Board of Health and leprosy, 1906.


After the Board of Health [Papa Ola] searched for ten months, they found Mrs. Flora K. Crowell, a Hawaiian woman, and she was taken and detained mauka of the Kalihi Hospital. It is not clear why the Board of Health chased after that woman, but there is something astonishing and unclear about what was done to this woman.

After Mrs. Flora K. Crowell was found by the officers of the Board of Health, she said she was locked away like a prisoner.

This wahine is the birth daughter of Mrs. Hattie Hiram who died on the 5th of November 1905, and she married Clement C. Crowell in the year 1900, and by this marriage the two of them had a daughter; but just six months after they had the girl, she [Flora Crowell] was suspected of having leprosy and taken away to be held at the Kalihi Hospital.

According to the wishes of her mother [Hattie Hiram], she was sent to Japan to be treated along with others who were suspected of having the illness. Being that she did not have the funds to be treated and per her wishes, she came back to Honolulu nei after nine months of being away from here.

When she arrived in Honolulu, she went to live with her mother on Beritania Street, and she was hidden there until the death of her mother. There was no one who knew she was here in Honolulu at the time, except her mother along with another woman named Keluia and George Kaia. However, when her mother was extremely ill, Solomon Hiram came, and because they were speaking so loudly, he showed himself before them; S. Hiram was shocked at seeing her; and it was then that she was subdued by S. Hiram along with George Kaia and Keluia and detained in a building on the grounds, and she was locked inside.

A few days later, while her mother was still alive, she [Flora Crowell] was taken to the place of George Kaia on Young Street, and from there she was then taken to the uplands of Kalihi Valley to live, and from there she was taken to a grass house atop Puowaina, on the road that goes up to Puuohia (Tantalus). She escaped from this place and returned to live at her own home on Beritania Street, and it was there she lived unbeknownst to others, all except an old man who brought her food.

But during her last two days there, that man did not come back, and she almost starved for lack of food; it was only because of the passing by of one of her friends from her youth, that she was brought to that friend’s home on Young Street. This was the daughter of John Kamaki, the one who gave Flora Crowell money to care for herself while in Japan.

At the death of Mrs. Hattie Hiram, John Kamaki came and took care of her funeral, and saw for the first time that here was Mrs. Clement in Honolulu nei. Her baby was being cared for by John Kamaki, who took her after the death of Mrs. H. Hiram.

When Solomon Hiram just left with the Royal Hawaiian Band [Bana Hawaii], he left instructions for some people to keep good watch over Mrs. Clement.

She is now living with her friends mauka of Pauoa, and she has chosen R. W. Breckons as the executor of her estate.

There is no doubt, the quick death of her mother and her being hidden away, will be investigated immediately by the grand jury of this session.

(Kuokoa, 11/2/1906, p. 8)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XLV, Helu 44, Aoao 8. Novemaba 2, 1906.

One more related article on Kalaupapa, 1867.

The Leprosy Hospital on Molokai.

Two weeks ago we published a communication from a gentleman of unquestioned veracity, regarding the management of this establishment. Rumors had from time to time reached us about the neglected conditions of the unfortunate natives driven to that secluded district, but not having the facts at our command, we were unable to speak knowingly. We have since learned that the real state of things has not been more than half published, and that every word of our correspondent is true.

We have no another and more full statement furnished by a gentleman who has visited the leprosy station on Molokai. He informs us that the number now there is 118, of whom 80 are males and 38 females. Besides the lepers, there are 34 persons not diseased, who have gone there to take care of their sick friends or relations. These persons live with the lepers, eat and sleep with them, and are free at any time to go and return again to their homes. They assert that the Board of Health gave them permission so to do. There are also eleven children in the settlement, but whether they are diseased or not, we do not learn.

