In the 1840s, Captain John Dominis, an Italian-American ship captain and merchant from New York, purchased property on Beretania Street and built a home for his family, Mary Lambert Dominis (his wife) and John Owen Dominis (his son.)
In 1847, on a voyage to the China Sea, Captain Dominis was lost at sea. To make ends meet, Mary Dominis rented out spare bedrooms in the house.
One such was to American Commissioner Anthony Ten Eyck. Ten Eyck said the house reminded him of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s mansion and that it should be named “Washington Place.”
King Kamehameha III, who concurred, Proclaimed as ‘Official Notice,’ “It has pleased His Majesty the King to approve of the name of Washington Place given this day by the Commissioner of the United States, to the House and Premises of Mrs. Dominis and to command that they retain that name in all time coming.” (February 22, 1848)
Twenty-four year-old Curtis Perry Ward (whom some called a ‘lonely Southern bachelor,’ while others say he was an ‘aloof, aristocratic Southerner’) arrived in the islands in 1853 and rented a room at Mary Dominis’ Washington Place.
He later opened a livery stable, started a small feed company and a draying business, all of which made money for Ward. In 1858, Ward rented a residential block now occupied by Davies Pacific Center as a home and location for his livery business. He named the property “Dixie”.
When tensions began to rise between the American North and South, the first shot of the American Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter off the coast of South Carolina on April 12, 1861, nearly six thousand miles away.
On August 26, 1861, five months after the outbreak of hostilities and four months after the news of Civil War arrived in Honolulu, Kamehameha IV issued a Proclamation that, in part, stated …
… “hostilities are now unhappily pending between the Government of the United States, and certain States thereof styling themselves ‘The Confederate States of America.’”
With the Proclamation, the King also stated “Our neutrality between said contending parties.” The discussion of neutrality versus partisanship had to include the reality that the Hawaiian kingdom had no standing army …
… and most importantly, no navy to protect its harbors if supporting either the Union or Confederacy brought the other side’s vessels to threaten the principal cities of Honolulu or Lāhainā. (Illinois-edu)
Likewise, while the majority of foreigners in Hawaiʻi were Americans from New England who supported the Union cause with great fervor, leadership and advisors to the King included European ties who believed that the Confederacy would succeed in securing its independence.
In 1862, John Owen Dominis married Lydia Kamakaʻeha (also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī – later, Queen Lili‘uokalani.) Lydia Dominis described Washington Place “as comfortable in its appointments as it is inviting in its aspect.”
“Lili‘uokalani liked young Ward and felt sympathy for him as a passionate upholder of Confederate rights.” (Taylor) “(A)ccording to a family story, some members of the court privately expressed sympathy for Ward’s Southern allegiance during the War Between the States.”
“Lydia Lili‘u Pākī is said to have worked quietly at night, in the privacy of her chambers, sewing a Confederate flag for Ward.”
“He accepted her gift with pleasure and promptly attached it to the canopy of his four-poster bed, declaring it was his wish to die under the flag.” (Hustace)
In 1865, Ward married Victoria Robinson, Hawai‘i-born daughter of English shipbuilder James Robinson and his wife Rebecca, a woman of Hawaiian ancestry whose chiefly lineage had roots in Kaʻū, Hilo and Honokōwai, Maui.
For many years they made their home at ‘Dixie;’ later Ward Homes were ‘Sunny South’ and ‘Old Plantation. The Wards had seven daughters.
It was said that all of them were born in the bed under the Confederate flag. The flag is a “treasured relic of the Ward family to this very day.” (Taylor) In 1882, Curtis Ward died at age 53.
Victoria rallied against the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893; and, reportedly, after promulgation of the law forbidding the public display of the Hawaiian flag, Victoria Ward replaced the Confederate flag with a Hawaiian flag bed-quilt with the words Ku‘u Hae Aloha (My Beloved Flag.)
It is said Victoria made the remark, “I was born under the Hawaiian flag and I shall die under it.” (Allen; Karpiel) (The image shows the Confederate ‘Stars and Bars’ flag, captured by soldiers of the Union Army at Columbia, South Carolina – the flag later had 13-stars.)
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