Augustus Farnham and the Australia Mission

Reid L. Neilson and R. Mark Melville, "Augustus Farnham and the Australia Mission," in The Saints Abroad: Missionaries Who Answered Brigham Young's 1852 Call to the Nations of the World, ed. Reid L. Neilson and R. Mark Melville (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2019), 257–285.

Historical Introduction

“The work of the Lord is progressing slowly, but appearances are favourable,” Augustus Farnham wrote to British Mission president Samuel W. Richards from Australia in July 1853.[1] In September 1854, Farnham similarly wrote Samuel’s brother and successor, President Franklin D. Richards, “We are not baptizing our hundreds or fifties at one time, the work is moving along slowly but surely.”[2] Yet, in December 1853 and January 1855, Farnham wrote nearly the opposite to Church President Brigham Young, telling him that church membership was growing “quite fast.”[3] These conflicting accounts make it difficult to know how Farnham, president of the Australian Mission, truly felt about his proselytizing experiences in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to the British Isles, where the Richards brothers oversaw Latter-day Saint preaching, the growth of the church in Australia was sluggish. But compared to the missionary efforts in Asia and other parts of Europe, church growth in Australia was substantial. Farnham and his companions were able to establish several branches of the church throughout the colony, and many of their new converts even immigrated to Utah in the ensuing years.

Augustus Farnham’s Early Life, 1805–52

Augustus FarnhamAugustus Farnham. Courtesy
of Church History Library.

Unlike some of his missionary contemporaries, Augustus Alwin Farnham did not write a reminiscence or maintain an extant journal, so comparatively little is known about his life. Farnham was born on May 20, 1805, in Andover, Massachusetts. He married Mary Jane Pottle in Boston in 1840 and was baptized in 1843, after moving to Illinois. In Nauvoo, Illinois, he became actively involved in his new faith, helping with carpentry on the Nauvoo Temple and being ordained a seventy. By June of 1847, he had moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he served as a counselor to Bishop Nathaniel Henry Felt. He migrated to Utah with the Silas Richards company, arriving in October 1849. Three years after his arrival in Utah, he was called to leave his family and spread the Latter-day Saint message in Australia.[4]

History of the Australian Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first reached Australia in the early 1840s, when William James Barratt, a seventeen-year-old convert from England, landed in Adelaide[5] in 1840. Andrew Anderson, another English convert, arrived in Sydney[6] in 1841. Neither of these men, however, was sent to Australia specifically to proselytize; they had already planned to move to the southern continent, as many of the British were doing at the time, and church leaders took advantage of their plans to relocate, commissioning them to preach. Barratt had only one known convert and drifted into different denominations, but Anderson baptized a dozen people by 1844 and established a branch of the church.[7]

In 1851, Apostle Parley P. Pratt, president of the Pacific Mission, appointed John Murdock[8] and Charles Wandell[9] to become the first missionaries officially assigned to Australia. They arrived in Sydney on October 31, 1851.[10] During their first month there, they printed Pratt’s tract Proclamation!,[11] baptized their first convert in December, met Andrew Anderson, and formed a branch in January 1852. However, Murdock left seven months after his arrival, leaving Wandell in charge. Wandell later made preparations to leave with about thirty of his converts, not knowing that Augustus Farnham and nine others were coming as reinforcements to the missionary effort. These new missionaries arrived in the harbor at Sydney on the ship Pacific on March 31, 1853—six days before Wandell sailed for America. Because of a smallpox quarantine, they were kept on the Pacific for nine more days and were able to contact Wandell only when he came alongside and spoke with them from another boat.[12]

The nine other missionaries traveling to Australia with Farnham were Josiah W. Fleming, an 1837 convert from Virginia; John Hyde, who had emigrated from England in 1850 after his baptism the year before; Paul Smith, another English convert and emigrant of 1850; Burr Frost, an 1842 convert and member of the vanguard 1847 pioneer company; James Graham, baptized in 1839 in Illinois but born in Ireland; William Hyde, a former member of the Mormon Battalion who had already served numerous missions throughout the United States; John S. Eldredge, an 1843 convert from New York who traveled with Brigham Young’s 1847 pioneer company; Absalom P. Dowdle, a native of Alabama who was baptized in 1844; and John W. Norton, an 1840 convert from Tennessee.[13]

Augustus Farnham in Australia, 1852–56

After arriving in Sydney, Farnham, as president of the mission, spread his missionary force along the southern and southeastern coast of Australia. William Hyde saw significant success in the Hunter River Valley,[14] while Burr Frost and Paul Smith had fewer converts in Melbourne.[15] Many branches were formed throughout the country. James Graham briefly visited Brisbane in early 1854, but he found the inhabitants unready for the Latter-day Saint message. Farnham published a periodical, Zion’s Watchman, to present the church’s doctrines and defend it from critics.[16]

In October 1854, Farnham announced that he and William Cooke, a local convert, were going to take their preaching to New Zealand.[17] The Saints at Sydney helped fund the venture, and Farnham and Cooke went to New Zealand with Thomas Holder, another convert who was originally from the area of Wellington, a prominent town that later became New Zealand’s capital. Farnham and Cooke had little to no success in Auckland and Wellington, so Farnham headed back to Sydney in December. Cooke, however, found success in the town of Karori, so he stayed there and established a branch before returning to Sydney in March 1856. Farnham was optimistic about preaching to the Maori people, reporting, “As soon as we can get the latter-day faith before the Maori’s, it will spread quite rapidly.”[18] However, he and Cooke were not able to do so during their time in New Zealand, probably in part because “none of them speak the English language to any perfection.”[19]

