The first Oktoberfest, held from October 12–October 17, 1810 in Munich, was to celebrate the occasion of the wedding of Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
Because of its success, it was repeated annually, later also with an agricultural fair, dance, music and amusement rides. The Germans call it “die Wiesn.”
Largely due to coincidence, the festival now generally starts in September and ends on or near October 3. Since the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, the day has been recognized as the Day of German Unity and is a German public holiday.
While I suspect Germans and others in Hawaiʻi celebrated the annual beer-based parties in the past, I have not yet found references to them (I am still looking.)
However, I’ll use this occasion (between my sips of lager) to relate some history of Germans in Hawaiʻi.
Three Germans were among the sailors and crew aboard Captain James Cook first visit to the islands in 1778. Johann Heinrich Zimmermann sailed on HMS Discovery and subsequently wrote an account of the voyage (his journals were published 3-years before Cook’s.)
A few years later, on a voyage to China in October 1796, Captain Henry Barber, from Bremen, Germany, sailing the English ship, Arthur, ran aground at Kalaeloa on Oʻahu. Captain Barber and his crew of 22 men took to the life boats. Six drowned.
Today, we refer to the location of where the survivors landed as “Barber’s Point,” however, the traditional name, Kalaeloa, is coming back into more common use.
In 1815, German scholar, Adelbert von Chamisso, was aboard the Russian brig Rurik, which Captain Otto von Kotzebue sailed to Hawaiʻi. He was one of the first western scholars interested in the Hawaiian language, and reportedly wrote one of the first Hawaiian grammar books.
In a summary of his visit to the Islands, Chamisso noted, “’Arocha’ (Aloha) is the friendly greeting with which each man salutes the other and which is answered by a like expression. Upon each occasion that one is greeted with ‘Arocha’ one answers ‘Arocha’ and goes ones way without turning around.”
Around this same time, a notorious German, Georg Anton Schäffer, representing the Russian-American Company of Alaska, arrived in Hawaiʻi to recover the cargo of a Russian trading ship wrecked at Waimea, Kauaʻi.
After first attempting to build a fort in Honolulu, he sailed to Kaua‘i and gained the confidence of King Kaumuali‘i. Kaumuali‘i also used the engineering skills of Schäffer to lay out a plan for a fort (commonly referred to as Fort Elizabeth) which Kaumualiʻi had constructed next to his own residence.
The Russian flag was raised over his fort. Hearing this, Kamehameha sent Captain Alexander Adams, a Scotsman who served in the navy of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i to gain control of the fort. Schäffer was forced to leave Hawaii and Adams raised the Kingdom of Hawai‘i flag over the fort in October 1817.
German-born Paul Isenberg came to Kauaʻi in the 1850s to work at Līhuʻe Plantation on Kauaʻi. He married Hannah Maria Rice, daughter of missionary-turned sugar-plantation owner William Harrison Rice.
Isenberg became manager of Līhuʻe Plantation in 1862. Along with his brothers, Isenberg played a prominent role in developing sugar plantations on Kauaʻi’s west side.
In 1881, Isenberg became a business partner with earlier German merchant Heinrich Hackfeld. Through his business H. Hackfeld & Company, Hackfeld is one of the most prominent, and prosperous, Germans to Hawaiʻi.
His company would become American Factors, shortened to Amfac, one of Hawaiʻi’s “Big 5” companies (with interests in sugar plantations, shipping and other entities.) This included the Liberty House department store, originally called “B. F. Ehlers”, after Hackfeld’s nephew.
World War I proved catastrophic for the Germans in Hawai’i who with the entry of the United States into the war had become enemy aliens overnight; the Isenbergs and Hackfields lost control of their company during World War I.
Dr. William Hillebrand, a German researcher, played an important role in public health. He was the founding physician of Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu during the 1860s. Hillebrand was an avid collector of plants; his property eventually became Foster Botanical Garden.
Claus Spreckels (1828–1908) was perhaps the most successful German-American immigrant entrepreneur of the late-nineteenth century; he was one of the ten richest Americans of his time.
The first industry in which Spreckels succeeded was quite typical for German immigrants: beer brewing. Though profitable, he sold his beer operation in 1863 and switched to a new field that would make him rich: sugar.
Spreckels founded the Hawaiian Commercial Company, which quickly became the largest and best-equipped sugar plantation in the islands. The career of the “sugar king” of California, Hawaiʻi and the American West consisted of building and breaking monopolies in sugar, transport, gas, electricity, real estate, newspapers, banks and breweries.
