John Davis Paris was born to George and Mary (Hudson) Paris, September 22, 1809 near Staunton, Virginia, the eldest of six sons. His father was a farmer of Scotch-Irish extraction, originally from France; his mother’s parents came from Wales and the north of England.
“My father was very industrious, working hard early and late. His farm was on the main valley road leading to Lexington; he owned about ninety acres which he improved and to which he added in after years. On it he erected a saw mill and a flour mill and did an enormous business for one man.”
“He and my mother were members of Hebron church, strict Presbyterians, and known by all as consistent Christians. My father’s house was a home for ministers and missionaries, and under its hospitable roof all good men ever found a hearty welcome.”
“From a little boy I had a secret desire to he a minister of the gospel, partly I think because my parents always spoke in the highest terms of those who preached the gospel.” (Paris; The Friend, April 1, 1926)
At the age of nineteen, his father gave him permission to go to school. He carted firewood and lumber on Saturdays to pay tuition and extras.
In 1835, he distributed bibles and religious books for the American Bible Society. “Traveling once in North Carolina, I came to a hotel about sun set. … I was requested to offer prayers … In the morning I was again requested to lead the family worship, which I was glad to do.”
“Then calling for my horse which had been well fed and groomed, I was about to pay my bill, when the Landlord very courteously said, ‘No, I never charge ministers of the gospel. … we have all enjoyed family worship with you…’ I protested that I was not a minister, but he declared that I was equal to one”. (Paris; The Friend, April 1, 1926)
Paris entered Bangor Theological Seminary in 1836, graduating in 1839 with Rev Daniel Dole and was ordained the same year.
That year, he offered to serve as a missionary in Africa. He was accepted by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, but, after consultation, was appointed to the Indian Mission in Oregon Territory.
He was married to Miss Mary Grant of New York City, on October 25, 1840, and sailed from Boston November 14 in the company of Dole, Bond and Rice. They arrived in the Islands on May 21, 1841.
“News had just been received at the Island of the unsettled and hostile state of the Indians which afterwards terminated in the tragical and terrible massacre of Dr. Whitman ma! (Ma, the Hawaiian collective, means ‘with all his family or associates.’)”
“Mr. William Rice and his wife, together with ourselves, who had been destined for the Oregon Mission, were advised to remain at the Islands where there was urgent need.” (Paris; The Friend, April 1, 1926)
Paris was first stationed in Kaʻū. It was a remote district, difficult of access. He was the first resident missionary there.
“In these years of 1843 and 44, while our own dwelling was in building and not yet finished, we undertook the great work of building a stone House of Worship at Waiohinu. This first Christian temple was built entirely by the natives … “
“Since that time I have builded and consecrated nine houses of worship and crowned them with sweet-toned bells, ordered from the United States and paid for by the people”. (Paris; The Friend, May 1, 1926)
Mrs Paris died on February 18, 1847; Paris returned with two daughters to the U.S. On September 7, 1851, Paris married Miss Mary Carpenter of New York City; they returned to the Islands in 1852 and he was stationed at Kaʻawaloa.
One notable incident is worth mentioning – “For several years past, one (Joseph Ioela) Kaʻona … imbibed the idea that he was a prophet sent by God to warn this people of the end of the world. For the three years he has been preaching this millerite doctrine on Hawaiʻi, and has made numerous converts.” (PCA, October 24, 1868)
“By the mid-1860s, Kaʻona claimed to have had divine communications with Elijah, Gabriel, and Jehovah, from whom he’d received divine instructions and prophetic.” (Maly) Followers called him ‘The Prophet;’ his followers were referred to as Kaʻonaites.)
“These fanatics believe that the end of the world is at hand, and they must be ready. They therefore clothe themselves in white robes, ready to ascend, watch at night, but sleep during the day, decline to cultivate anything except beans, corn, or the most common food.” (PCA, October 24, 1868)
“For a time, all went on smoothly enough, until Kaʻona began to introduce some slight innovations in the form of worship, which were opposed by Mr. Paris and minority of the congregation and the church became split into two factions. … The feud continued to increase …” (Hawaiian Gazette, November 18, 1868)”
Eventually a riot broke out and Sheriff Neville and another were both brutally killed. The event has been referred to as Kaʻona’s Rebellion, Kaʻona Insurrection and Kaʻona Uprising. Kaʻona eventually surrendered; David Kalākaua and Albert Francis Judd had been appointed Kaʻona’s defense attorneys.
Here’s a summary on Kaʻona and the rebellion: http://wp.me/p5GnMi-8e
Until 1870, Paris had the general supervision of the mission work on Western Hawaiʻi. That year he moved to Honolulu where he lived for some time in the old mission house. He started a Theological Seminary there.
He later returned to Kona. The last eleven years of his life were spent in the upper Kaʻawaloa. The house was built on the foundations of Kapiʻolani’s home.
Davis died at his home at Kaʻawaloa at 9:30 am, July 28, 1892, after an illness of seven days. “He took a severe cold, which settled on his lungs. His strength failed rapidly, and he was unable to take nourishment to keep.” (The Friend, September 5, 1892)