“Australia’s Pioneer Saints,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 45
John Jones heard of the restored Church two days after the first American Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Sydney on 31 October 1851.1 He and his family had arrived in New South Wales from England in 1842, hoping for a better life. John’s experiences (including the death of two little sons) had made him a seeker after gospel truth. He was immediately attracted by the message the missionaries were sharing with a crowd gathered in Sydney.
“Does your Church profess to receive revelation, suited to the present condition and character of man?” John asked them.
Elder John Murdock replied boldly, “We do.”2
John Jones was satisfied, and less than two weeks later he was baptized by Elder Murdock’s companion, Elder Charles W. Wandell, and ordained a priest. Brother Jones baptized his wife in Sydney Harbour a short time later, and the couple revelled in the gospel and in the fellowship of the Saints and full-time missionaries.
Brother Jones and countless other early Australian Latter-day Saints went on to sculpt a spiritual heritage with beginnings that date back to the mission of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to Great Britain in 1840, and to the calling of the first missionaries to Australia—17-year-old William James Barratt from England, who arrived in 1840 and remained until his death in 1890, and Andrew Anderson, a 30-year-old Scottish immigrant who arrived a year later after being given a “license to teach” before sailing.3
These early missionaries, the missionaries who came after them, and the pioneer Saints who accepted and shared their gospel message in Australia laid the foundation for the six missions, 25 stakes, and 90,000 Latter-day Saints who are found on this island continent today. Some of their stories follow.
Following their baptisms, John and Jane Jones were soon leading full, busy lives of service in the fledgling Sydney Branch. Before long, Brother Jones was called as president of the branch, a calling he magnified for more than three years, missing only one Sunday meeting during that time. He was just as dedicated to the gospel the rest of the week. He set aside Monday evenings to attend priesthood meeting, Tuesday evenings for visiting branch members in their homes, and Wednesday evenings for attending cottage meetings with the full-time missionaries. A true Welshman, Brother Jones sang in the branch choir, attending practice every Thursday night.
Brother Jones proved himself reliable both as a member missionary and as a full-time missionary while serving a short full-time mission to the Hunter Valley, 100 miles north of Sydney. Elder Wandell, who had been named mission president, was so impressed with Brother Jones that he set him apart as temporary mission president just prior to sailing for home in 1853 with 30 converts from the Australasian Mission, which from 1851 to 1897 comprised Australia and New Zealand. The calling may have been the shortest on record: just as Elder Wandell and the Saints were departing, 10 new missionaries arrived in Sydney Harbour on another vessel from California with a new mission president.4
The new president of the Australasian Mission, Augustus Farnham, found a staunch ally in the Welsh convert. When President Farnham started Zion’s Watchman, a successful mission paper that answered critics’ claims against the Church, he named John Jones as assistant editor. Brother Jones wrote several major essays on the gospel for the paper, as well as news items and verse. He also wrote the first history of the Church in Australia, which was published when the first volume of Zion’s Watchman was bound.
Brother Jones became well known in Sydney when, after joining the Church, he was denied permission to bury his 14-month-old daughter, Ellen, in the same burial plot where he had previously laid two sons. Brother Jones appealed to the local press in a letter plaintively titled “Where shall I bury my dead?” The letter sparked a favorable editorial response from the Sydney Morning Herald, which vigorously defended the rights of newer sects to share in the city’s burial grounds.5
An eloquent orator, Brother Jones soon became the chief spokesman for the Church in Sydney, giving Sunday night lectures on his new faith to large audiences. Leading colonial churchmen attended, took notes, and replied in sermons from their own pulpits.
Occasionally the ministers published denunciations of the Church in their denominational papers, to which Brother Jones would write a rebuttal in Zion’s Watchman.6
One Sunday evening while responding to a religious tract against the Church, Brother Jones was rudely interrupted by a religious group opposed to the Church. In describing the event, a counselor in the mission presidency wrote that in all his traveling “he had never witnessed such disgraceful proceedings.”7 On other occasions, stones pelted houses where Church members met, and in 1854 Brother Jones was assaulted by four ruffians whom President Farnham called “slaves of the hirelings”—“hirelings” being a reference to those ministers who accepted a stipend for their labors.8
Brother Jones was released as branch president in October 1855. The following May, John and Jane Jones, along with their three surviving children (four had died in infancy), heeded the call to gather to Zion and sailed for America on the Jenny Ford.
Rosa Clara Friedlander was only 11 years old when she traveled from England to Sydney in 1849 with her younger brother and widowed mother.9 Two years later, when Elders Murdock and Wandell arrived to spread the message of the Restoration, Rosa Clara’s family, including her mother’s new husband, were baptized within a few weeks of the organization of the Sydney Branch.
