Born on January 20, 1669 in England, the 25th of 25-children, Susanna Wesley never preached a sermon, built a church or published a book, but she is identified as the “Mother of Methodism.” She managed her household, raised and educated more than a dozen children. (Adams)
Following the example set at home by their mother, behaving methodically and purposefully, her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, helped people reshape their lives for the better; a movement started from this that would reform not only individuals, but the church and the society of England – they became known as the “Method-ists.” (Pellowe)
Fast forward a couple centuries to the Islands.
“Members of the Methodist Episcopal church in (San Francisco) interested in Oriental mission work have decided to establish a Japanese Christian home in Honolulu.” (That was in 1902; Methodist mission work started in the Islands in 1887.)
“The Japanese women working in the island rice fields are particularly anxious to have the home established and are willing to contribute to the cause. … the name of the new institution (was suggested to) be the Susanna Wesley Home and the suggestion met the approval or all present.” (Hawaiian Star, November 20, 1902)
“(T)he Home was open in May, 1903. About 85 women have been cared for and instructed in the Christian life. …. the Home receives both orphans and half-orphans (typically Japanese and Korean.) There is a comfortable home for 40 children. San Francisco and Honolulu people have aided the home ….” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 29, 1905) (It also took in disillusioned picture brides.)
“The work of the Susanna Wesley Home has been conducted for some time in the old Dickey Homestead on Nuʻuanu Street under the direction of Miss Jayne assisted by Miss Morrison. The object of the home is to care for unprotected women and children, and much work of this kind has been done among the Japanese and Koreans.” (Hawaiian Star, January 30, 1906)
“To teach them the right, protect them in their helplessness, and try by precept and example to lead them to the Christ, has been our aim. Seeds have been sown. Our faith is not strong enough to believe that all have taken deep root, yet we believe some will spring up and bear fruit.”
“The most encouraging part of our work, as has often been repeated, is among the children. Here we can see results and take courage. We now have six children less than three years of age. … Some years ago it was decided to admit only children old enough to attend school, but we have always had children under school age.” (Report of Susanna Wesley House)
“It has been my aim since the beginning of my work here to make a real home, and be a real mother to these helpless little children, many of whom know no other mother’s love and care.”
“We do not want Susannah Wesley Home to be merely a boarding school, or institution, but a home in the truest, and best sense of the word, using our best efforts to train the children for lives of usefulness, and tenderly leading them to Him who said ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’” (Report of Susanna Wesley House)
They later moved into and converted the ‘Melrose Hotel’ on King Street “near the Waikiki turn” into an expanded Susanna Wesley Home.
“There are three main buildings, two of which face on King Street. These are connected by a spacious lanai. The grounds are greatly improved and there are 50-rooms.” (Hawaiian Gazette, January 30, 1906) (It was about where the parking lot of the Department of Agriculture is located.)
Though they were residents at the Home, the girls received their education from schools within the area. At the end of the school day, they would return to the Home where they were required to complete homework assignments.
In addition to their education, the house mothers at the Home taught the girls to sew their own clothing, cook meals, keep house and learn social etiquette. Older girls worked during the summer school vacation. Religious worship was encouraged, and the girls were free to attend the church of their own choosing. (legacy-com)
One notable girl who temporarily resided at the Home was 14-year-old Kame Imanaga, orphaned at an early age. Initially raised on Maui by Japanese neighbors, then a Hawaiian couple, it was arranged for her to move to Honolulu and enter the Home.
Shortly after arriving, Daniel Kleinfelter, a Caucasian minister, visited the home on an official inspection. Walking through the property, Kleinfelter handed a piece of candy to each child he met.
Kame declined the gift, explaining the only thing she wanted was a family of her own. Kleinfelter was so impressed by the outspoken teenager that he promptly invited Kame to live with him, his wife and their two daughters in their Honolulu home.
Kame converted to Christianity and began to attend River Street Methodist Church. Six years after her adoption, a young man – Hyotaro – caught her eye at a church social. A year later, they were married.
On September 7, 1924, almost 1-year after their wedding, Kame and Hyotaro became the proud parents of a baby boy. His name combined Japanese and American culture, beliefs and values.
Kame gave him his first name, Daniel, in honor of her adoptive father, Daniel Kleinfelter – and recognition of the West. Hyotaro gave the boy the middle name, Ken (a Japanese word for ‘to build,’) following customs of the East.
Hyotaro was the eldest son of the eldest sons for four generations – he hoped his firstborn would continue to build the family by someday fathering a son of his own. (Slavicek)
That young child of Kame and Hyotaro eventually continued the tradition and had a son, Ken.
Oh, the child of Kame and Hyotaro … he was better known to us in the Islands and those in the US Senate as Daniel K Inouye.
The Susanna Wesley Home moved to Kaili Street in Kalihi in 1919 (the King Street land was subdivided into ‘cottage lots.’) Others benefitted at the home.
“We were raised in Susanna Wesley Home on Kalihi Street until we finished high school after my parents divorced when I was eight…. It was a good plan because otherwise I would be still ignorant of a lot of things…. We went to public school, and we were raised in Kalihi Union Church, so we had a very good life.”
“I liked it in the Susanna Wesley Home, they educated me…. We had a beach house in Mokulēʻia. And so every summer we went to Mokuleʻia and spent the time there. And even sometimes when we were older, if we wanted to go Mokuleʻia spend the time, Susanna Wesley Home had it.” (Lum)
When the need for orphanages declined, the residence was closed and the center in the 1950s began its transformation to its present structure: a multipurpose community center that today offers services such as counseling to high-risk youths, mental health services to children, clothes for the poor and hot meals for the elderly. (Tighe) (It’s now known as Susannah Wesley Community Center.)
The image shows Susanna Wesley, mother of the boys, John and Charles, who are credited with founding the Methodist Church – and namesake of the Home in Honolulu. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.