In more cultural contributions, Captain Henri Berger of Berlin is well remembered in for his decades of conducting the Royal Hawaiian Band. He was called “The Father of Hawaiian Music” by Queen Liliʻuokalani. Among others, he wrote music to lyrics by King Kalākaua for the state anthem “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi.”
So, as you celebrate Oktoberfest (yes, while it is not clear if it was celebrated before, it certainly is celebrated here, now,) remember some of the many contributions of the Germans to Hawaiʻi. In addition, I have added some images related to the German influence in Hawaiʻi in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
© 2012 Hoʻokuleana LLC
Did the Missionaries Really Stop Surfing in Hawaiʻi?
Open any book or read any article about surfing in Hawaiʻi and invariably there is a definitive statement that the missionaries “banned” and/or “abolished” surfing in Hawaiʻi.
OK, I am not being overly sensitive, here (being a descendent of Hiram Bingham, the leader of the first missionary group to Hawaiʻi;) actually, I believed the premise in the first line for a long time.
However, in taking a closer look into the matter, I am coming to a different conclusion.
First of all, the missionaries were guests in the Hawaiian Kingdom; they didn’t have the power to ban or abolish anything – that was the prerogative of the King and Chiefs.
Anyway, I agree; the missionaries despised the fact that Hawaiians typically surfed in the nude. They also didn’t like the commingling between the sexes.
So, before we go on, we need to agree, the issue at hand is surfing – not nudity and interactions between the sexes. In keeping this discussion on the sport and not sexuality, let’s see what the missionaries had to say about surfing.
I first looked to see what my great-great-great-grandfather, Hiram Bingham, had to say. He wrote a book, A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands, about his experiences in Hawaiʻi.
I word-searched “surf” (figuring I could get all word variations on the subject.) Here is what Bingham had to say about surfing (Bingham was leader of the 1st Company of missionaries to Hawaiʻi, arriving in 1820 – these are his words:)
“(T)hey resorted to the favorite amusement of all classes – sporting on the surf, in which they distinguish themselves from most other nations. In this exercise, they generally avail themselves of the surf-board, an instrument manufactured by themselves for the purpose.” (Bingham – page 136)
“The inhabitants of these islands, both male and female, are distinguished by their fondness for the water, their powers of diving and swimming, and the dexterity and ease with which they manage themselves, their surf-boards and canoes, in that element.” (Bingham – pages 136-137)
“The adoption of our costume greatly diminishes their practice of swimming and sporting in the surf, for it is less convenient to wear it in the water than the native girdle, and less decorous and safe to lay it entirely off on every occasion they find for a plunge or swim or surf-board race.” (Bingham – page 137)
“The decline or discontinuance of the use of the surf-board, as civilization advances, may be accounted for by the increase of modesty, industry or religion, without supposing, as some have affected to believe, that missionaries caused oppressive enactments against it. These considerations are in part applicable to many other amusements. Indeed, the purchase of foreign vessels, at this time, required attention to the collecting and delivering of 450,000 Ibs. of sandal-wood, which those who were waiting for it might naturally suppose would, for a time, supersede their amusements.” (Bingham – page 137)
Most people cite the first sentence in the above paragraph as admission by Bingham that the missionaries were the cause, but fail to quote the rest of the paragraph. In the remaining sentences of the same paragraph Bingham notes that with the growing demand to harvest sandalwood, there is less time for the Hawaiians to attend to their “amusements,” including surfing. These later words change the context of the prior.
Here is a bit of poetic support Bingham shows for the sport, “On a calm and bright summer’s day, the wide ocean and foaming surf, the peaceful river, with verdant banks, the bold cliff, and forest covered mountains, the level and fertile vale, the pleasant shade-trees, the green tufts of elegant fronds on the tall cocoanut trunks, nodding and waving, like graceful plumes, in the refreshing breeze; birds flitting, chirping, and singing among them, goats grazing and bleating, and their kids frisking on the rocky cliff, the natives at their work, carrying burdens, or sailing up and down the river, or along the sea-shore, in their canoes, propelled by their polished paddles that glitter in the sun-beam, or by a small sail well trimmed, or riding more rapidly and proudly on their surf-boards, on the front of foaming surges, as they hasten to the sandy shore, all give life and interest to the scenery.” (Bingham – pages 217-218)
Likewise, I did a word search for “surf” in the Levi Chamberlain journals and found the following (Chamberlain was the mission quartermaster in the 1830s:)
“The situation of Waititi (Waikīkī) is pleasant, & enjoys the shade of a large number of cocoanut & kou trees. The kou has large spreading branches & affords a very beautiful shade. There is a considerable extension of beach and when the surf comes in high the natives amuse themselves in riding on the surf-board.” (Chamberlain – Vol 2, page 18)
“The Chiefs amused themselves by playing on surfboards in the heart of Lahaina.” (Chamberlain – Vol 5, page 36)
Another set of Journals, belonging to Amos S. Cooke, also notes references to surfing (Cooke was in the 8th Company of missionaries arriving in 1837:)
“After dinner Auhea went with me, & the boys to bathe in the sea, & I tried riding on the surf. To day I have felt quite lame from it.” (Cooke – Vol 6, page 237) (Missionaries and their children also surfed.)
