Granddaughter Of Capt. George Beckley, Kamehameha’s “Field Marshal” Tells Of His Colorful Career In Hawaii
DRAMA OF OLD HAWAII MADE REAL IN FASCINATING STORY OF PICTURESQUE EARLY ACTORS
Englishmen, Americans, Russians and Men of Other “Haole” Nations Move In Interesting Array Through Reminiscences of Grande Dame of the Old Regime.
Vivid pages of history of the Hawaiian Islands the period when Englishmen, Americans and Russians when ashore from trading ships and men-o’-war of foreign nations, during that romantic period preceding the arrival of the first American missionaries in 1820, for to them must be given the credit for revealing the first glimpses of the civilization of the outer world to the subjects of Kamehameha, the Iron Man of the Pacific.
While much has been written of a few of the early foreigners, particularly of John Young and Isaac Davis, who remained in the service of the Conqueror for decades, and of navigators who visited the Islands on semi-official and official cruises, yet the stories of many who lived here were practically untouched by the early writers. What may have caused them to minimize the roles they played in the formative civilization period, has never been made plain.
OBSCURED BY ZEAL
Possibly the glamor of the Godly mission in which the American missionary-historians were engaged, their zeal in carrying the gospel to every part of the Islands, their desire to preserve the actual history of the Hawaiian people themselves, in view of the fact that Kamehameha, the greatest of all Hawaiians, had died just before they arrived, and with the feudal era, brilliant and picturesque already passing, made them stress upon those phases of life and merely mention what the foreigners had done.
It is one of these foreigners, Captain George Beckley, an Englishmen, that Mrs. Mary Jane Fayerweather Montano, his granddaughter, writes. She has written of her recollections of her grandfather, the story as she heard it from the lips of her mother and other relatives, for her mother was the daughter of Captain Beckley and Ahia, a high chiefess, who married the foreigner, the romance of whose meeting and marriage forms an interesting bit of history of the Islands.
DESIGNER OF FLAG
She writes of Capt. Beckley, of whom Prof. W. D. Alexander in his History of the Hawaiian Islands, describes as the first commander of the fort which was erected at the time of Kamehameha the Great at the foot of Fort street; whom Kotzebue, the Russian navigator, describes as his host and guide, appointed by Kamehameha, during his visit to Honolulu in 1816; whome his granddaughter and several historians, including Thomas G. Thrum, credit with being the designer of the Hawaiian flag, the flag which was first carried on a Hawaiian vessel to foreign ports, particularly to China, by Captain Adams, about 1816; the Englishman who had a stone house in Honolulu years before the missionaries arrived and upon the walls of which were beautiful paintings, one of which was a rare Madonna and The Christ, supposed to be of Florentine or Spanish origin.
Mrs. Monatno, who is now 83 years of age, a Hawaiian poetess, and author of many Hawaiian melodies, retains a vivid memory of her childhood and of many of the interesting episodes of Hawaiian history of which she was an eye-witness, or concerning which she heard the tales from her Hawaiian relatives. This is her narrative:—(Editorial Note.)
By MARY JANE FAYERWEATHER MONTANO
CONCERNING the coming to Hawaii of my grandfather, Capt. George Beckley, I think it was before the year 1805, as it was between 1810 and 1811 that Capt. Beckley and Capt. W. Sumner were walking in Kohala, on the island of Hawaii, when they saw two beautiful Hawaiian girls being chased by a cow, descendent of the herd left here by Captain Vacouver as a gift to Kamehameha. The two captains interposed, drove the cow away and saved the girls from harm. One of the girls was Ahia, who afterwards became my grandmother, and the other was Keakuaaihue, afterwards the mother of William and John Sumner. The girls were so grateful that they invited the young men to their home.The sea captains fell in love with them. Captain Beckley asked Kaha Huha o ka kaua a Kamehameha for the hand of Ahia, and Captain Sumner made a similar request for the hand of Keakuaaihue, both of which were granted.
CAME FOR SON-IN-LAW
In 1812 Captain Beckley returned to Kailua where Kamehameha the Great was then residing. A rumor reached Kohala that a Hawaiian chiefess in Kohala was endeavoring to have her daughter marry Captain Beckley. Ahia’s father loaded two canoes with pigs, chickens, poi, potatoes and other edibles, and sailed to Kailua. Kamehameha asked him the reason for this visit. Kaha replied that he came first to see his king, and also to take his “son-in-law” home. The king asked if Captain Beckley was the little girl’s intended husband. If so, he granted him leave to take the Englishman with him.
