Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Mission to Hawaii- left Boston on 23 October 1819

The harbor at Kona, Hawaii
and the Moku'aikaua Church founded by the First Missionary Company
Today’s blog post was inspired by the website “Mass Moments” which is written by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. Every morning it is the first thing I read on line. It’s a “what happened on this date in history?” sort of website. I love seeing the stories from the past, and most of them impacted the lives of my own Massachusetts ancestors.

On this day, 23 October, in 1819 the first Congregationalist missionaries left Boston for Hawaii. This was a pleasant bit of trivia to me personally because I had so many members of my own family go to Hawaii from New England, as sea captains, politicians, traders and a few missionaries. In the past I had read about the missionary companies that arrived in Hawaii, partly because I grew up in Holden, Massachusetts, which sent the Reverend Samuel Chenery Damon (1815 – 1885) as part of the Eleventh ABCFM company. My own church, the First Congregational Church of Holden, was his sponsor. When I visited the Dominis family plot at the Oahu Cemetery, the Damons were interred in the very next plot!

The missionaries were sent from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). In Hawaii, each group of missionaries is known by their arrival. The First Missionary Company, which arrived on 30 March 1820 aboard the “Thaddeus” included the following:

- Reverend Hiram Bingham (1789 – 1869), his grandson Hiram Bingham III was the Hawaiian born explorer who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911
- Reverend Asa Thurston (1787 – 1868), wife Lucy Goodale, (His grandson Lorrin A. Thurston led the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii)
- Reverend Samuel Ruggles (1795 – 1871)
- Elisha Loomis (1799-1836) and wife, first printer in Hawaii
- Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Chamberlain and 5 children
- Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Holman
- Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Whitney
- Four Hawaiians – Thomas Hope, William Kanui, John Honolii, George Tamoril

There were also Catholic and Russian Orthodox missions in Hawaii. The Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu strives to keep the memory of these brave men and women alive. An original wooden house brought in pieces from Boston in 1821 sits on their property. They also have a print shop with a printing press to show how the missionaries and native Hawaiians together produced the first bibles and other books printed in native Hawaiian.

The Mission Houses Museum also produced the famous blog The Thaddeus Journal in which one blog post was written for each day a journal entry was written on board the ship from 1819-1820 during the voyage from Boston to Hawaii. It is another example of the “what happened on this date in history?” genre. The original journal was kept by Hiram Bingham, Asa Thurston and Elisha Loomis. One blog post was written from 20 Oct 2009- 4 April 2010. Please click on this link to read this project

Another member of my family tree, Reverend John Smith Emerson of Chester, New Hampshire, was part of the Fifth ABCFM company on board the New Bedford whaler Averick, and arrived in Honolulu on May 1832. You can read about his life at this post

For more information:

Mass Moments 23 October 2010

Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu

The pilgrims of Hawaii: their own story of their pilgrimage from New England by Orramel Hinckley Gulick, Fleming H. Revell company, 1918

Unwritten Literature of Hawaii: The Sacred Songs of the Hula by Nathaniel B. Emerson , Charles E. Tuttle Publishing. Place of Publication: Rutland, VT. Publication Year: 1965 (written by the son of Rev. J. S. Emerson)

The website for the Moku'aikaua Church, in Kona, Hawaii
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post! They really did shape the Hawaii we live in today.

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral