INTERVIEW WITH W. E. ROWELL
Dec. 6, 1915
(Continued from last issue.)
The shingles were imported and were boiled in whale oil before they were put on. They lasted a long, long time, 25 years, until they were fairly worn out, by explosure to the elements.
Yes, as you say, my father was a good mechanic. He had a lathe with which he litterally turned out four poster koa beds, and other articles of furniture, and up in the mountains he had a saw-pit where he whip-sawed out koa and kauwila lumber, one man above and one below with the log resting on skids. You say there is some of that koa lumber there in the house now?—yes very likely, we left a lot of it there.
We had kauwila posts I remember, for our front fence. I sent my brother, in New York, some of them, out of which he had furniture made, and this cane that I carry and which is so useful to me in my blindness, is made out of one of them. You say it ought to go to some historical society, [???] that first church table, well perhaps so.
My father was very much of a student as you say; yes he always read from the Greek Testament at family worship.
He was a bit of a doctor too. In those days, very wisely, the missionaries all had to take a short course in medicine and simple surgery and for years he was the only doctor on that side of the island. He had a regular pharmacopia, if that’s the word, and there were grave consultations often as to what remedy should be used out of so many. I expect you are right, epsom salts, which we had by the barrel was a sort of panacea, anyhow for a starter. I remember one old fellow who used to come as regular as clock-work; he would over eat and then come for his salts, and I think he enjoyed it at both ends of the line.
Niihau belonged to my father’s parish and he made a tour over there twice a year. He found it necessary to build a mission house there, a frame house clap-board and shingle about 16 x 20. I remember I helped on it. It was at Kaunuohua near Nonopapa. He had to depend on rain water for all purposes: he had tanks.
Yes even in Waimea we depended more or less on rain. My father build a cement arched over cistern, which remains I suppose, to this day, with a pump. This water was always cool which was more than could be said sometimes for the other water.
In addition to his other duties, my father was school agent for all that side of the island and Niihau and had to make regular tours inspecting the schools. The teachers were Hawaiian of course, no English was taught anywhere. My father was also an excellent musician, and he always had singing schools and contests on hand. I remember once, before he was familiar with the language, that he caused a good deal of diversion by enjoining them to sing “lio-nui” instead of “leo nui,” whit a big horse instead of a big voice. That was early in his career, he later became a master of Hawaiian and an excellent preacher.
As you doubtless know he seceded from the mission, taking his people with him and they built another church, the present Hawaiian church down in the village. No I don’t just know what the grounds of his defection were. I was away in the States at the time.
He was a broad minded man in advance of his age, and some of his views and practices were not in accord with those of other members of the mission. Yes there was more or less feeling about it, and many of his friends were alienated, but Dr. Smith of Koloa, Judge Hardy, as well as the Gays and the Robinsons, of Waimea, stood by him to the end. He organized similar churches, at other points, even on the other islands, viz: at Keokeo on Maui, in the kula district at Kapaka, near Hauula on Oahu. He was a sort of missionary bishop over these churches in a small way, and visited them from time to time.
With regard to the Waimea Mill Co., the mill, as I remember it was established and run by the Honolulu Iron Works Co. and Schmidt and Borchgrevint were planters, and then finally when the planters failed the Waimea Mill Co. was formed to handle the whole business. The land belonged mostly to my mother and was leased to the planters in the first instance, and then to the Mill Co. Yes I was one of the large stockholders, was president for some time, but strange to say I can’t recall how I got my stock, but one thing I am very clear about, I haven’t got it now.
(Garden Island, 4/4/1916, p. 2)