Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (Mission Houses) collaborated with Awaiaulu Foundation to digitize, transcribe, translate and annotate over 200-letters written by 33-Chiefs.
The letters, written between 1823 and 1887, are assembled from three different collections: the ABCFM Collection held by Harvard’s Houghton Library, the HEA Collection of the Hawaii Conference-United Church of Christ and the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society.
These letters provide insight into what the Ali‘i (Chiefs) were doing and thinking at the time, as well as demonstrate the close working relationship and collaboration between the aliʻi and the missionaries.
In this letter, John Papa ‘Ī‘ī writes to Mr. and Mrs. Amos Cooke to inform them of their arrival in Lahaina with the boys from the Chiefs’ Children’s School and tells of their activities there.
John Papa ʻĪʻī began his service in the royal court when he served as an attendant to Liholiho, Kamehameha II. Īʻī later became a trusted advisor and chief in the court of Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III and continued to serve the sovereigns of Hawaiʻi until his death in 1870. At the time of this letter, he is escorting the boys from the Chiefs’ Children’s School as they travel in Lahaina.
Mr. Amos Starr Cooke was a missionary with the eighth company. He and his wife, Juliette Montague Cooke, ran the Chiefs’ Children’s School. Sarai, the wife of John Papa ‘Ī‘ī at the time of this letter, assisted at the Chiefs’ Children’s School.
In part, the letter notes:
“Luaehu, April 6, 1843”
“Greetings to the two of you, Mr. and Mrs. Cooke, and to the girls and Sarai,”
“We landed here in Lahaina yesterday, Wednesday, at four in the afternoon. Because of the fair winds, the boys did not suffer; Lota was the only boy weak from vomiting, and recovery was quick upon reaching the shore.”
“The men’s strong paddling was one of the reasons for arriving quickly. From morning time on they paddled that day until we neared our anchorage. All the canoes were already at hand and took all of us, the boys, Dr. Judd and Kekūanāoʻa.”
“We saw Auhea and Kuakini, who both give their greetings to the two of you and all the girls. The king has not reached during these days; he is in Wailuku and may or may not arrive tomorrow. This Sabbath day is up to me, and the work begins.”
“We slept here in Luaehu last night along with Dr. Judd, and he and I talked with Auhea about how we should go inland, and for Judd to stay with her; and that seems to be what was decided. Auhea and I went up there this morning to put things in order and the boys came up too.”
“By 10 am, all of us, the boys and Dr. Judd, mounted horses, and we rode to Lahainaluna for the presentation. We returned in the evening before dinner. “
“Dr. Judd went to Mr. Baldwin’s place for the foreigner’s meeting to abolish liquor. At nine, he returned. At that meeting, there were twenty foreigners as well as the officer of the ship. They are liquor abolitionists. …”
“Many whaling ships are anchored here these days. There are perhaps thirty ships anchored, and the rest are coming, according to what we saw of the ships between yesterday and today.”
Here’s a link to the original letter, its transcription, translation and annotation (scroll down):
On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of American Protestant missionaries from the northeast US, led by Hiram Bingham, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai‘i.) They arrived in the Islands and anchored at Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820.
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”,) about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the earliest efforts of the missionaries, who arrived in 1820, was the identification and selection of important communities (generally near ports and aliʻi residences) as “stations” for the regional church and school centers across the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian Mission Houses’ Strategic Plan themes note that the collaboration between Native Hawaiians and American Protestant missionaries resulted in the
• The introduction of Christianity;
• The development of a written Hawaiian language and establishment of schools that resulted in widespread literacy;
• The promulgation of the concept of constitutional government;
• The combination of Hawaiian with Western medicine, and
• The evolution of a new and distinctive musical tradition (with harmony and choral singing).