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