Piilani, the Wife of Kaluaikoolau, 1916.

The Story of Piilani

At the recent meeting of the Kauai Historical Society, Judge C. B. Hofgaard, of Waimea, read the following article on the above subject:

Mrs. Piilani Kaluaikoolau died at Waimea, Kauai, on Sept. 1, 1914, after a lingering sickness and was buried the next day.

Only a few of the kamaainas among the haoles knew that she was with us and none of the younger generation of foreigners knew who she was. Piilani was the wife of Kaluaikoolau, generally called Koolau, the leper. She was with Koolau when he shot L. H. Stolz, Deputy Sheriff of Waimea, she was with him, when he stood off successfully the soldiers of the Hawaiian army, that were sent to catch him dead or alive, and she was with him when he defended his hiding-place in the pali of Kalalau; she stayed with him after the army had left and was with him continually till his death, dug singlehanded his grave and singlehanded buried him. Her only child sickened and died in her arms while she was living in the wilderness and she and her husband buried the child.

Piilani was born at Kekaha in the year 1864. Her parents were Hoona, a man from Papaikou, Hawaii, and her mother was Kepola, a woman from Kekaha. In her childhood she lived with her parents at Kekaha and her house was on the Mana side of the church of Kekaha. She grew up a tall, straight girl resembling her father, who is still straight for a man between seventy and eighty. She was a very goodlooking woman i her younger days and had in a great measure the litheness of the young people of her race, and she kept youthful in appearance and actions till a few years before her death. She was sick a great part of the time during the last two years of her life.

She was married to Koolau in 1881, by Father Rowell, and she and her husband always lived happily together. They had only one child, a boy by the name of Kaleimanu, who was born in 1883 and contracted his father’s dreaded disease and died while they were living as an outlaw, in the mountains of Kalalau.

Her husband, Koolau, was born in Kekaha in 1862, his parents were Kaleimanu and Kukui. He went to school with Father Rowell in Waimea from 1868 and when he came out of school he worked first with Francis Gay and later for V. Knudsen. In 1891 and 1893 there was a great activity by the authorities to get all the lepers and send them to the leper settlement at Molokai. In the fall of 1889 and possibly before, we had noticed that my friend Koolau began to show slight signs of the dreaded disease on his cheeks. I said “my friend” Koolau, and the reason is, that he was often my companion on hunting trips in the Puukapele region. Koolau was a splendid hunter, a fine marksman and an excellent man with the lasso; besides this he was a pleasant companion. He knew all the country west of Waimea canyon and all the haunts of the wild cattle, and when we had Koolau in the party, we were sure to find game. In a couple of years the disease developed quite noticeably, and in 1891 and 1892 when the gathering of the lepers started, he was in a bad state, and Mr. Stolz, the deputy sheriff, told him to go to Doctor Campbell and be examined. He was pronounced a leper and Stolz told him to get ready to go to Molokai. Koolau did not object and asked Stolz to leave him a few days to settle his affairs and Stolz acquiesced, as he had confidence in Koolau’s good faith.

Some of the lepers in the Waimea and Makaweli valleys had armed themselves and showed some resistance to the authorities and others had escaped to Kalalau valley.

The horror of going to Molokai and be separated from his wife and child must have preyed on Koolau’s mind and succumbing to the entreaties not to leave his wife, Koolau consented to break his word with Sotlz and run away to the valley of Kalalau, where then several lepers were living in the hope that the authorities would leave them there alone, like what had been done on the island of Niihau, where they had a small colony of lepers at Kawaihoa on the western end of the island, which colony had been left alone for a number of years.

One dark night Piilani, her husband Koolau, their son Kaleimanu, Piilani’s mother Kepola and her sister Kinoulu’s daughter, Ida, started from Kekaha over the mountains to Kalalau. Kua Papiohuli went along to take back all the horses. I think no other man would have undertaken to go across the Kilohana of Kalalau in the middle of a dark night but Koolau. I found it a difficult place to find your way in in the day-time, as the place is practically flat and there were cattle-trails in all directions. The party struck the top of Kalalau valley just before daylight. They had some breakfast and Kua Papiohuli started back to Waimea with horses. It was a cold damp day. Piilani and the others started down the trail, Koolau carrying the child in a sling that he made from his shirt. To go up or down the old trail from Kilohana into Kalalau was a task of endurance for any mountain-climber and it speaks well for the endurance of Piilani and her mother to get down to the bottom unassisted. The old trail is impassible now. In Kalalau Koolau and family first stayed with some friends and he worked in their taro-patches as payment for the food he got for himself and his family.

Shortly after coming to Kalalau, Piilani’s boy, Kaleimanu began to show signs of leprosy.

They stayed quietly in Kalalau till one day in 1883, when Piilani was startled by meeting Louis Sotlz followed by Penikila, one of the police constables of Waimea. They had come down the pali to where Kolau and family lived at Nohoeiki’s house in Kalalau. She greeted them and had a long talk with them. After a while Stolz asked her where her husband was and she told them that Koolau had gone to work in the taro-patch. He then asked at what time she expected him back, to which Piilani answered that sometimes Koolau come home at noon and sometimes in the evening. Stolz told her that he was going makai and that he wanted to see Koolau and requested her to tell Koolau to come makai and see him.

Piilani had sad forebodings and began to cry and her son Kaleimanu asked her, why she cried. She lifted up the child and covered its face with kisses and could not answer the child’s question in regard to the reason for her weeping. Just then Koolau came and saw her crying with the child in her arms. He thought something had happened to the child. She said nothing had happened to the child, but threw her arms around Koolau’s neck and told him all about Stolz’s visit, and Koolau tried to comfort her.

