Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"A Great Man" (Death of Patrick Connell. 1846)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: February 28, 1846.

A GREAT MAN: -We felt very much like going into mourning, and did, indeed, spatter the margin of the book with a pen full of ink, as we laid down the third volume of Wilkes's Exploring expeditions, struck with the record of the death of Patrick Connell.

Poor Patrick-or, as he was called for shortness, Paddy. It is a pleasant way the world has of signifying its affection for a man, by smoothing his name-of shaking out the wrinkles- of softening down the final consonants into delicate vowels. Subtending the angles of some three syllabled appellative with a single sounded hypotenuse. 

Captain Wilkes, on arriving at one of the farthest and most undesirable of the Fejee Islands, where pig's flesh is a luxury, and human flesh a high holiday food, had a visit from a host of the oil-bedaubed and clay-covered inhabitants, whom he addressed through an interpreter, and whose wants, in the way of jackknives, beads and glass bottles, he supplied.

With a modesty acquired, of course, among the cannibals, one inhabitant gently pressed aside the interpreter, and, to the question of what he wanted replied, that "his honor should give him a hatchet for the children."

Great was the astonishment of the captain to ascertain that beneath the bushy head and oiled skin before him beat the heart of an Irishman, who, to the question of what he was doing there, replied, "raising pigs, hens and children."

The pigs and the hens did not multiply rapidly, but Patrick was the happy father of "Forty-Eight Children," and was living with the hopes of two more that very year.

But, alas, the hopes of this Priam of the Fejees were blasted-not in the failure of his plans, but in the termination of his life. He died in a few months afterwards, "leaving a large circle of wives and children to deplore their irreparable loss. [Phil. U.S. Gaz.]

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Exploring Expedition Charts (April, 1846)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: April 4, 1846

There is now at the custom house in this city, for sale by the collector, also at the navy department, Washington, a number of sets of seventy distinct charts. 

Chart of the Antarctic Continent by the U.S. Exploring Expedition. 

In about two weeks there will be added to this number forty-nine charts more, which will make one hundred and nineteen distinct charts on fifty-four sheets, embracing the most important surveys of the Pacific ocean. 

The price marked on the sheet is thirteen and twenty-five cents each, only the cost of paper and printing. 

All the remaining charts of the surveys of the exploring expedition will be engraved and printed during the winter, and will make in all two hundred and eight distinct charts on ninety sheets. We have seen most of the charts already out; but this is a small matter in comparison with the vast amount of geographical and topographical information which they contain. 

Whoever examines these maps, will see that the exploring expedition, during their three years absence from the country, had a plenty of work to do. 

The soundings and other observations at various localities, are, we had almost said, innumerable. We were particularly interested with the charts and profiles of the Antarctic Continent, the coast of Oregon, the mouth of the Columbia River, (which was explored and sounded for one hundred miles) and some of the gouts of islands in the Pacific. 

To navigators especially, these charts will be invaluable, and they are furnished as a very low price-the object being to diffuse information, and not to make money. -N.Y. J. Com. 

Dr. Judd's "Most Wonderful Escape" at Kilaurea (1841)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: February 13, 1841, page 143.

Dr. Judd, of this town, who accompanied the Scientific Corps of the Exploring Squadron in their excursions on Hawaii, had a most wonderful escape from an awful death.

He had descended into the crater of Kilaurea [Kilauea], to obtain some specimens of the liquid lava. Not succeeding in procuring any at the Great Lake, (as it is called) he approached one of the smaller ones, or chimneys, and descended a few feet into it.

While gathering specimens, the lake suddenly became active, and discharged a jet of lava into the air far above his head, but which most fortunately fell in the opposite direction of him.

He then commenced making his way out, before another should follow, but the ascent was far more difficult than the descent. He became alarmed, and called on five natives who had accompanied him to the spot, for assistance. 

The heat had become so great that they were frightened and retreated with the exception of one man, who threw himself flat upon the bank, and reaching over his right hand, enabled the Doctor to reach the top. 

