Former Belle Tells Of Honolulu Society In Far-Off ‘Sixties’
Mrs. Montano Continues Her Charming Reminiscences of Old Hawaii; Notable Characters and Incidents Revived After Six Decades During Which Community Has Moved Far, Far Away From Them
BY MARY JANE FAYERWEATHER MONTANO
(Continued from last Sunday)
A year or more after the smallpox epidemic, which swept our Islands in 1853, came a greater shock to the Hawaiian nation. King Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III, died, the loved one of the Hawaiian people. Every man, woman and child wept. After a few days the Palace gates were opened to the public and there was also a call to all to cover the streets with fine grass. I went out for grass which was to be found in the kalo patches. The kalo patches were not very far from Beretania street in those days. I did not follow the others, but I went right into the King’s gardens, called Beretania, where the Episcopal Cathedral now stands. I stepped into a kalo patch and picked an armful of the soft grass. Tears blinded my eyes. I thought of the day when His Majesty called to see my mother. He ran his fingers through my hear, and asked my mother, “Is this your little ‘white hair'”? Mother answered, “Yes”.
STREETS FILLED WITH PEOPLE
I then walked along Beretania street with my grass and flowers. The street was filled with people all laying down the grass they had found. A man named Kaoo called me, “Is that you, Kulani?” I answered, “Yes.” Bring your grass here and spread it now, you go to the Palace and they will give you a piece of black for a dress for you.”
But instead of going to the Palace, I went right home to my grandmother, for she had taught me never to go to the Palace before consulting her, for she said, “I don’t want you to stand back of your king or by his side; you are to stand before him and answer him, say what you want to say in very few words and pass on, never take possession of your King; always give some one else a chance; but if he asks you to stay you are to sit there until he tells you to go home.”
ALL WERE WAILING
When I arrived at my grandmother’s, and crossing John Young’s lot and Kekela’s lot, which adjoined ours on the Richard street side, I found my grandmother and all of our people wailing:
Auwe hehi ke kuewa i ka one kapu” (“Oh, the commoners are stepping on the sacred sands,” meaning the Palace grounds). I thought that she mean a huge bird was coming and it was kekuewa. She was wailing so that I could not learn where the bird was or tell her that Kaoo, one of the chiefs of the Palace, had told me to go and get a dress. After all this was over I learned that kekuewa meant the commoners and that my grandmother was horrified that they should be stepping on that sacred ground, her feelings were so hurt, because the Palace gates should be thrown open to the people. Kauikeaouli was most sacred to her.
Just before the death of our former queen, Liliuokalani, whilst she came in with young Aimoku Dominis, we spoke of this incident and of her childhood days and of Kaoo, whose name means the blackbird, which gave two little yellow feathers for capes.
JUDD NAMED GUARDIAN
After Mr. Reynolds’ death my sister and I lived with my uncle William Beckley and our grandmother, until the court sent for us. We went into court with the Masons, and when I was asked whom I wanted for my guardian I naturally said, my uncle William. The gentleman shook his head. I said no more, but later we found that Dr. G. P. Judd was appointed our guardian and it made us all happy because we knew the Judd family well, as they were frequently in my uncle’s house. My sister Julia afterwards went to the home of her nurse Keaka, and Puniwai, her husband, at Elekoki. This nurse of my sister was also umauma of the High Chief David Kalakaua, hence the life long aloha between the Kin and my sister Julia.
During this time my grandmother Ahia died and a month or so afterwards my dear old nurse Kahuluhulu died from oldage.She not only brought me up, but nursed my adopted mother, the High Chiefess Ahuenaikamakahonu-i-kaiakekua Beckley, from childhood. This almost broke my heart for she was more than a mother to me. My uncle’s second wife Kahinu had also died, so my little brother and I were really and truly orphans. My aunt Kahinu had three other children, one of whom was Maria Kahaawelani, who was being brought up by my grandmother, and after her death she was taken by my aunt Maria Beckley Kamakahonu.
SISTER GOES TO SCHOOL
George C. Mooheau-ika-uluheimalama, was taken by his aunt, the Chiefess Kinoole, who was Mrs. Benjamin Pittman, of Hilo, and Charlotte Kahepa, who died at their home at Uhu, below my father’s plantation.
