Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Samoan Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 764-66
SAMOAN MISSION (The) embraces the group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean known as Samoa, or Navigator Islands, now partly owned by the United States. The Samoan Islands lie between 13 deg. 30 rain. and 14 deg. 30 min. south latitude, and between 168 deg. and 173 deg. west longitude. With the exception of one (Rose Island) the Samoan Islands are of volcanic origin; most of them are lofty and broken, and rugged in appearance, rising in some places to nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, and covered with the richest vegetation. The soil, formed chiefly by the decomposition of volcanic rock, is rich, and the climate is most delightful. The forests and plantations, which include bread-fruit, cocoanut, banana, etc., are remarkably thick. The orange, lemon, tacca (from which a kind of sago is made), coffee, sweet potatoes, pineapples, yams, nutmeg, wild sugarcane, and many other important plants grow luxuriously.
The Samoan group comprises 14 islands, of which only Savaii (700 square miles), Upolu ( 500 square miles), Tutuila (200 square miles), and the Mannua group (26 square miles) are important. The total area is about 1,700 square miles. Barrier reefs encircle the larger islands, more or less, and especially Upolu. Between the outer reef and the shore stretch lagoons of multitinted water, varying in width from 200 yards to two or three miles. This generally smooth belt of water is in effect a canal encircling the islands, and is the highway along which all intercourse is had between different points of the islands. The members of the Church on these islands are nearly all natives (Polynesians).
In December, 1862, Walter Murray Gibson, who, through self-appointment, presided over the Hawaiian Mission at that time, called Kimo Belio and Samuela Manoa, two native L. D. S. Elders of Hawaii, to go to Samoa as missionaries. Belio, a married man, was about 50 years old; he left his wife in Hawaii when he started for Samoa. Manoa was a single man, about 27 years old. The two Elders sailed from Honolulu Dec. 23, 1862, on a whaling vessel, and arrived at Aunuu, one of the Samoan group, Jan. 24, 1863. Belio was one of Gibson's twelve apostles; Manoa, who was born on the island of Maui, in Hawaii, was baptized on Maui when Elder William W. Cluff labored there as a missionary; he had been ordained a Teacher and an Elder and was subsequently ordained a Seventy by Gibson. After their arrival in Samoa, Belio and Manoa spent several months on the island of Aunuu, but it is reported that they only baptized one person. After a while they extended their labors to the larger island Tutuila, where they baptized quite a number of natives and lived among them. Altogether they baptized 42 souls, most of them on the east end of the island of Tutuila. Still later, Belio went to Apia, on the island of Upolu, and baptized four on that island. It is understood that the two Hawaiian brethren baptized in all about 50 persons on the Samoan Islands. In 1868 Manoa married a Samoan wife.
Under date of April 15, 1871, Elder Harvey H. Cluff relates that a communication had been received from Samoa to the effect that the two Hawaiian brethren, who had been sent there from Hawaii ten years before, were doing a good work among the people of Samoa; that they had raised up branches of the Church and had built meeting houses, and that there were something like 200 members of the Church in Samoa. George Nebeker, president of the Hawaiian Mission, wrote under date of Aug. 19, 1872, that good news had been received from the Hawaiian brethren laboring as missionaries in Samoa, but that they were anxious to hear from their brethren in Zion. Elder Belio died at Tula, Tutuila, June 3, 1876, after which Manoa continued to hold meetings until Nov. 3, 1882, when he met with an accident which confined him to the house for 15 months, during which time the natives who belonged to the Church joined other denominations. During the following six years, or until 1888, the preaching of the gospel in Samoa was at a standstill.
In June, 1888, Elder Joseph H. Dean, who was laboring as a missionary in Hawaii, was called on a mission to Samoa, to open the gospel door to the inhabitants of that archipelago. Together with his family he sailed from Honolulu, June 10, 1888, and arrived at Poloa, Tutuila, June 17, 1888. From Tutuila Elder Dean and family went to the island of Aunuu, where they arrived June 21st. There they were received and made comfortable by Manoa and his wife.