Farnham and his companions taught the doctrine of “gathering” to Zion to the Australian Saints, and several groups left their homes to travel to Utah. William Hyde accompanied sixty-three new members aboard the Julia Ann in March 1854, and the journey was uneventful.[20] However, in 1855, emigrating Saints from Australia faced challenges aboard ships. In April, seventy-two Latter-day Saints from Melbourne boarded the Tarquinia, but that ship kept leaking and was condemned at Hawaii. In September, twenty-eight from Sydney boarded the Julia Ann again, but the ship crashed into a coral reef near the Society Islands. Five of the Saints, three of them children, drowned in the accident, and the survivors were stranded on islands of the Pacific for two months.[21] In May 1856, Farnham departed with about 120 Saints aboard the Jenny Ford,[22] leaving the mission under the leadership of Absalom P. Dowdle.[23]

Additional Church Service

After arriving home, Farnham was asked in 1857 to build a tabernacle in Bountiful, Utah; the Greek Revival–style building he constructed is one of the oldest Latter-day Saint meetinghouses still in use. He also might have brought home alfalfa seed from Australia for use in Bountiful.[24] He died on May 2, 1865, in Farmington, Utah.[25]

tabernacleThe Bountiful Tabernacle, designed by Augustus Farnham. Courtesy of Andy K. Nelson.

The other missionaries called to Australia in 1852 all returned to the Mormon Corridor between 1854 and 1858, except for John Hyde, who died of cancer in Sydney in August 1853.[26] William Hyde sailed home safely on the Julia Ann in 1854 and became a local church leader at Hyde Park, Utah, which was named for him; he died there in 1874.[27] Burr Frost and Paul Smith left Australia on the Tarquinia in 1855.[28] Frost returned to Utah from California with Apostle Amasa Lyman and died in Salt Lake City in 1878;[29] Smith became involved in ecclesiastical leadership in Snowflake, Arizona, where he died in 1912.[30] Two of the returning missionaries were present for the Julia Ann’s shipwreck; James Graham died in Salt Lake City in 1857,[31] and John Eldredge died in Charleston, Utah, in 1871.[32] Josiah Fleming accompanied Farnham on the Jenny Ford in 1856, became a lieutenant in the Black Hawk War of 1865,[33] and died in Provo, Utah, in 1873.[34] Only two missionaries remained in Australia after Farnham left. Absalom Dowdle presided over the Australia Mission until departing on the Lucas in 1857, and he died in Weber County, Utah, in 1897.[35] Finally, John W. Norton left Australia in 1858 aboard the General Wool and settled in central and southern Utah, dying in Springdale, Utah, in 1863.[36]

Augustus Farnham’s Family Life

Farnham married Mary Jane Pottle on July 5, 1840, in Boston, Massachusetts. They were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple in 1846 and had a total of seven children. Their two oldest, Alwin and Ann, died in a fire in 1846, and their fifth, Ruth, died in infancy in 1849 while the family was traveling across Wyoming to Utah.[37] By the summer of 1852, the Farnhams operated a boarding house.[38] When Augustus left on his mission, Mary Jane was able to use the boarding house to support herself and their four surviving children—Sarah, Mary Jane, Emma, and Fenton, ranging in age from seven years to nine months.

One boarder, a “Gentile,” or nonmember of the church, described Mary Jane Farnham as “a good Mormon in all points, except that she is bitterly opposed to polygamy.” She occasionally fed a hungry neighbor boy and provided odd jobs for other women who needed money.[39] Mary Jane supported a women’s project to provide clothing for Indian women and children by donating a dollar and thread and rags for carpet in June of 1854.

page of a publicationPage from the first edition of Zion’s Watchman, edited by Augustus Farnham. Courtesy of Internet Archive.

Farnham returned to Salt Lake City on November 21, 1856,[40] but there were difficulties after his arrival. On April 15, 1857, Mary Jane took the children and joined a wagon train to head back to Boston. She opposed polygamy, disagreed with church leaders, and endured disapproval for boarding “gentiles.” After briefly returning to Utah and officially divorcing Farnham in 1859, Mary Jane moved to St. Louis and again ran a boarding house and raised her four surviving children.

Farnham married Caroline Pill in 1858—before his divorce from Mary Jane was official—and had one daughter, Alice, with her. He married another plural wife, Hannah Reese, in 1860 and had a son, Joseph, before dying in 1865.

Source Note

We have provided five letters that Augustus Farnham wrote during the course of his mission. Two of them were written to President Brigham Young in Utah and published in the Deseret News.[41] One was written to Samuel W. Richards and another to Franklin D. Richards, who both served as president of the British Mission; these letters were published in the Millennial Star.[42] The final letter was written to George Q. Cannon, the editor of the Western Standard, a Latter-day Saint newspaper published in California.[43] Throughout the five letters, presented here chronologically, Farnham describes arriving in Australia, assigning the elders to their preaching locales, establishing the Zion’s Watchman periodical, building up the church “slowly but surely,” visiting New Zealand, and returning to America aboard the Jenny Ford.

Document Transcripts

Augustus Farnham to Samuel W. Richards, July 25, 1853[44]

Sydney, July 25th, 1853.

President S. W. Richards—

Sir—Before this reaches you, you will have been informed, through brother Capt. Stayner,[45] of our arrival here, and our detention in quarantine. When we got on shore on the 9th day of April, we found that Elder Wandell had sailed with a company for the Valley. My first object was to call the few remaining Saints together, that we might become acquainted, and that I might learn the situation of the colony, and the feelings of the Saints. It soon appeared that the Deseret News Extra had caused some excitement, but it was soon manifest also, that truth must prevail.[46]

The next object was the appointing of the Elders, and the raising of means to convey them to their respective fields of labour.