But before he reached the brink, his clothes were burnt by the hot air, and he would have been scalded had he not been protected by woolen garments. The native in stooping over, had his face and hands blistered. They both had barely time to leave the spot, when the lake filled up and poured out a stream of liquid lava. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Arrival of U.S. Brig Porpoise in Honolulu (October, 1840)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: Saturday, October 10, 1840. Page 71, column 2.

The U.S. Brig Porpoise, Capt. Ringgold, arrived on Wednesday, after a short passage of 27 days from the Samoa Islands. Officers and crew all well. A list of officers will be found in our last number. All the vessels of the Exploring Squadron are now in port, and from what we hear, will make a long stay. 

The Porpoise after parting with her consorts, returned to one of the Fiji Islands to protect or take away as the occasion might require, a family of Wesleyan missionaries settled there, whose lives were supposed to be endangered by the savages. But the preferred remaining, having been promised protection by the old king. 

From thence, the brig went to the Navigator Islands, and there learned the particulars of the death of Capt. Corker, of the Favorite, which were somewhat different from the account given in a previous number. It seems that Capt. Croker, having failed to make peace at the council, returned on board and threatened the heathen party with instant war if they did not sign the treaty he presented, within a specified time.  The natives, refusing to do so, he landed, with one hundred men and two small guns, and marched to assault their fort, which was strongly fortified after the native manner.

After battering down one of the gates, he immediately marched forward to take the place by assault, leading the column himself -but fell, pierced is it said with eighteen balls- three of his men were also killed, seventeen dangerously wounded, and not one of the officers escaped unhurt. The party were obliged to retreat leaving their guns behind them. The first Lieutenant assumed command of the vessel, and at the request of the English missionaries stationed there, took them on board and conveyed them to Vavvau, where they were to remain until affairs become more settled. 

Vindovi, a Prisoner on Board the Vincennes. (October 1840)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: October 3, 1840

Image Credit: American Antiquarian Society. Click here. 

We understand that the name of the Fiji chief who is now a prisoner on board the Vincennes, is Vindovi, and that he is from the town of Rewa, one of the most important places in the group. He was, moreover, hereditary chief of the large island of Kandavu, at which place the outrage was committed for which he has been seized. It appears that in the autumn of 1834, the American brig “Charles Daggett,” was cruising among those islands to obtain beach-le-mar, and that the Captain (Bachelor) having, as he supposed, obtained the goodwill of Vindovi, determined to make his island one of his principal stations. He previously took on board as pilots and interpreters two or three white men who are living on the island, and it is from them that the details of the transaction has been obtained. 

The captain also took the precaution, at first, of keeping a chief as hostage onboard; but after a few days, pretending to be sick, he was in cautiously set on shore. One of the interpreters, who was then at beach-le-mar, perceiving this and seeing, at the same time, some suspicious movements among the natives, became convinced that they had formed the design of taking the brig, and as soon as he saw the mate coming ashore, he went to him and told him what he had observed. The mate immediately came to the same conclusion, and turned to walk to the landing place where he had left his boat; but Vindovi, who was in company with him, suspected that his treachery was discovered and determined to secure at least what was in his power. 

He took the hand of the mate in a friendly manner, and walked along a short distance with him. Then suddenly stopping he seized both the arms of his companion, and pinioned them to his side, giving the signal for the assault. Some of the savages beat out the brains of the mate, while he was held by Vandovi, and a great number attacked the house in which the other men were and killed two of them. 

The interpreter and a Tahitian escaped with great difficulty by swimming off to a boat. The next day the bodies of the murdered men were obtained by paying a musket for them and were sewed up in a sail and buried alongside. The capture of Vindovi was effected by seizing upon the principal chiefs of Reva, and keeping them on board the Peacock, until he was given up. Although it is to be regretted that so many years were allowed to elapse before any notice was taken of this outrage, yet the case, as it has occurred, will be of use by convincing the natives that the lapse of time alone, will not secure them against the consequences of their perfidy. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fiji Islands (September, 1840)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: Saturday, September 26, 1840. Page 63

The United States schooner Flying Fish, G. Sinclair, commander, arrived on Saturday last, 35 days from the Fijii Islands, among which the Exploring Squadron have been cruising for the last three months. The remainder of the Squadron sailed four days before her for this place, and may be hourly expected. 