At this time Dr. Judd called at the house and told my uncle to go to Miss Ogden’s school, that was situated where the Maternity Home now stands. Her going away disturbed her nurse, Kailaa and her little sister, Kahiona-o-Apalahama, very much, and when the dady came for Kaweaweanui to take her to school there was some grand wailing, because they thought Dr. Judd and my uncle were taking the child away from them. At Miss Ogden’s my sister met the High Chiefess Likelike and it is said that the two little tots gave Miss Ogden some worry, for whenever they had a desire to have a feast of chicken, fish or pig, they would run away from school going up to our place at Wailele, Hannah saying “Let’s go to my folks,” and telling my grandmother’s cousin, Kuakaha, and her husband, that they were hungry. Then these good old people would cook whatever they desired. Then one would take Miriam Likelike home down at Waikiki to her nurse the Chiefess Makue, and the other would bring sister home to us. The next day they would both be taken back to school again.
Then, a few months afterward, Dr. Judd came and said he was going to place my sister Julia with Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett. She was very unhappy there, although our guardian paid for her stay there. The Bartletts did not treat Julia right, and she always ran back to Keaka at Elekoki. Keaka protested to Dr. Judd about the Bartletts. Later Mr. C. Afong, who was a wealthy Chinese merchant, asked Dr. Judd forJulia’s hand and she married him at the age of 16.
GOES TO CHAMBERLAINS
I was most fortunate. Dr. Judd sent me to live at the home of the loveliest woman I have ever known. I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Warren Chamberlain at Waialua. I was then 14 years old. It was a very happy home. Warren Chamberlain called for me with a horse, and as I was a good rider I was all right, but pretty tired when we reached Waialua, having ridden horseback all the way from Honolulu. I found Mrs. Chamberlain a very nice motherly young woman. I was glad as my heart was sad, for, within a few weeks my grandmother died, then my nurse who had cared for me from babyhood also died of old age; then I had to leave my uncle William, who had been a father to me since I was a day old. But my life for four years was made very pleasant by good Mrs. Chamberlain. One could not help loving her, for she was always good, but, naturally, my thoughts were always for the day when I should be my own mistress.
CORN AND PUMPKIN CROP
Well, after a week or so I began to feel at home. The climate was beautiful and so was the green corn field. Where the corn had been pulled up there were fields of yellow squashes and pumpkins looking big enough to house a family of pigs, all just what you read about in children’s story books. On Sunday we rode to church and also on other days I rode over to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson’s home and spent afternoons with Sophie, their only daughter. We amused ourselves by stringing jessamine leis. They had plenty of jessamine in very large bushes. The Chamberlains had quite a number of very fine cows. I liked to look at them and to see the boys milking them. The milk was put in big tin buckets and brought to the milk room and poured into round tins to raise the cream for butter, and next morning the cream was skimmed and put in a churn and the sour milk was given to the pigs in their pen somewhere near the river, a little distance from the cow pen. We always had plenty of corn pork.
DIDN’T LIKE “NUDES”
Speaking of Mrs. Chamberlain. She came from America, where every one is fully clothed. One day she rushed in to me and said, “Go right into your room, quick,” and she went out at once. I stood there not knowing what she really meant. Pretty soon came a Hawaiian man with a bunch of kalo. With a sound like a grunt of a pig he put his kalo down just as I had seen them do on our own land. The only clothing he wore was his malo, worn around his loins. She came back and asked if I had gone to my room. I asked “what for?” Then she said to her husband, “She is such an innocent child.” She did not want me to see a man dressed with only a malo, but I had seen them all my life, great stalwart fine looking muscular men, on Hawaii, dressed in malos.
Every afternoon I read my lessons with her and learned housekeeping in the morning. Mr. Chamberlain had a little horse for me to ride and I used to ride over to see Sophie Emerson. The first year I was shown very little housekeeping. It was there I met Julia Ana Gulick, but the Gulicks were about to move to Honolulu. Mrs. Chamberlain at that time had a little baby girl named Althea. She was a beautiful child, and her nurse was a Hawaiian woman named Mrs. Gall.
MARY COOKE’S BEAUTIFUL VOICE
Once a year we visited Honolulu and when we reached the city we went right to Mother Chamberlain’s stone house, which still stands back of Kawaiahao church with a lane between, where also stood the old Castle & Cooke store, and also next to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cooke, on the Waikiki side. It was there that I first heard Mary Cooke’s beautiful voice. It was like the singing of a bird. When she heard the birds sing, she would imitate them. She was then a girl of about 14, I believe.
