Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gorham Dummer Gilman (1822 – 1909), Consul General to Hawaii

Gorham D. Gilman was born in Hallowell, Maine.  He went to sea in 1840 and ended up in business in Hawaii.  In 1845 Gorham D. Gilman of Boston visited the home of Konia and Paki at Lahaina, Maui.  They were the hanai (foster) parents of Lydia, the future Princess and Queen Lili’uokalani.  He left Hawaii upon the news of the gold rush in California, but returned to Hawaii until 1861.  He went back to Boston and entered the wholesale drug business with his brothers until his death in 1909.  He was a state senator from Massachusetts, and the Consul General to Hawaiian in 1893.

I found several letters from Gorham Gilman and his wife, Adelaide, to Queen Lili’uokalani and her husband John Owen Dominis in the Hawaii State Archives.  I’m sure that they had Boston in common, and struck up a friendship.  The letters mention the Queen’s visit to Boston in 1887, when they came to see members of the Jones, Snelling, Emerson and Lee families on the way to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in London.   Gorham often wrote in the Hawaiian language, and signed his name “Kilimana” (the Hawaiian version of GILMAN).

John Owen Dominis is my first cousin, many generations removed. His mother and my 4x great grandmother were sisters in Boston (Jones).  To read more about this relationships you can search my blog for the surnames DOMINIS and JONES or use the keywords in the right hand column.  This blog contains many letters written back and forth between Boston and Honolulu in the 1800s. 

After seeing these letters, and learning of his connection with New England, especially New Hampshire and Boston, I was inspired to learn more about the Honorable Gorham Dummer Gilman and to write this blog post.

This letter was found in the Hawaii State Archives
from G. D. Gliman to Lili'uokalani
(translation below)

Boston April 22, 1885
Her Highness, the next Sovereign, the esteemed,
Greetings to you,
My good friend of years past. My companion of blissful days...
A close friend of Lahaina
Greetings to you.
How are these salutations to you?
About the first- it's the consequence of your majesty and deportment before royalty of the lands of this earth.
About the second- it's the result of thinking about a house in Nuuanu-the Young Chief's school. The place - Haleakala- the hospitality of Hale Kamani and the peaceful evenings above Lahaina.  perhaps you're astonished at me for reminiscing about that time.  Not angry I hope.  Perhaps it's just something new recognized from the memory of days and years long past.
I love you for sending me the songs and photographs.  I'm fortunate in receiving them as I've so wanted these things.  Sometimes if I go spread the word about things pertaining to Hawaii, I take those things to make it known to the sight and knowledge of the people there.  Perhaps you're laughing a great deal while reading this letter and you and your associates are amused by my mistakes (and maybe my boldness) in writing this.  Our friend W. F. A. said to write in the Hawaiian language and so I wrote.  I'm not used to it as I haven't written in the Hawaiian alphabet for so many years.  If you accept this letter I'm sending, embarrassed over the many mistakes, please write me pardoning my mistakes.  I want so much to travel again and meet with the companions of the past.  The love persists- it's true.  Give my regards to your husband and mother. 
Farewell your Highness.  Love the land.  Good-by.
G. D. Kilimana
A close friend won't be forgotten.  Farewell to the one gone to the heavens. He was loved.  Too bad about "A". 

Another letter signed "Kilimana"


From the Mission Houses Museum archives online
The Friend, Volume LXVI, Number 11, 1 November 1909 Edition 01 — A TRIBUTE TO THE HON. GORHAM D. GILMAN. 


The Boston Evening Transcript of Oct. 4 devoted an entire column to the life record of her distinguished citizen, the lamented Gorham D. Gilman. From this we quote the references to Mr. Gilman 's relations with Hawaii: "Mr. Gilman went to Honolulu, and there, in 1841, he began a clerkship for a business firm and at once began to learn the language of the country. "He made the acquaintance of King Kamehameha III., and of four kings who succeeded him, including King Kalakaua, also Queen Kapiolani and the present dethroned Queen Liliuokalani. Mr. Gilman received from these various royal personages many decorations and gifts: His mastery of the native language was so easily accomplished that he became very proficient, and his translation of an Important United States Government treaty was accepted officially, In preference to that of a man of far greater experience. "At the first news in 1848 of the discovery of gold in California, Mr. Gilman left Hawaii for the United States . His association there with the other seekers after wealth entitled him to membership in the organization of California pioneers, and in later years he was vice president of that association. Returning to Hawaii in the spring of 1849, Mr. Gilman continued as a merchant there until 1861, when he returned to the United States. He moved with his family to Newton in 1865, having established the drug business in Boston with his brothers, John A. and Samuel K. Gilman. He bought a residence on Baldwin street, which he continued to occupy up to the time of his death. "Soon after moving there Mr. Gilman took an active part in local affairs. His house became the meeting place of leaders of the Republican party thereabout. An earnest worker in Eliot Congregational Church, Mr. Gilman was early identified with that religious body. In the Sunday school he was for more than a quarter of a century leader of a Bible class. When the Newton Y.M.C.A. was founded thirty-two years ago Mr. Gilman was prominent in the movement. He was its second president and occupied the chair for three years. He originated the plan of distributing Thanksgiving dinners to the poor under the association's auspices, which was followed successfully for many years. "When Newton became a city In 1874 he was one of those who strongly opposed the idea. It was his belief that it could better be divided into two towns, one to be called Newton and the other Nonantum. He was always a firm believer in the town form of government, although later he became a member of the City Government, serving as councilman and alderman. He declined reelection, but later was the successful candidate for representative, being in the Legislature two terms, 1889 and 1890. The next two years he was elected to the State Senate, retiring from that body just before he became Hawaiian Consul in 1893. During his service in the Legislature Mr. Gilman was Instrumental in securing the passage of a measure prohibiting railroads from issuing passes to members of the Legislature, and ordering the publishing of monthly statements of the expenses of the committee permitted to travel. "His appointment to the position of Consul General at the overthrow of the monarchy was due in part to his long residence in Hawaii and his intimate acquaintance with the principals on the field of political strife in the islands. When he lived there his home was visited by many distinguished travelers. "When Queen Kapioiani visited Boston in 1887, Mr. Gilman was resident interpreter for the royal party. The acknowledgements of the King and Queen Mr. Gilman received In the form of royal decorations sent him by the King. His services as Consul General In New England terminated with the annexation In 1901. He had probably the largest collections of books pertaining to Hawaii In this part of the country, and his library was a museum of Hawaiian curiosities, paintings and photographs. ..