Map of the Fiji Islands. Image credit:

Captain Sinclair informs us of the distressing intelligence of the murder of Lieut. J.A. Underwood and Midshipman Wilkes Henry, a nephew of Capt. Wilkes, in a most treacherous manner by the natives of Malolo, one of the Fiji group. These unfortunate officers having gone ashore with but a few men, were attacked and killed almost instantly, but not until they had shot four of their assailants, who were the very men that but a few minutes before they had employed in tracking boats over the reef. The men with them were wounded, but escaped. The Squadron’s boats being near, immediately pulled in and commenced a well directed fire upon the savages, under cover of which Lieut. Alden landed and brought off the bodies, which were entirely stript. 

Had not the natives been fully occupied and carrying off their own dead, their bodies would been taken away and devoured. This occurred on 25th July. Capt. W immediately made preparations for attacking their town and fort, which the savages considered impregnable. The seamen were landed and a fire was opened upon it, but without much effect, until a rocket, or a “Flying Spirit,” as they called it set fire to their town, and created great consternation. It was finally carried by assault. The natives fought well, and even stood a charge of bayonet, but were finally beaten at all points, seventy or more were killed, the fort and town burnt, their plantations destroyed, and the island laid waste. These islanders have always been noted for their ferocity, and treachery, and cannibalism. characteristics which it seems they fully retain.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ships Officers of the Exploring Expedition in Honolulu (1840)

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: Saturday, October 3, 1840. Page 66.

His Hawaiian Majesty, and Queen mother, Kekauluohi, and suite, arrived in town on Tuesday last, and were received with the customary royal salute. All in excellent health.

On Wednesday morning, the Captain and Officers of the Vincennes, called upon His Hawaiian Majesty.

CHARLES WILKES, Esp., Commander of the Exploring Expedition.
Lieutenants Overtin Carr, J. Alden, A.L. Case, T.A. Budd.
Purser and Special Agent, R.R. Waldron.
Master, G.M. Totten.
Chaplain, Rev. J.L. Elliot.
Assistant Surgeons, J.L. Fox, J.S. Whittle.
Passed Midshipmen, G.W. Hamersly, S.B. Elliot.
Clerk, J.R. Howison.
Boatswain, W. Smith.
Gunner, J.G. Williamson.
Carpenter, A Chicks.
Sailmaker, S.V. Hawkins.
Pilot, B. Vanderford. 
Purser;s Clerk, R. Robinson.
Master’s Mate, J.W. Dyes. 

C. Pickering, Naturalist. J.P. Couthouy, do.
J. Drayton, Artist. 
H.E. Hale, Philologist.
W.D. Breckenridge, Assistant Botanist.
J. G. Brown, Repairer of Instruments.

G. T. Sinclair, Act. Master. J.W. Lewis, Pas’d Mid.

WILLIAM L. HUDSON, Esq., Commander.
Lieutenants, W. M. Walker, G. Emmons, O.H. Perry, and E.J. DeHaven.
Master, A.S. Baldwin.
Purser, W. Speiden.
Acting Surgeon, J.C. Palmer.
Assistant Surgeon, C.F. Gillou.
Passed Mid-shipmen, L.Davis, W. Reynolds, G.W. Colvocoressis, G.W. Harrison.
Midshipmen, E. Thompson, G.W. Clark, W.H. Hudson.
Boatswain, S. Bell.
Carpenter, J. Dibble.
Gunner, J. Anderson.
Master’s Mate, ___ Cisney
Purser’s Clerk, J. Powers.

T.R. Peale, Naturalist.
W. Rich, Botanist.
J.D. Dana, Mineralogist.
Agate, Artist.

C. RINGGOLD, Esq., Commander.
Lieutenants, R.E. Johnson, W.L. Maury, J. North.
Acting Master, S.R. Knox.
Assist. Surg., S. Holmes.
Clerk, T.W. Waldron.
Boatswain, J.E. Frost.

Purser’s Clerk, W.H. Moore.