CHARLES BURNETTE WILSON, ADVISOR TO LILIUOKALANI DIES AFTER LONG ILLNESS
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Liliuokalani that she lost her throne due to the landing of troops from the U. S. S. Boston, the name of Marshal Wilson figured frequently. In the printed reports of Congress, containing the correspondence of Minister Stevens prior to the overthrow, his dispatches include the name of Wilson frequently in connection with the monarchy and especially refer to him as a very intimate friend of the queen.
WIFE WAS QUEEN’S FRIEND
This incident was made the most of in those days. One fact in this acquaintance with the queen was overlooked. Marshal Wilson’s wife, Evaline, was a close friend of the queen from girlhood. This brought Mr. Wilson in close contact with the queen,, who relied upon him to conduct various business transactions for her and to keep her advised of the trend of politics and legislative affairs even while she was a princess during the rulership of her brother Kalakaua.
This acquaintance went so deep that when Liliuokalani was arrested on January 16, 1895, on a charge of complicity in the royalist uprising of January 6 against the Republic of Hawaii, Evaline Wilson shared the queen’s imprisonment in the second story, makai-Waikiki room in the royal palace, where she was detained for nine months. This act was voluntary on the part of Mrs. Wilson.
BORN AT SEA
Charles B. Wilson was not a Hawaiian. He was of English-Tahitian blood. He was born on July 4, 1850, on board the British brig Diana, while the vessel was enroute from Tahiti to Fanning Island. His father was Charles Burnette Wilson, captain of the vessel, a Scotchman by birth. He had married Tetaria, a native of Tahiti. He was brought up in Tahiti but as a lad came to Hawaii and became identified with the Islands.
In 1869 he married Evaline Townsend. She was the daughter of John Townsend, a well known actor in the ’40s and ’50s, and Harriet Blanchard, who was the daughter of Captain Blanchard, commander of the famous little brig Thaddeus, when the first American missionaries were brought from New England to Hawaii in 1820. She was an adopted daughter of Stephen Reynolds, and American who was prominent in business, educational and political circles in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.
Mr. Townsend died in Chicago about 35 years ago. He came from New York state. After giving up his theatrical career he launched forth as sugar planter but was practically ruined when two vessels carrying mill machinery from the States to Hawaii were lost, one by being wrecked, the other by fire at sea.
FAMILY MENTIONED IN ‘OMOO’
Charles B. Wilson’s grandfather, Rev. Charles Wilson, was a Scotchman, who was born in 1770, and was among the first English missionaries to go to Tahiti, establishing a family there. This Wilson is referred to by Herman Melville, the author, in his book, “Omoo,” in which he tells of his visit to Papeete. Charles B. Wilson’s father was born in Tahiti. For many years he was English consul and also became a sea captain.
Charles B. Wilson’s first wife was a member of Hawaiian families of Molokai and Maui, both of the old-time gentry. After the death of his first wife Mr. Wilson married Mary Beckley Ahia, sister of William Ahia, member of the board of supervisors. She survives him. By her Mr. Wilson had two children, Charles Wilson, Jr., and a daughter, Aileen.
BEGINS AS A BLACKSMITH
“The best man that ever welded iron at a forge,” is what men who know used to say of Charles B. Wilson, for as a young fellow he decided to be a blacksmith, but between 1873 and 1893, whenever anything was stirring in royalist or political circles, Charles was certain to be close on the edge of everything.
Wilson in some of his reminiscences recalls many historical incidents of the reign of Kamehameha V and of Lunalilo. He was present at the election of Prince Lunalilo as king of Hawaii in 1873. Shortly afterwards, however, there was a mutiny at the Household Barracks. The men claimed, for one thing, that they were not receiving enough food or clothing. There was also an Australian drill master. When the soldiers decided to throw out the drillmaster. The army, composed of 100 men,, also wanted to interview the King who was rusticating at Waikiki, and so insistent were they that it was decided to call out the militia under direction of Marshal W. C. Parke. Charles Gulick, head of the Honolulu Rifles, took command.
FIGURES IN MUTINY
Charles Wilson had volunteered and went to the police station for arms. Major Gulick ordered his force to march to the rear of the palace,—the building preceding the present palace. When the volunteers marched into the barracks yard they were confronted by two brass field-pieces. The force countermarched and go behind a stone wall. There was much speech-making on both sides. The mutiny ended in the arrest of the mutineers. Wilson considered this the outstanding historic incident of 1873.
