“(T)ake possession in our name of Palmyra Island, … not having been taken possession of by any other government or any other people by erecting thereon a short pole with the Hawaiian flag wrapped round it and interring at the foot thereof a bottle well corked containing a paper signed by (Zenas Bent) in the following form viz: ‘Visited and taken possession of by order of His Majesty King Kamehameha IV …’” (Bent did so on April 15, 1862.) Later legal decisions note that ownership of Palmyra was held privately, initially in the name of Bent and Johnson B Wilkinson.
Palmyra Atoll was a part of the Territory of Hawaii prior to Hawaii’s entering the Union on August 21, 1959. Congress expressly excluded Palmyra from the State of Hawaii by section 2 of the Hawaii Statehood Act. Palmyra Atoll is situated 960-miles south by west of Honolulu. The atoll has an area of about one and one-half square miles with numerous islets in the shape of a horse shoe surrounding two lagoons. It was named after the American vessel Palmyra, who sought shelter there on November 7, 1802. Title is now held by The Nature Conservancy. It is an incorporated Territory of the US.
“The Territory of Hawaii has a high death rate from (tuberculosis) as compared with most mainland cities. … The County of Hawaii has the highest rate of the disease of any of the counties in the Territory.” The treatment of those afflicted is carried out by seven institutions, including Pu‘umaile Home in Hilo. “Pu‘umaile Home is the only institution for the care of tuberculosis in the Territory that is maintained solely from Territorial funds. One hundred and twenty-two were admitted during the year, with 68 Patients remaining at the end of the period, just double the number as compared with the previous year.”
The original Pu‘umaile Home was built in about 1912 at a site that is now in the vicinity of the old terminal building at Hilo Airport. The Hilo Airport was dedicated in February 1928 and in April 1938 a new facility was constructed at the end of Kalanianaʻole Avenue (at what is now Lehia Park.) Some incorrectly suggest that the hospital washed away by the 1946 tsunami; however, it was spared. The hospital remained on the shoreline until 1951 when it was relocated into new facilities on the grounds of the Hilo Memorial Hospital, above Rainbow Falls. Shortly after (1955,) Pu‘umaile was combined with the Hilo Memorial Hospital to establish Hilo Hospital (now Hilo Medical Center.)
Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1940s – bombing of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu Marathon starts and Tripler Hospital is dedicated. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world.
Owen Porter Churchill (March 8, 1896 – November 22, 1985), the son of a successful gold prospector who founded a real-estate and investment company in Los Angeles, had decided to take up flying as a hobby after leaving the Army at the end of World War I. But on his return to Los Angeles, his mother presented him with a boat in exchange for his promise never to fly while she was alive.
Churchill was the first person to win an Olympic yachting gold medal for the US. He and Duke Kahanamoku were US Olympic teammates on the 1932 Los Angeles squad. In 1939, Churchill went to Tahiti, where he observed the natives swimming with braided banana leaves attached to their feet. Mr. Churchill decided to make his own design of swim fins out of vulcanized rubber. The rest is history.