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Kona in the Early 1820s and 1830s

“Kailua In The 1820s … Kailua was the capital of the Island. It is situated on the west coast, twelve miles north of Kealakekua, where Captain Cook perished. It lies at the base of the great mountain Hualalai, 8,275 feet high. The entire coast consists of lava flows from that mountain, of greater or less age. Here and there in the village were small tracts of soil on the lava, where grew a few cocoanut, kou, and pandanus trees.”

“There were no gardens, for lack of water. Heat and general aridity characterized the place. But it pleased the natives, on account of the broad calm ocean, the excellent fishing, and the splendid rollers of surf on which they played and slid all day. … Surfing And Canoes … This was a universal sport of the chiefs and common people alike. The ponderous chiefs had very large boards of light wood.” Follow the link for more on Bishop’s description of the region.

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Chiefs in the 1820s

“The houses of the chiefs are generally large, for the kind of building, – from forty to sixty feet in length, twenty or twenty-five in breadth, and eighteen or twenty in height at the peak of the roof. … Every chief has from thirty to fifty and an hundred personal attendants, friends and servants, attached to his establishment; who always live and move with him, and share in the provisions of his house. … All these, except the bosom friends, or punahele, have different offices and duties: – one is a pipe lighter, another a spittoon carrier, a third a kahile bearer, &c. Others with their families, prepare, cook, and serve the food, &c.”

“In every respect indeed, as well as in that of eating, the household servants of the whole company of chiefs, from the king to the petty headman of a village, seem to enjoy a perpetual saturnalia. … This portion of the inhabitants spend their lives principally in eating and drinking, lounging and sleeping; in the sports of the surf, and the various games of the country; at cards, which have long been introduced … They are not, however, wholly given to idleness and pleasure. It is customary for the male chiefs to superintend, in a degree, any work in which their own vassals, at the place where they are residing, are engaged, whether of agriculture or manufacture and the female chiefs, also, overlook their women in their appropriate occupations, and not unfrequently assist them with their own hands.” (CS Stewart)

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