Rosa Clara’s home soon became the site of frequent cottage meetings. Later, when her stepfather moved the family to Melbourne in order for him to accept a call there as a missionary, Rosa Clara stayed on in Sydney under the guardianship of successive mission presidents. She eventually moved in with a friend who lived outside the city. Every Sunday Rosa Clara walked 12 miles to attend church. In addition, she attended singing practice on Thursdays and helped distribute missionary tracts throughout the city.
On 21 May 1853, 16-year-old Rosa Clara married recent convert Charles Joseph Gordon Logie. Their marriage was one of the first unions between Latter-day Saints in Australia. The newlyweds set up house and continued their work in the Church, even coming to the aid of full-time missionary John Hyde, who was dying with cancer of the mouth. The couple took Elder Hyde into their home, where Rosa Clara nursed him until his death.
When Rosa Clara had her first baby in June 1854, she named her Annie Augusta after mission president Augustus Farnham. Fourteen months later, Rosa Clara’s little family joined 25 other Latter-day Saints and several other passengers aboard the Julia Ann, bound for California. On the night of 3 October 1855, after the children had been put to bed, the pleasant sound of hymn singing halted suddenly when the ship struck a coral reef 200 miles west of Tahiti.
As the ship began to break apart, a rope was tied to the ship and one of its crew members swam to the reef to secure the other end. The captain prepared to ferry the women and children through the dark to the reef. Rosa Clara volunteered to be the first to be ferried, then helped tie her baby, wrapped in a woolen shawl, to her husband’s back. Moments later, he and baby Ann were swept overboard before Rosa Clara’s horrified eyes. An alert sailor quickly rescued them unharmed.
Frightened but determined, Rosa Clara climbed onto the captain’s lap and was pulled safely to the reef, where she was left standing barefoot on the sharp coral in the chest-deep water. Most of the company soon joined her on the reef, but two women and three children drowned in the confusion and rush to safety.
The next morning, the crew used a damaged boat to move the shaken and soaked passengers to a small island spotted in the distance. Living on supplies salvaged from the ship and on coconuts, fish, and turtle meat and eggs found on the island, the group sustained itself for eight weeks until being rescued by a whaling schooner.
Rosa Clara had fallen ill while on the island, but she and her family finally made their way to San Francisco in the spring of 1856, where George Q. Cannon (who would be ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1860) greeted them and presented Rosa Clara with a small pewter teapot in recognition of her bravery. Charles and Rosa Clara eventually settled in American Fork, Utah, where they reared 12 children and carried on lives of faithful gospel service—service that they began as young pioneers in faraway Australia.
In order to build up the Church, early Australian converts like John Jones and Rosa Clara Logie were encouraged to immigrate to the United States. Although approximately 500 converts left Australia for America in the 1850s, followed by smaller numbers in succeeding decades, the remaining faithful Saints rallied when, infrequently, full-time missionaries were assigned to Australia during the last four decades of the 19th century.
Coinciding with renewed missionary activity in the 1890s, however, Church leaders began to urge new members to remain in their native countries and build up the Church there.10 As the Church slowly began to grow in Australia, a new wave of Australian Latter-day Saint pioneers emerged.
After emigrating from England to New South Wales in 1840, William and Mary Dunster Chittenden spent 14 years farming in Camden, just southwest of Sydney. By 1854 their family consisted of seven daughters. Two sons, one born before they left England and one born in 1853, died in infancy.
Soon after the death of her second baby boy, Mary Chittenden dreamed of being handed a book by two men. At first inclined to refuse the book because she could not read, she joyfully accepted it when she realized that her daughters could read it to her. One of the men then said to her, “We are clothed upon with power to preach to the people.”11
The dream was so vivid that when she awoke she roused her husband and related her dream to him. Thus prepared for the message of the Restoration, the family soon accepted the gospel when they met the missionaries and were introduced to the Book of Mormon.
Six months after the family was baptized in Camden in 1854, their home and farm burned down. When the missionaries urged the family to leave for Utah, William hesitated. Sale of their property would cover their passage fare, but William did not want to arrive penniless in a strange country with eight children to care for. The missionaries left for home in 1858 after receiving news of the Utah War, and for 18 years thereafter the Chittenden family remained faithful to the gospel though they had no contact with the Church.12
Missionaries returned in 1876. When they left a year later, William and Mary Chittenden, along with the three youngest of their 14 children, sailed with the missionaries for America. They were joined by their eldest daughter and her family in 1879, but nine daughters and many grandchildren remained to build up the Church in Australia. Forty-one members of the family eventually migrated to Utah, but many more remained to strengthen the growing Church in their homeland.13
Several of the Chittenden daughters and their families eagerly assisted in the missionary effort when renewed missionary activity began in the 1890s. For several years, sacrament meetings were held in the home of Jane Chittenden Carter in Alexandria, and until 1902 the home of Alice Chittenden Andrews in Erskineville doubled as headquarters for the mission.