"He was prominent In the Hawaiian Club of Boston and was the oldest member of the Twentieth Century Club and belonged also to the Massachusetts Society of Sons of the American Revolution."


Generation 1:  Edward Gilman, born about 1587 in Caston, Norfolk, England, died before 10 April 1665 in Exeter, New Hampshire, who came to Boston on the Diligent in 1638 with his wife, three sons, two daughters and two servants; married Mary Clark on 3 June 1614 in Hingham, Norfolk, England.

Generation 2:  Moses Gilman, born 11 March 1630 in Hingham, Norfolk, England, died 6 August 1702; married in 1658 in Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts to Elizabeth Hersey, daughter of William Hersey and Elizabeth Croade. 

Generation 3:  Jeremiah Gilman, born 31 August 1660 in Newmarket (now Exeter), New Hampshire; married on 30 July 1685 in Exeter to Mary Wiggin, daughter of Andrew Wiggin and Hannah Bradstreet.

Generation 4:  Benjamin Gilman, born 1695 and died 1760; married Elizabeth Thing, daughter of Samuel Thing and Abigail Gilman.

Generation 5:  Jonathan Gilman, born 25 December 1720 in Brentwood, New Hampshire, died 28 March 1801 in Sandwich; married 1 December 1746 in Brentwood to Mehitable Kimball. She was born 17 June 1727 in Exeter, New Hampshire and died 23 April 1817.  (Mehitable Kimball is my 2nd cousin 8 generations removed)

Generation 6:  Samuel Gilman, born 14 March 1752, died 29 August 1838 in Exeter, New Hampshire; married Martha Kinsman, the daughter of John Kinsman and Hannah Burnham, born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1752, and died 19 October 1809 in Exeter, New Hampshire.  (John Kinsman is my 2nd cousin 8 generations removed,  and Hannah Burnham is my 2nd cousin 7 generations removed).

Generation 7:  Gorham Dummer, son of Nathaniel Dummer and Mary Kilton, private Mass. Militia, Commissary of Prisoners, Revolutionary War.

Generation 8:  Samuel Kinsman Dummer, born in Exeter, New Hampshire,  married on 25 April 1821 to Lucy Gorham Dummer.  Judge Samuel K. Gilman died 26 December 1882, Mrs. Lucy Dummer was born 20 August 1805 at Hallowell, and died 14 August 1875.  She was the daughter of Gorham Dummer and Sarah Abbot.

Generation 9:  Gorham Dummer Gilman, son of Samuel Kinsman Gilman and Lucy Gorham Dummer,  born 29 May 1822 in Hallowell, Maine, and died on 3 October 1909  in Newton Corner, Massachusetts.   Married first on 5 October 1864 in Rhode Island to Lizzie A. Field; married second to Adelaide L. Sears on 6 May 1874 in Newton, MA.  She was born 12 February 1840 in Boston, daughter of Ebenezer Sears and Eliza Fair Crease. 

See the book Old Hallowell on the Kennebec by Emma Huntington Nason- both the Gilman family and the Rev. Daniel Dole, missionary to Hawaii, were from Hallowell, Maine. Another son of Hallowell, Rev. Dr. Elias Bond left Hallowell in 1840 with his wife and went to Kohala, Hawaii as missionaries.

A book by Gorham Dummer Gilman, Journal of a Canoe Voyage along the Kauai Palis, 1908. 

The Hawaiian Historical Society has the journals, letters and notes of Gorham Dummer Gilman concerning his travels in the Hawaiian islands 1843 – 1848, see this link:

The photographs above are letters from the Hawaii State Archives, Queen Lil'uokalani Collections, M-93, Box 11, Folder 69, "Letters to Queen 1883 - 1889". 


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Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo 

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