William K. Wallace III gave permission to publish his abridged history of the LDS Church in Hawai'i following oral presentations in both the Lä'ie Hawai'i and Lä'ie Hawai'i North Stakes:
The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints In the Hawaiian Islands from 1850-1900;
William Kauaiwiulaokalani Wallace III
High Priest, Laie 3rd Ward
Laie Hawaii Stake
Sunday, January 30, 2000
In Celebration of the Sesquicentennial (150 years)
Anniversary of the Church in the Hawaiian Islands
Brothers and Sisters, aloha nui kakou. My aloha and appreciation to President Waite, for asking me to speak at this historic fireside. This year is special for the Church among our people in Hawaii. We meet tonight to celebrate the work of our missionaries. They laid the sacred "Kahua Ola" or foundation for life for which we are all beneficiaries. I feel very humble to stand before you this evening for I know there are many here, especially my Kupuna, who have experienced part of this history first hand and are by far more worthy to share than I. It is with this aloha for all of you and the love that I have for our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ our Savior, and the work of our Missionaries which I dedicate and consecrate my remarks this night. I also express my deep appreciation to the late Dr. Joseph H. Spurrier and his ohana for the great legacy gifted to us through his book entitled, Sandwich Islands Saints. It is truly a blessing for all. I highly recommend that it become a part of our treasured books on Church History in the Hawaiian Islands. Mahalo nui!
"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:" (Genesis 49:22). "And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way and hid the natural branches of the tame olive tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard; some in one, and some in another, according to his will and pleasure." (Jacob 5: 14). Father Lehi in speaking to his youngest son says, "And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed...Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book." (2 Nephi 3: 23).
Our people of Hawai'i have always believed that we came to these isles of the sea from our Ancestral homelands which lie towards the East of these islands. East of the Hawaiian islands are no other islands or land mass other than that of the Americas. These teachings were part of our Hawaiian people long before the high priest Pa'ao came to these islands from central Polynesia and introduced new ways of worshipping which conflicted with the original ways of our earlier ancestors. And it took many generations to pass before the lord would remember "...those who are upon the isles of the sea;" (2 Nephi 29:7). "But great are the promises of the lord to those who are upon the isles of the sea;" (2 Nephi 10:2). For they too are commanded to hearken unto the voice of their God who speaks in a "voice of warning" (D & C 1: 1, 4) unto all people.
The first Christian Missionaries arrived in Hawaii in Spring 1820. They were determined to Christianize us Heathen Hawaiians. By 1850, the Kingdom of Hawaii changed from chiefdoms to a constitutional monarchy, a literate society, and becoming a Christian nation. The Hawaiian people were not part of the growth, but were part of the devastation as large numbers were dying from foreign diseases, alcoholism, and displacement. The Protestants and Catholics were well entrenched. Both very protective of their own flock. This was the condition of Hawaii just before the first Mormon Missionaries arrived.
The first ten Mormon Missionaries landed in Honolulu on December 12, 1850. Hiram Clark, was to preside in the mission. The others were: Elders Henry Bigler, Hiram Blackwell, George Q. Cannon, John Dixon, William Farrer, James Hawkins, James Keeler, Thomas Morris, and Thomas Whittle. On December 13, 1850, these elders led by President Clark went to the top of a hill e over-looking Honolulu (later known as Pacific Heights), built a stone alter, and in united prayer, dedicated this land to God's holy purposes.
About a week later, they received their first mission assignments. Elders Farrer and Dixon went to Kaua'i. Elders Cannon, Keeler, and Bigler went to Lahaina on the island of Maui. Elders Blackwell and Hawkins went to Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawaii. Elder Morris stayed in Honolulu along with President Clark. This is how the first Mission, which was known as the Sandwich Islands Mission, in Hawaii was established.
Two early questions were of great concern to all of the Missionaries:
1. How were the elders to live?
2. And to whom were they going to preach?
These missionaries were faced with more questions as the days went by. They were in a foreign place with different kinds of food, different kinds of living accommodations, and most of all a language that just did not make sense. In light of these difficulties, President Clark gave the elders permission to return home to their families if they wanted to. Some of the missionaries did decide to return to Utah. However, Elder George Q. Cannon in personal prayer for many days on this concern was given personal revelation to know that he should not leave the islands; that the islanders were descendants of Joseph and heirs to the blessings of father Abraham; and that they were to receive the gospel.
Through the aloha and generosity of a good Hawaiian woman whose name was Nalimanui, the missionaries were provided with a place to stay. Later, in a manifestation of the gift of tongues, Elder Cannon, in one night, was given the understanding of the Hawaiian Language, and received confirmation "face to face", that the Hawaiian people were descendants of Joseph with his robe of many colors. President Clark was amazed at Elder Cannon's mastery of the Hawaiian Language and by his decision to remain in the Hawaiian islands. Elder Cannon was reassigned to Maui and President Clark let the Elders know that he was going to close the Mission leaving only five of the original ten missionaries.
The first real converts were made by Elders Cannon and Keeler in the Kula area and they organized the first branch of the Church in the islands at Kealahou the Pulehu branch in Kula in the first week of August, 1851. In August 1851, Elder Philip B. Lewis and his wife came to replace President Hiram Clark. Elder and Sister Francis A. Hammond, and Elder John S. Woodbury, who's wife arrived later, arrived to bring new life to the now closed mission. President Lewis called a mission conference at Lahaina, Maui, to meet the missionaries and take charge of the work. He was surprised at the progress, one branch already in operation and others in the making, with over two hundred converts and two of the Elders already preaching in the Hawaiian Language.
