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Finding a Bride

The Prudential Committee pf the ABCFM announced that all overseas missionaries were required to have a wife before departure; their reason, the temptations for inappropriate relations were too great on the Polynesian islands. Stories circulated about failed London Missionary Society stations where single male missionaries “went native” among South Sea islanders. (Brown) Of the seven men in the Pioneer Company of missionaries to Hawai‘i, only Daniel Chamberlain was married. The other six men had a little over a month to find brides before the October departure date. They all married and left on October 23, 1819 for the Islands. They first sighted the Islands on March 30, 1820, and finally anchored at Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820.

Starting a few short months after their arrival, the new missionary wives became mothers. The first child was Levi Loomis, son of the Printer, Elisha and Maria Loomis; he was the first white child born in the Islands, born July 16, 1820 … Honolulu (Oʻahu). Other children followed: October 19, 1820 … Waimea (Kauai) … Maria Whitney; November 9, 1820 … Honolulu (Oʻahu) … Sophia Bingham; December 22, 1820 … Waimea (Kauai) … Sarah Ruggles; March 2, 1821 … Waimea (Kauai) … Lucia Holman; and September 28, 1821 … Honolulu (Oʻahu) … Persis Thurston.

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Barque Flora

On August 3, 1840, the ‘Flora’ left the Islands. “The Flora, is chartered by one of the mercantile houses at Honolulu, and is principally freighted with sugar and molasses, novel exports from the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, a distance of eighteen thousand miles. … There are twenty passengers in all, who, with the exception of two or three that are to be left at the Society Islands, are to constitute a community by ourselves for many a month, while roving the ocean, in the long voyage to our native land. …” (Olmstead)

Among the passengers were Hiram and Sybil Bingham (and family); Mrs Lucy Thurston and children; and Caroline Armstrong, 9-year-old daughter of missionaries Richard and Clarissa Armstrong). “The tide of contending emotions that agitate their hearts can only be imagined. With the thousand perplexities and cares attendant upon making preparation for so long a voyage and in separating themselves perhaps forever from a people that had grown up under their instruction, and to whom they had become tenderly attached, they were almost exhausted, and it seemed like a renewal of that depressing sorrow that attended their departure from their native land.” They first headed to Tahiti, then rounded Cape Horn – February 4, 1841 they came to anchor in the NE, US, six months from Hawai‘i.

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Going to “the land of our fathers”

“The Flora (a barque), is chartered by one of the mercantile houses at Honolulu, and is principally freighted with sugar and molasses, novel exports from the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, a distance of eighteen thousand miles. … There are twenty passengers in all, who, with the exception of two or three that are to be left at the Society Islands, are to constitute a community by ourselves for many a month, while roving the ocean, in the long voyage to our native land. …” Among the passengers were Hiram and Sybil Bingham (and family); Mrs Lucy Thurston and children; and Caroline Armstrong, 9-year-old daughter of missionaries Richard and Clarissa Armstrong.

“Mr. T(hurston) chose to stand at his post at Kailua, and send his family with mine, and trusted the arrangement for their children with Mrs. T., the Board, and private friends. Mr. Armstrong took my post at Honolulu.” (Hiram Bingham) “Time passes rapidly on, and brings near the day of our departure from the land of our childhood. Our family, which has so long lived together, is soon to be separated.” Upon arrival, young Lucy Thurston writes, “Brooklyn, Feb. 16th, 1841. “My Dear Father, We learn that a vessel is to sail for the Sandwich Islands in about a week, and I take my pen to inform you of our safe arrival in the land of our fathers.” Shortly after arriving, young Lucy Thurston ‘was taken sick’; she died February 24, 1841.

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Asa and Lucy Thurston Get Married

“The gentleman proposed as the companion of my life is Mr. Thurston …. He had recently become an accepted missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, soon to sail for the Sandwich Islands.” “This has all come suddenly upon him. Now that he knows the situation he is called to fill, he has no personal knowledge of one who is both willing and qualified to go with him to a foreign land. Some of his classmates were admitted to his private confidence.” … “What could I say?”

“In the forenoon, … pledging themselves to each other as close companions in the race of life, consecrating themselves and their all to a life work among the heathen…. Sept. 26th, Oct. 3d and 10th, would furnish three Sabbaths for publication. Then the 11th was Monday, not a convenient day, but the 12th, Tuesday, was fixed upon as the day of the wedding, and after the ceremony, the party was to proceed directly to Boston.” On October 23, 1819, the Thurstons joined the Pioneer Company to the Islands.

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Winne Units

“These halls, this learning environment, launched the academic careers of tens of thousands of Punahou students.” The Mary Persis Winne Elementary Units, built between 1950 and 1955, were designed by the renowned architect Vladimir Ossipoff. Born in 1876 in Carson City, Nevada, Winne was the granddaughter of Reverend Asa and Lucy Thurston.

Winne came to Punahou as a second grade teacher in 1898, and rose to become the principal of the then newly formed Punahou Elementary School in 1918. By the time she retired in 1941 she had served generations of Punahou students for 42 years. Punahou is replacing the Winne Units with new facilities for grades 2-5.

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