Elder William Hyde was appointed to the Hunter’s River District, and from thence to Moreton Bay;[47] Elders [Burr] Frost and [Paul] Smith, to Victoria;[48] Elders [Absalom] Dowdle and [John] Norton, to Adelaide and Swan River[49] settlement; Elders [James] Graham and [John] Eldridge, to the South Western section of this colony; Elder [Josiah] Fleming remains with me. Elder John Hyde, some eight years ago, received a blow which has terminated in a cancer, disqualifying him for labour. He is now lying in bed.[50]

We held a Quarterly Conference, July 3rd, in the Old Assembly Rooms, King Street, Sydney, at which the Branches at Sydney, William’s River,[51] and Melbourne were represented to contain 102 members, including three Seventies, two High Priests, ten Elders, six Priests, three Teachers, and one Deacon.[52] A vote was taken to sustain all the authorities of the Church, which was carried unanimously.

After the afternoon service, the ordination of two Elders, one Priest, and two Teachers was attended to. The Saints feel to give thanks unto their Father in heaven for the privileges and blessings enjoyed during the day.

The work of the Lord is progressing slowly, but appearances are favourable. There is considerable impression made upon the public mind, many people are inquiring, and some few are being baptized, and we hope the time is not far distant when the baptisms will be much more numerous. We realize that the Lord is with us. It is by His Spirit and power that all that is done is accomplished. And it being His work we are engaged in, we feel assured that He will carry it on, until all the honest in heart are gathered from these lands.

We have this day received a letter from Elders Dowdle and Norton, Adelaide; they are well, and prospects appear favourable in that part also.

In consequence of the continued attacks made upon our faith, by the papers, and the utter impossibility of obtaining the insertion of anything in reply, we have determined to issue a monthly paper, to be called Zion’s Watchman. The public have been notified by a circular.

We wish you to forward us more of O. Pratt’s works complete and bound,[53] 200 more Hymn Books,[54] 100 Books of Mormon,[55] 100 Doctrine and Covenants,[56] more Voice of Warning,[57] and Spencer’s Letters,[58] 100 O. Pratt’s work on Celestial Marriage.[59] You may depend upon us forwarding the money as speedily as possible. I have no doubt, that when these books come to hand, they will give an increased impetus to the work here, and it will require a constant and regular supply of the Standard Works[60] to keep up with the movement. We hope you will be able to supply us with them.

Praying our Heavenly Father to bless you and the Saints, I remain,

Yours, in the New Covenant,

Augustus Farnham.

Augustus Farnham to Brigham Young, December 24, 1853[61]

Sydney, Dec. 24th, 1853.

I returned two days since from a tour of some weeks up Hunter’s river district, after visiting the different branches of that section—it being the field in which brs. William Hyde and John McCarthy[62] have been laboring. At present, br. Hyde is attending to it by himself. They have been much blest in their labors. Br. Hyde’s zeal for the cause of Christ is more than his bodily strength—he does not spare himself in the least, and the extent of his field is so great he is continually on the move.

The work is progressing quite fast, and many good men and women are being added to the Church, thro’ his labors. The Lord has abundantly blest him with his Spirit, altho’ his bodily health is not such as I could wish it might be.—The labors are very hard in this country, there is so much traveling to do, and the weather is so very warm. The only way of traveling is on foot, yet the brethren are all as active as men can be. The work is spreading over a great extent of country, and the elders are traveling both on the frontiers and in the interior; and the gospel is being preached many miles out from Sydney.

The field is divided into three different conferences. First, Sydney Conference; second, Melbourne; third, Adelaide; which are all prospering as well as I could expect, considering the strong current of opposition which we have to stem. I am in hopes it will stir the people to come out and listen to the truth, that they may understand for themselves, and not be so much bound down by priestcraft.

Since the “Zion’s Watchman” has made its appearance, the whole ecclesiastical club is up in arms, and find no place of refuge, where the little fellow is not with them. The elders are so much scattered over the colony, that it has got a wide circulation, for they pass it into every person’s hand who will read it and pass it to his neighbor.

If the gospel spreads according to the present prospect, there will be a good work done in this colony in the course of a few years. The field is extensive, and has many more inhabitants than I at first imagined. We have an increase of seven organized branches since the arrival of this mission, and all were in a good and prosperous condition, at the last reports. It is contemplated to send a company of saints over this season, composed of the two Branches of Hunter’s river district.—They will number in all, when the company is made up, not far from one hundred, according to the present calculation. I intend to clear the ground if possible, taking the poor first, for the rich can come when they please.[63] It is expected the company will start from Sydney as early as possible in the month of April. Whether we shall ship to San Francisco, to San Diego,[64] or San Pedro, is not yet decided.

It is expected the company will be under the charge of Elder William Hyde, whose health compels his return. It is probable he may regain health before he arrives in the midst of his friends and family. Remember us to all the Saints.

Augustus Farnham.

Augustus Farnham to Franklin D. Richards, September 18, 1854[65]

103 Paramatta Street, Sydney,

Sept. 18, 1854.

F. D. Richards.

Dear Brother—I embrace the opportunity offered me to congratulate you upon your safe arrival among the British Saints, and I sincerely pray that the Lord may eminently bless you, in your two-fold capacity of President of the British Mission, and editor of the Star.

It gives me pleasure to inform you, that the work of the Lord in these colonies is progressing. We are not baptizing our hundreds or fifties at one time, the work is moving along slowly but surely, more so in the interior than in this city. The principles are winning their widening way into every class of society. In fact, “Mormonism” has made quite an excitement among the people recently, the clergy have awakened in the opposition with renewed zeal and energy, and no course is too mean or despicable for them to pursue, so that they can but prevail upon the people not to listen to the Elders, nor to read our books. The usual ebullitions of calumny and slander, with their concomitants of falsehood, blasphemy, ignorance, &c., are poured forth in a manner alike discreditable to intelligence and honour. At this we are not astonished, for what other weapons could they bring forth against truth and righteousness.

All this does not discourage us in the least, for we know whose we are, and that the work we are engaged in is the work of the Great God. And we feel grateful to our Father in heaven, who has in our weakness made us strong, giving us light, knowledge, and power in the things of His kingdom, so that we have been enabled at all times to rebuke the scorner, silence the gainsayer, and instruct and counsel the Saints.