Elder Dean held his first meeting on Aunuu June 24, 1888, speaking to the assembled people, with Manoa as interpreter. The following day (June 25) Elder Dean baptized his first convert (Malaea, a native woman) in Samoa; he also re-baptized Manoa and ordained him an Elder. Success followed the labors of Elder Dean, who soon baptized a number of other natives. Missionary labors were also extended to the island of Tutuila.
On Oct. 11, 1888, three American Elders arrived in Aunuu, to labor as missionaries, viz., William O. Lee and wife and baby; Adelbert Beesley and Edward J. Wood. On Oct. 27, 1888, a new L. D. S. meeting house erected on Aunuu was finished. It was a nice, comfortable, commodious building, 18 by 36 feet. The saints enjoyed a feast and concert in commemoration of the event. On Sunday, Oct. 28, 1888, the first conference on the Samoan Islands was held in the new Aunuu meeting house, at which time the house was dedicated to the Lord. On this occasion the general and local Church authorities were sustained, and Elder Wm. O. Lee was sustained as superintendent of the Sunday school, with Adelbert Beesley and Manoa as his assistants. A Sunday school had been taught on Aunuu before but no general organization effected. A Relief Society was also organized at Aunuu, with Sister Florence R. Dean as president and Louisa C. Lee and Leutuva, a native woman, as counselors. Pologa was also chosen as a missionary to labor in connection with the white Elders on the island of Tutuila. According to the statistical report read at this time, the Samoan Mission consisted of 35 baptized members of the Church, including 2 Elders, 1 Priest, and 3 Deacons. Of missionaries there were five in the mission, namely, four Americans and one Hawaiian.
In November, 1888, Elders Dean, Beesley and Wood made a trip around the island of Tutuila, visiting nearly all the towns or villages on the island and holding meetings in nearly all of them. In December the four Elders from Zion (Dean, Lee, Wood and Beesley) went to Leone, on the west coast of Tutuila, where they bought a first class boat, with sails, masts, anchor, four oars, and everything complete, with new copper fastenings, for $140. The brethren were exceedingly pleased with the idea of owning a boat, which would enable them to travel from place to place and from island to island. The boat was dedicated by Pres. Dean Jan. 9, 1889, and named "Faaliga", which is the native word for "revelation."
With this short history of the Samoan Mission, we may summarize by saying that during the following years missionary work was carried on on all the principal islands, mostly on Tutuila, Upolu and Savaii. Many natives were baptized, branches organized, meeting houses erected, and missionary labors generally were fraught with success. On Dec. 31, 1893, there were 253 baptized members of the Church in Samoa, including 3 Elders, 2 Priests, 12 Teachers, 5 Deacons and 231 lay members. On that date 27 Elders and 4 missionary sisters from Zion were laboring on the islands as missionaries. Elder Andrew Jenson visited the mission in 1895 in the interest of Church history.
Many other Elders arrived from America and the statistical report of Dec. 31, 1930, showed that the total number of baptized members in Samoa was 4,491, including 3 Seventies, 44 Elders, 62 Priests, 31 Teachers, 163 Deacons, 3,304 lay members, and 884 children under 8 years. There were 18 missionaries from Zion laboring on these islands (including one sister), besides 68 local missionaries.
Following is a complete list of Elders who have presided over the Samoan Mission from the beginning: Kimo Belio, 1863-1876; Samuel Manoa, 1876-1888; Joseph H. Dean, 1888-1890; William O. Lee, 1890-1892; George E. Browning, 1892-1893; Ransom M. Stevens, 1893-1894; Thomas H. Hilton, 1894-1895; John W. Beck, 1895-1896; Orlando Barrus, 1896; Edward J. Wood, 1896-1899; Wm. L. Worsencroft, 1899; Wm. G. Sears, 1899-1903; Martin F. Sanders, 1903-1905; Thomas F. Court, 1905-1908; Wm. A. Moody, 1908-1912; Christian Jensen, 1912-1913; John A. Nelson, jun., 1913-1916; Ernest Wright, 1915-1918; Willard A. Keith, 1918-1920; John Q. Adams, 1920-1924; Ernest Leroy Butler, 1924-1927, and Willard L. Smith, 1927-1930.