Historian Alexander said that Kaha was priest of the canoes. This was not so for the names of the priests of the canoes were Uwalu and Moikeha of the Pololu, Kohala, clans of the Luahine branch. Kaha was a grandson of Luahine.
But to go back to my grandmother. There was quite a discussion about the cuttting of my grandmother’s hair and that of Keakaaihue when Captain Sumner married her. He was called by the Hawaiians, “Nuku Iole” (meaning sharp-featured.)
Captain Beckley did not want it to be shorn and objected strenuously, but Kaha and the priests told him that it had to be done. So my grandmother’s beautiful hair was shorn. Grandfather would not allow them to cut it above the waist, so they compromised to that extent.I remember my grandmother distinctly for I was 12 years old when she died. She was tall and stately, quite fair and was slender. Every one respected grandmother. She was well-acquainted with the outside world before the missionaries arrived here in 1820, for she had traveled extensively, both to South America, Vera Cruz in Mexico, and to China, accompanying her husband on his cruises in his ow ship.
WORE SPANISH DRESS
Most always she wore the full silk skirt and Spanish jacket with which she became ac-…
OLD FORT AT HONOLULU
…quainted when in Latin countries, or otherwise she wore a handsome Chinese silk holoku. She was a very haughty woman to those outside her family, but kind and thoughtful with the members of her family. On Fridays when the konohikis (heads of the land) from our lands of Kalihi and our se rights at Kaliawa, Kalihi, (for she owned a strip of land from the sea to the mountain, the gift of Kamehameha the Great to her father, Kaha), and from the land of Wailele, in Manoa Valley, (a gift from Kamehameha and Keopuolani to my mother, Mary), arrived at her house, they brought fish, large calabashes of poi and sweet potatoes, and sometimes chickens, very often pigs, as it was the custom that on every Friday the konohiki had to bring the portion for the landlord.
She lived in a big grass house in the Beckley property on what is now Alakea street, below what is now Hotel street.
THE OLD HOMESTEAD
In the center of her big yard was a kiawe (algaroba) tree, planted by Captain Beckley, as I have been told, although they say the first algaroba tree was not planted here until 1827 or 1828, and under the tree was a well of beautiful water, and near it was a house the captain had built for himself, and a well-constructed underground tomb was nearby. There the body of my grandfather was laid away for decades until Dr. George Herbert erected his office building on Alakea street, he having bought a portion of the Beckley estate. Then the old casket of Captain Beckley was removed to the Maemae cemetery in Nuuanu. There was a time when my parents were living in one of my grandmother’s houses. There were two.
The one they lived in was adobe and whitewashed, and the other was a two-story red brick house. I suppose Alakea street was cut through the Beckley estate. This property was all the gift of Kamehameha to Capt. Beckley. The king asked him to select any portion of the village of Honolulu he wanted. He first selected that portion where the corner at Fort and Hotel was afterwards owned by Mott-Smith, which was pointed out to me by my aunt Maria Beckley.He dug for water and found only brackish water. He found water on the Alakea street site, and so took that portion. That is the way the early haoles did in selecting lands.
The hair-cutting ceremony was about 1811 and 1812. In 1814 their first child, William Charles Malulani Beckley, was born. In 1815 Capt. Beckley came back from China and anchored at Kailua, and there he was told of the birth of Princess Nahienaena. So he sailed to Keauhou, where also his wife and son William were living. The boy was a few months older than Nahienaena. Their majesties had already claimed him as their won to grow up to be a companion to the young Prince Kauikeaouli, who was later Kamehameha III.
TRUSTED BY KAMEHAMEHA
From all that I can remember of what was said by my mother and the chiefs, Captain Beckley was a trusted friend of Kamehameha. I know that Captain Kotzebue, in his book about his visit to Hawaii, speaks highly of him and says he was commanded by Kamehameha to take charge of the Russian while in Honolulu and when he went to the country, to Pearl Harbor and many other places. Captain Kotzebue rested at the Beckley home in Kalihi.
My father, Abram Fayerweather, was born at New Canaan, Conn., in Fayerweather and Hannah Richards, she being the sister of Rev. James Richards and A. N. S. Richards, well known in the commercial world of Liverpool, New York and Savannah in the early 30s. He first taught school in his home town and among his pupils were girls who came to Honolulu. They were Mrs. Bowles and Miss Gray. He was bookkeeper for his uncle in New York and from their office James Hunnewell employed him tocome to Honolulu, arriving on one of their trading ships. When within a day of Honolulu the captain died and my father brought the ship inot Honolulu, so I was told. He became the accountant for Hunnewell & Pierce, then for Hunnewell, Pierce & Brewer, and eventually seemed to have kept the books of many firms in Honolulu, and even on other islands. Firms would send for him, so he may be considered the first traveling commercial auditor in the Hawaiian Islands. In the 40s he brought the sugar plantation at Waimea which was being operated by a Chinese and developed it. When his services were needed by Brewer & Co. in Honolulu they would send a schooner over to bring him back, although my father owned the schooner Manuokawai (Bird of the water.)
