Charles Henry Bridges, Jr. was born February 25, 1865 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory the son of Charles Henry and Frances Elizabeth Pearson Bridges. In 1866 the Bridges family was called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to move north and settle the remote Bear Lake Valley. They settled in modern day Dingle, Idaho where Charles Sr. worked as a farmer and school teacher and Frances worked as a midwife.
Charles Bridges, Jr. received his basic education from his father and spent his youth working the family farm. In 1887 Bridges met Mary Ellen Nate from nearby Paris, Idaho. After a year-long courtship the couple was married in the Logan LDS Temple on October 4, 1888. They settled in Dingle to farm and later had eight children who lived to adulthood.
In 1891 Bridges was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in the recently opened Samoa Islands Mission, Pacific Ocean. Bridges was one of the first missionaries to proselyte in the Samoa Mission after it was opened in 1888 and he labored there for three years.
The first LDS missionaries were sent to Samoa in 1862, but no other missionaries were sent to Samoa until 1888. After the mission was opened the church continued to send missionaries to Samoa during the 1890s even though in 1888 and 1892-1894 various political and tribal wars erupted on the islands as natives fought for independence from western powers such as Germany, France, and the United States. Also during this time a number of LDS missionaries in Samoa died of various diseases, such as typhoid, because of the tropical conditions and the lack of available medical facilities. Beginning in the 1890s the LDS Church opened schools and established various work projects in attempt to win public support for the church and to improve living conditions on the local islands.
During Bridges' time in Samoa he proselyted on the Savaii and Upolu Islands of Samoa. He made regular trips to remote areas to proselyte and baptized numerous people. He also taught English to the local natives and took part in various work projects designed by the LDS Church. In the summer of 1893 Bridges' work slowed when he became ill, but he recovered within a month. Although Bridges recovered from his illness, he was left temporarily visually impaired. He struggled to see clearly and accomplish basic tasks for a period of two months before his eyesight was fully recovered.
In March 1894 Bridges was released from his missionary service and set sail for the United States. One month later he arrived home in Dingle and resumed farming. In 1894 Bridges was called to be Ward Historian for his LDS Ward. Bridges lived in Dingle until his death on February 8, 1925.
Britsch, R. Lanier, Unto the Islands of the Sea, Deseret Book Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986, 349-430 (USU Special Collections call # 289.351 B777).
Daughters of Utah Pioneers, History of Bear Lake Pioneers, Utah Printing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1968, 88-90 (USU Special Collections call # 979.2091 H117).
This collection contains two diaries kept by Charles H. Bridges, Jr. during his LDS mission in Samoa, a journal with Bridges' Samoan language notes and studies, an 1892 Deseret News article discussing Bridges' work in Samoa, and a family group sheet with Bridges family's genealogical information.
The diaries span the period of 1893 to 1894 and contain detailed daily entries about Bridges' missionary labors. His diaries discuss missionary work, local congregations, opposition to the LDS Church in Samoa, local customs and social life, the political conflicts that occurred in Samoa during this period, and other similar topics. Each daily entry also lists the town or city Bridges was then laboring in. His diaries also contain a dated list showing which towns and islands Bridges visited over the course of each year, a list of all letters received, a financial record of expenses, a record of baptisms performed, and the 1893 diary (Fd 1) contains a photograph of Bridges. The 1893-1894 diary (Fd 2) contains a month of entries while Bridges was in Dingle shortly after his return from Samoa. These two diaries were numbered Journals 4 and 5 by Bridges, the location of Journals 1-3 is currently unknown.
The journal with a Samoan language notes concerns Bridges' study of the Samoan language and contains speeches, prayers, and various notes in Samoan. The Deseret News article discusses the October 1892 travels of Bridges and island's LDS conference meeting where Bridges spoke. The family group record shows birth, death, and marriage dates of Bridges and his wife and children.
There is also a collection of incoming and outgoing correspondence associated with the Charles H. Bridges, Jr. missionary diaries. One group of letters is from Bridges’ fellow missionaries in Samoa, including George E. Browning, Hatten Carpenter, George M. McCune, Joseph H. Merrill, C.W. Poole, R.M. Stevens, C.R. Thomason, Adelbert Twitchell, and Frank Van Colt. This correspondence includes words of encouragement, as well as reports of progress in the Samoan Mission. While in Samoa, Bridges also received a number of letters from family and friends, the majority of which come from his wife, Mary Ellen. These letters provide Bridges with updates about life in his hometown of Dingle, Idaho, like one letter from his father-in-law, Sampson Nate, which announces the birth of Bridges’ son. Another includes a lock of hair, probably clipped from one of his children.
In these papers is also a series of outgoing correspondence from Bridges while he was serving as a missionary in Samoa. The majority of these letters is addressed to Mary Ellen and offers an unusually personal insight into Bridges’ feelings and experiences while living overseas. There is also a letter to the 19th Quorum of the Seventies that details the progress of the Samoan mission after missionaries had been on the island for three and a half years.
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Permission to publish material from the Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.Preferred Citation :
Charles H. Bridges, Jr., missionary diaries and correspondence, 1891-1894. (COLL MSS 308). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.
Arranged in numeric sequence according to Box and Folder.
Detailed Description of the Collection