Friday, April 27, 2012

Another letter to Hawaii, 1887

Hawaii State Archives, Queen Liliuokalani Collections,
M-93, Box 11, Folder 94
Letter from Alice Lee to Mary Dominis, 17 May 1887

Boston, May 17, 1887

My dear Aunt Dominis,
Have been intending to
write to you for years,
but I have hesitated
fearing that I might
not be able to write
much that would
interest you, now,
after seeing “Cousin
John” again and
becoming acquainted
with “Cousin Lydia”
I feel that I must
write and tell you
what a pleasure it
had been to us all
to see them and
have them here.  I
think “The Princess”
Is one of the most
charming women I
have ever met and
I congratulate you
on having her for
a daughter.  Both
she and the Queen
made a most
pleasant impression
here and I hope
they enjoyed their
visit as much as
we did.  As infirm
John didn’t go
to many of the re-
ceptions given in
their honor, Papa
and I had the
pleasure of expending
a good deal of time
with him, and it
was a great pleasure,
The memory of which
will linger with
me all my life.
Although I am you
niece only by adoption
yet I have known
and loved you all
since I was a little
girl and one of
my greatest desires
has been to see you.
I feel ?? I shall
sometime, if not here,
then, perhaps, in the
world beyond.  I
have such a nice
plan in my mind
I want Papa to
Take Grandmother Lee
And make you a
visit next winter.
Grandmother is so
well and strong, she
could easily bear
the journey and what
a joyful meeting it
would be between
you two!  And I know
Papa would enjoy
It.  Grandmother Lee
Is the dearest grand-
mother in the world
and I love her
dearly, she and I
have thought about
you for hours, haven’t
your ears burned?
if they have that
was when we were
??thing about you!
And now I must
say “Goodbye”, I hope
you will not try
to answer this letter
for I know how hard
it is for you to
write and as much
as I should enjoy
Hearing from you
I would rather that
you didn’t give your-
self the trouble.
I send you much
Love and I am
Your affec. niece,
 Alice Lee

Dear Aunt Dominis,
My “big baby” has of
her own free will and
accord written you how
Glad we were in having
John and Lydia here
with us.  I am intending to
write you and tell you of
the nice reception all
the relatives had.  Some
fifty of us cousins- first,
second, third and friends.
The baby being Christopher
Snelling’s son’s child.
The Queen and the Princess
were very popular with all
of the family.  And all speak
In high praise of John and
his nice wife.  Mother had
the best time.  Affectionately
            William Lee

This letter needs a lot of historical background.  I’ll start with a family tree.

Gen. 1.   Owen Jones (abt 1768 – 1850)  m. Elizabeth Lambert (abt 1775 – 1834)
             My 5x g. grandparents in Boston.  They had 8 children including:

   Sarah Jones               Catherine Jones              Laura Jones
 m. Enoch Snelling      m. Levi Younger               m. John Lee
(children in letter)   (my 4x g. grandparents)    had eight children including
                                                                          William Lee ((1826 – 1906) m. Anna Leavitt
                                                                           His adopted daughter Alice Gookin Lee
                                                                (daughter of Anna’s sister Mary & George Gookin)

Another Jones sister (one of the eight children of Owen Jones and Elizabeth Lambert) was Mary Lambert Jones (1803 – 1889).  Mary married a sea captain, John Dominis (d. 1846) who took her to live on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  He built her a big New England style home in Honolulu, and then was lost at sea.  Their only surviving son was John Owen Dominis (1832 – 1891) who married Lydia Paki, a native Hawaiian with noble blood.  When Lydia’s brother, David Kalakaua (1836 – 1891) became King of the Kingdom of Hawaii, she became Princess Lili’uokalani.    During Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (50th Anniversary year on the throne), King Kalakaua, his wife Queen Kapiolani, and Princess Lili’uokalani went to London via Boston.  During the stop in Boston the Royalty visited with the Jones family.

The visit to Boston in 1887 is described in this letter.   I have several other letters from family members about this visit.  This visit was a family story passed down to my generation, but no one believed it until we found letters like this one.  This one is especially poignant to me because you can understand how the family felt so estranged from each other in the 1800s.  Hawaii was thousands of miles away by ships that had to go around South America, and this voyage took months and months. 

Alice and her grandmother never made the trip to Hawaii to see Auntie Mary Dominis.    Mary died just a few years later.   Queen Lili’uokalani succeeded her brother to the throne in 1891, and her husband John O. Dominis died later that same year.  After the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 she lost the throne.  Queen Lili’uokalani again came to Boston in 1897 on her way to Washington DC to petition the president to reject the US annexation.   During her second Boston visit she again visited the Lees, Snellings and other family members.

Alice Gookin Lee was born 20 February 1854 in Hampton, New Hampshire, and she died on 4 March 1926 in Forest Hills, Massachusetts (a part of Boston now known as Jamaica Plain).  She is buried at the High Street Cemetery in Hampton, New Hampshire where her adopted father, William Lee, is also buried.   She never married, but was an accomplished woman who studied botany.  Alice was about twenty three years old when she wrote this letter.

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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