Hiram Bingham I was born at Bennington, Vermont, October 30, 1789, in a family of thirteen children – seven sons and six daughters – of Calvin and Lydia Bingham. About the age of twenty-one, he united with the Congregational church in his native town in May, 1811.
He strongly felt it to be his duty to prepare for the Gospel ministry. He entered Middlebury College in 1813; was graduated at the same institution in 1816, and at Andover Theological Seminary in 1819. (Congregational Quarterly, 1871)
On September 19 1819, Bingham was ordained in Goshen, Connecticut, site of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) school for Sandwich Islanders. That morning, he met Sybil Moseley; she had asked Bingham for directions and he offered to drive her there. Three weeks later, on October 11, 1819, the couple was married in Hartford, Connecticut. (Miller)
On October 23, 1819, Bingham led the Pioneer Company of ABCFM missionaries as they set sail on the Thaddeus for the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai‘i.) These included two Ordained Preachers, Bingham and his wife Sybil and Asa Thurston and his wife Lucy; two Teachers, Mr. Samuel Whitney and his wife Mercy and Samuel Ruggles and his wife Mary; a Doctor, Thomas Holman and his wife Lucia; a Printer, Elisha Loomis and his wife Maria; a Farmer, Daniel Chamberlain, his wife and five children.
By the time the Pioneer Company arrived (April 1820,) Kamehameha I had died and the centuries-old kapu system had been abolished; through the actions of King Kamehameha II (Liholiho,) with encouragement by former Queens Kaʻahumanu and Keōpūolani (Liholiho’s mother,) the Hawaiian people had already dismantled their heiau and had rejected their religious beliefs.
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 ABCFM in the Hawaiian Islands.
Bingham had seven children, including Sophia Moseley Bingham born 1820 (the first Caucasian girl born on Oʻahu;) Levi Parsons Bingham; Jeremiah Everts Bingham; Lucy Whiting Bingham; Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu Bingham, born 1829; Hiram Bingham II, born on August 16th, 1831; and Lydia Bingham, born 1834 (who later became principal of Kawaiahaʻo Seminary, forerunner to Mid-Pacific Institute.)
Hiram I’s position as trusted advisor to the King and the chiefs resulted in the gift of the land of Ka Punahou from Boki and Liliha (Kaʻahumanu is considered responsible for this gift.) While the land was given to the Binghams and they resided there, the land was held by the Sandwich Island Mission.
On account of the failing health of his wife, Sybil, Bingham was compelled to return to the US on August 3, 1840, after a period of about twenty-one years in the Islands. He continued in the service of the Board during the five following years, and did not until the end of that time wholly abandon the hope of returning to the mission. Sybil died at Easthampton, Massachusetts, February 27, 1848.
Bingham’s second marriage was in 1852, to Miss Naomi C Morse. Hiram I died at New Haven, Connecticut, November 11, 1869, at the age of eighty-one.
Hiram Bingham II was born in the Islands on August 16, 1831. At the age of ten, he and sisters Elizabeth Kaahumanu and Lydia were sent to the continent to attend school. Hiram II was enrolled at Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts and graduated from Yale University in 1853 and Andover Seminary (1856.)
Hiram II was ordained a Congregationalist minister in New Haven, Connecticut on November 9, 1856 and married Clara Brewster only nine days later. Like his father, he set sail less than two weeks later to begin his missionary career. He left Boston on December 2, 1856 on the brig Morning Star, arrived in Honolulu on April 24, 1857, then in the Gilbert Islands in November 1857.
The Gilbert Islands (named in 1820 after the British Captain Thomas Gilbert) are a group of 16-coral atolls and islands, that are part of Kiribati (‘Kiribati’” is the Kiribatese rendition of “Gilberts.”) Hiram II settled at Abaiang, just north of Tarawa.
Hiram II spent seven years in the Gilbert Islands, struggling against disease, hunger and hostile merchants. During that time he made few converts, about fifty in all, but learned the language and began translating the Bible into Gilbertese.