It is true, the people of these lands are a peculiar people, being generally dead to the interests of religion, caring but little what the true principles of the Gospel are; it may, indeed, be said of them, that their faith is a mere tradition, their worship an empty form, the impression being transitory, ending with the service, when they again devote themselves to gold and pleasure. But withal, there are some as good and honest people in these lands, as can be found on the earth. These must be hunted and fished out and gathered.[66] To accomplish this we are encouraged to labour, but the apathy of the people, and their scattered condition, together with the great opposition manifested by the priests, tend much to embarrass our movements, and to retard the progress of the work.

Still the Lord has blessed us and our labours, and we feel assured that He will continue to do so.

We received a letter from Elder William Hyde, on the 14th inst., dated San Pedro, June 13, giving an account of the passage of the Julia Ann, and the safe arrival of the company of Saints who left here on March the 22nd.

The desire to leave the confines of Babylon pervades the mass of the Saints here, and they are striving with all their power to gather, so that it is expected that another company will leave here about April or May next.

May God the eternal Father bless you, and prosper His work in your hands, is the earnest desire of your brother in the Gospel.

Augustus Farnham.

Augustus Farnham to Brigham Young, January 12, 1855[67]

{Extracts of a letter from Elder Augustus Farnham to President Brigham Young.}[68]


New Castle, Jan. 12, 1855.

As regards the work of the Lord in these lands, it is moving on very steadily, and spreading over a large portion of country. It has, for the last nine or ten months, kept the elders quite busy, as the field is large, and the laborers few. The number of saints is increasing quite fast, and many are making every possible exertion to gather.

So far as we can judge, we consider it best to push them to Zion as quick as circumstances will permit, for this is a very bad pasture in which to herd sheep. Many have closed, and others are closing up their affairs as fast as possible, and wish to get out of this land. When their yearly leases are up, they do not wish to lease again.

If any vessel should happen to be in this port, I may send a company in the spring, and another by the Julia Ann in July.

As respects my New Zealand mission, it occupied nearly three months. Elder William Cooke[69] went with me, and is still in that mission. I traveled thro’ most of the towns and villages of any note, and held several meetings in each place. Our meetings were well attended, and in several places quite an interest was manifested; many acknowledged that the work was true, and I have reason to think that there will be a good work done on those Islands among the Europeans.

The natives are a fine race of people, tho’ none of them speak the English language to any perfection. We made some effort to get a portion of our works translated, which I am in hopes will soon be done. As soon as we can get the latter-day faith before the Maori’s, it will spread quite rapidly. In my opinion there will soon be opposition on that land, as well as in New South Wales,[70] for it is increasing thro’ these lands; all right.

The ‘Watchman’ will give a more full account, both of my travels, and the progress of the work, and the state of affairs with us. I have constantly forwarded them to you, and others in the Valley.

{Not one number has come to the President.}[71]

The elders are all as busily engaged as men can be.—The call is great for preaching in the country, not so much so in the cities. Sydney is our head quarters; it is also the head quarters of the opposition, and they are all at work, but do not gain much ground. They have been met on every side, as yet, and will be, I am thinking, and not much to their satisfaction. But the saints are rejoicing in the prospects of the work, and looking forward to the day of release from this wicked people.

Br. Frost is at Van Dieman’s Land,[72] and br. Robert Owens[73] is with him. They have been there the last two months.

I shall leave Sydney to go to Victoria and Adelaide, about the 25th of the present month, to visit the branches in those sections, as we have several branches in that region, and many are wishing to gather out this season.

Augustus Farnham to George Q. Cannon, August 23, 1856.[74]

San Pedro, Cal., Aug. 23, ’56.

Mr. Editor:—

Feeling to communicate to you at this time, I will give you a short account of my labors, and the progress of the work, as it has been carried forward in Australasia during my mission in that far-off land, for the last three and a half years.

I will briefly state that the gospel has penetrated, and been pushed forward through extensive portions of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia,[75] Van Dieman’s Land and the different Colonies of New Zealand,[76] where many have obeyed the truth, and in all of which a good foundation has been laid for future progress, so that an abundant harvest cannot fail to be reaped from the labors of faithful and efficient elders who may follow in those fields. Not only are large and spacious halls ready to be opened to receive them, as they go to spread the principles of eternal truth, (which all who have pioneered in the work have so far faithfully labored to do) but in all sections there are families ready to receive them and to minister to their temporal necessities.

In all of these things I acknowledge the hand of Israel’s God, and give to Him the glory, who is ever ready to be with and bless his faithful servants, according to his promise, by preceding them in their path, and by opening the hearts of the people to whom they are sent not only to receive them, but also the message of Eternal Truth which they bear. That this is the case is plain to be seen by the gathering of the people from those distant lands to Zion; and I feel that the work in those lands is but in its infancy. That the Lord may bless all His faithful servants who are sent forth to labor in the ministry, is my prayer.

Having been called from my field of labor to gather up a company for Zion, I give you a sketch of our passage across the Pacific.

We left port Jackson,[77] N. S. W., on the 28th of May, and proceeded to sea in good health and spirits. The weather being quite pleasant and the sea calm, we had very little sea sickness. The only disease on board was the whooping cough, which soon ceased, and all was as agreeable as could be expected by a body of passengers gathered from different parts of the Colonies, and crowded together in so small a space.[78] Every exertion was made by Capt. S. F. Sargent and officers to make us comfortable and happy. They spared no pains to render the situation of all as agreeable as possible.