On the second day after her meeting with Mr. Stolz the word was passed round that all the lepers were ordered by him to come makai and all the lepers and their friends went there, and they all agreed to go to the leper settlement, except Koolau, who stoo up before Mr. Stolz and said: “I ask you, if you agree to let my wife go with me. I will not leave her, as we are as one, and I shall not leave her, till death does us part.”

Mr. Stolz said: “No, your wife cannot go with you, only the lepers shall go  and nobody else.”

Koolau said: “Then I refuse to go to that strange place and leave the wife that I have vowed to stay with. My wife and I have sworn to be as one, when we married. I will not go alone.

Koolau was angry and deadly honest and maintained that the government had no right to separate a man from his wife and put him in a place like a prison.

Two days later, Mr. Stolz and party returned to Waimea, and all the lepers with exception of Koolau prepared to go to the leper settlement. Koolau and Piilani returned mauka and they had often visitors, and Koolau told them all to get ready, but for himself he had decided to stay with his wife and child.

(Concluded in next issue.)

(Garden Island, 12/19/1916, p. 6)

GardenIsland_12_19_1916_6.png

The Garden Island, Volume 12, Number 51, Page 6. December 19, 1916.

Conclusion of the Interview of William E. Rowell, 1916.

INTERVIEW WITH W. E. ROWELL
Dec. 6, 1915

(Continued from last issue.)

The shingles were imported and were boiled in whale oil before they were put on. They lasted a long, long time, 25 years, until they were fairly worn out, by explosure to the elements.

Yes, as you say, my father was a good mechanic. He had a lathe with which he litterally turned out four poster koa beds, and other articles of furniture, and up in the mountains he had a saw-pit where he whip-sawed out koa and kauwila lumber, one man above and one below with the log resting on skids. You say there is some of that koa lumber there in the house now?—yes very likely, we left a lot of it there.

We had kauwila posts I remember, for our front fence. I sent my brother, in New York, some of them, out of which he had furniture made, and this cane that I carry and which is so useful to me in my blindness, is made out of one of them. You say it ought to go to some historical society, [???] that first church table, well perhaps so.

My father was very much of a student as you say; yes he always read from the Greek Testament at family worship. Continue reading

Recollections of Kauai boy, William E. Rowell, 1916.

INTERVIEW WITH W. E. ROWELL
Dec. 6, 1915

The following interview with the late W. E. Rowell, who died recently in Honolulu, was read at the meeting of the Kauai Historical Society last week by J. M. Lydgate:

I was born at Hanalei in 1845. My father followed Alexander there for a couple of years. When I was about one year old were moved to Waimea. We came by canoe I believe, bag and baggage. No I don’t remember anything about it. Mr. Gulick I understand had built the house at Waimea. Mr. Whitney had died I think just before our arrival or soon after so that the whole work and responsibility of the station fell on my father. The Whitney house stood just about where the Hofgaard house is now, while ours stood near by. No, no, the Whitney house wasn’t built of adobie, but of stone coral sand stone. I remember very distinctly how it cracked because of imperfect foundation and the walls bulged out and had to be shoved up with heavy timber props. The house was demolished finally for the stone which was taken to build the Kekaha chimney. I think they paid $100 for it. Mother Whitney lived there for a good many years. In the division of the mission sands there was some difficulty about coming to an amicable decision, for, you know, these old missionaries were quite human in spite of the fact that they were missionaries. Mrs. Whitney wanted about everything that was any good.

We got a piece of pasture land on the east of the river called Mahai-hai: it was there we kept our stock, and in dry times they fairly grubbed up the roots of the manienie.

We had an old man who took the stock back and forth: he took them to the river and they swam across and when he wanted them he called them and they came across the river.

When Mrs. Whitney died she left her land to the native church. The minister was to live at the Whitney place, but that was inconvenient so an exchange was made for a kuleana in the valley, and I bought the balance of the land for $1800. That is the basis of the church fund to this day.

There was a grass church in those days down on the beach west of the river, where afterwards the school house stood and about where the Chinese church is now. There were two services on Sunday and a prayer meeting on Wednesday afternoon. No, the crowds were not very large and the church was not as big as the stone church built later. The church was built of pili grass, closed in, as I remember it, on the mauka and windward side, but open makai on the lee side. There were no windows, at least no glazed windows. The people sat on mats on the floor. The matter of windows, reminds me that I made quite a little money in my boyhood days, making window and door cases for Hawaiian grass houses. Yes, all the houses at that time were of grass. Continue reading

Population of Niihau and more, 1864.

The Population of Niihau.

O Kuokoa Newspaper; Aloha oe:—In response to the request by the Hoku Loa [newspaper], to tell the population of Niihau, and the number of houses of worship and members of the Lord’s church. Here is the actual figures of the population, from the men, women, older boys, younger boys, married women, and single women, the older girls and younger girls. Here is the chart.

Good-standing men, 187

Married women, 110

Single women, 29

Older boys [that can work?], 18

Younger boys, 50

Older girls, 27

Younger girls, 36

Breast-feeding children, 12

Old men, 51

Old women, 39

Male church members, 36

Female church members, 31

Total, 626

There are four houses of worship; three for the Protestants, and one for the Catholics. The shepherd of the sheep of the Protestants from Waimea, Kauai to Niihau, is Rev. G. B. Rovela [Rowell], and D. Maui and Anadarea are the assistant kahu. As per the requests for answers, will be responses. But there are some people who have gone here or there. This is the supplication of the boy from the west, and I am returning to my gardening of sweet potato scraps, as the Naulu rain came down.

P. R. Holiohana.

Kaununui, Niihau, May 19, 1864.

(Kuokoa, 6/11/1864, p. 4)

Ka nui o na kanaka ma Niihau.

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke III, Helu 24, Aoao 4. Iune 11, 1864.