"The Little Head Stones Became Monuments": Death in the Early Samoan Mission and the Creation of the Fagali'i Cemetery | BYU Studies

"The Little Head Stones Became Monuments": Death in the Early Samoan Mission and the Creation of the Fagali'i Cemetery

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"The Little Head Stones Became Monuments": Death in the Early Samoan Mission and the Creation of the Fagali'i Cemetery

Reid L. Neilson
Scott D. Marianno

During the first two decades of the Samoan Mission (established in 1888), at least twelve Latter-day Saints passed away in the mission, which forced the mission leaders and other missionaries to determine how best to bury and honor their dead. This article first reviews the history of LDS cemeteries as sacred spaces and then looks specifically at memorials created for deceased missionaries and their children in Samoa. These stones acted as memorials for survivors and left a lasting artifact of the lived religion of these early missionaries. The deaths of Katie Merrill and her newborn son; three little children of Thomas and Sarah Hilton; Ransom Stevens; Ella Moody; the son of Edgar and Ida Roberts; and Judson Tomlinson are discussed. The article concludes with a letter from David O. McKay to Sarah Hilton describing his 1921 visit to the Fagali'i cemetery to honor those buried there.

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