We arrived at Tahiti[79] on the 22d of June, where we called for the purpose of relieving the Saints who survived the wreck of the Julia Ann. We found, however, to our great joy, that they had been assisted by friends, who feel for the sufferings of their fellow-beings independent of sectarian prejudices. The Masonic Fraternity helped them all in their power, and thus rendered their circumstances comparatively comfortable.[80] It gave my heart joy to learn of this act of hospitality on the part of my brethren, the Masons.[81] It being St. John’s day[82] a very friendly invitation was sent on board to Mr. Wilber and myself to join in their celebration; but in consequence of a press of business, neither of us could attend. I was truly glad to meet Elder Addison Pratt[83] here, an old tried friend and brother, from whom I heard intelligence from home which proved a source of consolation to me.[84]

We left Tahiti on the 28th of June, and touched at Honolulu, Oahu, Sandwich Islands, on the 16th of July. We remained only a few hours, but had the satisfaction of meeting with Pres. Silas Smith,[85] Elder John T. Caine[86] and others of that mission, besides several of the saints left there from br. Frost’s company; they were all in good health and spirits, and the latter very anxious to get to Zion.

From Honolulu we proceeded with a favorable breeze. The next day our company was thrown into considerable excitement, occasioned by the falling overboard of a young lad, while attempting to draw a bucket of water. The sea was rather rough and the vessel running about ten knots an hour; life buoys were immediately thrown out, the headway of the vessel stopped and a boat launched as quickly as possible; he had, however, floated considerably astern before this could be accomplished, and some thirty minutes elapsed ere he was picked up. When we received him on board safe and sound, we felt to give thanks to our heavenly Father for his remarkable preservation.[87]

The 24th of July—the Anniversary of the arrival of the Pioneers in Great Salt Lake Valley—was celebrated with exercises suitable to the occasion, an account of which is forwarded for the benefit of your readers.[88]

We arrived at San Pedro on the evening of the 15th inst., having been blessed with a pleasant passage, together with a liberal portion of the Holy Spirit, which caused peace and union to pervade in our midst.

I immediately proceeded to San Bernardino, where I made arrangements for teams to convey the saints to that place, and returned on the 20th inst. I found the saints comfortably encamped in tents, and all doing well. Sister L. Stephens gave birth to a fine healt[h]y boy this morning. The moving of the saints is now going on, and all will shortly be en route for San Bernardino.

May the Lord God of Israel bless and prosper you in your efforts to stem the torrent of lies, to unmask error, and diffuse the light and influence of truth abroad.

Your brother in the gospel,

A. Farnham.


[1] “Australian Mission,” Millennial Star 15, no. 47 (November 19, 1853): 766–67; p. XXX herein.

[2] “Australia,” Millennial Star 16, no. 50 (June 6, 1855): 798–99; p. XXX herein.

[3] “Extracts from a Letter to President Young,” Deseret News, July 27, 1854; “Elders’ Correspondence,” Deseret News, June 6, 1855; pp. XXX herein.

[4] See “Farnham (Farnum), Augustus Alvin (Alwin),” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein.

[5] Adelaide is the capital of the Australian state of South Australia, located on the state’s southeast coast. The city was founded in the 1830s. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Adelaide.”

[6] Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales, was the first city in Australia and was founded in 1788 as a penal colony. It is an important coastal city. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Sydney.”

[7] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 23–25.

[8] John Murdock (1792–1871) was baptized in 1830. When his wife died in childbirth in 1831, he placed his children into foster care, including the newborn twins into the care of Joseph and Emma Smith. He was sent to preach in Australia in 1851, and he died in Beaver, Utah, in 1871. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 26; Neilson and Waite, Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel, 330–31.

[9] Charles W. Wandell (1819–75) was baptized in 1837 and was sent to open Latter-day Saint missionary work in Australia in 1851. In the 1870s, he joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and returned to Sydney, where he died. He was thus one of the first missionaries for both the LDS and RLDS churches in Australia. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 35; Neilson and Waite, Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel, 350.

[10] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 26–28.

[11] Parley P. Pratt, Proclamation! to the People of the Coasts and Islands of the Pacific; of Every Nation, Kindred and Tongue ([Sydney]: Hibernian Press, [1851]).

[12] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 27–30; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 72, 163; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 3:73–75.

[13] See “Fleming, Josiah Wolcott,” “Hyde, John,” “Smith, Paul,” “Frost, Burr,” “Graham, James,” “Hyde, William,” “Eldredge, John Sunderlin,” “Dowdle, Absalom Porter,” and “Norton, John Warren,” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein.

[14] The Hunter River is located in eastern New South Wales; it drains into the Pacific Ocean. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Hunter.”

[15] Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria in southeast Australia. It was originally established in 1835. A branch of the church was established there between 1852 and 1853. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Melbourne.”

[16] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 30–32, 57–61. Augustus Farnham created the Zion’s Watchman to respond to articles published by opponents in Australian newspapers and to defend Latter-day Saint doctrines. The first issue was published in August 1853, and the paper continued until May 1856, when Farnham left Australia.

[17] New Zealand was originally settled by Polynesians around 1250 and was colonized by the British in 1840; its colonial status ended in 1907. Augustus Farnham and N. William Cooke arrived from Australia in 1854 to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the white inhabitants. The first Latter-day Saint branch was established in 1855. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “New Zealand”; Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 31–32.

[18] “Elders’ Correspondence,” Deseret News, June 6, 1855; p. XXX herein. The Maori people arrived in New Zealand from eastern Polynesia in the late thirteenth century. Their traditions explain that their ancestors arrived on canoes from a place called Hawaiki, an event known as the Great Fleet. In the ensuing centuries, they developed a strong warrior culture, organized themselves into iwi, or tribes, and hunted large moa birds to extinction. When Europeans began arriving in the late seventeenth century, the Maori reactions were generally friendly. In 1840, British and Maori representatives signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which ceded New Zealand to England and gave the Maori the rights of British subjects. Farnham and his contemporaries did not preach to the Maori, but the restored gospel did become popular among the Maori beginning in the 1880s. Anderson, Binney, and Harris, Tangata Whenua; Newton, Mormon and Maori.

