Notes of a Tour Around Oahu, 1839

In 1839, E. O. Hall and a group from the mission in Honolulu traveled around the island of O‘ahu visiting various localities. His notes from the journey were published in Volume II, No. I of the Hawaiian Spectator under the title of “Notes of a Tour around Oahu” (1839). Hall’s narratives include descriptions of places visited and changes in agricultural endeavors and living conditions, with notes from Honouliuli Ahupua‘a and neighboring lands.

The objects of the tour were, principally, to become better acquainted with the people, by seeing them at their own houses; and, by being cut off from the English language for a time, to acquire of the people among whom I expect to spend the remainder of my days…

As the journey from Honolulu to Ewa, or Pearl River, is so frequently made, it will be unnecessary to dwell on that part of the route; unless it be merely to say, that after the first mile is passed, most of which is through the sea where one has to ride in a most uncomfortable position or get at least his feet wet, the road is quite pleasant … the next object of interest to attract attention is the Salt Lake. This is a natural curiosity well worth visiting, especially in the dry season, when the whole margin, and sometime the bed itself, is covered with beautiful salt in immense quantities. It is about one fourth of a mile distant from, and a few feet higher than the sea, and is connected with it by a hole in the centre.

The rest of the way to Ewa presents little of interest to the traveler. There are however several beautiful spots, where the eye will rest with delight, when the blessing of civilization and Christianity shall have through around them the comforts of other lands; and systematic agricultural pursuits have covered the field with golden harvests, and filled the lap of the cultivator with the prolific bounties of a beneficent Providence. Ewa is a place of little interest to the tourist except in a moral point of view. In this respect, however; its inhabitants, about 3,500 in number, may be regarded with peculiar pleasure by the philanthropist and Christian; for their improvement in morals, and consequently civilization, during the past four years is very striking. And the attention they are beginning to bestow upon their persons, children, houses, yards, etc., in the immediate vicinity of the missionary establishment is far better evidence on the subject of missionary influence, than any other that can be obtained.

Rising before the dawn, we left the low ground of the river, just as the natives were assembling in great numbers to spend their accustomed hour in the worship of Jehovah; and as we wound slowly up the hill which we have to ascend on leaving the quiet and secluded residence of the missionary, and cast our eyes around on the many interesting objects immediately about us; and looked still farther back on the distant city of Honolulu on which the sun was just shining as he rose in all his majesty above the high range of Konahuanui, the beauty of the scene and the quiet and peace of the hour, called up in the mind meditations of the most pleasing character. Lifeless, indeed, must be the heart that does not vibrate in unison with nature at such hours, and whose better sympathies are not called out in moments like these.

Passing all the villages, at one or two of which we stopped, we crossed the barren, desolate plain, at the termination of what is Barber’s point; and after passing round the south-east termination of the mountain range of Kaala, and traversing a barren tract of ten or twelve miles, we arrived at the most considerable settlement in Waianae, called Pukahea [Puukahea]. [12]

Related Documents

The narratives cited in the Land UseEarly Post-Contact Period category were penned by native Hawaiians, foreign visitors, and residents, and include some of the earliest accounts describing the Honouliuli vicinity following western Contact. The narratives provide an overview of

•  changes in the landscape;
•  the decreasing Hawaiian presence;
•  loss of wahi pana and noted places;
•  development of ranching and plantation business interests in the region;
•  concerns about United States control over Pearl Harbor and “Reciprocity;”
•  the changing make-up of the communities; and
•  travel on the land.

In 1820, the first contingent of Protestant missionaries associated with the American Board of Christian Foreign Missions (ABCFM) arrived in the Hawaiian Islands. The Honolulu station became the focal point of the missionary’s operations, with substations on the major islands in the largest population centers. Periodically, the Honolulu station managers would travel around Oahu to inspect the progress being made in work in the outlying stations, including church work, educational endeavors, and facilities to support the foreign missionaries’ living situation. Levi Chamberlain made tours of Oahu in 1826 and 1828 and wrote fairly detailed descriptions of the districts he visited, including passing reference to Honouliuli.

