Pauahi was said to be carrying the child of Kāhalaiʻa when she married Kekūanāoʻa. Keʻelikōlani was born and Kekūanāoʻa claimed her as his own in court, and the matter was officially settled, though it would be debated again in later years, even by her own half-brother, Lot. (Nogelmeier)
After Pauahi’s death, Kekūanāoʻa married Kīna‘u, and they became the parents of Lot Kapuāiwa, Alexander Liholiho, and Victoria Kamāmalu, making Keʻelikōlani a half-sister to these three.
Keʻelikōlani was an important figure during her lifetime, known for her high rank in the Kamehameha lineage, her social position as a governor and woman of means, and for her character as a woman of dignity, both strong-willed and kind.
She was a great-granddaughter of Kamehameha, a grand-niece to Kamehameha II and III, and a half-sister of Kamehameha IV and V.
When mentioned in the press, Keʻelikōlani was usually listed as Ka Mea Kiʻekiʻe, Ke Ali‘i Ruta Keʻelikōlani – Her Highness, Chiefess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Foreigners knew her as “Princess Ruth.” (Nogelmeier)
At the age of sixteen, Keʻelikōlani married William Pitt Leleiōhoku. While serving as governor of Hawai‘i Island, Leleiōhoku died, only twenty-two years old. Their surviving son, William Pitt Kīnaʻu, died at the age of seventeen in an accident on Hawai‘i. (Silva)
Keʻelikōlani’s second husband was the part-Hawaiian Isaac Young Davis, grandson of Isaac Davis, a British advisor to King Kamehameha I. The two had a son, Keolaokalani (also known as Keolaonalani), whom Keʻelikōlani gave as a hānai to Bernice Pauahi.
“Born on the 30th of December, 1862, was a son by Her Highness R. Keʻelikōlani, at Hale Hala‘aniani of Maj. W. L. Moehonua. At 4 in the afternoon was the birth; the mother is in fine health without weakness.”
“The child has been given to Mrs. Bishop (Pauahi) as a hānai, with out hopes that the royal son lives a long life. They are at Haleakala [the residence of the Bishops].” (Hoku o ka Pakipika, January 1, 1863)
Then, “There was a Baptism at the Residence of the Honorable C. R. Bishop, ‘Haleakala;’ baptized was the child of the honorable R. Keʻelikōlani and J. Y. Davis, and he was called, ‘Keolaokalani Paki Bihopa.’”
“The Honorable C. R. Bishop and Pauahi (the wife of Bishop) were those who bestowed the name, and Rev. C. Corwin is the one who performed the baptism.” (Hoku o ka Pakipika, February 12, 1863)
Pauahi Pākī was born on December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i to high chiefs Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia Pākī. She was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I. (KSBE)
Pauahi was hānai (adopted) to her aunt, Kīnaʻu (the eldest daughter of Kamehameha, who later served as Kuhina Nui as Kaʻahumanu II, a position similar to a Prime Minister.) Pauahi lived with Kīnaʻu for nearly eight years, then Kīnaʻu died suddenly of mumps (April 4, 1839.)
High Chief Caesar Kapaʻakea and his wife High Chiefess Analeʻa Keohokālole had three children, a daughter was Lydia Liliʻu Kamakaʻeha (born September 2, 1838.)
Liliʻu was hānai (adopted) to the Pākīs, who reared her with their birth daughter, Pauahi. The two girls developed a close, loving relationship.
“…their only daughter, Bernice Pauahi … was therefore my foster-sister. … I knew no other father or mother than my foster-parents, no other sister than Bernice.” (Lili‘uokalani)
They lived on the property called Haleʻākala, in a two-story coral house that Pākī built on King Street. It was the ‘Pink House,’ (the house was name ʻAikupika (Egypt.)) It later became the Arlington Hotel.
In 1850, at the age of 19, Pauahi married Charles Reed Bishop, a young American businessman who had made his way to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i from Glens Falls, New York.
Charles became a pillar in the kingdom government and was a successful businessman, banker and philanthropist. He and Pauahi enjoyed traveling the world with particular fondness for museums and art. With no children of their own, they shared a deep commitment for the well-being and education of kamali‘i — young ones. (KSBE)
When her cousin, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani, died, Keʻelikōlani’s will stated that she “give and bequeath forever to my beloved younger sister (cousin), Bernice Pauahi Bishop, all of my property, the real property and personal property from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi, all of said property to be hers.”
The total land bequest included about 353,000 acres. Keʻelikōlani had previously inherited all of the substantial landholdings of the Kamehameha dynasty from her brother, Lot Kapuāiwa (King Kamehameha V.)
As the Bishop’s marriage was not blessed with children of their own, they made several attemps at adoption. Their first was Ruth’s baby whom they named Keolaokalani Paki Bishop when they officially adopted him in February 1863.
The infant had also been given the nick-name Hoku o ka Pakipika (Star of the Pacific). Unhappiness filled the Bishop’s household when on August 29, 1863, the child died at six months. (Zambucka)
Bernice Pauahi died childless on October 16, 1884. She foresaw the need to educate her people and in her will she left her large estate of the Kamehameha lands in a trust “to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands two schools, each for boarding and day scholars, one for boys and one for girls, to be known as, and called the Kamehameha Schools.”