Persecution interrupted the work in Fall 1851 as Calvinists and Catholics took notice of the Mormons and inroads being made in their congregations. Civil authority was used by them. At Hakipu'u, by Kualoa on Windward O'ahu, work on a latter-day Saints meeting house was ordered stopped by one government official. With Elder Ferrer's guidance and the assistance of an American Agent in Honolulu, they were able to convince the government official that he was acting contrary to the Constitution of the Kingdom and work at Hakipu'u was able to resume.
This period of persecution was important for the Missionaries because it placed them in direct contact with many important people, both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian who not only became friendly to the Church but who opened doors and personally assisted in building a solid foundation for the Gospel here in the Hawaiian Islands. Judge Ioane W.W. Maika'i befriended Elder Bigler and provided the Elder and other missionaries lodging in his home on Punchbowl Street in Honolulu whenever needed. Elder Farrer's first convert was J.W.H. Kauwahi, who was a judge and Konohiki at Lä'ie. On Maui, Elder Cannon and his companions were welcomed and helped by Jonathan Napela of Wailuku and his relation W.H. Uaua. Though some converts succumbed to the persecution of 1851 and others bent to the pressures applied by relatives and former ministers, the Elders persevered and the Gospel continued to grow in Hawaii.
By the end of 1851 branches of the Church were operating at: Honomanu, Wailuanui, Waianu, and Ke'anae on Windward East Maui; at Kealahou and Honuaula on Leeward East Maui; and at Hakipu'u on Windward O'ahu. In February 1852, a branch was opened made up exclusively of Haole members of the church at Makawao on Maui. In 1853 another Haole branch was opened in Honolulu which caused one newspaper to write that, "The Mormons had converted more whites in three years than the Protestants had in fifty." Dr. Ralph Kyukendall, in his writings state that the success of the Mormons was the placing of local men in offices of leadership as soon as they were ready to serve.
The first Conference of the Mission was held in April of 1852, under the open sky at the month of Iao Valley on Maui. The Missionaries gathered to teach, make reports, preach, and generally to endeavor to inspire and edify one another. At this meeting, the elders assessed their progress, ordained a number of converts to positions of authority, taught the law of tithing and introduced the principle of the fast and fast offering. At this Conference Elder George Q. Cannon announced the beginning of his work, assisted by Jonathan Napela, of translating the Book of Mormon to the Hawaiian Language. After the Conference, the work accelerated with many local converts assisting the Utah Elders. Their contribution was marked by a generous out pouring of the Spirit of the Lord with the gifts of the Spirit as well. They enjoyed liberally the power to heal, preach effectively, to speak in tongues and work in communities where the American missionaries were unable to go. By October 1853, Branches were organized in the Wailuku area and a meeting house had been erected there. By April 1854, Branches were to be found on all islands and converts had been made even on Ni'ihau. One Branch was also organized and opened at Kalaupapa on Molokai for those saints suffering from leprosy. The work of translation of the Book of Mormon was completed on July 22, 1853 and efforts were begun immediately to raise money for the printing of Ka Buke A Moramona.
As the numbers of converts in Hawaii increased, the missionaries thought of creating a community of the faithful and began to look for a gathering place. President Brigham Young, in a letter to Elder George Q. Cannon, urged patience in looking for a place to gather but efforts to settle on a location were initiated anyway. Places suggested were, Waimea Hawai'i, and Palawai Valley on the island of Lana'i. Following the Mission Conference held in October 1853, a committee was appointed to find a suitable place. Benjamin F. Johnson, George Q. Cannon, and Jonathan Napela, committee members, were accompanied by Elders Karran, Allred, and Hammond, and a brother Dennis, sailed to Lana'i in a whaleboat. They were impressed with the land at Palawai though it appeared that water may be a problem. The missionaries were not of one mind on the matter.
In July 1854 a special conference was called by President Lewis. Word had come from Salt Lake City that the missionaries were to return to Utah. Elders Bigler, Cannon, Farrer, Hawkins and Keeler five of the founding missionaries were honorably released from their missions here in Hawaii. Another agenda item of the Conference was to put into effect the plan which President Lewis called the "Lana'i Experiment". Assignments were given to set up the colony at Palawai. Elder Ephraim Green accepted the post to head up the farming. Brother Kanahunahupu, a brother of Napela, was to be in charge of the missionary work on the island and also to oversee the spiritual welfare of members who would gather at Palawai. Elder Francis A. Hammond was to have responsibility of the actual gathering of the saints at Palawai.
The condition of the Mission in July 1854 was reported as follows: Forty three Branches of the Church serving over 3,000 members on all major islands; the Book of Mormon was translated to the Hawaiian Language and funds were on hand for its printing; and the site was chosen for the gathering of the saints in the Sandwich Islands. On August 28, 1854, the Elders met on Lana'i. They fasted throughout the day and retired to the uplands above Palawai for prayer. It was a special prayer of dedication, as all had received their temple blessings and had with them their temple clothing, they agreed to hold a special prayer, dressed in their robes. Elder Benjamin Franklin Johnson led the ceremony and dedicated the City of Joseph in the Valley of Ephraim on the island of Lana'i.
