I met one of my cousins for the first time last week.
Timmy Leong lives over on Molokai. He was in Honolulu for a funeral, and stopped by to talk to my mother and sister about his genealogy research. We’re about the same age. We’ve been living in Hawaii all this time. We’ve never crossed paths directly. Until now.
We’re actually second cousins. Our grandmothers were sisters, and so we share common ancestors on that side of our families.
My mother, and now my sister, have been the researchers and keepers of this history. I confess getting only bits and pieces of knowledge over the years.
Cousin Timmy has gotten himself seriously into researching our great great grandfather, Kahooilimoku. He was born sometime prior to 1850, lived and owned property in Hana, Maui, and was sent to Kalaupapa in about 1888, where he died within a couple of years. Research in the Bureau of Conveyances, the State Archives, and various church records has turned up numerous fragments of Kahooilimoku’s life, including an original royal patent land grant in Hana, property descriptions in the tax rolls of the Kingdom, and mentions of his participation in the life of his church.
Here’s a photo of Kahooilimoku’s daughter, our great-grandmother, Kina, originally from Hana, with two daughters, Heleualani Eva, my grandmother, and Helen Mary Kahooilimoku. The third sister (and Timmy’s grandmother) Louisa Kapeheolanakila, had not been born yet.
The photo was taken in 1891 while on a trip to San Francisco.
My mother described that 1891 trip in a brief essay about my great grandfather (and her grandfather), Robert William Cathcart. It’s one of those bits of history that ties together family and community. She tells how Cathcart got to know a young part-Tahitian man, John Henry Wilson, and encouraged him to pursue a higher education. In 1891, Cathcart and Kina accompanied Wilson to California, where Wilson enrolled in the first entering class at the newly opened Stanford University.
Wilson later served as mayor of Honolulu three times between 1920 and 1954. Family history merges with island history.