PLEADED FOR BRIDE
Mr. Fayerweather saw my mother, Mary, going to the Johnson school. She was then about 14. He learned from the chiefs that she was William Beckley’s sister. He asked Ahia, the mother and her son for the hand of Mary. They said, “No, you must go to the young king, Kauikeaouli.” The chiefs had decided she should marry a Hawaiian chieftain. The chiefs called him “Apalahama,” and told him “No.” He pleaded with Mrs. William Beckley, who was a high chiefess and influential at the court. She was Kamakahonu Wahine, the high chiefess, a relative of Naihe Nui (the Great), and Kapiolani, the high chiefess who defied the fires of the goddess Pele in the volcano of Kilauea, thereby showing the Hawaiians that their superstitious dread of the power of the goddess was unfounded, which Christians have said was one of the greatest examples of moral courage ever exhibited. It was her pleading for Mr. Fayerweather to my grandmother Ahia and the aliis that finally permitted him to marry Mary.
Kamakahonu made my father promise that if there were any children she was to have one. I was the third child.When my sister Julia Hope was born, my father said she must not be taken as it was his first-born. Next came my brother, William Malulani. Kamakahonu came again from Hawaii and she was refused again for that was his first boy. You must understand that he was a haole and could not easily take up with what was a Hawaiian custom. She was in Honolulu when I was born and her great desire was fulfilled.
No sooner was I born than I was placed in charge of Mrs. Carter, wife of Captain Carter, a seafaring man, and mother of Kate Carter Lewers, the two families being close friends. She dressed me in my first baby dress. No sooner was this done and I placed by my mother’s side, when Kamakahonu snatched me up, wrapped me in a soft white tapa “Kalukalu” and a feather cape and took me on board the ship…
CAPTAIN GEORGE BECKLEY
…Manuokawai where her retainers were waiting and ordered her husband to set sail immediately for Hawaii. When my father came home there was no baby for him to see.
I was born on May 14, 1841, in the frame house that still stands at the junction of Adams Lane and Union street. My father had the house brought around Cape Horn from Boston, in sections, lumber sawn to fit. My sister Julia was born on the same spot but in a grass hut.
I was taken to Waimea, Hawaii, and remained there until I was seven years old and spoke only the Hawaiian language in that time, not knowing a word of English excepting the Lord’s Prayer in broken English. I did not know what it meant.
GATHERING OF CLANS
As a kapu child, the first year I was seen only by those directly associated with Kamakahonu’s household. My adopted mother had built for me a large grass house which was called “Ka Hale Palala,” and that is where I was christened. On my first birthday, so I have been told, Kamakahonu had a gathering of her clan and my clan, from Hawaii to Kauai. Kamaka Stillman, now more than a hundred years old, was present from Oahu. Each one had to bring me a gift of four yellow feathers (“one kauna”), and a chant, accompanied with a verse of four lines. This was a chant linked together with all these separate verses. The first was composed by my adopted mother. It commenced, “Nani Makapuu auwana i ka Nani ihiihi ika malia.”
A laughable incident happened. When my aunt, Maria Beckley Kamakahonu, the wife of the feudal lord of Kualoa, Oahu, entered, she thought she could use the same chant, in presenting her feathers, but was told by the one at the door that she would have to leave, compose a verse and return, which she did. Such were the customs of the palala.
As I grew up and my adopted mother dying when I was two years old, William Beckley married again, his second wife being Kahinu, daughter of the High Chief Hoolulu and the Chiefess Halaki. She, in turn, became my mother and brought me up, although I lived in my own grass house with my nurse Kahuluhulu and her retainers. A son was born to the couple and we grew up as borther and sister. His name was Frederick Kahapula Beckley, who, when he grew up, was appointed Royal Governor of Kauai and died while holding that office during the reign of King Kalakau.
Our only playmate was Lucy Peabody, the granddaughter of the High Chiefess Kahaanapilo. When I went to play with her I would be carried on the back of my servant and my brother was also carried that way. When Lucy came to us she was carried on the back of a servant. Children in those days had what were called “kuas,” or “backs,” meaning the backs on the retainers appointed to carry them. Then children had our umaumas, or wet nurses, and “hoaaiwaius” who were their foster sisters who suckled at the same breast.