Pioneers began arriving at Palawai in September 1854 and were organized into companies on the basis of each person's point of origin, and led by captains. There were companies from Wailuku and Kula on Maui, from Honolulu on O'ahu, and from Kohala on Hawai'i. A disagreement arose early about the crops to be planted and it resulted in some long lasting feelings which worked against the success of the colony. Other problems arose which were identified by a fifteen year old missionary named, Joseph F. Smith, nephew to the prophet Joseph, who wrote that the gathering of the saints to Lana'i was impeding missionary work in other parts of the Kingdom as the faithful departed as pioneers to Lana'i the Branches were left weakened and the work was hindered. It was soon evident that foods which the Hawaiian saints preferred could not be raised on Lana'i in amounts necessary to feed the growing population which continued to gather their. However, the most serious matter of all arose in September of 1857 when word came from President Brigham Young that the American Elders were to return to their homes in Utah and the Mission was to be closed. The Utah Elders began preparation for their departure and they all had to find means to earn their passage home. However two missionaries arrived at this time on their second missions to the islands. They were Elder Henry Bigler and Elder John S. Woodbury. Elder Bigler was to preside in the place of Elder Silas Smith.
Conference was held in October 1857. Missionary work had gone down and membership had declined. The uncertainty of the success of the Lana'i settlement was discussed and some other sites were suggested. In February 1858, another letter came from President Brigham Young instructing President Bigler and Elder Woodbury also to return to Utah. They remained for the April Conference held on Lana'i and all the activity necessary to closing the mission was completed. Many expressed gratitude for the Elders who came from the Mauna Pohaku (Rocky Mountains) to bring the gospel message to Hawaii. Others expressed themselves as pleased to be independent of the American Elders and eager to assume the mission leadership. Branch Presidents were chosen and confirmed in their positions, one Elder was placed in charge for each district, and the Sandwich Islands Mission was closed. Activities in the Branches declined. Many drifted into inactivity. Those who remained steadfast looked forward to the time when the Elders would return and re-establish the vital link between the head of the Church and its scattered branches. 1859 and 1860 passed with no indication that such an event would occur.
In September of 1861, Walter Murray-Gibson appears displaying ribbons and ornamental certificates bearing the signature of President Brigham Young and introduced himself as an Elder of the Church, a missionary. Island Church leaders recognized the signature of President Young and welcomed Gibson. Gibson assumed the title of Chief President of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints in the islands of the Sea, and took full control of the mission. He was known among the Hawaiian Saints as "Kipikona". Kipikona was able to convert the leasehold on the Lana'i property to fee-simple ownership under his name and he referred to the colony at Palawai as his Lana'i kingdom.
I will not say more about the work of Gibson in this talk. All I want to say is that a letter dated July 23rd, 1863 and signed by many concerned members living at Palawai caused the Church in Utah to respond by sending a delegation in March of 1864 including two members of the Quorum of the Twelve and three former missionaries to Hawaii for the purpose of investigating the circumstances surrounding Gibson and Palawai. Elders Ezra Taft Benson and Lorenzo Snow from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were accompanied by Joseph F. Smith, Alma L. Smith, and William W. Cluff was the group sent by President Brigham Young. The party arrived at Honolulu on March 27, 1864, and four days later, anchored off Lahaina, Maui. There being no docking facility for deep water vessels there, it was necessary to off-load in a small boat and ride the surf over the reef to the beach. This required skill. Elders Benson and Snow decided to go ashore in spite of higher than normal surf. The missionaries recognized the danger and counseled against their going. Sure enough, as the boat went over the reef, it capsized and the captain and Elder Snow were lost. The Captain was rescued in a few minutes but Elder Snow remained missing for more than an hour. When he was finally found and brought ashore, he was cold, stiff, and blue showing no signs of life at all. Those on shore worked over him, using the time-honored method of rolling his body over a barrel. Even the administration of the priesthood, performed by Elder Smith was to no avail. Elder W.W. Cluff reports, in his journal, that he felt inspired to attempt to simulate breathing in Elder Snow by blowing air into his mouth, alternating inflating his lungs and allowing the air to escape. In a few moments Elder Snow's eyelids flickered and signs of life began to return. The delegation were able to continue on its way to Lana'i and Elder Lorenzo Snow lived to become the President of the Church, unaffected by his long stay under water off Lahaina beach. The members of the party were sure that the powers of evil were intent upon preventing the restoration of order to the Church in the islands. They arrived at Manele, Lana'i, on the evening of April 5 , 1864 and spent the night with members known to the missionaries. On the morning of April 6, 1864 they went to the mission conference. Gibson who conducted the conference did not follow procedure, did not recognize these brethren, spoke in Hawaiian to discredit them and their mission and very abruptly tried to close the meeting. In between of the closing song and the prayer, Elder Joseph F. Smith arose and addressed the congregation in Hawaiian and relayed to the saints the truth about their mission. Later, Gibson was excommunicated from the church. Elder Joseph F. Smith was left in charge of the Church in Hawaii, and no mention was made of re-opening the mission. He was assisted by Alma L. Smith and W.W. Cluff. They toured the islands to assess conditions in the branches and among the members. Some branches were reorganized and some branches were closed. Joseph F. Smith convened conference in October of 1864 in Honolulu and a substantial number of members from all over the Kingdom attended. Among those attending and addressing the Conference were the three brethren who had been baptized by Elder George Q. Cannon, Jonathan Napela , Uaua, and Kaleohano. These three had remained faithful during the Gibson days. They were pleased by the return of the Elders and were ready to follow their leadership. The conference was successful and the confidence of the members was in large measure, restored.
