Are stories of stalwart male missionaries who fall in love with their virtuous female investigators limited to the 1950s onward? Absolutely not. Julia Farr, in her fictional work Venna Hastings, Story of An Eastern Mormon Convert, follows the difficult conversion of Venna Hastings to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the means of a young and valiant male missionary in the 1910s. A native of the Eastern United States, she is encouraged by family, friends, and religious professionals alike to avoid the Mormon church for innumerable reasons. But through faith-based experiences, she gains a testimony and is baptized. She then follows her future husband back to the humble town of Ephraim, Utah and is married to him for time and eternity.
Later, the two serve separately in World War I, Venna as a volunteer for the Red Cross, and her husband as a soldier. The two meet the same fate during the war: death. The conclusion of the story recounts their beautiful reunion in Paradise, having been sealed together by the Priesthood of God in His Holy Temple. This quick read showcases the faith, diligence, and humility of Venna, giving it a role as inspirational literature, and it also provides a window into popular Mormon ideals (particularly of romance) in the early 20th century. Give it a look.
Thanks to Rachel Helps and Steven Fluckiger for proofreading Venna Hastings, and to Steven for contributing to this blog post.