LORD’S PRAYER AMUSING
Very often we had to go to the home of Mrs. Eliza Johnson whose father taught a school to learn the Lord’s Prayer. We knelt around a little trunk and then we would go out into the open air and repeat it in unison by ourselves as nearly as we could catch the sound of the words, not knowing what they meant. When I repeat it today as I learned it, it is very amusing.
My father and mother would come over from Honolulu to stay at their plantation at Waiemi, above Waimea, and would go over and we would go over on the backs of our servants. When I first saw my mother, I admired her for her beauty but I was frightened in her presence because she told me that she was my mother. I said, “No, Kahuluhulu was my mother.” She told me I was a naughty child, that I was to go home and come again the next day and tell her that she was my mother. I could not be convinced and always cried if I had to go to her, but I liked my sisters Julia and Hannah. Very often while up at Waiemi, we would go to the stream, pluck the red bud under the banana bunch, and fill it full of Castilian rose petals and float them down the stream to Julia and Hannah.
OLD-TIME SUGAR MILL
I remember my father’s plantation for my servant carried me to the edge of it where it was planted with mulberry trees, and we would eat the berries. I used to watch the natives lead the horses round and round the great grindstone to crush the sugar cane and bring out the juice. I liked to go into the storeroom to watch the sugar being packed in lauhala bags made by the Hawaiian women and when it was finished it was sent down to Hunnewell, Pierce & Brewer, at Honolulu.
When my father returned to Honolulu he sent for me to come back to Honolulu to enter school. The parting with my little brother was very sad. Up to this time at Waiemi, we dressed very simply. Although my father sent me a trunk with a beautiful little dress, including red shoes, I always wore little muumuus, with a button and a string to wind around the button at the neck to hold it as no buttonholes were made. I refused to wear good clothes on Sundays to go to church, because the other children laughed at my red shoes and white dresses, saying I looked like a “koae” (bosun bird).
AFRAID OF PARSON
I must say something about my kahu, (governess) Kahuluhulu. She was a dear old lady. I loved her dearly as my own mother. Never did she do anything objectionable, in words or deeds. She was a good Christian and a member of Rev. Mr. Lyons’ church, where she often carried me on her back, although she was not my “kua,” and placed me on the lawn in front of the church entrance in care of a servant for I was afraid of Rev. Lyons’ voice. It was so loud. I owe my correct Hawaiian grammar to Kahuluhulu and knowledge of the Hawaiian language. She was my “Mother Goose” book. All the nice stories and legends of Hawaii were told me by her. She would give me the right interpretations of the stories. Sometime afterward I heard a story I heard boys trying to frighten other children with ghost tales, but Kahuluhulu had told them to me, so they could not frighten me.
BROUGHT BACK TO HONOLULU
It was in 1849 when I was seven years old that I was brought back to Honolulu. It was then I first saw Kauikeaouli, the king. He came to the wooden house to see my mother. No doubt he had heard that my mother’s little girl had returned. After he had spoken to her he noticed this strange little girl and put his hand on my head and said in Hawaiian: “Is this the little white head?” She answered, “Yes,” and I was told to salute the king. He was sitting on a settee and I sat on it and edged up to him, but mother thought I was forward, and abruptly told me to run out and play. I had been named by the king, Kekulani, after an incident in the life of the high chief, Keonianaopio and his own.
Captain Beckley walked over to see the little princess. As he approached the royal enclosure he noticed the kapu was up, which meant that death would be the penalty for walking by that symbol of authority. The chiefs nearby called out to their majesties:
“E ka Lani eia ko haole o Keoki!” (O, Heavenly one, here comes your foreigner, George!”) Kamehameha answered the call and told his men to put the kapu down to permit Captain Beckley to enter. The captain walked in and after saluting Their Majesties, and presented them with a roll of red Chinese silk and a shawl, a picked up the baby Nahienaena. The princess’ little hand reached out and caught the captain’s whiskers. Queen Keopuolani, her mother, spoke: “E Kalani” (meaning Your Majesty), “just look at the big sweetheart and the little sweetheart.” The king said: “George, you are our son and the Princess Nahienaena’s name husband.”
The same day Kamehameha ordered a kapu house to be built which was done. Kamehameha and Captain Beckley walked in and Captain Beckley was created a tabu chief.
In 1816 the building of the fort was finished and my grandfather, Capt. George Beckley, was appointed by Kamehameha as the first commandant.The fort was located at the foot of what is now Fort street and was destroyed in the 50s by order of king.