Elders Lorenzo Snow and Ezra Taft Benson reported the disposition of the "Gibson Problem" to President Young in the late Spring of 1864. On the basis of their report and reports from the four elders who remained in Hawaii, it appeared that if any further effort were to be made in Hawaii, it would need to be undertaken without additional imposition upon the island saints. President Young sent Francis A. Hammond and George Nebeker to Hawaii with the assignment to search and obtain land in Hawaii for the development of an agricultural colony. Elders Hammond and Nebeker left Salt Lake Valley on November 10, 1864. Hammond was making his third trip to the islands but it was the first such trip for George Nebeker. They arrived in Honolulu in December 1864 and began immediately to make inquiries regarding suitable land for an agricultural colony.
It was during this time that on January 20, 1865, a plot of land owned by Mr. Thomas T. Dougherty, a former American Consul, became available. Upon further investigation it revealed that the property was the entire ahupua'a of Laie. Laie was known to Elder Hammond as the location of a small branch of the church although he had never visited the place. Elder Farrer, in 1851, had visited Laie and made his first convert there. In 1854, as sites were being considered for gathering the saints, Elder Joseph F. Smith had recommended this community but Palawai on Lana'i was selected instead. Elder Hammond inspected the property, attended services at the small branch, and spent two days riding over the property. The site was the entire 6,000 acres of the ancient ahupua'a of Laie extending from the ridges of the mountains to the three mile length of shoreline. Elder Hammond was impressed with the land and offered to purchase the property from Mr. Dougherty. Elder Hammond purchased the entire ahupua'a for $14,000 which included all livestock and improvements. Laie became land for the church.
This was old news to some, especially to Elder William W. Cluff, who writes in his journal along with excerpts from a talk given by Jonathan Napela at Laie after his visit to Utah in 1869, the land of Laie was chosen before Hammond ever came to the place. W.W. Cluff was the missionary assigned in the summer of 1864 to visit the branches and members on the windward side of Oahu to assess conditions in the mission. He arrived in Laie late one day and stayed overnight at the ranch house on the property. On the following morning, as he prepared to take his journey again, he sought out a small grove of trees nearby for his morning prayer. As he prayed, he received a manifestation of the Spirit in which President Brigham Young and his Counselor Heber C. Kimball, appeared. They showed him the extent of the land, instructed him that it would be a gathering place for the saints, and informed him that a temple would be erected there. When Elder Cluff returned to Salt Lake City that winter, he reported this occurrence to President Brigham Young, who confirmed that it was to be so. Laie was intended to be the gathering place for the saints.
In late March of 1865, President Brigham Young drafted a letter to King Kamehameha V, requesting permission to locate an agricultural colony in Hawaii. Approval was given by the King but they were not to be active in spreading the gospel. On July 7, 1865, the 38 founders of the colony arrived at Laie under the leadership of George Nebeker who was now to preside over the mission, the Hawaiian Mission and also manage the plantation. His greatest challenges were; 1. Get the land under cultivation and make the settlement self-sufficient as quickly as possible; 2. Assist and be responsible with the growth of the church.
By 1865, sugar had proven to be the main crop for Hawaii. In 1867, Jonathan Napela and George Raymond, formed a small company and raised a crop of sugar cane in Kahana. It was obvious even before the harvest, that the venture would be successful. In 1868, Laie became a sugar plantation.
As the colonists put down roots, Hawaiian saints were invited to come to Laie. Some did, but most did not. Most still had bad memories of their experiences at Palawai. Most preferred to remain in the valleys and villages where they had been raised. Neither Laie nor Lana'i were successful as places of gathering during this time. Less than 300 of the nearly 4,000 members of the church in Hawaii moved to Laie, and from the beginning up until the turn of the century, Maui and Honolulu had larger populations of latter-day Saints.
In 1870, 14 local elders were selected and sent on various assignments throughout the kingdom. The effort was presided over by Jonathan Napela, who had moved to Laie with his wife. The new missionaries were well received and the reports they made to the October Conference of the Mission indicated that more than 1,000 converts had been added to the church. More families moved to Laie. Life in Laie, while not easy, was not totally dismal. A brass band was organized in the 1880's and gave life to the community. The saints were alerted or perhaps even startled each Sunday morning as the band led the way to meetings.
Perhaps the most exciting events of all were the visits of the royalty of the Kingdom. As early as 1851, the missionaries had tried to secure audience with King Kamehameha III but were unsuccessful. In April 1874, word was received at Laie that King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani would be arriving for a visit. Notice was so short, less than one day to prepare. The missionaries and the members hurried to welcome them. Flowers and a choir of children were part of the celebration. Both the King and the Queen were shocked at the large number of children in Laie and stated that more children were gathered at Laie than the rulers had ever seen before in their combined lives. The Queen was very impressed by the Women's Relief Society and she later organized a similar kind of group for reaching out and providing service in the Kingdom. The King and Queen were very comfortable among the saints and would return to visit Laie.
In 1885 a long and hard drought caused great despair among the saints in Laie and many prepared to leave the land and move elsewhere. In the midst of this turmoil, Elder Joseph F. Smith, former missionary and now a member of the First Presidency of the Church, returned to Laie. After viewing the situation at hand and hearing the cries of the saints, he spoke in a meeting, encouraging the people to stay in Laie. He called attention to plans for the eventual drilling of wells for water but could not promise immediate help. As he spoke, he prophesied "in the name of Israel's' God" that water would spring forth in abundance from the land and that plants and life found only in the mountains would come down to ornament the village. He also promised that "the glory of God would rest upon the land."
