Lahainaluna Seminary (now Lahainaluna High School) was founded on September 5, 1831 by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions “to instruct young men of piety and promising talents”.
In December, 1833, a printing press was delivered to Lahainaluna from Honolulu. It was housed in a temporary office building and in January, 1834, the first book printed off the press was Worcester’s Scripture Geography.
Besides the publication of newspapers, pamphlets and books, another important facet of activity off the press was engraving. A checklist made in 1927 records thirty-three maps and fifty-seven sketches of houses and landscapes, only one of which is of a non-Hawaiian subject.
“It was stated last year that some incipient efforts had been made towards engraving. These efforts have been continued. It should be remembered that both teacher & pupils have groped their way in the dark to arrive even at the commencement of the business.”
“A set of copy slips for writing was the first effort of importance; next a map of the Hawaiian islands. For some time past a Hawaiian Atlas has been in hand & is nearly finished, containing the following maps Viz. the Globes, North America, South America, the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Hawaiian islands & the Pacific.”
“It is evident that if the business is to be carried on so as to be of any benefit to schools generally, some considerable expense must be incurred for fitting up a shop for engraving & a room for printing. Hithertoo, everything has been done at the greatest disadvantage. Some means for prosecuting the business have lately been received from the Board.” (Andrews et al to Anderson, November 16, 1836)
Andrews was fortunate to have real talent in his artisans. Simon Peter Kalama was one of the best. Nineteen when he became a scholar, Kalama arrived at Lahainaluna with a recognized skill in drafting.
Kalama compiled the first map of Hawaiʻi published in Hawaiʻi and executed most of the “views,” which are the only record we have of the true island landscape of that time.
Since they were intended for the use of the Hawaiian students, the place names were given either in the Hawaiian form of the name, or in a modified transcription in which vowels were added so the foreign words could be pronounced in the Hawaiian style. (Fitzpatrick)
Ho‘okano, an assistant to Dr Gerrit P Judd, was assigned in the 1830s to interview kahuna lapa‘au to gain information about their practice which Judd incorporated in treating his own patients.
When Ho‘okano died in 1840, his notes were transcribed by Kalama and published in Ka Hae Hawaii in 1858 – 1859. The serialization has been translated by Malcolm Chun as Hawaiian Medicine Book: He Buke La‘au Lapa‘au and is the best source of information on traditional kahuna lapa‘au that exists today. (Mission Houses)
During the Wilkes expedition on Hawai‘i Island, on January 16, 1841, Kalama saved Judd from death in the crater of the volcano Kilauea. (Twain)
“Dr. Judd volunteered to head a party to go in search of some specimens of gases, with the apparatus we had provided, and also to dip up some liquid lava from the burning pool.” (Wilkes)
“I went down into Kilauea on the 16th to collect gases, taking a frying pan, in hopes of dipping up some liquid lava. Kalama went with me to measure the black ledge, and I had five natives to carry apparatus and specimens.” (Judd)
“While thus advancing, he saw and heard a slight movement in the lava, about fifty feet from him, which was twice repeated; curiosity led him to turn to approach the place where the motion occurred.”
“(T)he crust was broken asunder by a terrific heave, and a jet of molten lava, full fifteen feet in diameter, rose to the height of about forty-five feet … He instantly turned for the purpose of escaping, but found he was now under a projecting ledge, which opposed his ascent, and that the place where he descended was some feet distant.” (Wilkes)
Although he considered his life as lost, he prayed God for deliverance, “and shouted to the natives to come and take my hand, which I could extend over the ledge so as to be seen. … Kalama heard me and came to the brink, but the intense heat drove him back. ‘Do not forsake me and let me perish,’ I said.” (Judd)
“(He) saw the friendly hand of Kalumo (Kalama,) who, on this fearful occasion, had not abandoned his spiritual guide and friend, extended towards him. … seizing Dr. Judd’s with a giant’s grasp, their joint efforts placed him on the ledge. Another moment, and all aid would have been unavailing to save Dr. Judd from perishing in the fiery deluge.” (Wilkes)
A few years later, as the Western concept of landownership began to alter the Hawaiian landscape, Kalama enjoyed a lucrative career as a surveyor. He served as konohiki (overseer) of the Kalihi Kai district on O‘ahu, as a member of the House of Representatives and eventually as privy councilor to two kings. (Wood)
“The Hon SP Kalama, a member of the Privy Council, died on the 2nd inst at his residence at Liliha Street, having been ill for some months.”
“Mr Kalama was formerly a Government Surveyor, had served several terms in the Legislature as a Representative, and was a member of the Privy Council under Kamehameha V, Lunalilo and his present Majesty (Kalākaua.) He was about 60 years of age.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 4, 1875)
Here is a video of Moses Goods portraying Kalama (it was part of a Mission Houses event:)
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Bill Barnette says
Prior to the western concept of land ownership, did only the high ranks of Hawaiians own or manage land and were “comoners” allowed also?
Vivian Rufh says
This was wonderful to watch and to learn more about Simon Peter Kalama.
My typing class was in the old printing press building which is now a wonderful little museum. The smell of the monkey pod trees lingers in my nostrils to this day.
I was also interested in Jane Alexander and her background.Thank you so much for the info and the videos. Mahalo
Linda Sarmiento says
I want to know if SP Kalama or SP Halama the same person?