The overseer reports only 23 deaths as having occurred since the first lepers were sent there in November, 1865, but the number is believed to have been much larger, as the total number of lepers sent there probably exceeds two hundred. We quote from our correspondent:

“The great majority of the lepers are a pitiable sight to behold. I have not seen more than four or five in the whole number who appeared to me able to work. The hands and feet appear to be the parts most generally destroyed. How anybody, who has seen them, could expect them to do much work, I know not. I am satisfied that by far the greater portion of them cannot do much. Their hands and feet are a terrible sight. The disease evidently progresses very rapidly among those who have been sent there. I visited them last April, and on this my second visit, I was surprised at the rapid progress of the disease in various individuals. There they are, thrown constantly together, in all stages of the disease, with no medicines, no physicians, no comforts—furnished only with the absolute neccessaries for keeping soul and body together in a well person—and PUT ON STARVATION RATIONS AT THAT—a mass of seething, festering corruption, rotting to death.

“The Board of Health have done perhaps as well as they could under the circumstances; but if they cannot control the circumstances better than they are now doing, I shall begin to consider the plan a decided failure. At first, I believed the plan of isolating them there was the best; but having seen how it works, I am more and more inclined to believe that the best and least expensive plan would be to have but one hospital, and that in the neighborhood of Honolulu, where they could be under the immediate supervision of the Board of Health and a physician.

“The rations for some time past have been four biscuits of hard bread per week to the stronger ones, and ten ditto per week to the feebler ones: and even that only allowed to those who have been there less than six months. Those who have been there longer are told to ‘work if they want food.’ Four pounds of salt beef or salmon per week is the allowance of meat to each one. The beef is a swindle. Much of it is corrupted, and some of the barrels are daubed with tar on the inside, which imparts its taste and flavor to the whole contents. The salmon is in good condition. The old thatch houses which were standing when they went there are all the houses they have, except as some of the stronger ones are able to put up huts for themselves. They have no suitable house of worship, and ought to be furnished with a plain frame building for the purpose.

“Notwithstanding their wretched condition, they have planted some sweet potatoes and other vegetables. They have no kalo or poi at present, though there is enough kalo land to supply them well, if properly managed. But they have a a good quantity of kalo planted, and when it gets ripe, some months hence, may again enjoy their native staff of life. The agent who has immediate charge of them, Mr. Louis Lepart, does as well as he can by them, but is often at his wits’ end to know what to do. He can only dole out to them such supplies as he receives from the Board of Health.

“I ought perhaps to mention that there has not been a single birth among them up to the present time.

“A physician went among them, saw them, examined a number of them, and unhesitatingly affirmed that several who were there as lepers, had not that disease at all. Many of them have been subsisting in great measure, for months past, on wild horse-beans, which grow abundantly among the rocks. But the weaker ones cannot endure the fatigue of gathering and roasting them. I am sure, if the Board of Health could only see and know the truth in the case, they would endeavor to remedy matters; and yet Mr. Lepart and Mr. Meyers say they have represented the case to Dr. Hutchison.

“Such are the facts as I learned them on the spot, and saw them with my own eyes, and gathered them from satisfactery testimony. I believe they are correct, as I was careful to make full inquiries of all parties.”

Here is a clear impartial statement of the Molokai Leper Hospital, reflecting sadly on the Hawaiian Government. The Minister of the Interior, as President of the Board of Health, is responsible for the condition of these lepers, and to him—a physician, supposed to be qualified to take charge of such a service—the public look for reform. The whole plan of isolating the lepers in such an out-of-the-way place on Molokai, was a great mistake. They should have been kept here near Honolulu, where their wants can be supplied, and where proper medical attendance can be given. The hospital at Kalihi is a credit to the nation, but for its condition, Dr. Hoffmann chiefly deserves credit; for he is untiring in his zeal and efforts in behalf of these poo creatures. Now let the rest be brought here, kept from starvation, and cured if possible. Under Dr. Hoffmann’s care, a large portion of them may yet be cured.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 1/12/1867, p. 3)

The Leprosy Hospital on Molokai.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XI, Number 28, Page 3. January 12, 1867.