“This evening I have been reading to the smaller children from “Rollo at Play”–“The Freshet”. The older children are still reading “Robinson Crusoe”. Since school the boys have been to Waikiki to swim in the surf & on surf boards. They reached home at 7 o’clk. Last evening they went to Diamond Point – & did not return till 7 1/2 o’clock.” (Cooke – Vol 7, page 385)
“After dinner about three o’clock we went to bathe & to play in the surf. After we returned from this we paid a visit to the church which has lately been repaired with a new belfry & roof.” (Cooke – Vol 8, page 120)
James J Jarvis, in 1847, notes “Sliding down steep hills, on a smooth board, was a common amusement; but no sport afforded more delight than bathing in the surf. Young and old high and low, of both sexes, engaged in it, and in no other way could they show greater dexterity in their aquatic exercises. Multitudes could be seen when the surf was highest, pushing boldly seaward, with their surf-board in advance, diving beneath the huge combers, as they broke in succession over them, until they reached the outer line of breakers; then laying flat upon their boards, using their arms and legs as guides, they boldly mounted the loftiest, and, borne upon its crest, rushed with the speed of a race-horse towards the shore; from being dashed upon which, seemed to a spectator impossible to be avoided.” (Jarvis – page 39)
In 1851, the Reverend Henry T. Cheever observed surfing at Lāhaina, Maui and wrote about it in his book, Life in the Hawaiian Islands, The Heart of the Pacific As it Was and Is, “It is highly amusing to a stranger to go out to the south part of this town, some day when the sea is rolling in heavily over the reef, and to observe there the evolutions and rapid career of a company of surf-players. The sport (of surfing) is so attractive and full of wild excitement to the Hawaiians, and withal so healthy, that I cannot but hope it will be many years before civilization shall look it out of countenance, or make it disreputable to indulge in this manly, though it be dangerous, exercise.” (Cheever – pages 41-42)
Even Mark Twain notes surfing during his visit in 1866, “In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing. Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea, (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell! It did not seem that a lightning express train could shoot along at a more hair-lifting speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself.–The board struck the shore in three quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me..” (Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1880)
Obviously, surfing was never “banned” or “abolished” in Hawaiʻi.
These words from prominent missionaries and other observers note on-going surfing throughout the decades the missionaries were in Hawaiʻi (1820 – 1863.)
Likewise, their comments sound supportive of surfing, at least they were comfortable with it and they admired the Hawaiians for their surfing prowess (they are certainly not in opposition to its continued practice) – and Bingham seems to acknowledge that he realizes others may believe the missionaries curtailed/stopped it.
So, Bingham, who was in Hawaiʻi from 1820 to 1841, makes surprisingly favorable remarks by noting that Hawaiians were “sporting on the surf, in which they distinguish themselves from most other nations”. Likewise, Chamberlain notes they “amuse themselves in riding on the surf-board.”
Missionary Amos Cooke, who arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1837 – and was later appointed by King Kamehameha III to teach the young royalty in the Chief’s Childrens’ School – surfed himself (with his sons) and enjoyed going to the beach in the afternoon.
In the late-1840s, Jarvis notes, “Multitudes could be seen when the surf was highest, pushing boldly seaward, with their surf-board in advance”.
In the 1850s, Reverend Cheever notes, surfing “is so attractive and full of wild excitement to the Hawaiians, and withal so healthy”.
In the mid-1860s Mark Twain notes, the Hawaiians were “amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing. Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea, (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell!”
Throughout the decades, Hawaiians continued to surf and, if anything, the missionaries and others at least appreciated surfing (although they vehemently opposed nudity – likewise, today, nudity is frowned upon.)
And, using Cooke as an example, it is clear some of the missionaries and their families also surfed.
