AGED HAWAIIAN PASSES BEYOND
Believed by many of the Hawaiians to be at least 110 years old, and having figured in a history which has been recounted from the Atlantic coast to the far east, Mary Mahiai died at her home on Vineyard street last Monday night, and was buried yesterday afternoon in the cemetery back of the asylum.
The aged Hawaiian was born on the island of Kauai during the period the reign of Kamehameha the Great, long before the first missionaries from New England arrived here, and at the age of seven years went out in a canoe with her uncle and five other men for the island of Molokai. A storm came up and the canoe was driven out of sight of land, and for ten days they drifted at the mercy of the elements without food or water. When nearly dead from hunger and thirst, a sail was sighted, and two boats appeared, the larger of which sent a boat out to take the occupants of the canoe aboard. They were treated kindly by the captain and soon learned that the vessel was bound for China. The little Hawaiian girl was given the task of caring for the captain’s daughter and the men put to work on the vessel. At one of the islands of the Ladrones the five men of the little party were put ashore at their request, and it was afterward earned that they were devoured by cannibals who were known to infest those islands. Mary Mahiai, with her uncle, remained on the vessel and were taken to China, where they were turned over to missionaries there. They remained there several years, during which time Mary’s uncle died. Mary was made nurse to one of the missionary’s children and soon after traveled to New York with her mistress. At the time of the gold rush to California Mary was in the employ of a missionary family named Bates, and in 1848 they set sail for the gold fields, via Cape Horn. They were many months reaching their destination on account of the fierce storms which swept that coast, finally reaching Monterey.
The party sailed for the Hawaiian islands a few years later, arriving in Honolulu in 1850, and Mary at once sent a letter to her friends, who had many years previous mourned her death, thinking that she had been drowned or eaten by sharks. Her friends came to Honolulu and her return was celebrated with a luau which lasted many days. Mary did not accompany her relatives back to Kauai, but remained in the employ of the Bates family, to whom she had become very much attached. Later, she married, her husband dying a few months later. Her second husband died of the smallpox and her third lived only a year after their marriage. She married for the fourth time and she and her husband lived happily for twenty years, he dying in the early part of the present century.
The interesting story of her life was told by her when she appeared before the United States senatorial commission on its visit to Honolulu in 1902. As she became old, Mary Mahiai lapsed into the easy Hawaiian life in her humble home on Vineyard street, where she would be often seen barefooted and clad in a holoku.
(Star-Bulletin, 1/8/1913, p. 4)