SOLDIER AND SAILOR
I have heard it said of my grandfather that he was a soldier, as well as a navigator. He understood military tactics. He dressed the soldiers, former warriors, in red uniforms like those worn by the British, and that he was very apt in drilling his troops in marching and using their guns. Also, when I was a child, I was told of a man named Ahia. He was captain of King Kauikeaouli’s third guard, and was trained by Captain Beckley and was the husband of my aunt, Nancy Luhana. Captain Beckley’s second daughter, who died after the birth of her son, Abraham Ahia. William Ahia, who was recently elected supervisor of Honolulu, is a descendant.
Let me return to the statement about the house of Captain Beckley. It was the same one that Captain Kotzebue, the Russian navigator and explorer, during his visit to Honolulu about 1816, visited.
PICTURE OF CHRIST
On the walls were some paintings that Captain Beckley brought to Honolulu from Mexico, possibly, one of which was a beautiful Madonna and the Christ child, and some pastoral paintings which remained thereafter in Honolulu. The Madonna was there when Kotzebue was entertained by my grandfather, so I am told. That was four years before the arrival of the American missionaries, and so that picture must have been seen by the great chiefs, and possibly by Kamehameha himself,and they must have learned much about Christianity from it, for such pictures teach the story of Christianity. I saw these paintings, as a girl upon the walls of my Uncle William’s house. The name of his home was Halaaniani, now a part of Dr. Herbert’s office site.
In the Alakea street tomb with the remains of Captain Beckley was found the stone god that Kamehameha gave to the captain, and a small bottle filled with water. I believe it was holy water. Near the tomb of Captain Beckley was the burial place of Captain Adams’ first wife, Maluleiliokalani, a relative of Makaloa, my great grandmother, who was the daughter of Kelahuna, alias Kealoha, a descendant of Ahia (w) the Great.
The chiefs asked Captain Beckley what he thought about the missionaries who came among them and he is said to have replied, “Aohe ano” (“Nothing much.”) This is odd as far as I am concerned, for my father, Abram Henry Fayerweather, was the nephew of Rev. James Richard, who was one of the zealous and devout young theological students who met in the shelter of a haystack in New England, one day, about 10 years before the missionaries came here in 1820, and pledged each other to join in a movement to send missionaries to Hawaii and to other parts of the world. Abram Fayerweather married Mary, daughter of Captain Beckley. They were my parents and were married by Rev. Lowell Smith, grandfather of Mary Dillingham Frear and of Walter and Harold Dillingham. My father was a member of the Fayerweather family of New Canaan, Conn., one of whom in later years left his fortune for Fayerweather Hall at Yale University. Captain Beckley died at Honolulu in 1827.
Then I went over to see my grandmother, Ahia, for the first time. She was pleased to see me and I loved her. She was a very superior woman. Grandfather must have been proud of her. She was living in her big grass house on Alakea street.
Capt. Thomas Spencer had been living in the house that I was born in on Adams lane while my father was on Hawaii. He moved out and we lived there again. My father was then at Lihue, Waimea, Hawaii, at his plantation, the first sugar plantation in the Islands. He sold the plantation, after my mother’s death, to George Macy, father of Sam Macy, who was for years the hack inspector of the police department in Honolulu. His partner was Mr. Luzeda, brother of the late Mrs. Cornwell, mother of the late “Billy” Cornwell.
PLANNED TO LEAVE HAWAII
How I loved my father. He was the dearest father a child could have. He became ill in a few months and passed away about 1850 and we were very unhappy. My mother died just three months ahead of him. He was so brokenhearted over her death that he disposed of most of his property, bought the bark Helen Mar from Captain Harry Swinton, of Scotland, and prepared to take us to Savannah, Georgia, where he was to manage his Aunt Dinah’s cotton plantation, when he sickened and died. His brother Masons of Lodge le Progres de l’Oceania came and watched over him. The day of his funeral the house was filled with mourners. We clung to our nurses, for we were orphans. The Masons walked with father’s body until they laid him in the tomb that he had already built for my mother and my aunt, Emmeline Maria Guadalupe Beckley Punchard, who had been born at sea off the coast of Mexico on my grandfather’s ship while returning to Honolulu form Vera Cruz.
A few days after the funeral the Masons appointed Stephen Reynolds, a merchant and also American consul, as guardian for us, so we, Julia, hannah and myself, were placed in a boarding school taught by Mrs. Wiseman at the corner of Beretania and Punchbowl streets. We were there one year when Mrs. Wiseman left the Islands. Her daughter was married to Mr. Broomfield. During 1851 and 1852 we attended Mrs. Bingham’s private school on Hotel street, opposite Joo
(Continued on Page 13, Col. 1)
(Honolulu Advertiser, 12/2/1923, Second News Section, p. 1)