[19] “Elders’ Correspondence,” Deseret News, June 6, 1855; p. XXX herein; Newton, Tiki and Temple, 4–7.

[20] The bark Julia Ann was built in Maine in 1851. On its first trip with Latter-day Saints on board in 1854, the ship left Newcastle, Australia, on March 22 and arrived in San Pedro, California, on June 12, with stops in Tahiti and Hawaii along the way. Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 124.

[21] Though the Julia Ann had previously transported Saints safely from Australia, in October 1855 it crashed into a coral reef off the Scilly Isles (known also as Manuae or Fenua Ura), an uninhabited atoll west of the Society Islands. It was carrying fifty-six passengers, twenty-eight of whom were Latter-day Saints. Eliza Harris and Martha Humphries drowned during the initial wreck; children Mary Humphries, ten-year-old Marion Anderson, and six-month-old Lister Harris also died. The castaways found refuge on a reef and later on a sandbar of the atoll. They lived on turtles, coconuts, flour salvaged from the ship, and occasional crabs and sharks. Captain Benjamin Franklin Pond sailed with some of his crew against the wind to the island of Bora Bora in the Society Islands, where he was able to secure a rescue vessel. The stranded Saints resumed their journey from Tahiti to California by spring 1856. See Devitry-Smith, “Wreck of the Julia Ann,” 5–29.

[22] The Jenny Ford was built in 1854 in Maine. Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 114–15.

[23] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 30–32; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 114–15, 124–25, 185–86,

[24] Roberts, “More of Utah’s Unknown Pioneer Architects,” 51.

[25] See “Farnham (Farnum), Augustus Alvin (Alwin),” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein.

[26] Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 30.

[27] See “Hyde, William,” in appendix 2, pp. XXX herein; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 124; Van Cott, Utah Place Names, 196.

[28] Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 186.

[29] See “Frost, Burr,” in appendix 2, pp. XXX herein.

[30] See “Smith, Paul,” in appendix 2, pp. XXX herein.

[31] See “Graham, James,” in appendix 2, pp. XXX herein; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 186.

[32] See “Eldredge, John Sunderlin,” in appendix 2, pp. XXX herein; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 186.

[33] The Black Hawk War was a series of skirmishes between whites and Native Americans that started in 1865 and lasted for several years thereafter. Frustrated at the encroachment of settlers onto American Indians’ ancestral lands, Antonga, a Ute chief also known as Black Hawk, led various raids against livestock belonging to the settlers, forcing them to relocate and build forts to protect their property. Around seventy whites and twice as many Indians were killed during the years of the Black Hawk War. Though Antonga made peace with church members in 1867 and 1868, related skirmishes continued until 1872. See Peterson, Utah’s Black Hawk War.

[34] See “Fleming, Josiah Wolcott,” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein; Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 149.

[35] See “Dowdle, Absalom Porter,” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein; Sonne, Ships, Saints, and Mariners, 132.

[36] Norton, journal, May 27, 1858; “Norton, John W.,” in appendix 2, p. XXX herein.

[37] Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, s.v. “Ruth Farnham.”

[38] “A. Farnham’s Boarding House,” Deseret News, August 7, 1852.

[39] Ferris, Mormons at Home, 104–17.

[40] “Arrived,” Deseret News, November 26, 1856.

[41] “Extracts from a Letter to President Young,” Deseret News, July 27, 1854; “Elders’ Correspondence,” Deseret News, June 6, 1855; for the original letters, see Augustus Farnham to Brigham Young, Dec. 24, 1853; and Jan. 12, 1855, Incoming Correspondence, Brigham Young Office Files. Farnham wrote at least six other letters to Brigham Young. See Augustus Farnham to Brigham Young, June 6, 1853; Aug. 14, 1853 (published as “Extracts of a Letter from Elder Augustus Farnham,” Deseret News, Dec. 8, 1853); July 28, 1854; May 5, 1855; Dec. 4, 1855; and Feb. 11, 1856, Incoming Correspondence, Brigham Young Office Files.

[42] “Australian Mission,” Millennial Star 15, no. 47 (November 19, 1853): 766–67; “Australia,” Millennial Star 16, no. 50 (June 6, 1855): 798–99. Farnham wrote at least one other letter to Franklin D. Richards; see Augustus Farnham to Franklin D. Richards, May 31, 1855, Incoming Correspondence, Brigham Young Office Files.

[43] “Arrival of Elder A. Farnham with a Company of Saints,” Western Standard, September 6, 1856; reprinted as “California,” Millennial Star 18, no. 46 (November 15, 1856): 733–34.

[44] “Australian Mission,” Millennial Star 15, no. 47 (November 19, 1853): 766–67.

[45] Thomas Stayner (1802–69) was a Latter-day Saint ship captain. He traveled to Salt Lake City in 1855. Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, s.v. “Thomas Collie Stayner”; Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 29, 57.

[46] This Extra included the public announcement of polygamy. See Deseret News—Extra, September 14, 1852.

[47] Moreton Bay is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean in southeast Queensland, northeast of Brisbane. It is enclosed by Moreton Island. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Moreton Bay.”

[48] Victoria, located in southeast Australia, became a state in 1901. It was inhabited by Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years, and British settlements were established there in the early 1800s. Victoria, named for the English queen, broke off from New South Wales as its own colony in 1851, and beginning that same year, immigrants flooded the region due to the discovery of gold. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Victoria.”

[49] Swan River is located in southwestern Australia and drains into the Indian Ocean; the city of Perth is located on it. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Swan.”

[50] John Hyde died in Sydney in August 1853. Some held the misconception that injuries could cause cancer. They do not, but extra attention to injured body parts may make sufferers aware of unrelated cancers in the same location. Adelson, “Injury and Cancer,” 150–73; Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 30.

