On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of missionaries from the northeast US, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Islands. There were seven couples sent by the ABCFM to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity.
These included two Ordained Preachers, Hiram 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.
They quickly reduced the Hawaiian language to written form and established schools in which the native Hawaiians were taught to read and to write.
Their instruction was not confined, however, to the ‘three R’s.’ Included in the original band of missionaries was a New England farmer, Daniel Chamberlain, indicating the importance they attached to giving some instruction in western agriculture to the native Hawaiians.
Effectively, they were teaching to the Head, Heart and Hand. Let’s look at some examples.
In 1823, Kalākua Kaheiheimālie (ke Aliʻi Hoapili wahine, wife of Governor Hoapili) offered the American missionaries a tract of land on the slopes surrounding Puʻu Paʻupaʻu for the creation of a high school.
Betsey Stockton from the 2nd Company of Protestant missionaries initially started a school for makaʻāinana (common people) and their wives and children on the site.
Later, on September 5, 1831, classes at the Mission Seminary at Lahainaluna (later known as Lahainaluna (Upper Lāhainā)) began in thatched huts with 25 Hawaiian young men.
Each scholar was expected to furnish himself with food and clothing by his own industry. Accompanying the work in the fields, a small amount of organized instruction in western agriculture was given. (History of Agricultural Education)
In September 1836, thirty-two boys between the ages of 10 and 20 were admitted as the first boarding students, from the neighbor islands, as well as from the “other side of the island” thus, the beginning of the boarding school at Lahainaluna.
It soon was apparent to the missionaries that the future of the Congregational Mission in Hawaiʻi would be largely dependent upon the success of its schools. The Mission then established “feeder schools” that would transmit to their students’ fundamental reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, and religious training, before admission to the Lahainaluna.
In 1835, they constructed the Hilo Boarding School as part of an overall system of schools (with a girls boarding school in Wailuku and boarding at Lahainaluna.)
On January 6, 1835 “our children’s school commenced, eighty children present, sixty knew their letters. A number of the more forward children are employed as monitors to assist the less forward. (ie. advanced)” (Sarah Lyman)
The school was operated to an extent on a manual labor program and the boys cultivated the land to produce their own food. (The boys’ ages ranged from seven to fourteen.)
“Mr. Lyman who was brought up on a farm had an abiding faith in the value of manual labor; and his work in Hilo had convinced him that such activity in both primitive and introduced vocation was as necessary as book learning during the period of transition from one culture to another.” (Lorthian)
Rev. William Brewster Oleson had served as principal of the Hilo Boarding School for 8 years. Then, on November 4, 1887, Kamehameha School for Boys opened with 37 students and four teachers – Oleson was appointed its first principal and helped organize the school on a similar model.
Manual labor has a regular feature of the activities of the Kamehameha Boys’ School. Between 1889 and 1893 the school experimented with the raising of cows, pigs, chickens, and vegetables.
Later, the Kamehameha School flocks and herds were improved, and they began the production of forage crops, vegetables, and fruits on a larger scale, and strengthened the classroom work. (History of Agricultural Education)
Punahou, another boarding school, formed in 1841, required that “All students who entered the Boarding department were required to take part in the manual labor of the institution, under the direction of the faculty, not to exceed an average of two hours for each day.” (Punahou Catalogue, 1899)
“We had a dairy, the Punahou dairy, over on the other side of Rocky Hill. That was all pasture. We had beautiful, delicious milk, all the milk you wanted.” (Shaw, Punahou)
Later, in January 1925, Punahou bought the Honolulu Military Academy property – it had about 90-acres of land and a half-dozen buildings on the back side of Diamond Head. (The Honolulu Military Academy was originally founded by Col LG Blackman, in 1911.)
It served as the “Punahou Farm” to carry on the school’s work and courses in agriculture. “We were picked up and taken to the Punahou Farm School, which was also the boarding school for boys. The girls boarded at Castle Hall on campus.” (Kneubuhl, Punahou) The farm school was in Kaimuki between 18th and 22nd Avenues.
In addition to offices and living quarters, the Farm School supplied Punahou with most of its food supplies. The compound included a big pasture for milk cows, a large vegetable garden, pigs, chickens, beehives, and sorghum and alfalfa fields that provided feed for the cows. Hired hands who tended the farm pasteurized the milk in a small dairy, bottled the honey and crated the eggs. (Kneubuhl, Punahou)
While the programs of ‘manual labor’ and farming have been dropped by almost all of the respective school’s curriculums, a lasting legacy and reminder of the prior farming is seen in the Lahainaluna Time Clock.
Between 1941 and 1976, Lahainaluna boarders punched in their “in” and “out” times (according to their assigned student number) to keep track of their daily hours worked for their room and board. (It stopped when the only repairman familiar with the clock passed away.)
While Lahainaluna still has farming activity (raising pigs and cultivating dryland taro, corn, butter lettuce, beans, ti and other crops (Advertiser,)) they don’t punch in/out with the clock.
However, according to the Boarder’s Handbook (2014-2015,) every weekday afternoon and Saturday morning, boarders are to “Check in at the time clock” before they start their 3 ½ hours of work. Likewise, “All Boarders must report to the Time Clock every day and sign out with the Farm Manager when working Overtime until all hours are cleared.”
“Boarders will be evaluated on their dorm and farm work performances; farm and school attendance records; dorm, school, and farm discipline records; school academic effort and achievements; and their overall attitude and behavior in the Boarding Program.” (Lahainaluna High School Boarder’s Handbook, 2014-2015)