John Harvey Coney quells uprising, 1868.


The news of the outrages on life and property, by the religious fanatics in the district of Kona, had scarcely reached the Government on Wednesday night, when orders were given at once to protect the life and property of the peaceable inhabitants of the district and to restore everywhere the authority of the law in the most prompt and energetic manner. An armed force, under command of Governor Dominis, consisting of 5 officers and 75 men Household Troops, 4 officers and 52 men of the Light Artillery Company (Volunteers) with one 6 pounder field-piece, was placed at the disposal of the Attorney General. At a quarter to 2 p. m. on Thursday, the 22d, the expedition, fully organized, made sail on board the schooners Kamaile and Prince for Lahaina, which port it reached next morning, and where it was transhipped with all possible speed on board the steamer Kilauea, the Governor  Nahaolelua of Maui joining the expedition,to which also Dr. Lee was attached for medical assistance.

Whilst the expedition was steaming towards Kealakekua in the very best of spirits, matters had taken its course already in Kona. Mr. Coney, the sheriff of Hawaii, then on a visit with his family to the Volcano House, had received the sad news of Mr. Neville’s assassination on Tuesday night. Fearful that the state of wild excitement the rioters were reported to be in, might lead them on to still more lamentable outrages, and uncertain of the timely arrival of any aid from the Government, he resolved to act for himself, to do what best he could in preventing further outrages, and, if not able to quell the disorder, to at least prepare every thing for a cooperation with the military forces which, as he justly thought, would not be very long in making their appearance. The energy and rapidity with which he went to work, summoning up able bodied men with efficient arms all along the lower road of Kau, organizing them, disciplinizing them  as best he could and marching them, day and night, through that rough country, met with its reward. On Thursday morning he had already passed Kau with about 50 armed men and on approaching the camp of Kaona at Kainaliu on Friday night, his force had increased to over 200 men, half of them were natives who, though poorly armed, were full of good will and eager to avenge the outraged majesty of the law.

On Saturday, the 24th, at daybreak, the Kilauea was opposite Kawaihae, steaming along the coast at a rate which was not at all proportionate tothe impatience of her crew. At Kailua, the men were ordered below,and remained henceforth invisible to any inquisitive eye that might be directed to the vessel from the shore. At about 2 o’clock she arrived in sight of the prophet’s camp, and a white flag was seen flying. Getting abreast of it, the flag was struck, and there were signs of extraordinary commotion. At about 4 o’clock p. m. she dropped anchor in Kealakekua Bay, and hailed and stopped the schooner Fairy Queen, which was just leaving the port. The men were landed, formed and made ready for action, it being the intention of the Attorney General to march in a body to the camp with the whole of the military force, the mere presence of which would in all likelihood be sufficient to overawe the followers of Kaona, while any civil force which might be met on the way, ready to join us, could be used to make arrests, and to prevent the escape of any fugitives or stragglers into the mountains. Governor Dominis was to take charge of the military, while Marshal Parke was to rally a civil force and to serve the warrants, unless he should find some sheriff or deputy.

Matters stood thus when at about 6 o’clock the arrival of Mr.Coney changed the appearance of things. He reported to have been able to march his body of men to the camp on Saturday forenoon, to surround it completely, and, after a slight struggle, to secure the whole of its tenants without any injury to speak of. The total number of prisoners he stated to be 192, women and children included. He further reported his men to be almost worn out with fatigue, and though willing to do their duty to the last, he should recommend an immediate relief of the prisoners’s guard.

Order to  march up the hill was given accordingly, and at 7 o’clock the troops arrived in a body at Mr. Todd’s, in whose yard the prisoners had been secured.

The sight of these poor misguided people huddled together in a mass was one of pity and disgust. The men, about 80 or 85, were tied with ropes; the women and children had been separated from them and lodged in a barn. Among the former many a savage looking face could be noticed, the eyes beaming with that gloomy fire which fanaticism alone can kindle in the breast of man. Each individual carried that same Holy Book which had turned his wits; indeed but few of them had any other luggage. Prominent among them was Kaona the prophet, the founder of the sect.The posse comitatus presented a not less strage appearance. There were people of all nations, armed in every conceivable way, with guns, clubs,knives, swords,and every possible kind of weapon. Messss. Coney and Chillingworth had charge of the foreigners, but the natives were under the control of Kupakee, whose gigantic frame overreached them all, while all acknowledged his great qualities as a leader, together with his sound judgement and moderation. It was his influence that had restrained the natives from committing violence upon the prisoners.