[51] The Williams River is located on the coast of New South Wales, about ninety miles north of Sydney. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 31.

[52] A quorum is a unit of men with a particular rank of priesthood. On the general level of the church are quorums of apostles and seventies. On local levels are the high priests and elders quorums of the higher Melchizedek Priesthood and the priests, teachers, and deacons quorums of the lower Aaronic Priesthood. Throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, seventies quorums were also organized on a local level. Richard E. Turley, “Quorum,” in Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 976–77.

[53] Orson Pratt was a prolific writer of theological and scientific works. In 1851 and 1852, a compilation of sixteen of his pamphlets, written between 1848 and 1851, was published in Liverpool as A Series of Pamphlets. The book also included works by William Gibson and John Taylor, but the cover titled it O. Pratt’s Works, and Pratt’s portrait was included near the title page. The pamphlets were influential among Latter-day Saint converts in England. Orson Pratt, A Series of Pamphlets (Liverpool: R. James, 1851); Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 2:195–99.

[54] Beginning in 1840, the church published hymnals in the British Isles. Although these hymnbooks were originally conceived for European Saints, they became influential collections of songs for Latter-day Saints worldwide and went through substantial revisions. The ninth edition of the British hymnal was published in 1851. Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Europe (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1851); Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 1:121, 2:241–43.

[55] The third European edition of the Book of Mormon was published in 1852. Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 2:311–14.

[56] The third European edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1852. It included 111 sections (revelations) and the Lectures on Faith. Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 2:341–43.

[57] Originally published in New York in 1837, the seventh edition of Parley P. Pratt’s A Voice of Warning was published in Liverpool in 1852. Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 1:69–71, 2:304–5.

[58] Orson Spencer, Letters Exhibiting the Most Prominent Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852) was the fourth edition of a book containing Orson Spencer’s replies to a letter by Reverend William Crowell, a Baptist minister, about Spencer’s conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The edition also included a few of Spencer’s other doctrinal letters and a poem by Eliza R. Snow. The first editions were published in 1847 after Spencer became president of the British Mission. Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 1:364–70, 2:358–59.

[59] It is not specifically clear what article Farnham is requesting in this letter, but Orson Pratt published many polygamy defenses in the Seer. Neilson, Exhibiting Mormonism, 37–38; Whittaker, “Bone in the Throat,” 304–14.

[60] For Latter-day Saints today, the expression “standard works” refers to the scriptural canon of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. However, in the nineteenth century, the term referred to seminal, important literature in general, both inside and outside of the restored church of Jesus Christ. Clyde J. Williams, “Standard Works,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1415–16; Davies, Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks and Corpus of Historical American English, s.v. “standard works.”

[61] “Extracts from a Letter to President Young,” Deseret News, July 27, 1854.

[62] John McCarthy (1830–98) was a convert from Sydney who survived the shipwreck of the Julia Ann and traveled to Utah via San Francisco in 1856. Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, s.v. “John McCarthy”; Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 30.

[63] In 1854, Farnham organized donations for the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the Australian Saints. However, he cancelled the endeavor after he received a gentle rebuke from Brigham Young, who believed that circumstances in Australia were better for emigrating Saints than they were elsewhere. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 142.

[64] San Diego is located in southern California, near the Mexican border. It was first settled by the Spanish in the eighteenth century, and Robert Field Stockton captured it for the United States in 1846. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “San Diego.”

[65] “Australia,” Millennial Star 16, no. 50 (December 16, 1855): 798–99.

[66] See Jeremiah 16:16.

[67] “Elders’ Correspondence,” Deseret News, June 6, 1855.

[68] See Augustus Farnham to Brigham Young, January 12, 1854, Incoming Correspondence, Brigham Young Office Files.

[69] William Cooke (1827–92) had traveled through Utah in 1852 while he was on his way to search for gold in California. His family remained in Salt Lake City and converted to the restored church of Jesus Christ, and after he had continued to Australia to seek gold there, his wife wrote him and advised him to join the Latter-day Saints in Sydney. He left Australia with the Saints in 1856 aboard the Jenny Ford. In 1858, he was shot and killed while working as a Salt Lake City jailer. His wife, Sarah Ann Cooke, performed theatrically in the Salt Lake Social Hall and Salt Lake Theater for more than a decade. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 150; Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, s.v. “William Sutton Cooke”; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, 3:334–35.

[70] New South Wales is a state in southeast Australia, with Sydney as its capital. Captain James Cook named and claimed it for the British in 1770, and it was settled in 1788. The colonies all became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “New South Wales.”

[71] This Deseret News insertion was in a larger font than Farnham’s own text.

[72] Van Dieman’s Land is an old name for Australia’s island state, Tasmania, located off the continent’s southeast coast. A Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, named it in 1642. Britain took over in the nineteenth century and renamed it Tasmania; it became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. In 1854, missionary Robert Owen, who had been laboring in India, went to Tasmania to preach the restored gospel, but he had little success. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Tasmania.”

[73] Robert Owen had served in India, and after he finished his labors there, he traveled to Australia as a seaman on the ship Hyderabad. Owens left Australia in April 1855 on the ill-fated Tarquinia. Britsch, Nothing More Heroic, 289–90.

[74] “Arrival of Elder A. Farnham with a Company of Saints,” Western Standard, September 6, 1856.

[75] South Australia is located in the center of the southern half of Australia. Though Dutch explorers discovered the area in 1627, it did not become an official settlement until the British established it as a province in 1836. It became a state in 1901. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “South Australia.”

[76] The New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852 divided New Zealand into six provinces: Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago. Mulgan, Politics in New Zealand, 192.

[77] Port Jackson is a natural harbor located at the city of Sydney. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Port Jackson.”

