Editor’s note: Honolulu’s visitors have told fascinating stories over the years. Civil Beat looked through vintage news clippings to give today’s APEC visitors a sense of the history of visits to this place. This is the seventh and final historical tidbit. With thanks to Pake Zane and Julie Lauster of Antique Alley.

Lucia Ruggles Holman was with the first group of missionaries to arrive in Hawaii.

She was the wife of a doctor, Thomas Holman. The couple arrived in 1820 and what makes her diary unusual, according to an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from the 1930s, is that she wrote about things men probably wouldn’t write about, such as meals and the dresses of the people she met.

In her diary, the article says, she describes what happened when their ship, the Thaddeus, anchored off Kailua. I think it’s safe to say that no APEC visitor will have a reception quite as elegant — or as interesting.

But one thing is certain, they will hear the same greeting Lucia Holman received almost 200 years ago — Aloha.

Here’s how the article by Bishop H.B. Restarick describes Holman’s experience.

“On April 7, three days after they had anchored off Kailua, Krimokoo (Kalanimoku) sent to the ship a present of coconuts, bananas, breadfruit, taro, sweet potatoes and two hogs. Then there came out to the Thaddeus a part of the royal family, the high chief and wife, two widows of Kamehameha, and their attendants, 30 persons in all. They came in a large double canoe with an awning. Krimokoo was well dressed in English style and his wife was clad in Chinese silk and ‘tapper’ (tapa).”

“One of the queens wore a striped calico dress, the other a black velvet robe trimmed round the bottom with elegant gilt ‘ribband.’ Each had a beautiful wreath of yellow feathers curiously wrought around the head. The gowns were made in the old continental style with long tight sleeves. All were barefoot.”

“When they came on board they gave their hands to the missionaries and said ‘Aloha.’ Then they took seats and began to admire the ladies and children. One of the old queens who weighed about 350 pounds took Mrs. Holman on her lap and felt her from head to foot and said she, ‘must cow-cow more and be nooe nooe,’ (‘Must eat more and be large.’) The word kau-kau is not Hawaiian and the use of it for ai, ‘to eat,’ they had learned from sailors who got it probably from the Chinese.)


APEC Live Blog

About the Author