Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cousins Collaborate on a Genealogy Story

Sometimes I will post certain stories from “Nutfield Genealogy” at the website GenealogyWise. This is a social networking website for genealogists. There I had re-posted my series of stories about my 4x great aunt Mary Lambert Jones (1803-1889), who married Captain John Dominis and removed to the Hawaiian Islands. She built an impressive home in Honolulu, and lived there with her little boy, John Owen Dominis, who later became the husband to Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii. A few years earlier, her two teenage daughters died whilst at a boarding school in Schenectady, New York. The little girls never saw Honolulu.

Captain Dominis disappeared on a trip to China in 1846. Mrs. Dominis moved into her big mansion home built by her husband in 1847, and lived as a widow. Because she was now deprived of her husband’s substantial income, and she had to support her large home, she took in boarders. Most of the boarders were visiting Americans. One boarder, a Mr. Ten Eyck, suggested the name “Washington Place” for her new home because it looked like Washington’s Mount Vernon.

I’m sure that Mary Dominis missed her homeland, her little daughters and her husband very much. The endless boarders coming and going at Washington Place must have entertained her mind and given her company. Two little girls came to her as boarders in 1848, and their presence at Washington Place must have been quite a blessing. These two girls were Estrella Charlotte Mott (b. 1835) and her sister Eveline (1830-1849).

And so the granddaughter of Essie Mott wrote to me via Genealogy Wise that she had read my post about Mrs. Dominis and Washington Place. Even better, she had a memoir, written by Essie in 1913, reminiscing about her voyage in 1847 and 1848 from her boarding school in New York to Hawaii on the way to reunite with her family in Mazatlan, Mexico, where her father had business. Her journal was 50 pages, and Leah at the blog “The Internet Genealogist” has been patiently transcribing the journal and posting a few pages at a time. Leah is the great niece of the owner of Essie’s journal.

It is definitely serendipity and a blessing that these two women have shared Essie’s journal with me. Through Essie’s stories about her six months at Washington Place I have learned quite a bit about Mrs. Dominis and her son, the then sixteen year old John Owen Dominis. Essie also reminisces about meeting the children at the Royal School, including Prince Alexander and Prince David (Lili’uokalani’s brother, the future King Kalakaua). Essie even attended a reception at the Royal Palace, and mentions some other members of the Hawaiian Royal family. I have also passed along copies of the scanned images of Essie’s journal to Dominis descendants, and to the curator of Washington Place Museum.

I have also learned that not only do I share this story with Leah; we are also Haley/Healey cousins. Essie’s sister, Mary Gertrude Mott (1852-1927), married Comfort Gordon Haley (1838-1910) of Nova Scotia. Comfort was cousin to my 4x great grandfather Joseph Edwin Healy (1823-abt 1860) who removed from Nova Scotia to Beverly, Massachusetts. The power of the internet strikes again!

Washington Place served as the home to the Dominis family for many years. Queen Lili’uokalani served her imprisonment here, and left the home to her heir John Aimoku Dominis. Later, the Dominis family left the home to the state of Hawaii and it served as the Governor’s residence. It is now a museum.


Please visit Leah’s blog “The Internet Genealogist” at

Leah’s transcription of Essie Mott’s journal, with her arrival in Honolulu is at this link

and a second part of the journal, with more about Mrs. Dominis's house at

and a third section of Essie's journal, with stories about parties in Honolulu and Prince Alexander

Leah’s genealogy webpage is


My previous blog postings about Mrs. Dominis:

February 2, 2010 Four John Dominises

February 1, 2010 Chronicling America and Hawaiian Cousins

December 7, 2009 Christmas in Hawaii

July 27, 2009 Hawaii- The Boston Connection to a Royal Lineage


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I am so envious! I keep hoping for cousins of one sort or another to contact me with bits of our collective history --- none yet, but I keep hoping.

  2. Heather, I've followed your excellent story, but never caught your mentioning Ten Eyck, that is my grandmother's line. Off site, you and I can discuss.

  3. Wow - I was just reading the latest Mott transcript post on Leah's blog, then I'm reading here - "What a coincidence that a Mott family is mentioned" - and then you reveal the connection. I love the way the blogging world works!

  4. Man (my hubby) is a Haley descendant as well, Margaret C. Haley married William Franklin Fenton, her parents were John Haley (II) and Mary Owen. Cousins everywhere, how fun!