[78] John Jones, who had served as president of the Sydney Branch, kept a journal of the ship Jenny Ford’s voyage on behalf of Augustus Farnham. Farnham’s statement that “all was as agreeable as could be expected” is clearly diplomatic, as Jones recorded numerous instances of the Saints contending with each other over cleanliness, noise, food, drunkenness, and other issues, including complaints that they could not go ashore at Tahiti or Hawaii (though most did go ashore at Tahiti). Passenger James Simmons, a fellow Saint, was particularly quarrelsome and prone to intoxication, and on one drunken occasion, Farnham threatened “that if he would not be quiet that he would be put in irons.” There were troubles among the women as well; on one occasion, “there was a disturbance between Sisters Moyes and Mapstead; Moyes having called the other a whore.” Augustus Farnham Immigrating Company journal, June 25, 1856, 57; July 14, 1856, 83; see also Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 145.

[79] Tahiti is the largest island of the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It was inhabited by Polynesians for about two thousand years before the French claimed the land in 1768. Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary, s.v. “Polynesia.”

[80] As the Jenny Ford approached Tahiti, Farnham learned of a Mrs. McGee and her children, who were the last survivors of the Julia Ann there, the others having already departed for California. Farnham invited Addison Pratt aboard the ship for a priesthood meeting. “This meeting having been called for considering the case of Mrs McGee and family who tho not members of the Church were the only survivors of the wreck that were left on this Island. It was determined that as our bretheren and Sisters had been assisted to leave through the charity of the Free Masons and Mr McGee being a Mason that therefore they be taken to San Francisco by us. They numbered three and a half passages besides an infant three weeks old.” Augustus Farnham Immigrating Company journal, June 23, 1856, 52–54.

[81] Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that claims its origins to the stonemasons of Solomon’s temple. Masonic lodges sprung up in America in the eighteenth century and increased in popularity. During the 1840s, many Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, were involved in the order, but in the 1850s, after the Saints had relocated to Utah, church members and Masons began to distance themselves from each other. Jeffers, Freemasons; Homer, “Masonry and Mormonism in Utah,” 57–63.

[82] St. John’s Day, or the feast of John the Baptist, is held on June 24. It is an important day for Masons, as the first Grand Lodge was formed on June 24, 1717, in England. Masons also observe another St. John’s Day, the feast of John the Evangelist, on December 27. Jeffers, Freemasons, 24; “St. John’s Day,” 6.

[83] Addison Pratt (1802–72) was baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1838, and he served missions to the Society Islands from 1843 to 1847 and again from 1850 to 1852. Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 3:698.

[84] In 1843, Joseph Smith sent Addison Pratt, Benjamin F. Grouard, Noah Rogers, and Knowlton F. Hanks on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. Hanks died during the voyage, but the others labored in the Society Islands (French Polynesia), rather than their assigned field of Hawaii. It was the first foreign-language mission in the church. The three missionaries established branches and baptized two thousand people. Pratt served from 1843 to 1847 and again from 1849 to 1852, while Grouard remained in the islands until 1852. However, the French government and Catholic priests in the Society Islands were averse to non-Catholic religious activity, and in March 1852 a new law greatly restricted Latter-day Saint affairs. Pratt and Grouard consequently left the islands in May 1852. Elder James S. Brown left in late 1852 after a scuffle occurred between a French policeman, some Catholic priests, and some local Latter-day Saints, in which the policeman and a priest were killed. In 1856, Apostles Charles C. Rich and Amasa Lyman sent Pratt back. He arrived in Tahiti in June 1856, but the French government prevented him from preaching or visiting other islands. He left the islands four months later. Ellsworth and Perrin, Seasons of Faith and Courage; Britsch, Unto the Islands of the Sea, 18–21; Early Mormon Missionaries database, s.v. “Addison Pratt,” “Benjamin Franklin Grouard.”

[85] Silas Smith (1830–1910) traveled to Utah in 1847 and was president of the Sandwich Islands Mission from 1855 to 1857. Neilson, Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel, 342; Early Mormon Missionaries database, s.v. “Silas Schellinger Smith.”

[86] John T. Caine (circa 1828–1911) traveled to Utah in 1852, served in the Sandwich Islands Mission from 1854 to 1856, and was Utah’s delegate to the US House of Representatives from 1883 to 1893. Early Mormon Missionaries database, s.v. “John Thomas Caine”; Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, s.v. “John Thomas Caine.”

[87] On July 17, 1856, John Jones recorded, “A little after 9 A.M. all on board were thrown into the greatest consternation by the cry of ‘A boy overboard[.’] It soon was ascertained from my son J.R. [John Robert] who was with him at the time that it was Henry Simmonds [Simmons]. He [was] drawing a bucket of water and fell over. We were immediatly hove too. Bouys were thrown over but did not reach him. the Jolly Boat was lowered the painter [a rope] broke and it drifted. The Captains Grey[?] was then lowered <and moved[?]> by 4 Sea Men and McHarse the 2nd Mate they succeeded in rescueing them him and brought the Jolly Boat back with them. The boats being hoisted we again sailed with thankful hearts. The boy was nearly exhausted when the boat reached him he is aged 16 years.” The following week, “Prest Farnham made some remarks . . . about young men playing cards. In his remarks he mentioned the name of Henry Simmonds as the person who carried the cards in his pockets and said that [he] had better be careful lest he should fall overboard again.” Henry’s father did not respond well to the accusation. Augustus Farnham Immigrating Company journal, July 17, 1856, 89–90; July 26, 1856, 111–12.

[88] The vanguard company of pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, July 21–24, 1847. Since that time, Latter-day Saints have observed July 24 in remembrance of the pioneers, with the first recorded celebrations beginning in 1849. Aboard the Jenny Ford, the Saints raised the Stars and Stripes, held a parade, fired guns, sang hymns, and made speeches. Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 152; Augustus Farnham Immigrating Company journal, July 24, 1856, 97–109; David Kenison, “Pioneer Commemorations,” in Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 921–22; Olsen, “Celebrating Cultural Identity,” 159–78.