Following in the footsteps of the likes as Jonathan Napela who had gone to Salt Lake City in 1869 and received his temple blessings, many Hawaiians wished to do the same. This led to the formation of the Hawaiian colony called the Iosepa Agricultural and Stock Company located in Skull Valley in Tooele County, Utah. Though largely desert, the Hawaiian and other Polynesians residing there made this place their home and caused it to blossom as a rose. My grandparents met and were married there and four of their twelve children were born at Iosepa and I have been to visit that very special place. This colony lasted until 1917 when most of the saints returned to Laie to assist with the building of their long awaited temple in Laie.
From 1893 to 1899, the Hawaiian Mission was presided over by Matthew Noall. President Noall was the right person to be the President of the Hawaii Mission during this critical period which also saw the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the imprisonment of his personal friend Queen Lili'uokalani. His leadership was sufficient to hold the church together as factions developed between support for the Queen and the enthusiasm of the Haole missionaries for annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
Samuel E. Woolley, "cowhand" of the old Laie Plantation as a young missionary, and more recently an employee of the Iosepa Company in Skull Valley, succeeded President Noall in Laie. His knowledge of the land, language and the people enabled him to conduct the affairs of the mission. His style of leadership served the mission well during the years of the Republic and following the annexation to the United States, the early years of the Territory.
In 1900, the mission reached its 50th year. The saints celebrated the Golden Jubilee and were delighted that George Q. Cannon was able to return to Hawaii for the occasion. President Cannon, now of the First Presidency of the Church had never known Laie. Its purchase founding and progress were only known to him through letters and reports received in Salt Lake City. In the final thirty five years of the 19th century Laie had changed a lot. New buildings had been raised, including the meeting house, I Hemolele, which was the largest building on windward O'ahu in 1900. The number of frame houses had doubled as had the population. The milling operation of the plantation had been given up but employment was still offered to the residents in the planting and harvesting of sugar cane.
In the fifty years since the arrival of the missionaries in December 1850, twenty men had presided in the mission and more than 200 men and women had been called to labor in the islands. The success of the mission, however, must be credited, in large measure, to the dedicated and devoted efforts of converted Hawaiians. These men, supported by their women, served over and over again on missions, as did their children and grandchildren. Over time the names changed from Uaua, Napela, Kaleohano, Kou, Kanahunahupu, Maiola, Pake and Puoanui to second generation with names like Kanihonui, Kanekapu, Kealakaihonua, and Nihipali, Nainoa, Kekauoha, and Kalili appeared on the missionary rolls.
For nearly fifty years, men who had professed to be servants of the Lord and to speak in His name had predicted that a temple would be built in the islands. Beginning with the statement in tongues by Elder John Stillman Woodbury in 1853, utterances followed from William W. Cluff in 1864, Joseph F. Smith in 1885 and George Q. Cannon in 1900. In 1915, two general authorities of the Church accompanied President Joseph F. Smith to Hawaii--Elder Reed Smoot of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and Bishop Nibley of the Presiding Bishopric. Following a Church meeting in observance of Brigham Young's birthday held in I Hemolele, President Smith and his two companions withdrew to the rear of the building where he dedicated the ground for the building of a temple. This is another story to be carried on at another time.
Elder George Q. Cannon and the other founding missionaries of the Church left great blessings upon the people of Hawaiÿi, especially among those Hawaiian
missionaries who served and traveled with them. Likewise, many people both missionaries and others made great contributions to the growth of the Church in those early years. Some of them were members of the Church others were not. Some were of the Ali'i or chiefly class others were maka'äinana or commoners and some were not even Hawaiian. This section of my abridgement simply shares stories of some of these people and is not exhaustive of all those who came into contact with Church and helped to move it forward.
Elder George Q. Cannon:
He lost both his parents before he was 17 years old. His mother died in crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool, England to America. His father died in St. Louis as the family moved westward. George lived in the home of Heber C. Kimball. He was called to the Sandwich Islands by Elder Charles C. Rich of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, on September 25, 1850. After arriving in Hawaii he was assigned to labor in Maui. In a short three months he was able to converse and preach in Hawaiian. At a time when many of the first missionaries were going home or being reassigned Elder Cannon depending on guidance from prayer told his brethren that he felt that "friends were awaiting him." He traveled from Lahaina over to Wailuku, he was discouraged, feeling that his journey was in vain as no one seemed to be awaiting him. As he was preparing to return to Lahaina, someone called out to him from a fenced yard as he passed on a roadway leaving town. He responded to the calling out of two women and by the time he had reached the house, three men were also in the yard. Elder Cannon was asked in and invited to stay the weekend in the home of Jonathan Napela. The other men were Kaleohano, a relative of Napela, and Uaua of Lahaina, all three had been classmates at Lahainaluna. Elder Cannon did indeed meet friends who would influence the course, not only of his mission but of the Church in Hawaii.
After some trials Napela directed Cannon to return to Kula, on the slopes of Haleakalä and Napela gave him a letter of introduction to Napela's property manager there. Elder Keeler and Cannon traveled to Kula. Napela's manager of lands, Akuna Pake, provided Cannon and Keeler with a place to stay. Elder Cannon offered his first sermon in the Hawaiian language at the first Sabbath meeting held in their thatched meeting house in Kula. A month later, on Sunday, June 22, 1851, the first baptisms were performed on Maui. Pake was one of the first converts and Maiola was another. Also baptized on that occasion were Kaleohano (Napela's cousin) and his wife.