Wilson also figured in the riot of February 12, 1874, the day Kalakaua was elected in opposition to Queen Emma. Immediately the vote was announced from the windows of the hall, which was on Queen street, the crowds began to riot. They were astonished, as they expected Emma to be elected. Wilson joined the crowd surging forward. He was with the crowd that wrecked the carriage which was carrying away Major Moehonua, Kaukaha and Isaac Hart. He went to the rescue of the occupants and helped to right their vehicle. With Sanford B. Dole, George Dole and Luther Wilcox, Wilson assisted in saving a legislator from Kauai who had been thrown out of a window. The landing of troops from American and British warships in the harbor ended the rioting.
Wilson was very positive, even years ago, and long before Liliuokalani died, that King Kalakaua made many blunders while king. One of his first serious blunders was his appointment of Celso Caesar Moreno, and Italian adventurer, to the portfolio of minister of foreign affairs, which precipitated a movement of the reputable citizens of Hawaii against the king and a demand that the king cancel his appointment. The king at first refused, but in four days the ruler announced to the American minister that this had been done.
General Comly, the American minister, had personally seen the king and demanded that Moreno be removed on the ground that he was a disreputable character. The king endeavored to retain Moreno, but finally decided that his throne was in jeopardy and gave in, Again, said Wilson, in 1886 the king boosted the expenses of the kingdom to a figure that was appalling.
From 1886 until the close of Kalakaua’s reign in 1891 Wilson figured in many episodes. Robert W. Wilcox, a part-Hawaiian, who had been educated in Turin War College, returned and wanted to be adjutant-general His return was the signal for plots and counter-plots that were serious and serio-comic. Wilcox, John Bush and others went to Wilson’s house to induce him to join their side to recruit military forces for a coup. Wilson stood pat against Wilcox.
Liliuokalani, who was then a princess, and regent of the kingdom, had visits from Wilcox, who urged her to consider a plan to have her brother, Kalakaua, abdicate in her favor. She phoned to Wilson to go to her house in Palama where she was staying. On arriving she told of Wilcox’s importunities to accede to this plan.
Wilson returned home, but on arrival learned that Liliuokalani had phone again to have him meet her at Washington Place. He went, passing the barracks, and found there 400 men in readiness for anything Wilcox asked of them. Wilson told them to go home. He went to Washington Place and learned of the plot. He took Wilcox to see the queen. He reiterated his plan, but she told him she would have nothing to do with it.
URGES WILCOX’S ARREST
Wilson went to the palace, saw the king and told him there was a plot to assassinate him and that the leader was Wilcox. Wilson requested that Kalakaua give an order to have Wilcox arrested and locked up. The king, however, replied: “It is a matter I do not wish to handle without the advice of my cabinet” The interview closed. Wilson said some time ago that he always considered Wilcox a dangerous man to the peace of the community.
Wilsonn was prominent in the “bayonet Constitution” affair of 1887. In 1910 Wilson said that Walter Murray Gibson, the premier, who had been a sort of picturesque adventurer in his earlier days, was responsible for getting Kalakaua in Dutch in regard to the Samoa expedition, in which he sent the warship Kaimiloa to annex Samoa to Hawaii. Wilson claimed that he put that thought into the king’s head. They were out swimming one night near Waialua, and then sat on the beach. At that time Kalakaua unfolded his plan for the benefit of the Hawaiian race and extension of his kingdom. Wilson then suggested the South Sea trip. This was opposed on the ground that the Germans had Samoa.
HELD MANY OFFICES
Charles B. Wilson held many public offices. For 28 years, from 1866 to and including 1893, he held 11 positions in the fire department, six years as chief. From 1866 to 1884 he served in the Honolulu Rifles in every grade from private to and including that of captain. He served under Major Gulick in the secret service during 1868–69 and 70 detailed to protect Kamehameha V. In 1873 he served as sergeant in the rifles during the famous barracks’ mutiny. In 1874 he served in the secret service, detailed to protect King Kalakaua; also served as captain of the reorganized Honolulu Rifles during the same period.
For four years previous to 1880 he served as fire warden for the city of Honolulu.
From 1882 to 1893 served as superintendent of the Honolulu water works, combining this position with chief of the Honolulu Fire Department. In 1888 he organized the department of building inspection. During this period he installed the first power station in Nuuanu Valley for lighting the streets of Honolulu. From March, 1891, to January,, 1893, he served as marshal of the kingdom.
In 1896 he served as member of the committee of the board of health. In 1900 he was superintendent of the detention camp at Kalihi-kai.
From 1902 to December, 1923, he served the county government in various positions, including superintendent of streets, road overseer and overseer of construction.
In 1900 he attended the Republican national convention in Philadelphia.
Many old time friends including Col. and Mrs. C. P. Iaukea, visited the funeral parlors last evening, where Mayor and Mrs. Wilson remained throughout the night.
(Advertiser, 9/13/1926, p. 2)