“It was a little acorn, planted in missionary soil, watered by some trials and tears, nourished by the prayers and gifts of many friends, protected and blest, we trust, by one who is our Master, even Christ.”
“A vigorous oak, it is soon to be transplanted to the hills, to spread its branches under the sunshine, the showers and the rainbows of beautiful Manoa Valley.”
“May the blessing of the Lord ever rest upon it, and upon her through whose munificence it is to find its new home.” (Lydia Bingham, 1907)
“Honolulu Female Academy (is) another of the schools provided by Christian benevolence for the benefit of the children of this highly favored land. This institution will, it is hoped, supply a felt need for a home for girls, in the town of Honolulu, yet not too near its center of business.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, April 13, 1867)
“The inception of this school emanated from Mrs Halsey Gulick. In 1863, when living in the old mission premises on the mauka side of King street, she took several Hawaiian girls into her family to be brought up with her own children … The mother love was strong in that little group as some of us remember.” (Hawaiian Gazette, March 23, 1897)
The usefulness of such a school became evident; as the enrollment grew, the need for a more permanent organization was required. It became known as Kawaiahaʻo Female Seminary.
In 1867, the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society (HMCS – an organization consisting of the children of the missionaries and adopted supporters) decided to support a girls’ boarding school.
HMCS invited Miss Lydia Bingham (daughter of Reverend Hiram Bingham, leader of the Pioneer Company of missionaries to Hawaiʻi) to return to Honolulu to be a teacher in this family school; she was then principal of the Ohio Female College, at College Hill, Ohio.
In January 1869, her sister, Miss Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu (Lizzie) Bingham, arrived from the continent to be an assistant to her sister. Lizzie was a graduate of Mount Holyoke and, when she was recruited, was a teacher at Rockford Female Seminary. (Beyer)
What is not generally known is that Lydia and Lizzie’s niece, Clara Moseley, came to Hawai‘i to help at the school.
“(B)efore I was fifteen, a wonderful thing happened to me which probably changed the whole course of my life. Two of my mother’s sisters, Aunt Lydia and Aunt Lizzie, returned to Honolulu, the home of their birth and engaged in teaching in a school for Hawaiian girls which was called Kawaiahaʻo Seminary.”
“It was located at that time on King St. just opposite the Old Mission house where the Mission Memorial Building now stands.”
“My Aunt Lydia was Principal of this school and she wrote to my mother asking if she couldn’t spare me and let me come out and teach music to her girls, knowing that I was musically inclined.”
“When my aunt wrote asking for me, she said she wanted me to have a teacher for a few months intervening before I should leave home, and she would pay for my lessons, so I took lessons … for about three months.”
“Of course my parents were willing to let me go, knowing it was too fine an opportunity for me to miss. A friend of my aunt’s, Miss Julia Gulick, was coming to the states that year so it was planned that I should go back with her.”
“I had planned to stay five years when I first went out to the Islands (however) ‘Old Captain Gelett) felt he must do something to change the course of my life. So he persuaded my aunts to let him send me away to school as soon as I had finished my third year at the Seminary.”
“Accordingly, in August, 1875, I sailed from Honolulu on the ‘DC Murray’ with a group of other young people who were going over to school. This sailing vessel was twenty one days in getting to San Francisco”. (Clara Lydia (Moseley) Sutherland)
Those weren’t the only Binghams involved with the school. Lydia and Lizzie’s brother, Hiram Bingham II, and his wife Minerva (Minnie) Brewster Bingham (she was also called Clara) lived and helped at Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary.
Their son, Hiram III was born at Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary. (On July 24, 1911, Hiram III rediscovered the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu (which had been largely forgotten by everybody except the small number of people living in the immediate valley). Hiram III has been noted as a source of inspiration for the ‘Indiana Jones’ character.)
In 1905, a merger with Mills Institute, a boys’ school, was discussed; the Hawaiian Board of Foreign Missions purchased the Kidwell estate, about 35-acres of land in Mānoa valley.
By 1908, the first building was completed, and the school was officially operated as Mid-Pacific Institute, consisting of Kawaiahaʻo School for Girls and Damon School for Boys.
Finally, in the fall of 1922, a new coeducational plan went into effect – likewise, ‘Mills’ and ‘Kawaiahaʻo’ were dropped and by June 1923, Mid-Pacific became the common, shared name.
The Bingham children involved at Kawaiaha‘o, Lydia, Lizzie and Hiram, are my GG Aunts &Uncle. Young Clara Moseley is my great grandmother. I was fortunate to have served as the president of the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society for 3 ½ years.