Of course, not everyone tolerated or supported surfing. Sarah Joiner Lyman notes in her book, “Sarah Joiner Lyman of Hawaii–her own story,” “You have probably heard that playing on the surf board was a favourite amusement in ancient times. It is too much practised at the present day, and is the source of much iniquity, inasmuch as it leads to intercourse with the sexes without discrimination. Today a man died on his surf board. He was seen to fall from it, but has not yet been found. I hope this will be a warning to others, and that many will be induced to leave this foolish amusement.” (Lyman – pages 63-63 – (John Clark))
“No Ka Molowa. Ua ’kaka loa ka molowa. Eia kekahi, o ka lilo loa o na kanaka i ka heenalu a me na wahine a me na keiki i ka lelekawa i ka mio.” (Ke Kumu Hawaii – January 31, 1838 – page 70 – (John Clark))
“Laziness. It is clear that they were lazy. The men would spend all their time surfing, and the women and children would spend all their time jumping and diving into the ocean.”
“No Ka Palaka. No ka palaka mai ka molowa, ka nanea, ka lealea, ka paani, ka heenalu,ka lelekawa, ka mio, ka heeholua, ka lelekowali; ka hoolele lupe, kela mea keia mea o ka palaka, oia ka mole o keia mau hewa he nui wale.” (Ke Kumu Hawaii – January 31, 1838 – page 70 – (John Clark))
“Indifference. Indifference is the source of laziness, relaxation, enjoyment, play, surfing, cliff jumping, diving, sledding, swinging, kite flying, and all kinds of indifferent activities; indifference is the root of these many vices.”
Let’s look some more – could something else be a cause for the apparent reduction of surfers in the water? What about affects the socio-economic and demographic changes may have had on the peoples’ opportunity to surf?
Remember, in 1819, prior to the arrival of the missionaries, Liholiho abolished the kapu system. This effectively also cancelled the annual Makahiki celebrations and the athletic contests and games associated with them.
Likewise, the Chiefs were distracted by new Western goods and were directing the commoners to work at various tasks that took time away from other activities, including surfing.
Between 1805 and 1830, the common people were displaced from much of their traditional duties (farming and fishing) and labor was diverted to harvesting sandalwood.
Between 1819 and 1859, whaling was the economic mainstay in the Islands. Ships re-provisioned in Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiians grew the crops for these needs: fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, cattle, white potatoes and sugar.
With the start of a successful sugar plantation in 1835, Hawai‘i’s economy turned toward sugar and saw tremendous expansion in the decades between 1860 and 1880.
From the time of contact (1778,) Hawaiians were transitioning from a subsistence economy to a market economy and the people were being employed to work at various industries. (Even today’s surfers prefer to surf all the time, but in many cases obligations at work means you can’t surf all the time.)
In light of the demands these industries have in distracting people away from their recreational pursuits, let’s look at the Hawaiian population changes.
Since contact in 1778, the Hawaiian population declined rapidly after exposure to a host of diseases for which they had no immunity. In addition, many Hawaiians moved away or worked overseas.
The Hawaiian population in 1778 is estimated to have been approximately 300,000 (estimates vary; some as high as 800,000 to 1,000,000; but many writers suggest the 300,000 estimate – a higher 1778 estimate more dramatically illustrates the change in population.)
Whatever the ‘contact’ starting point, by 1860 the Islands’ population drastically declined to approximately 69,800. Fewer people overall means fewer people in the water and out surfing.
My immediate reaction in reading what the missionaries and others had to say is that the purported banning and/or opposition to surfing may be more urban legend, than fact.
It is easy to blame the missionaries, but there doesn’t seem to be basis to do so.
Rather, I tend to agree with what my relative, missionary Hiram Bingham, had to say (rather poetically, to my surprise,) “On a calm and bright summer’s day, the wide ocean and foaming surf … the green tufts of elegant fronds on the tall cocoanut trunks, nodding and waving, like graceful plumes, in the refreshing breeze … the natives … riding more rapidly and proudly on their surf-boards, on the front of foaming surges … give life and interest to the scenery.”
Surf’s up – let’s go surfing!
The image shows surfers and canoes in the surf at Lāhainā in a drawing by James Gay Sawkins in 1855. I’ve added some other surfing images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
© 2012 Hoʻokuleana LLC
With World War II underway, the Navy recognized the need to be able to communicate across the Pacific.
A plan was proposed in the early spring of 1942; a group of radio experts determined a superpower radio station with pan-Pacific range might be built provided that the antenna could be raised high enough above the ground.