Mr. Coney’s men, who had been on constant duty for three days and nights, were relieved by the R. H. H. troops. Mr. Phillips thanked the former, in the name of His Majesty, for their readiness and efficiency in maintaining the authority of the law, Governor Nahaolelua standing by his side, and Sheriff Coney repeating his words in the native language. Shortly after the guard was mounted, one of the Household troops (Noii), while on duty, received a flesh wound in the neck from a ball, caused by one of the Sheriff’s men, on leaving duty, discharging his piece. Another accident was more serious. The pistol of Mr. Chillingworth, Deputy Sheriff, went off as he was drawing it from  his pocket, and inflicted a very bad wound in his leg, though no bone or artery was touched.

On Sunday morning a force was detailed to recover and bury the remains of Mr. Neville, and those of the native officer, who prove to have been the only persons killed. The lawful owners of the camp ground were put in possession of their property, and all the buildings razed to the ground. The prisoners, after being fed and partly handcuffed, were marched to the beach and embarked on the steamer, together with the entire expeditionary force, while the Fairy Queen was dispatched to Honolulu.

After the Fairy Queen had left, the Kilauea proceeded to Kailua. She had on board 200 prisoners of all sexes and ages. She arrived at Kailua before daylight. The next morning after breakfast had been provided, the prisoners were landed. The large stone house owned by the Governess of Hawaii, was taken for the use of the party, and the male prisoners were placed under a strong guard in that part of the old missionary church which remained unfinished.

The examination had been fixed for Tuesday, at 9 a. m., at which time the trial commenced, in the church itself. The District Judge took his seat at a table in front of the pulpit, with Gov. Nahaolelua and Gov. Dominis on either side. Dr. Gulick was sworn as interpreter. There was an immense attendance of spectators, occupying every available space in the church, and a large part of the yard. There was also a strong squad under arms. The Sheriff opened the court by proclamation. Kahikoku was the first arraigned for the murder of Richard B. Neville, at Lehuhula, on the 19th of October, 1868. His death by violence was proved by those who saw his body, and one witness testified that he saw him go out with a club to commit the deed, and that, when he returned, he said he had done it.The prisoner asked for counsel which was allowed. Not much of a defense was made, and he was committed, without privilege of bail, for trial for murder at the next term of the court. He was immediately taken from the room by a guard. Alika, Kaona, Kamaka and Kalama were next arraigned for the murder of Kamai. After some parley, each pleaded guilty, Kaona saying that he ordered the deed to be done, but that he was under commands from on high. They were fully committed and immediately removed. There remained about 120 men and women, all of whom had been arrested as accessories to the crime of murder, after the fact. Upon arraignment, more than two-thirds of them pleaded guilty, and they were ordered to find fail in the sum of $2000 each,and in default thereof to stand committed. The examination of the rest continued, and the Government succeeded in identifying all but two old men, who were immediately discharged.The prisoners were of course heard in their behalf, but only one succeeded in convincing the Court of his innocence. He was discharged. After the cases were disposed of, the Court adjourned to the lanai near the stone house, where about 30 women and old men were found. Two women were discharged, but all the rest held for trial, the greater portion of them admitting that they were present to the extent of legal liability. The steamer did not leave till about 4 p. m. on Wednesday. She had on board the five persons charged with murder, and 62 other men, nearly all the able-bodied, together with 12 women. There were left at Kailua in custody of the Sheriff, 57 women and 7 old men. Their cases will be at once thoroughly investigated, and such as are found to have been involuntary participators, and well-disposed, will be allowed to depart, upon any bail which may offer. Many of them have undoubtedly got back to their homes before this.

The Kilauea arrived at Lahaina at 11 a. m. on Thursday. She left again at dark, reaching Honolulu next morning, when the prisoners were landed and sent to the prison.

Mr. Coney, Sheriff of Hawaii, had every reason to be well satisfied with his men, all of whom did their duty joyfully. Among those who were foremost in activity and efficiency, he makes mention of the following names. Kupakee, Logan (of Kona), Dr. Gullick, Deputy  Sheriff Chillingworth (of Kawaihae), L. E. Swain (of Kau), Capt. Brown (of Kau), C. E. Richardson, George Richardson, George Hardy (of Waimea), D. Montgomery (of Kailua), Crediford (of Kona), Moses Barrett (who was a Luna under the late Sheriff Neville).

(Hawaiian Gazette, 11/4/1868, p. 2)


Hawaiian Gazette, Volume IV, Number 42, Page 2. November 4, 1868.

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