 1853-1854; Wm. C. Dunbar, 1854-1856; Geo. L. Keaton, 1856-1858; Mark Barnes, 1858; Louis A. Bertrand, 1859-1864; Edgar B. Brossard, 1913-1914; Benjamin F. Howells, 1914; Russell H. Blood, 1923-1925; Ernest C. Rossiter, 1925-1928; Peter Rulon Christensen, 1928-1929, and Golden L, Woolf, 1929-1930.