Island Adventures


Island Adventures: The Hawaiian Mission of Francis A. Hammond, 1851-1865

From sea-faring whaler to mission president, Francis A. Hammond’s diaries reveal the cultural, economic, and spiritual tensions present in early Mormonism’s missionary efforts.

April, 2016

SKU: 978-1-56085-242-1 Categories: , Tags: , , Author: John J. HammondProduct ID: 1389


Francis (“Frank”) Hammond was not an average Mormon pioneer. After breaking his back working on a whaling ship off the coast of Siberia in 1844, he was set ashore on the island of Maui to heal. While there he set up shop as a shoemaker and learned the local language. Three years later, he converted to Mormonism in San Francisco, and in 1851 he was sent back to Hawaii as a missionary along with his new wife, Mary Jane. In the 1860s he returned to the islands as mission president.

Through all this, he and his wife kept extensive and fascinating journals, documenting their adventures on land and sea, as well as relations (some prickly) with fellow missionaries and non-Mormon caucasians and Hawaiians. Hammond established a Mormon gathering place on the island of Lana’i, and in the 1860s he traveled by stagecoach from Utah to the west coast with a satchel of $5,000 in gold coins to purchase the land that became the site in O’ahu of the LDS temple, church college, and Polynesian Culture Center.

John J. Hammond was born and raised near Blackfoot, Idaho. After earning a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught political science and philosophy at Kent State University for thirty-five years, retiring in 2007. For the past fourteen years, he has enjoyed researching Mormon topics—including the life and writings of his great-great-grandfather, Frank Hammond.

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4 reviews for Island Adventures

  1. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp

    The story of Francis Hammond provides a fascinating lens into the world of the nineteenth-century Pacific. As a crossroad for commerce, empire-building and evangelism, Hawaii represented a small but vital piece of the Mormon aspiration to bring the gospel to all lands, and Hammond’s life work, so precisely detailed in this biography, greatly enriches our understanding of the earliest years of this venture, both its successes and failures. This is an honest and indispensable contribution to the history of Mormon missionary work.

  2. Gina Maree Colvin

    John J. Hammond has produced a delightfully candid account of his ancestor Frank Hammond’s mission to Hawaii. Family histories are too often triumphant and congratulatory. Hammond’s story is anything but, as he casts a critical eye over both the religious and cultural colonization of a people and the ethnocentrism that allowed for it. Brutally honest in recounting the fraught nature of these nineteenth-century cross-cultural encounters, Hammond’s work is informed and fresh.

  3. Nathaniel R. Ricks

    Island Adventures is a fascinating examination of the whaler-turned-evangelist’s survival, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, of the tragedies and triumphs of their Hawaiian outreach. The adventures are myriad, involving shipwrecks, a smallpox epidemic, threats from outsiders, and tension from within the mission brotherhood itself. At the heart of the story is Frank’s conversion to Mormonism and adaptation to Hawaiian customs. In placing the smallest details within a larger context, the author has made a significant contribution to Mormon studies.

  4. Ian G. Barber

    John Hammond offers new insights into the mid-nineteenth-century Mormon missionary struggle to establish an Anglo-American church among indigenous Hawaiians. His views are gleaned in particular from the full journals of his missionary ancestor, Francis Hammond. From that pioneering diarist’s honest record, the charismatic experiences, cultural connections, conflicts (internal and external), compromises, successes, and failures of the first turbulent Hawaiian mission are interpreted anew. The descendant–scholar John Hammond has achieved empathy and critique in equal measure

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