In July 1851, Cannon accompanied by Kaleohano opened the work on windward east Maui. Over 200 heard and accepted their message. They returned to Kula in the first week in August 1851 and on the 6th of that month Elder Cannon organized the first branch of the Church in the islands at Kealahou, a village near Pulehu.
Cannon's friend Napela and his family had come under attack by Protestant Church leaders and a very prominent Hawaiian Samuel Kamakau. Through inspiration, Cannon and Hammond arrived at Napela's home just as this group of men were trying to persuade him not to sympathize with these Mormons. Cannon's arrival was providential. As Elder Hammond's journal records, he was the only man alive sufficiently capable in the language and firmly enough founded in the doctrines of salvation to defend the teachings of the Church in that company. According to Hammond, the conversation moved from contention to disputation, from disputation to questioning, and from questioning to acquiescence by the coming of dawn.
This event proved to be a turning point in the fortunes of the Sandwich Islands Mission as both Napela and Uaua were baptized shortly thereafter. These two like their colleague, Kaleohano, began to accompany the haole elders on their missionary visits through the countryside. A remarkable outpouring of the Spirit was manifest in the work of these Hawaiian brethren as they preached with power, healed the sick and brought many into the waters of baptism.
Elder George Q. Cannon moved once more into the Napela household and together they began the work of translating the Book of Mormon to the Hawaiian Language. To the Hawaiian people he was fondly remembered by his adopted name as their own Keoki Pu Kuniahi. To the Hawaiians he was founder, translator, friend and pioneer.
M. Kanahunahupu Hawai'i
He was born in Waihe'e, Maui in 1826 and his legs were badly deformed and it was predicted that he would never walk. It was at Waihe'e through the work of Napela, Uaua and others in 1852, that M. Kanahunahupu Hawai'i heard and accepted the gospel. His handicap was such that he had never walked. He was helped from place to place, or, simply sat alone. As this man accepted the teachings and saw the healings occurring around him, he asked the elders to administer to him. As surely as signs follow them that believe, he was blessed by the priesthood to walk, and he did. He was still handicapped--a cripple--but he walked. From that time forward, his deformities did not impede his progress. He began to improve upon his abilities and was soon one of the ablest speakers in the mission. And he walked. He was known to have walked around Maui, Lana'i, O'ahu and most of the distance around the Big Island. In April 1854, Elder Hawai'i, received the Melchizedek Priesthood and went on his first mission to Lana'i with Elder Francis A. Hammond. As a result of his service in the mission field, Elder Hawai'i was able to throw away his cane. All who saw him witnessed that he walked with less difficulty and seemed a lot stronger. Enjoying the power of discernment promised by his father, Elder Hawai'i avoided much contact with Walter Murray Gibson and the operation of "his Church". His name is not found in the records of the Gibson regime. However, when Joseph F. Smith toured Maui in the spring of 1864, he found Elder Hawai'i still stable and ready to resume activity. He later came to live and serve here in Laie. In 1873 he accepted his second mission call to serve on the island of Hawaii in Hilo, Puna, and Ka'u. He later retired back to Laie where he came into contact with Queen Kapi'olani who admired his faith and fervor. He was later called to serve in East Maui than to Lana'i and Molokai. The mission at Kalaupapa was hard for him as he got to see his brother Napela who by now had contracted leprosy. In 1878 he and Elder Kaleohano were companions on another mission as they went to the court of King Kalakaua concerning the Tax being levied only against Mormon elders and were successful in getting full exemption. He was 54 years old when another mission call came in February 1880 when he traveled to Kaua'i where he labored for a few months before he contracted a fever and died suddenly. His honesty of heart and open curiosity led him to true humility and a faith greater than most. For his condition, he lived a long and productive life totally spent in the service of His Heavenly Father. To his missionary companions he was faithfully and affectionately remembered as "Elder K.".
Mary Kapo Kou
She was born of parents who were of maka'ainana, in Honolulu in 1827. She married J.W.H. Kou of Ewa who was of the ali'i class. They had a son named Ka'anu'u and a daughter, Deborah. Religious life for the sisters was largely supportive or passive until the "Sisters Meetings" were begun in November 1855. In July 1873, the Sister's Meeting organization changed to become the Hui Manawalea or Women's Relief Society of the Church. The Relief Society was established at Laie in July of 1873, and Mary Kapo Kou was the founding president. Sister Kapo received her Patriarchal Blessing from Patriarch Abraham Smoot when he came to Hawaii in 1880 with President Joseph F. Smith. Sister Kapo served as president of the Laie Relief Society for nearly twenty years, to be released only to become a counselor in the mission-wide organization to Sister Noall in 1893. In 1898 she was honored as the oldest living member in the islands, both in years of service and in age. Her final blessing came in 1900 as President George Q. Cannon returned to Hawai'i for the Golden Jubilee of the Mission. As he came to Laie, a number of persons received special blessings under his hand and Mama Kapo was one of them. For Mary Kapo Kou, this blessing crowned a long, happy and useful life in the service of her fellow beings, and, of course, in the service of her Heavenly Father.