The following is an excerpt of Chamberlain’s original handwritten notes, which were digitized from the ABCFM archives at Harvard by Kumu Pono Associates in 2004. It is from Chamberlain to Rufus Anderson, dated September 12, 1828 and describes two trips made around the island of Oahu to examine the schools and determine progress in the education of the natives.

About two years ago I performed a tour around this island, and I have recently made another. It was my intention to give you a brief account of my first tour, but I could not find time to do it while the scenes that passed under my observation and the events that transpired were fresh to my mind & retained their hold upon my feelings.

I propose now to give you a history of my last tour, and in doing it I may refer to my minuets of the former tour … I shall now attempt to give some account of the tour, and of the schools which I visited. I will begin my mentioning the names of my hoahele, [fellow travelers] which were as follows: Jesse Kahananui, Lazarus Kamakahiki, Abraham Naaoa, members of the church, Kaukaliu & Kauhikoa, serious and intelligent native teachers, each of whom had one or more attendants to accompany them & to carry food and baggage. I was also furnished by Kaahumanu with a suitable number of persons to carry my food & bedding, and to attend to my wants on the way…

[Departing from the Waianae District, Chamberlain wrote]:

…The food by which the inhabitants are supplied, is cultivated in the vallies, which open among the mountains two or three mile from the shore.

It was quite dark when we reached Waimanalo, and our arriving at the school house in which we expected to put up, we were disappointed to find it deserted; and it was infested with fleas that we feared we could not make ourselves comfortable in it. Some of the people of the place gathered around us, & we besought them to afford us accommodations in someone of their houses. One man whose house stood nearest us and who was, I believe, the head man of the place, readily offered us his, and immediately began to put things in order for our accommodations; he did what he could to make us comfortable, and, as the house was small, vacated it entirely for our use.

Saturday Feb. 9th I enjoyed comfortable repose during the night and awaked refreshed.  I arose and united with my attendants in singing a hymn, and offering a tribute of thanksgiving to God for his care & unfailing kindness. After breakfast a few scholars assembled in front of the house. I examined them and to one of them I gave a catechism and a Sermon on the mount.

Their teacher was absent, and I exhorted them not, on that account, to neglect instructions, but to give more attention to it, to assemble on the Sabbath, and learn the catechism, and repeat passages from the word of God. At 10 minutes before 8 o’ck, after thanking our kind host for his attention to us, we set out for the next district. In consequence of the recent heavy rains the roads were very muddy, & the travelling very bad. We had met with nothing like it in any part of our previous journey travelling. After walking three hours & most of the time in mud, we reached Honouliuli in the district of Ewa. A school of 22 scholars had assembled which I examined. The head man, Kawaa, very kindly entertained me, caused a fowl to be cooked and some kalo to be nicely prepared, and furnished the native with a liberal supply of fish and poi. He invited me to stop and spend the Sabbath with him; but as his house was small, and our company had now become large by the accession of the teachers & their attendants who separated from us at Waialua and had crossed the inland and had put up at this place, I thought it best to decline his offer. But feeling desirous that religious worship should be conducted here on the morrow, I recommended that the party who had crossed the island should spend the Sabbath here, while we who had travelled round the shore, should proceed to the next considerable settlement, and make arrangements for spending the Sabbath.

Having expressed to Kawaa my thanks for his kindness, I set forwards with my attendants, and between the hours for three & four o’ck P.M. arrived at Waikele. Towards evening I attended to the examination of two schools, which met in front of the house where I had put up. At the close of the examination I gave information that religious worship would be conducted in the same place on the morrow & requested that all the people of the place should be informed & invited to attend.

Sabbath Feby. 10th The people of Waikele & the neighboring lands assembled in the forenoon to the number of 150 or 200.1


1Typed by Kumu Pono Associates from a copy of the original handwritten letter in the collection of the ABCFM, Houghton Library, Harvard, Reel 794.