In 1789, Simon Metcalf (captaining the Eleanora) and his son Thomas Metcalf (captaining the Fair American) were traders; their plan was to meet and spend winter in the Hawaiian Islands.
The Eleanora arrived in the islands first at Kohala on the island of Hawaiʻi. After a confrontation with a local chief, Metcalf then sailed to the neighboring island of Maui to trade along the coast.
Captain Simon Metcalf anchored his trading ship the Eleanora off shore, probably at Makena Bay, to barter for necessary provisions.
A chief stole one of Metcalfe’s small boats and killed a watchman. Captain Metcalfe fired his cannons into the village, and captured a few Hawaiians who told him the boat was taken by people from the village of Olowalu.
He sailed to Olowalu but found that boat had been broken up for its nails. (Nails were treasured like gems in ancient Hawaiʻi; they were used for fishhooks, adzes, drills, daggers and spear points.)
Chiefess Kalola, knowing the explosive nature of the situation, declared a three-day kapu on all canoes approaching the Eleanora.
When the kapu was lifted and Kalola’s husband Kaopuiki returned only the stolen boat’s keel and the watchman’s stripped thighbones, an enraged Metcalfe invited the villagers to meet the ship, indicating he wanted to trade with them.
However, he had all the cannons loaded and ready on the side where he directed the canoes to approach. When they opened fire, about one hundred Hawaiians were killed, and many others wounded.
Hawaiians referred to the slaughter as Kalolopahu, or spilled brains.
Olowalu Valley was a puʻuhonua and was renowned as a sanctuary for anyone fleeing oppression.
After the massacre, Metcalfe weighed anchor and sailed back to the island of Hawai’i.
This tragedy, termed the Olowalu Massacre, set into motion a series of events which left two Western seamen and a ship (the Fair American) in the hands of the ambitious Big Island chief Kamehameha.
John Young (off the Eleanora) and Isaac Davis (off the Fair American) befriended Kamehameha I and became respected translators and his close and trusted advisors. They were instrumental in Kamehameha’s military ventures and his ultimate triumph in the race to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Several months after the massacre at Olowalu, Kalola watched the Great Battle of Kepaniwai from ʻIao Valley.
Kamehameha stormed Maui with over twenty thousand men, and after several battles Maui troops retreated to ʻIao Valley.
Kalola escaped through the Olowalu Pass and down to Olowalu, where she boarded canoes for Moloka’i.
On the island of Molokaʻi Kalola became ill and they could not carry out their original intention of going to Oahu to join Kahekili.
Kamehameha followed Kalola to Moloka’i and asked Kalola for Keōpūolani (Kalola’s granddaughter) to be his queen. Kalola, who was dying, agreed to give Kamehameha Keōpūolani and her mother Kekuiʻapoiwa Liliha, if he would allow the girls to stay at her death bed until she passed.
Kamehameha camped on Moloka’i until Kalola died, and returned to Kona with his high queen Keōpūolani. Later, both Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) were born sons of Keōpūolani.
(Image shows Olowalu in the old days – from olowalu-net)