George Charles Beckley was known as “the English friend and military adviser of Kamehameha the Great.” (Taylor) Born in 1787, Beckley arrived in the Islands around 1804. About 1813, he married Ahia Kalanikumaikiʻekiʻe.
Ahia was daughter of Kaha, a trusted friend of Kamehameha I, a warrior and Kahuna Kalaiwaʻa (a priest who superintended the building of canoes) and of Makaloa, daughter of Malulani (k) and of Kelehuna (w) of Puna, Hawaiʻi. (Hawaiian Historical Society)
At the birth of the princess Nahiʻenaʻena (Kamehameha’s daughter) at Keauhou, Kona, in 1815, Beckley was made a high chief by Kamehameha, so that he might with impunity enter the sacred precinct and present the royal infant with a roll of China silk, after which he went outside, and fired a salute of thirteen guns in her honor. (Hawaiian Historical Society)
The Beckleys had seven children, William (1814,) Maria (1817,) Localia (1818,) Mary (1820,) George (1823,) Hannah and Emmeline (1825.)
Captain Beckley’s oldest son, William Beckley, born at Keauhou (August 1, 1814,) was hānai to Keōpūolani and brought up together with Kauikeaouli (later King Kamehameha III.) George Beckley’s two oldest daughters were brought up by Queen Kaʻahumanu. (Hawaiian Historical Society) William was also playmates of Keoni Ana, son of John Young, and Aikake, son of Isaac Davis.
John Young and Isaac Davis were two of the several foreigners who aligned with Kamehameha I. Young, a boatswain on the British fur trading vessel, Eleanora, was stranded on the Island of Hawai‘i in 1790. Davis arrived the same year on The Fair American. Both became close advisors to Kamehameha I.
With the arrival of Western ships, new plants and animals soon found their way to the Hawaiian Islands. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver gave a few cattle to Kamehameha I. When Vancouver landed additional cattle at Kealakekua in 1794, he strongly encouraged Kamehameha to place a 10‐year kapu on them to allow the herd to grow.
In the decades that followed, cattle flourished and later turned into a dangerous nuisance. (By 1846, 25,000-wild cattle roamed at will and an additional 10,000-semi‐domesticated cattle lived alongside humans.)
Kamehameha III lifted the kapu in 1830 and the hunting of wild cattle was encouraged. The king hired cattle hunters from overseas to help in the effort; many of these were former convicts from Botany Bay in Australia.
The hapa-haole Beckley was for a number of years in charge of the king’s cattle on Hawai’i. After the death of Governor Adams Kuakini on December 9, 1844, Beckley was appointed konohiki of Waimea, as well as manager of all the cattle there belonging to the king and the government. (Clark/Kirch)
Kamehameha III, although a king, was one of the first ranchers in the islands, owning the largest on the Big Island, from the top of Mauna Kea to the sea. He had William Beckley for his partner and afterwards Olohana Davis (son of Isaac Davis.) (Taylor)
Beckley carried his own portion independently; they were identified as Waʻawaʻa, Waikani and a pahale (houselot) at Līhuʻe. In addition, some land nearby (Waiemi) was awarded to his wife (a granddaughter of Kameʻeiamoku (one of the four Kona Uncles and close associates with Kamehameha.)) (Clark/Kirch)
Beckley called his piece “Little Mexico,” where he raised thoroughbred horses. This was at Waimea, and a portion of this is now part of Parker Ranch. (Taylor)
The “Mexico” reference may tie into one of the stories about how the initial vaqueros (Español – paniolo (cowboys)) came to the islands; one story suggests William Beckley recruited vaqueros from Veracruz Mexico. (Barna)
The earliest Hawaiian bullock hunters hunted alone, on foot, and used guns and pit traps. By 1830, a few vaqueros who had perfected methods of capturing wild cattle on horseback in Alta California began working for the Hawaiian monarchy and teaching the Hawaiians their techniques. (Mills)
Most histories credit Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) with the idea of hiring vaqueros. Joaquin Armas arrived in Hawai‘i on April 4, 1831 and stayed in Hawai‘i at the bequest of the King. Armas had grown up in Monterey, where undoubtedly he learned how to rope cattle and process hides. Other contemporary vaqueros on Hawai‘i Island were Miguel Castro, a man named Boronda, and Frederico Ramon Baesa. (Mills)
Hawaii’s cowboys became known as paniolo, a corruption of español, the language the vaquero spoke. The term still refers to cowboys working in the Islands and to the culture their lifestyle spawned.
By 1840, there was concern that the great herds of cattle would be diminished because of consistent hunting pressure. So, another kapu was placed on the cattle.
Under Beckley, more lands were converted to pasturage and holding pens; and, according to Lorezo Lyons, Waimea had turned into a “cattle pen” and “(b)y another unfavorable arrangement 2/3 of Waimea have been converted to a pasture for government herds of cattle, sheep, horses, etc.” (MKSWCD)
In 1847, the branding of wild cattle became a government function, overseen by William Beckley. That same year, John Palmer Parker purchased the first acres of land that would become Parker Ranch. (Bergin)
Shortly after, in 1850, the King appointed George Davis Hueu, of Waikoloa, as “Keeper of the Cattle” at Waimea, Mauna Kea and surrounding districts. (MKSWCD) William Beckley died March 16, 1871.
The image shows an early view of Waimea (Engraved at Lahainaluna.) In addition, I have added some other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
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