“It is indeed with a kind of melancholy pleasure I have sat down to write. There is a satisfaction in reflecting on the endearing relation which you sustain towards me that I would not part with for worlds; but when I consider the distance that separates us and the time that has and will elapse before we meet my feelings are overpowered.”
“Instead of becoming habituated to your absence by length of time I seem everyday less reconciled to it & “still alone” seems stamped on everything around me.” (Susannah Hunnewell to her husband James, November 6, 1820)
For all but seven months of the first eleven years of their marriage, James Hunnewell was living in the Pacific, Susannah was in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
On Monday, December 8, 1817, James Hunnewell, officer of the brig Bordeaux Packet, agreed with Andrew Blanchard, master, to remain at Honolulu after the sale of the vessel. (Thrum)
He would dispose of the balance of her cargo and invest and forward the proceeds. This was the beginning of the long business career of Hunnewell connected with the Islands, and his first act in settling there. (Thrum)
“The name … James Hunnewell was early associated with the commercial interests of these Islands, and his long and useful life was marked by such constant goodwill to my kingdom, that I shall always cherish his memory with sincere regard.” (Kamehameha V to Hunnewell’s son; Thrum)
Hunnewell first came to the Islands aboard the ‘Packet’ in October 1816. He agreed to stay and traded his boat and cargo for sandalwood, “We were the only traders on shore at Honolulu that had any goods to sell.” There was no currency at the time, so they generally traded for sandalwood. (Hunnewell, The Friend)
After trading sandalwood in China and then back to the northeast, Hunnewell returned to the Islands in 1820 on the ‘Thaddeus,’ “This was the memorable voyage when we carried out the first missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.” (He was the person who first announced to the missionaries, that the Tabus were broken, and idolatry abolished. (The Friend, July, 1870))
He stayed … “it was urged by some of the chiefs that knew me on my previous voyage that I should remain instead of a stranger to trade with them.” (Hunnewell)
On January 7, 1822, a small group gathered to print the first work from the press, “Lesson in Owhyhee syllables.” Keeaumoku, a Hawaiian Chief, who had learned the alphabet, was given the honor of striking the first impression off the press, after which Loomis printed the second and Hunnewell the third.
It is a sheet four by six inches, headed “Lesson I,” beneath which are twelve lines, each having five separate syllables of two letters. This was certainly the first printing at the Hawaiian Islands, and probably the first on the shores, of the North Pacific Ocean.
The first printing press at the Hawaiian Islands was imported by the American missionaries, and landed from the Thaddeus. It was not unlike the first used by Benjamin Franklin, and was set up in a thatched house standing near the old mission frame house (but was not put in operation until that January 1822 pressing.) (Hawaiian Club, 1868)
Later, in 1825, he negotiated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, “to take the missionary packet out, free from any charge whatever on (his) part for sailing and navigating the vessel – provided the Board would pay and feed the crew, and allow (him) to carry out in the schooner to the amount (in bulk) of some forty to fifty barrels”. (Hunnewell)
Hunnewell decided to return home on the continent (November 20, 1830) and left his partner in charge; Hunnewell thought he would come back to the Islands, but never did. Hunnewell decided to remain at home – the company he formed, was later known as C Brewer (one of Hawaiʻi’s ‘Big Five’ companies.)
Kekela, born at Mokuleʻia, Waialua, Oʻahu was a beneficiary of Hunnewell’s generosity – Kekela attended and graduated from the Lahainaluna Seminary, at the expense of Hunnewell. In recognition of his great obligation to his benefactor, he adopted his name and was ever known as James Kekela.
On December 21, 1849, he was ordained to the Christian ministry, being the first native Hawaiian clergyman, and became the pastor of the native church at Kahuku, Oahu. (The Friend, May 1, 1920)
Later, Kekela saved an American in the Marquesas; President Abraham Lincoln learned of the dramatic circumstances of the rescue and had presented a total of 10-gifts to the rescuers.
Most interesting among the gifts was a large gold watch the President gave to Kekela (a similar watch was given to Kaukau, Kekela’s associate in the rescue.) The inscription on it is translated from Hawaiian as follows:
“From the President of the United States to Rev. J. Kekela For His Noble Conduct in Rescuing An American Citizen from Death
On the Island of Hiva Oa January 14, 1864.”
Here’s a link to a prior post on the Kekela watch:
“This discourse was delivered by the Rev. James B. Miles, pastor of the first parish church, Charlestown, Mass., and is commemorative of Mrs. S. L. Hunnewell, widow of the late Captain James Hunnewell. This friend of Oahu College, and of Hawaiians, died May 2nd, 1869, and the death of his beloved wife followed on the 20th of February, 1870.”
“If Mr. Hunnewell had survived a few months longer, their golden wedding would have been celebrated; but now both have passed away. They were long united in their lives, and in death they were not divided.” (The Friend, July, 1870)