Jane and Alice provided beds, meals, and laundry services for the missionaries, and they kept them busy with investigators gathered from among friends and members of their extended families.14 These sisters eventually followed their parents to Utah, but they left married children to carry on the work of establishing the Church in Australia. Descendants of William and Mary Chittenden may still be found serving in stake and ward callings from Brisbane to Adelaide, and in many parts of the United States and Canada.
By the time the six British colonies in Australia federated in 1901, permanent branches of the Church had been established in every capital city except Adelaide and Perth. In Brisbane, where missionaries’ efforts had been unfruitful before 1890, William Duffin was overjoyed when he saw an advertisement about the Church in the local paper.
First baptized in England in 1852, Brother Duffin had been a branch president before immigrating to Queensland in 1874 with his wife, Sarah Aslett Duffin. Sixteen years had passed without Church contact, but when Brother Duffin met Elders George E. Woolley and Almono L. Young in Brisbane in 1890, the flame of faith still burned brightly in his heart. In an act of rededication common among early Church members who had recommitted themselves or who had been relocated, William Duffin was rebaptized—the first officially recorded baptism in Queensland.15
Although 81 years old and crippled with rheumatism, Brother Duffin did all he could to aid the missionaries and spread the gospel.
“He still bears faithful testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel and has a great desire to see Zion and her temples,” wrote John F. Burton in 1895.16 But Brother Duffin’s wish was unfulfilled; he lived long enough to see a permanent branch of the Church organized in Brisbane but died there in his 90th year in 1898. Today a plaque on his grave commemorates his baptism, the beginning of “a great and marvelous work” in Queensland.17
Many strong families followed William and Sarah Duffin into the waters of baptism in Brisbane, among them the Hardman family. Three days before her 19th birthday, Margaret Ann Blakeley arrived in Australia from England with her parents, brothers, and one sister. Within three months of their arrival in 1884, Margaret’s mother died. Her father and little sister returned to England, leaving Margaret the responsibility of raising her younger brothers, ages 14, 11, and 2. Another tragedy occurred when Margaret’s two-year-old brother, Joseph, died soon afterward.
Later that year, Margaret married another English immigrant, John Hardman. John’s grandfather’s cousins had accepted the restored gospel in England soon after the first missionaries arrived in 1837.18 Unaware of the family connection with the Church, Margaret Hardman listened to the missionaries teaching a group of people on a Brisbane street corner. Eager to learn more, she began attending meetings. On 7 June 1902, she and five of her children were baptized. John was baptized two years later.
Sixty-four years after the first member of the Hardman family was baptized in England, another branch of the family had recognized the truth of the restored gospel in far-off Australia.
Margaret Hardman immediately became a pillar of the Brisbane Branch. Family tradition tells that when branch members were preparing to build a meetinghouse, Sister Hardman searched and found a suitable site for what became in 1904 the Church’s first chapel built in Australia.
Sister Hardman longed to receive the blessings of the temple. She continued to nurture that desire after her husband’s death in 1929. At last, in 1936, Margaret made the long journey to the Salt Lake Temple, where she was sealed to her husband by proxy. She died five years after returning to Brisbane.
Many of Sister Hardman’s descendants serve and strengthen wards and stakes throughout Australia today—living memorials to the labors of a strong Latter-day Saint pioneer.19
Emma Watts Galloway was adamant in her refusal to join her sister’s church because, according to its doctrine, their deceased and unbaptized mother would be lost in the next life. Emma knew her mother had lived a good life, and she could not accept such a doctrine. When Latter-day Saint missionaries knocked on her door one day in 1902, she had just one question for them: “What will be my mother’s fate in the eternities?”
Their answer, couched within the plan of salvation as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, was balm to her troubled soul. She and two daughters were immediately baptized. Two decades later, her husband joined the Church.
For nearly 50 years, Emma Galloway remained one of the strongest members in the Melbourne Branch to the day of her death in 1949.