Mother Chamberlain had two sons and two daughters living with her when I was at her home. One was Maria, now Mrs. Forbes, and Mattie, also Evert and Levi.
One year, Punahou school engaged Mrs. Chamberlain to take care of the school and children during the long vacation and it was then that I met a number of the girls. Some of the Baldwins were there. About 1860, when I was 18 I bid goodbye to dear old Mrs. Chamberlain and her daughter Alathea. I loved them both. She put her arms around me and asked me to stay, but the dearest spot on earth is home sweet home, so I returned home to my Uncle William, whose wife had taken me when I was but a day old.
HAPPY AT HOME
When I returned home the first to run over to see me was dear Mrs. Brickwood. She was so glad to see me. I knew that sister Julia was married and had a darling baby named Emmaline Guadalupe, named after our young aunt. My sister, Hannah Richard, was also home with uncle. Two years after my return home she married George Bell, who was the ringleader of the riot at the Legislature Hall in 1874 when Kalakaua was elected King. He was a staunch Queen Emma man.
I was very happy. My dearest friend in those years was Harriet Swinton. Martha, the oldest sister was Mrs. Brown, the wife of Sheriff Brown. She was a close friend of my beautiful aunt, third wife of my uncle William, named by Liholiho, Kamehameha IV, “The Rose of the Pacific.”
Another caller was William Pfleuger, a consul. He took my name and put it in the social column list, and then I was in the social “whirl” until 1864, when I was married to Benoni Richmond Davison, and now I am a great grandmother and quite proud of my family.
One night we had a Jack O’ Lantern, all lighted, where the natives could see onlly the two eyes of fire. My cousin made a squeaking noise. Some looked and that was enough. The house was in an uproar, for they believed they had seen the devil. We put our arms around each other and skipped over to the Swinton house at the corner of Alakea and Hotel streets.
EVERYBODY SAW GHOSTS
Downstairs was a big room, and Mrs. Swinton and others were there. By the window sat a deaf and dumb woman, so we placed the Jack O’ Lantern where she could see it. All we could hear afterwards was “Mate Atua” and saw the family surrounding her, lomi-lomi-ing her. Then we went a little further up to Mr. Neddle’s home. Their parlor was upstairs. Quite a number of callers were there. One was Miss Nancy Sumner, (mother of John and William Ellis). She saw the Jack O’ Lantern at the top of the stairs and with a scream jumped through the door. Mr. Neddle jumped up and caught her just in time to save her from a fall. Then we decided we had better go home. The next day when I went around to the homes we had visited the night before, they were talking of nothing but ghosts. My cousin looked significantly at me and I at him. It was a great joke for us.
BECOMES A SCHOOLTEACHER
It was in 1860 that I returned to Honolulu from Waialua. Then, my former teacher, Mr. Ingraham, wanted me to be an assistant teacher under him. I then found that Mililani school had become a two-story building. Mr. Ingraham had the higher classes upstairs and he had about 40 pupils. I taught down stairs. I had 60 pupils, with one assistant.
Speaking of Mililani school. We used to have an honor favor. The best pupil once a month would be honored by having dinner with General Miller. I had had that honor three times when I was a student before becoming a teacher. His home was an adobe house next to Washington Place and I think Dr. McKibbin and his mother and sisters lived there later. Miller street was named after General Miller. After dinner he would pick a large pomegranate from one of his trees. Quite a number grew there. I thought it was very grand to go to his home.General Miller was very gentle to children and would make a great deal of us when we dined with him. He took time to take us around his home and show everything that would interest us and make our visit pleasant.
I taught with Ingraham for about four years. I took Clara Armstrong’s place. There are many fine men and women in Honolulu today that I taught at Mililani.
BALL AT WEDDING
I resigned when I married Benoni Richmond Davison on July 4, 1864. He was a that time superintendent of the American marine hospital which was situated on Punchbowl street. Since then it has been the Hawaiian Evangelical school. He came from Lahaina when the marine hospital was moved to Honolulu. He was originally a pharmacist in the drug store of Dr. White at Lahaina.
The Fourth of July ball was being celebrated on the night of our marriage, so after the wedding supper was over, Mr. Davison being floor manager for the ball, with
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