Sister Nahinu Kamehaokalani:
By all accounts, the highest ranking ali'i to accept the teachings of the Gospel was Nahinu Kamehaokalani. In more ancient times, she would have been a kapu chiefess. She was the granddaughter to Kaumuali'i, the last ruling chief of Kaua'i. She was first cousin to Queen Kapi'olani and was born in the sacred acres of Wailua Valley on Kaua'i as heir to those lands. Raised as a chiefess, she was taught not only in the schools of the foreigners but in the lore of her people as well. She was an outstanding chanter, composer and dancer. Notwithstanding her high rank, Nahinu was taught to work with her hands and was master of the skills and tasks expected of the women of her people. She married Junius Ka'ae, a Mormon convert, a graduate of Lahainaluna college and a teacher at nearby Kealia, Kaua'i. Nahinu was called to the court of King Kalakaua in 1874 and was a favorite of Queen Kapiolani. Her husband became a member of the King's Guard. The young couple were well placed in the court of the King and Queen.
Both the King and Queen were impressed with the quality of life, the serenity and spiritual strength visible in the character of these two members of the court. It was this influence which the King and Queen to come to Laie. It was through Nahinu and Ka'ae that Queen attended meetings in Honolulu and she also invited missionaries to visit the royal palace. She also went to Kaua'i with the missionaries and in February 1879 she made land available for the first permanent meeting house on Kaua'i.
April 1880 found Nahinu and Ka'ae back in Honolulu making plans to move to Salt Lake City. They first went to Laie, planning to live there for a few months prior to setting out on the longer journey. They taught young elders in the language, took part in instruction in meetings, assisted missionary wives in their adapting to local conditions, and festive occasions, performing the chant and dance of her people. During this time she took up the teaching of the hula and is probable that this marked the beginning of a strong hula tradition in Laie which has come down to much later times. These months in Laie were happy for the Ka'aes and they grew in experience, faith and understanding of their religion. In October 1881, Nahinu was taken ill and could not throw off the effects of the ailment. A month later she called in the elders for a blessing and as the year drew to a close, her condition worsened. She passed away in January 1882.
Nahinu was characterized in the journals of the missionaries as a "zealous latter-day Saint, in and out of season, and a strong and beneficial influence on the Queen. Through her and other like her, the Church received a wider acceptance in the islands.
Kalawai'a: The Fisherman:
Kalawai'a was baptized by Elder George Q. Cannon in 1851. In April 1855, he became the companion a newly arrived missionary, a very young Joseph F. Smith, who was only 15 years old. The young missionary was not robust in health and required some extra by way of care and patience. To Kalawai'a, he became a sort of younger brother, and was thus, a joy to provide for. He served many missions like all the other local missionaries. While on a mission on the Big Island, one companion reported an event in a conference talk which showed the spiritual rigors of missionary life. The missionaries were traveling along an upland trail in the district of Kona. A number of persons were riding with them so there was a group rather than just two elders. One of the horses threw its rider, injuring him so that he could not continue. Elder Kalawai'a laid hands upon his head and blessed him, by the power of the priesthood, restoring him to his normal strength. They had hardly set out again when another of the animals became so unruly that the safety of the entire party was threatened. Everyone stopped and feelings were expressed that they were, perhaps, the target of a Hawaiian sorcerer, a kahuna ana'ana. Kalawai'a and his companion, another local elder urged the group to move on. They sent their mounts on as well and hid themselves to wait beside the trail. They had waited only a few minutes before they heard chanting which they recognized as a curse. A man came along the trail carrying some objects in his hands and voicing the chant. The two missionaries seized the man and held him still while Kalawai'a laid hands on his head and rebuked his power. The kahuna, stopped what he was doing, was disoriented but unharmed and was told to go back the way he had come. The two missionaries caught up with the party and the remainder of their journey was uninterrupted.
Uaua: The Thunderstorm:
Uaua whose name signifies "Rain, Rain," might well have been called a thunderstorm, for such he was as a missionary." (elder Nathan Tanner). Uaua was the son of Ua, a Molokai Ali'i, who resided at Pukoo, the place of his birth. Uaua was one of the "friends who were waiting" for Elder George Q. Cannon as he was led to the home of Napela on the evening in March 1851. Uaua was a man of great faith. Upon returning to his home at Lahaina, he was deeply shocked to learn that his wife had died. The doctor had made his pronouncement and left the house three hours earlier. The uwe or wailing had already begun, the baby had been bundled off, and their family were making preparations for the burial. Uaua met the grieving friends and ohana as they surrounded the bed, and quietly asked them to leave. Alone then, he anointed his wife and blessed her. Sister Uaua was raised from her deathbed, recovered in life and health. She immediately called for her baby. The confidence of Uaua waxed strong in the presence of his Heavenly Father and his faith wrought a miracle. Elder George Q. Cannon, journalizing after this occurrence, wrote "Brother Uaua is a man of considerable faith."
Uaua was called, 1869, to preside in the Honolulu district, and, in that capacity, reported his stewardship semi-annually in mission conferences. In this connection, he participated in an event at Laie in 1870 which has had far-reaching effects. At conference in that year, Uaua introduced a practice which found a permanent place in Church meetings and elsewhere. As he stood at the pulpit, without speaking, he withdrew a folded handkerchief from his breast pocket. He carefully opened the handkerchief, held it by two corners and "shook it out" before the congregation, saying, "Aloha from the Honolulu Conference." He then placed the handkerchief flat on the pulpit, asked those assembled to send their aloha back to his conference in Honolulu by saying it aloud and in unison. He then folded up the cloth which now, symbolically, contained the greeting and returned it to his p0cket. He then reported the affairs of his district. As the next speaker came to the pulpit, he repeated the "Aloha" greeting with his handkerchief before making his report. The practice became immediately popular and marks the beginning of a practice, found nowhere else in the world or the Church, wherein a speaker begins his remarks with "Aloha" to which the congregation responds aloud.