“She always bore testimony and always prayed that she would endure to the end,” says her granddaughter Edna Galloway Ord, who today lives in the home her grandmother opened to branch meetings until a chapel was built in Melbourne in 1921.20
Sister Ord’s links to Australia’s Latter-day Saint pioneers stretch back much further than to her grandmother, who was confirmed by 83-year-old Samuel Charlton on 22 June 1902. Brother Charlton, who had been baptized in England in 1840, was rebaptized by Samuel Cant. Brother Cant had been confirmed by Robert Beauchamp, the only known convert of the first Mormon missionary to Australia, William James Barratt of England. Truly, the pioneer links in the Church in Australia form a long chain of tradition and faith.
Despite the faithfulness of small and widely scattered groups of pioneering Saints—some 500 miles apart in each of the Australian state capitals—Latter-day Saints in Australia numbered relatively few until after World War II. Then, as part of the Church’s worldwide expansion, baptisms increased dramatically.
Standardized proselytizing lessons increased missionary effectiveness, the government allowed more missionaries into Australia, and missionary work was extended to cities and towns seldom visited before. In the larger cities, original pioneer branches were divided and subdivided, and large modern chapels were built. After the New Zealand Temple was dedicated in 1958, many Australian Saints made the pilgrimage to New Zealand during the next 26 years until the Sydney Australia Temple was dedicated in 1984.
In 1957 Donald W. Cummings, then 26, was called to serve as president of the Western Australia District, which covered one million square miles in the South Australia Mission. Like many Latter-day Saint families throughout Australia, Brother Cummings and his wife, Margaret, were determined to attend the dedication of the New Zealand Temple the following year.
The Church’s two branches in Perth, where the Cummings family lived, were the most isolated in Australia. The round-trip to New Zealand would take six weeks and cost them 600 pounds ($1,344)—a year’s salary for the average Australian male. Their goal seemed impossible to achieve, but Brother and Sister Cummings began to pray, work, and save.
As the dedication date approached, they sold the family car. They then borrowed as much as they could by using their furniture as collateral; their home was already fully mortgaged. A week before their scheduled departure, they were still 200 pounds short.
Don and Margaret kept a prayer in their hearts, as they had been counseled. Thomas S. Bingham, president of the Southern Australia Mission, had promised the Saints hoping to attend the dedication, “If you have a righteous goal and pray about it, the Lord will help you achieve it.”
Walking down a busy street in Perth, Don was surprised to meet his father, whom he had not seen since his parents divorced several years earlier. His father invited him to his office for a visit, during which he apologized to Don for having neglected for several years to send him birthday and Christmas gifts. He then wrote Don a check for 100 pounds.
A few days later, Margaret’s parents surprised the couple with another gift. “We’ve been putting a little aside so you can have a good time on your trip,” they said. Their gift was 100 pounds.
The last obstacle Don faced was getting time off work. Two weeks of vacation was the maximum his employers offered, and they would not agree to hold his job. Mustering his faith, Don resigned.
Sydney, where the Cummings family was to board ship for New Zealand, is nearly as far east of Perth as New York is from Los Angeles—a distance the family covered by train. Each of Australia’s six states had a different rail gauge in 1958, which meant five car changes, often in the early hours of the morning. With a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a baby, the family’s five-day journey was arduous.
Tired but excited, they joined other Latter-day Saints from Australia’s two missions as they assembled in Sydney to embark on the three-day voyage to New Zealand. To their dismay, the SS Wanganella was damaged while docking and was unable to sail in time to take the Latter-day Saints to the temple dedication.
“To this day we don’t know how it was arranged, but airline bookings were made for us all,” Margaret recalls. “We still don’t know how the large difference in fares was paid, but we are still grateful.”
Following the dedicatory services conducted by President David O. McKay, the Australian Saints began their ordinance work. Don and Margaret were in the first company of Saints to receive their endowments, have their children sealed to them, and do work for the dead.
With little more than coins in their pockets but with hearts secure in the knowledge that they were now an eternal family, they completed the long trek back to Perth. Soon Don had a new and better job. He was still serving as district president nine years later when he was called to preside over the first stake in Perth.
In March 1960 the first stake was organized in Sydney, New South Wales. Other stake organizations soon followed in Brisbane and Melbourne. By 1967, when the Perth stake was organized, there were six stakes in Australia. Today New South Wales has six stakes, Queensland and Victoria have five stakes each, while South and Western Australia each have three stakes. There are two stakes in Tasmania and one centered in Canberra, the national capital.
The beginnings of the stakes can be traced to the faithful men and women who pioneered the restored Church in Australia. Not all can be featured by name. The names of some, in fact, are unknown. But their labors and faith were not in vain, for they have brought forth much fruit.