Monday, March 26, 2012

Amanuensis Monday ~ Letter from Sara White Lee


In this blog post last month http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/01/queen-liliuokalani-in-headlines-1894.html  I wrote about several newspaper articles written in 1894 which rumored that Queen Liliuokalani had "gone crazy" after being deposed from the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom.   This letter, which is undated, may date from about that time period.  It was written to the Queen by my cousin's wife, Sara White Lee (1849 - 1925).  William Lee is a first cousin several generations removed.  His mother (Laura Jones Lee), the Queen's mother in law (Mary Jones Dominis) and my 4x great grandmother (Catherine Jones Younger) were all sisters.   The Queen Liliuokalani visited the Lee cousins during her visits to Boston in 1887 and in 1897. 

My dear Cousin,
The enclosed clipping must be my ex-
cuse for breaking the long silence it has pleased
you to maintain but which I am sure is due
only to your illness and unhappiness.
                When the daily press reported your illness I
took it as an idle tale false as all else it has
written of you, but when the report is repeated in
our Medical Journals I fear there is some grounds
in the rumors of your physical trouble.
                (The Mail and Express had a long article reputed
to be an interview with Mr. Lee on the subject which
was false from beginning to end as neither Mr. Lee
nor I had been interviewed )
                One of my friends has an aunt, who has been
a great sufferer from cancer and has lost the bridge
of her nose the physicians even saying she had
but a short time to live.  Upon hearing the rumor
of your illness I went to her and found she was
taking treatment from a different physician.  Ne
who a few  years ago in experimenting with “germs”

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exposed and heated, but the patients all as-
surred me that the treatment (which is by the
hypodermic needle) is almost and in most
cases entirely painless.
                In reply to my inquiry Dr. Alexander said that
fully a thousand patients had come to him this
past year.  In addition to the Sanitarium he
has an office where he sees outside patients who
require only occasional treatment.
                He is very much interested in your case
and also thinks that the establishment of one
of his institutions at Honolulu might be of
great service to your beloved subjects.  It was
my suggestion that it might possibly be as su-
cessful with Leprosy if applied early that dis-
ease.  I enclose a personal letter to me
from Mr. Dudley (Dr. Alexander’s lawyer) that you may
see what the Doctor thinks about going to Hawaii.
                From the letter I would judge that the Doctor
would defray his own expenses to Hawaii if as-
surred that you would be his patient.  I do not
know what he would charge but by casual questions
I ascertained that treatment at the Sanatarium
was $25.00 a week, upward depending upon the
room and how much extra attention it was nec-
essary to devote to the patient.  His occasional
patients who go to the office for treatment are charged
from $2.00 upward for each treatment – according
to the case.  He does not know I have

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written you these terms and I wish you would
not mention it unless later you find it necessary.
                He evidently is confined he can help if not
cure you since he is willing to try for it is a
great risk to his future prospects as to cure you
would be everything in his interest, and a
failure would mean the loss of everything to
him, for of course the world would watch this
progress in your case.  I do not know what
arrangements you can make with him, but if
you decide to try the treatment (and it does
seem to me as though he had discovered the great
remedy) I hope you will insist upon his com-
ing, instead of sending anyone to represent him.
                As he is the discoverer, and the medicine is a
secret, no one can apply it and watch it as he
can.  He is a Homeopath, a graduate of the Phila-
delphia College and others.
                By this mail in another envelope I send
you some typewritten testimonials and a letter
to me from Dr. Alexander.  I do not advise you
what to do judging from what I have seen and
heard I have faith in the remedy.  What I have
done in the matter is from pure, disinterested
love for you.  From now I leave it with you
and God.  I can but pray that He will help and
comfort you.
                Some reports of your cordial welcome from your
loyal people have reached me and it must have made

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your heart happy (as well as ache) to see their love
for you.   Mr. Lee is not at all well, and
has retired from business, so that he is as rest-
less as a cat in a strange garret, having nothing
to do with his time.
                Alice is doing well and graduates in April.
I am as usual.  You know how happy a letter
from you always makes me – but do not mind
if it fatigues you.  I hope you received my
last letters at Washington, to which I have had
no reply.  I miss you more than you can
imagine and send you lots of kisses.
                Mr. Lee joins me in much love,
                                Your loving cousin
                                Sara White Lee

Mrs. William Lee
1382 Beacon St.
Brookline, Mass.

This is a transcription of a letter from Sara White Lee to Lili'uokalani, undated, Bishop Museum Archives,  MS MC Liliuokalani,  Box 1.47.    I cannot show a reproduction or copy of the letter on my blog without written permission from the Bishop Museum, which was quite a process I outlined last year in this blog entry  http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/12/wedding-wednesday-another-royal-wedding.html  As a private archive, the Bishop Museum has strict rules about the images in its collection.

Sara White Lee was a very interesting person.  I previously blogged about her at this link http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/05/amanuensis-monday-boston-press-reports.html   In this post I transcribed a newsclipping, and it describes how Sara stood up at a social event in Boston to defend Queen Lili'uokalani against some racist remarks and some anti-Hawaiian sentiment being expressed in the Boston newspapers.  She was a very brave woman, and although she risked ridicule she stood up for the Queen and made her anti-annexation views well known.

Although she was a socialite, and a member of many organizations like Daughters of the Revolution, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and frequently in the social pages of the Boston newspaper, I have never seen a photograph of Sarah White Lee.  

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Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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