Hawaiʻi Island – Four Corners Friends, Writing, Speaking Engagements

In early January I traveled to Hawaiʻi Island for a month of writing, revisiting old friends, speaking and research. By early February I had visited Kailua-Kona, Kaʻū, Miloliʻi, Pahala, Hilo, and North Kohala. Mahalo to Rosemary Miller, Susan Caddell, David “Tiki” McLauren, Ed and Sharon Bernard, Herb Alverez Jeff Rogers, Kahu David de Carvalho, Yolanda Olson, Julia Neal, David Ross, Charles ”Mahina” Kaupiko, Mark and Dayna Blair, Deborah Lee, Kapali Lyon, and other friends for making this trip possible.

Kahu Charles and Mama Kahu Melveen Kaupiko royally hosted me at the Hauʻoli Kamanaʻo Church at Miloliʻi on the South Kona coast. I spoke at the Sunday morning service with a focus on the history of the church illustrated with Hawaiian language letters and vintage congregation photos.
Jeff Rogers producer and filmmaker of the Hawaiʻi Legacy Series of Christian History of Hawaiʻi documentary films and his crew set their cameras on the lawn of the Kahikolu Church parsonage along Kealakekua Bay. Jeff filmed me providing information about the life and times of Thomas Hopu, the close friend of Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia. Hopu lived and served in the mid-1820s as a native minister at Kaʻawaloa sub-mission station directly across the bay from the parsonage.
Herb Alverez pressure washes the grave of renowned Hawaiʻi Great Awakening evangelist Titus Coan in preparation for the upcoming mid-May bicentennial celebration of Haili Church in Hilo, Coan’s home church. The Coan grave is located at the Homelani-Kulamano Cemetery mauka of Haili Church.
Deborah Lee and I reminiscented about her blessed effort in returning to Hawaiʻi the remains of Henry ‘Ōpūkahaʻia from Cornwall, Connecticut in 1993. I am with Debbie at her family home near Hilo.
Pastor Mark and Dayna Blair hosted me at the Kalāhikiola Congregational Church parsonage in North Kohala. I have previously spent time with the Blairs in Kauaʻi and Honolulu so it was fun to visit them at their home too.
The Kalāhikiola Congregational Church lit by a full moon. Pastor Mark Blair invited me to speak about the life of Henry ‘Ōpūkahaʻia during the church’s mid-week Bible study. I gained an understanding of the ministry of American missionary Father Bond in North Kohala through church members and a visit to the historic church grounds. I hope to return to learn more.
Surfer buddy David “Tiki” McLauren catches the sunset at the Old Airport Beach in Kailua-Kona during a YWAM-Ships pot luck birthday party. Tiki, now a Big Island resident, who grew up in Oceanside, California, and I were neighbors in Haleʻiwa Oʻahu in the winter surf session of 1970-71. Mahalo Tiki for loan of a car during my visit – made the visit possible!
Edward and Sharon Bernard from Los Angeles invited me to enjoy a three-night stay in Waikoloa. We caught a majestic sunset each night and I was able to find some significant writing time in the comfort of a well-appointed condo. The well-traveled Bernards did me a big favor when they did pioneer research for me in England, in London and in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, investigating the life of the Rev. William Ellis, the knowledgable London Missionary Society missionary who wrote a journal of his 1823 mission station surveying circuit of Hawaiʻi Island.

Preparing the Way added to American Antiquarian Society collection

American Antiquarian Society exterior
A key collection of published Hawaiian language materials can be found in the archives of the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The American Antiquarian Society has accepted for inclusion of its collection a copy of my new book Preparing the Way – A Pictorial History for the Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial 1820-2020. This pictorial history provides an illustrated narrative of the formation and sending of the pioneer Protestant missionary company sent to Hawai‘i from Boston by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1819.

The American Antiquarian Society library located in Worcester, Massachusetts dates back to the Early Republic days of the United States. The Society describes itself as: “Founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas, the American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library today houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material printed through 1876 in what is now the United States, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, and digital resources and reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the twentieth century.”

During a research visit in 2018 I discovered a book with perhaps the first mention of plans for an American Protestant mission to evangelize the Hawaiian Islands. In searching for unknown, obscure details about the Christian History of Hawai‘i, I will often begin with a general term like the key word “Obookiah” and see what publications show up. Through a search for “Samuel Mills” in the digital card catalog available within the AAS library an 1810 book titled A Collection of Letters on Missions turned up. A note within the card catalog notation showed the book was self-published at the Andover Theological Seminary by American Foreign Missions founder Samuel Mills Jr. and Adoniram Judson, who sailed from Salem, Massachusetts in 1812 as the leader of the first foreign Protestant mission sent from the shores of the young United States. In the rear section of the book the Sandwich Islands is mentioned. Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia was in Andover with Samuel Mills at the time of the distribution of the book. One wonders if Henry helped his friend with the packing and shipping of the books, which were sold in advance by subscription to church congregations in New England to promote foreign missions. The book also gave one of the first notices of the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, inspired in spring 1810 by a request from Mills, Judson and two other Andover students. That took place at Bradford, Massachusetts, about eight miles north of Andover.

The American Antiquarian Society collection houses rare and newspapers with a Hawai‘i tie. The family of James Hunnewell, an officer aboard the brig the Thaddeus upon which the pioneer company sailed to Hawai‘i, in recent years has donated their collection of Hawaiian language mission press publications. This includes a copy of the first Hawaiian alphabet, struck off the Mission Press in January 1822.

The Rev. Samuel Damon (February 15, 1815 – February 7, 1885) of Hawai‘i joined the American Antiquarian Society in 1869. His ancestor Samuel Damon of Holden, Massachusetts in 1836 donated a corner of the property where the AAS is today located. The Rev. Damon served as the pastor of the American Seaman’s Friend Society chapel in Honolulu from 1841 to 1869 during the height of the American whaling ship era. He founded and published The Friend, a monthly newspaper He was the editor and publisher of The Friend, a monthly newspaper printed in Honolulu. The Friend was an outreach to the thousands of sailors who arrived in Hawai‘i each year during his life in Hawai‘i and included news of ship arrivals and departures and a wide variety of news about the Hawaiian Islands.

“How a Massachusetts Library Became ‘A Hotbed of Hawaiiana’” is the title of a Honolulu Civil Beat article about the Hawai‘i ties to the American Antiquarian Society.

Poai Lincoln performs at the American Antiquarian Society in October 2019 during an event for the 2019 Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial in New England.
Poai Lincoln traveled from Hawai‘i to perform at the American Antiquarian Society in October 2019 during an event organized by the Hawaiian Mission Houses for the 2019 Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial in New England. Poai accompanied acclaimed Hawai‘i actor Moses Goodes who performed in the main room of the AAS his one-man drama My Name is ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia.

Commemoration of the Life of Henry ‘Opukaha‘ia

Go to MissionHouses.org for more information.

I am scheduled to speak at the Hawaiian Mission Houses 200th commemorative anniversary of the death of Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia on February 17, 2018. Here is information from Mission Houses website:

On February 17, 2018, Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives will celebrate the life of Henry ‘Opukaha‘ia marking the day he died two hundred years ago. This important celebration honors the man who inspired the Sandwich Island Mission and is the first event in the bicentennial of the arrival of the American Protestant mission to Hawai‘i in 2020.

From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2018, the houses and grounds of Hawaiian Mission Houses will be open to the public free of charge. As with our 2 other open houses, historic house tours will be conducted every half-hour, with the first tour at 11 a.m. and the last tour at 3 p.m. The printing press will be continuously operated and interpreted with either the “Ho‘onani,” (Doxology) or the Hawaiian Primer, the first print struck in Hawai‘i, being printed all day for participants to take home. Activities on site will include some of those used in the HMH school program. For example one will emphasize the distance between Hawai‘i and the Eastern U.S. Another will offer the opportunity to create one’s own work on an individual mini printing press, and another will allow users to experience writing with a quill pen while copying a letter from one of the ali‘i from the HMH archives.

At 10 a.m. historic Kawaiaha‘o Church will conduct a special commemorative service and be joined by Royal Societies, Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and other organizations. Concurrent church services in Hilo and on the East Coast will also celebrate the life of ‘Opukaha‘ia and those who attend will learn about his role in inspiring the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) to send missionaries to Hawai‘i to bring Christianity. Audience may or may not choose to attend this service.

Yale Indigenous student performers coming to Hawai‘i Island

Ōpūkaha‘ia ohana representative Deborah Lee (second from left) with Emeritus State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, PhD at Yale University in late January 2017. Bellantoni led the removal of Ōpūkaha’ia’s remains in 1993 from his gravesite in the Cornwall, Connecticut graveyard. (YIPAP photo)

The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP) is sending students to Hawai‘i Island in March 2017 to view sites related to the life of Ōpūkaha‘ia.

The performing group met in late January with Ōpūkaha‘ia ohana representatives Deborah Lee of Hilo. Deborah led in the returning of Henry’s iwi (remains) in 1993 to Hawai‘i from his 1818 grave site in Cornwall, Connecticut. Deborah traveled to Yale University in New Haven and to Cornwall. At Cornwall, they visited the Steward’s House in Cornwall where Henry once socialized and ate meals.

A post at the YIPAP blog hosted by Yale University details the visit to Cornwall in words and photos.