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. Continue reading