Due to ill health, he was forced to return to Honolulu in 1864. Except for occasional visits to the US and another short stay in the Gilberts (1873-75,) Hiram II spent the remainder of his life in Hawaiʻi where he translated of the entire Bible into Gilbertese.
Hiram II also wrote a Gilbertese hymn book, commentaries on the gospels and a Gilbertese-English dictionary. His wife published a book of Bible stories in Gilbertese. (Youngs)
From 1877 to 1880, Hiram II served as Secretary of the Hawaiian Board of Missions and in 1895, Yale University awarded him the Doctorate of Divinity. He died October 25, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Hiram Bingham III was born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, to Hiram Bingham II; He was the grandson of Hiram Bingham I. He attended Punahou School and continued his studies at the Phillips Academy of Massachusetts, and then at Yale University, where he graduated in 1898; got a masters In History and Political Sciences from Berkeley and a PhD from Harvard in 1905.
In 1900 at the age of 25, Hiram III married Alfreda Mitchell, heiress of the Tiffany and Co fortune through her maternal grandfather Charles L. Tiffany. With this financial stability he was able to focus on his future explorations.
He taught history and politics at Harvard and then was a lecturer and subsequently professor in South American history at Yale University. In 1908, he served as delegate to the First Pan American Scientific Congress at Santiago, Chile. On his way home via Peru, a local prefect convinced him to visit the pre-Columbian city of Choquequirao.
Hiram III was not a trained archaeologist, but was thrilled by the prospect of unexplored cities. He returned to the Andes with the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911.
On July 24, 1911, Hiram III rediscovered the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu (which had been largely forgotten by everybody except the small number of people living in the immediate valley.)
His book “Lost City of the Incas” became a bestseller upon its publication in 1948; he also wrote “Across South America” (an account of his journey from Buenos Aires to Lima, with notes on Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru.)
Hiram III was elected governor of Connecticut in 1924; he was also a US Senator. Hiram III has been noted as a source of inspiration for the ‘Indiana Jones’ character.
Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV, born July 17, 1903, was one of seven sons of former Governor of Connecticut and US Senator Hiram Bingham III and his first wife, Alfreda Mitchell. He married Rose, they had eleven children: Rose Tiffany, Hiram Anthony, Thomas, John, David, Robert Kim, Maria Cecilia, Abigail, Margaret, Benjamin and William.
He was a US diplomat stationed in Marseilles, France during World War II when Germany was invading France. At great personal risk and against State Department orders, he (a Protestant Christian) used his government status to help over 2,500-Jewish people escape the Holocaust as they escaped Hitler’s occupied Europe from 1939-1941.
He organized clandestine rescue efforts and escapes, harbored many refugees at his diplomatic residence and issued “visas for life” and affidavits of eligibility for passage.
Hiram IV helped some of the most notable intellectuals and artists to escape, including Marc Chagall, (artist;) Leon Feuchtwanger, (author;) Golo Mann, (historian, son of Thomas Mann;) Hannah Arendt, (philosopher;) Max Ernst, (artist and poet;) and Dr. and Mrs. Otto Meyerhof, (Nobel Prize winning physicist.)
In 1998, Hiram IV was recognized as one of eleven diplomats who saved 200,000-lives from the Holocaust, which amounts to one-million descendants of survivors today.
He is the only US Diplomat who has been officially honored by the State of Israel as a “righteous diplomat.” He was the only American diplomat recognized during Israel’s 50th Anniversary at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
Sixty years after leaving the Foreign Service (in 2002,) the State Department posthumously recognized Bingham with the department’s American Foreign Service Association “Constructive Dissent” award.
In 2005, Bingham was posthumously given a letter of commendation from Israel’s Holocaust Museum. In 2006, a US commemorative postage stamp was issued in his honor. Hiram I is my great-great-great-grandfather.