Before her death in 1884, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, heir to the vast lands of the Kamehameha dynasty, established through her will the design to create two private schools, one for boys and one for girls. (Beyer)
Bernice Pauahi died childless on October 16, 1884. 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.”
She further stated, “I desire my trustees to provide first and chiefly a good education in the common English branches, and also instruction in morals and in such useful knowledge as may tend to make good and industrious men and women”.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, by founding the Kamehameha Schools, intended to establish institutions which should be of lasting benefit to her country; and also to honor the name Kamehameha.
After Pauahi’s death, Charles Reed Bishop, as president of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate’s board of trustees, ensured that his wife’s wish was fulfilled. He generously provided his own funds for the construction of facilities and added some of his own properties to her estate. (KSBE)
Because Pauahi’s estate was basically land rich and cash poor, Bishop contributed his own funds for the construction of several of the schools’ initial buildings on the original Kalihi campus: the Preparatory Department facilities (1888,) Bishop Hall (1891) and Bernice Pauahi Bishop Memorial Chapel (1897.)
In the fall of 1887, preparations for the opening of the boys’ school were nearly complete. A workshop, dining hall, and the first two dormitories had been built at the Kaiwi‘ula campus, where the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum stands today.
An invitation had been sent to all Hawaiian boys over the age of 12 to take the admission test, and on October 3, thirty-seven boys arrived on campus to begin their schooling instruction. (Armstrong-Wassel)
“King Kalākaua addressed the boys in Hawaiian and his remarks were then translated into English. He told the boys that ‘the name the school bears is the name of one who was famous first of all for habits of industry in the fields before he became famous as a warrior.’”
“He emphasized that it was not simply the work of the hands that would lead to success in life, but the intelligence for which His Majesty urged the boys to strive.” (Kilolani Mitchell, noted by Armstrong-Wassel)
“Bishop had supported industrial and moral education for the masses and elite English-standard education for the highest tier of society. His administration marked a turn toward manual and industrial education, as well as increased funding for English-medium education.”
“Although there was already a history of educating Kānaka in higher branches of academic pursuit, Bishop argued against education that failed to produce an industrial agricultural workforce.” (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua)
Reverend William Brewster Oleson was hired from the Hilo Boarding School to become the first principal of the Kamehameha School for Boys at an annual salary of $3000.00 with house and pasturage.
Hilo Boarding school was the first manual labor type school in the Pacific. It instituted a program of rural education based on the idea of learning by doing. (Moe) Oleson brought that philosophy and program to Kamehameha.
By then, Hilo Boarding School was also the model for educating students at Hampton Institute in Virginia and Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
The Kamehameha school was commonly known as the Manual Department or “The Manual.” (Beyer) The original name of the first school sponsored by the Bishop Estate was actually called the Manual Training School for Boys. (Broadbent)
Oleson penned the school song, “Sons of Hawai’i” together with Theodore Richards who adapts the tune from Yale’s “Wake, Freshman, Wake” and chose the school colors based on Yale school colors. (KSBE)
Oleson brought nine of his most prized pupils with him to Kamehameha Schools to create the school’s inaugural class.
Joining Oleson were WS Terry served as superintendent of shops, Mrs F Johnson was a matron, instructor Miss CA Reamer would later become the principal of the preparatory school and Miss LL Dressler also served as an instructor. (KSBE)
At the opening ceremonies, “Prof Alexander on being asked for remarks expressed his regret that Hon C R Bishop who had such an interest in the school was absent on the Coast. The institution of a technical school had often been discussed in Honolulu.”
“He rejoiced that the wishes of the noble lady foundress had been so successfully carried out. Founded upon a rock the institution he hoped would long stand on the rock and that it would keep the memory of its foundress green until generations yet unborn should call her blessed.” (Hawaiian Gazette, November 8, 1887)
A year later the Preparatory Department, for boys 6 to 12 years of age, opened in adjacent facilities. (Organization of the Kamehameha School for Girls was delayed until 1894.)
During a visit to see General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, Hampton’s founder, Oleson picked up the idea of including military training in Kamehameha’s curriculum (1888.) (Rath)
Officers were appointed by Oleson and were responsible for discipline and marching to and from town. Oleson was in charge of drills, but teachers joined in the marches to church or other meetings. In September 1899, the boys wore their uniforms to class and drills.
An interesting side note relates to the role and relationship Pauahi and Liliʻuokalani had with William Owen Smith, the son of American Protestant missionaries.
During the revolutionary/overthrow period, Smith was one of the thirteen members of the Committee of Safety that overthrew the rule of Queen Liliʻuokalani (January 17, 1893) and established the Provisional Government and served on its executive council.
When not filling public office, Smith had been engaged in private law practice – Smith and his firm wrote the will for Princess Pauahi Bishop that created the Bishop Estate.
Pauahi recommended to Queen Liliʻuokalani that he write her will for the Liliʻuokalani Trust (which he did.) As a result, Liliʻuokalani and Smith became lifelong friends; he defended her in court, winning the suit brought against her by Prince Jonah Kūhiō.