Kaleohano: A Voice of Authority:
He was born at Pulehu, Maui. He was a faithful servant of Heavenly Father and one who remained true and faithful until the end. I will not write much about Elder Kaleohano at this time as much has already been stated about his work, faith, and service. I add my testimony to those things and once again express my deep appreciation to Elder Kaleohano for bringing the gospel to my family in Kula and the Makawao area. Mahalo nui loa.
Napela: A Friend who was waiting:
After a life of service, succumbed to the leprosy from which he suffered on August 6, 1879. He is certainly the most prominent Hawaiian elder in the history of the Sandwich Islands Mission. He was endowed during his visit to Salt Lake City and was ordained to the office of a Seventy--the first of his race to hold such office in the Priesthood. Elder John Stillman Woodbury recorded a passage in 1864 which could well have been the eulogy for this great man:
"Bro. Napela is a noble hearted man and has done more in assisting the elders than any other elder in these islands and he is a man who searches into and understands principles. He had fed us and assisting in clothing the elders from the time he first took hold of this work and took Brother Cannon in when he had no place to go, and there was not a saint baptized on the island."
I thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity I've had to prepare this abridgement of our people and the arrival of the Mormon Missionaries to our islands of Hawaiÿi in 1850. I pray that this abridgement will bring light and understanding to those who may read it in the future and will help them to know that the work of the Lord will continue to grow among the Hawaiian people here on these isles of the sea. I bear you my testimony that I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God who restored the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this the last dispensation of the fullness of time. May we live our lives so that we too may have the same faith of our Küpuna and remain steadfast to the truth of the Restoration. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
William Kauaiwiulaokalani Wallace III
High Priest, Lä'ie Third Ward
Lä'ie Hawai'i Stake
The following materials are valuable sources which you should consider and go to if you want more information on this period of Church history.
1. Cannon, George Q., "Journal of Travels to the Hawaiian Mission Jubilee." Typescript of dictation taken by Clawson Y. Cannon. Joseph F. Smith Library, Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus. Laie, Hawai'i. (JFS Library, BYU-H)
2. Jensen, Andrew, "Manuscript History of the Hawaiian Mission." Bound Typescript, 6 volumes, JFS Library, BYUH.
3. Kenn, Charles W., "Lecture Series," on aspects of early Hawaiian religion, views and attitudes. Cassette Tapes. Sponsored by the Program of Hawaiian Studies, Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus, May 1-29, 1980. Copies in possession of Joseph H. Spurrier. (Need to contact Spurrier family).
4. Musser, Joseph B., "Laie-Home Place of the Church in Hawaiÿi." Typescript in possession of Joseph H. Spurrier. (Need to contact Spurrier family).
Britsch, R. Lanier, "Moramona-The Mormons in Hawaii", The Institute for Polynesian Studies, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Brigham Young University, Laie, Hawaii, (1989).
Spurrier, Joseph H., "Sandwich Islands Saints," printed in Hong Kong, (1989).
More sources and journals are found in the archives and library at BYU-Hawai'i. Those who are interested should plan on spending some time at this very special library. Mahalo nui loa. E mälama pono kakou.
1. Nani Laie i ka ulu o na pua
I ka ulu wehiwehi a'o ka paina
Ho'ike a'e oe i kou nani
I ka malamalama a'o ka uila.
Nani laie i ka'u i ke la
Ha'aheo i ka luna
A'o lanihuli la
Ka hoku kaulana ia ma kahikina.
2. Nani laniloa i ka 'ehu 'ehu o ke kai
Ho'ohenoheno ia nei me ka hinahina
I hoapili no Beauty Hole
Ia wai ma ka'ika'i a ka malihini.
LAIE KUU AINA ALOHA
1. Laie kuu aina aloha,
Aina hoohihi a ka malihini;
Ke pookela o Hawai'i nei,
Ka pu'uhonua o ka Lahui.
Laie ku'u aina aloha,
Aina nani ulu wehiwehi;
Ka Halela'a ku kilakila,
I ka poli o I Hemolele
2. O kou mau mala pua a'ala,
I lawea ia mai e ka makani;
Puana mai ka leo hone,
Hanohano ho oi e Laie
3. Hi'ehi'e o Lanihuli,
Me na kuku'i malamalama;
Kaulana oe ma Hawai'i nei,
Ka Paredaiso o ka moana.
1. Laie e, Laie e,
Kahi ho'i e ku mai nei
Ka Halela'a o ke Ali'i
Hale nani aiai.
Laie e, Laie e,
Laie e ka makamae;
Kou Haleaa nani no.
Aiai a kamaha'o.
2. E imi au a maemae,
Ko'u naau e hiki a'e;
Ua hale la e komo ho'i,
I loa'a na pomaikai.
3. Laie e, ua pomaikai,
No ka mea ua ike oe,
Na kaula maoli o Iesu,
Ike oe a launa pu.
1. Behold Laie, Lovely Laie
You are the fairest of the
roses kissed by dew.
For you Laie, the sky is
blue, the rainbows spread
their shining wings
because of you!
2. Behold Laie, Lovely Laie
You are the magic of the
Moon on Puna's shore.
If you should love me
Just once I know,
I'd never let you go
For ever more.