The greater the power to be radiated, the higher and larger must be the antenna system and the network of ground wires under it.
An Alexanderson Alternator was the sending source; it is a rotating machine invented in 1904 for use as a radio transmitter (as a technology, it was later replaced by vacuum tube transmitters.)
The Navy discovered that, rather than the conventional steel radio tower, the best way to accomplish that was by stringing copper cable between the peaks of two mountains with vertical drops.
The solution was to find a topographic feature that would act like the “unbuildable” tall tower. Using technology developed pre-World War I, they strategically positioned four Alexanderson Alternators; one was located in Haiku Valley.
Haiku Valley with its horseshoe shape and sheer side-walls filled the prescription perfectly, except for the logistical nightmare of constructing in an all but inaccessible area.
Then stepped forward (and up) two pioneers, Bill Adams and Louis Otto, who in 21-days, climbed the vertical cliffs in Haiku Valley, pounding in iron spikes into the face of the cliff (to be used as supports for a ladder and wooden staircase up the mountain.)
The Navy then installed a lift to haul up materials and strung cables across the valley. The Alexanderson Alternator radio system, transmitting Morse code across the Pacific, was operational in 3-months.
The equipment at Haiku provided reliable transoceanic radiotelegraph communication and was able to send signals to submarines during World War 2 – while they remained underwater – as far away as Tokyo Bay.
The Navy maintained the Haiku system from 1943 to 1970, when they reconfigured the facility as an OMEGA radio navigation system: it then became part of a network of worldwide OMEGA stations (two US stations (Haiku and North Dakota,) joined by Argentina, Norway, Liberia, France, Japan and Australia.)
When the eight station chain became operational, day to day operations at Haiku were managed by the United States Coast Guard and was used by several airlines flying long range routes over water, as well as by military forces. The new station could radiate transmissions at a power of 10,000-watts and over an 8,000-mile radius.
The OMEGA antenna system reaches 7,200-feet across Haiku Valley and is 1,250-feet above the ground. The anchors weigh over 180,000-pounds. Unlike the original construction for the Alexanderson Alternator (climbing the cliff,) a helicopter, helium balloons and hot air balloons were used in erecting the anchors and placing the wires.
OMEGA was the first truly-global radio navigation system and had the ability to achieve a four-mile accuracy when fixing a position for aircraft.
Using receiver units, it enabled ships and aircraft to determine their position by receiving very low frequency radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed terrestrial radio beacons. The Haiku OMEGA facility became operational around 1971 and was shut down in 1997.
Initially, the system was to be used for navigating nuclear bombers across the North Pole to Russia. Later, it was found useful for submarines and aircraft.
With the Global Positioning System (GPS) being declared fully operational, the use of OMEGA had dwindled to a point where continued operation was not economically justified; it ended on September 30, 1997.
Obviously, all of this ultimately leads us to a discussion on the Haiku Ladder, Haiku Stairs – the Stairway to Heaven.
The Stairway is a 3,922-step ladder/stairway ascending the summit of the Koʻolau mountain range. First built by the Navy in 1942 to access transmission facilities at the top of the ridge, the wooden stairs were replaced in 1955 with ones built of galvanized metal.
In 1997, after the OMEGA facility was abandoned and plans were underway to remove the Stairs, Mayor Harris requested that the Coast Guard transfer the Stairs to the City. The City then spent $875,000 to repair the Haiku Stairs.
The City had planned to reopen the Haiku Stairs in October 2002. But from 2002 to 2003, the popular hiking attraction became a point of contention with area residents.
They complained that as many as 200-hikers a day were trespassing through their property, parking on their streets, blocking mail delivery and trash pickup and arriving early in the morning, causing dogs to bark and waking residents.
Then, in 2005, Mayor Hannemann tried to transfer the Stairs to DLNR. I was DLNR Director then. While I believe the stairs are an excellent climbing (and vertigo) experience, I do not believe its ownership and operation is a state concern. (It is certainly not a natural trail, that’s the kind of stuff DLNR deals with.)
We recommended that a private entity step forward and manage the stairs – for the City or lease it from them. We believed that an operator could charge a fee for hikers to climb the stairs and use the revenue for operations and insurance.
The Stairs remain closed.
The image shows the initial (1943) antenna anchor sites where then spanned across Haiku Valley. (Thanks to David Jessup for images and information on this.) In addition, I have posted lots of other WWII, OMEGA and Stairway images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
© 2012 Hoʻokuleana LLC
Central Union Church dates back to the days of the Seaman’s Bethel Church in 1828. It was formally founded in 1887 and it moved into its present location in 1924.
In addition to developing new institutions within the church, the congregation made great strides in the field of missionary work in the city of Honolulu, including the beginning of the present Pālama Settlement.
Pālama, then a sleepy neighborhood of neat little cottages and taro patches, was chosen by philanthropist and Central Union members Mr. and Mrs. PC Jones as the site for a new chapel.
On the makai side of King street, opposite Liliha Street, the chapel was dedicated on June 1, 1896, and presented to Central Union by the Joneses, on the condition that the church “maintain public preaching there on Sundays, a weekly prayer meeting, sustain a Sabbath school and also an occasional social for the residents of Pālama, the services to be conducted in the English language.”
Located west of Nuʻuanu Stream, near Downtown Honolulu, Pālama was home to mostly working-class Hawaiian families.
Walter F. Dillingham, long active in philanthropic endeavors in Honolulu, once observed of Pālama:
“One must picture Honolulu at the end of the century with its mixture of races, their variety of foods, dress, cultures, customs and living habits. All this gave Honolulu a character and personality not duplicated in any American city. The business section was composed mainly of low framed buildings with corrugated iron roofs near the water front. Streets were unpaved, horse-drawn vehicles, with the ox-cart was a common sight. Taro patches, duck ponds and even sugar cane grew in the section of Palama. It was in such a section that Palama Chapel was built and which grew to be Palama Settlement.” (HJH)
In 1900, as Honolulu health officials attempted to rid the nearby Chinatown area of bubonic plague, fire destroyed a four-block section. Displaced residents took up residence in newly built tenements in Pālama, changing the physical, social and economic make-up of the community.
The chapel’s staff located housing for many of the displaced and took care of the injured and children. It also ministered to the needs of immigrants who moved into the Pālama area soon after arriving in the Islands.
Social worker James Arthur Rath, Sr. and his wife, Ragna Helsher Rath, turned Pālama Chapel into Pālama Settlement (in September 1906,) a chartered, independent, non-sectarian organization receiving contributions from the islands’ elite.
“… they called them ‘settlement houses,’ the philosophy being that the head worker, as they called them, settled in the community. Instead of going in to spend the day working and coming out, they settled in, raised their families there and in that way learned, one, what the people needed; two, gained their confidence so that they could help them fulfill their needs; and then, three, went ahead and designed programs for exactly what the people needed. So they were settlers and therefore they called them settlement houses. Which is what the origin of Pālama Settlement was because my father and my mother settled there and all five of us children were born and raised in our home in the settlement.” (Robert H. Rath, Sr)
The Raths established the territory’s first public nursing department, a day-camp for children with tuberculosis, a pure milk depot, a day nursery, a night school, and low-rent housing.
In 1908, an indoor swimming pool was opened, and a year later, a gymnasium and bowling alley were built above it. Later, outdoors, a playground, tennis court, and basketball court were added.
Also that year, a new Parish House was erected on an adjacent property at Richards Street, to be used for Sunday School classes and midweek meetings
After a territory-wide fund-raising effort, in 1925 Pālama Settlement moved to its present location with nine buildings spread over eight acres of land on Vineyard and Pālama streets.
Over the years, a medical clinic, an outpatient clinic and the Strong-Carter Dental Clinic were established along with annual circuses, athletic competitions, social and community-service clubs, boardinghouses for women and a preschool. Classes and events relating to music, arts, vocations, and athletics were also offered.
World War II and the postwar era brought about widespread changes in Hawai‘i’s social, economic, and political environment. These developments, in turn, led to changes in the way social agencies such as Pālama Settlement addressed community needs.
Observers noted that Pālama Settlement was departing from its original settlement house philosophy by offering programs for fees and catering to a broad cross section of people regardless of where they lived.
The 1960s and 1970s were periods of re-evaluation, adjustment, and growth, with the settlement’s programs becoming more people-centered rather than activity-centered, stressing human and community needs as opposed to uncoordinated, departmentalized activities, following the large-scale social and economic programs being implemented nationally.
Civil rights and anti-poverty legislation brought large amounts of federal monies to Pālama Settlement for local programs geared to at-risk youth and community development.
Pālama Settlement – a smaller one due to the widening of Vineyard Boulevard and the construction of the H-1 Freeway – continues to exist as a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency dedicated to helping needy families and at-risk youths.
The image shows Pālama Chapel (centralunionchurch-org) circa 1897-1901. In addition, I have added other Pālama Settlement images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.