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Forgotten Empires: The Legacy of John Diedrich Spreckels




Left to Right: John Spreckels, Virgilis Bruschi, Frank Belcher, Fred Heilbron, John Held, Harry Weitzel, Louis WIlde
1914 Completion of the San Diego & Arizona Railway "The Impossible Railroad" 1914

Light in the Queen's Garden: Ida May Pope, Pioneer for Hawai'i's Daughters, 1862–1914 is an historical account of a woman from the heartland of America who landed in the Kingdom of Hawai`i at the end of the 19th century. When young Oberlin graduate, Ida Pope accepted a "temporary" teaching job in a boarding school for Hawaiian girls, founded by American missionaries and led by Queen Lili'uokalani, she couldn't have imagined it would become a lifelong career of service to Hawaiian women. Nor could she have envisioned she would become closely involved in the greatest political turmoil the Hawaiians had ever experienced.


Newly discovered primary sources are used to flesh out and enliven the historical account of the 1893 Hawaiian Revolution that happened literally outside the school's windows. A day-by-day accounting of the events surrounding the coup d'état through the eyes of Pope's young pupils is offered for the first time. Lili'uokalani's adopted daughter's long-lost oral history recording, many of Pope's teaching contemporaries' unpublished diaries, letters, scrapbooks and photos tell a story that has never been told before.


Towering royal personages in Hawai`i's history, King Kalākaua, Queen Lili`uokalani, Princess Ka`iulani and others, appear as Pope sheltered Hawai`i's daughters through the frightening and turbulent end of their sovereign nation. Pope was present during the life celebrations of the king, and then his sad death rituals. She then had the extraordinary opportunity to travel with the queen on her controversial trip to Kalaupapa's "Leper Colony" to visit Saint Marianne Cope and afflicted pupils.


Pope became a source of inspiration for Hawai`i's educational leaders and with the endorsement of Lili`uokalani and Charles Bishop, established the Kamehameha School for Girls in 1894 funded by the estate of Princess Pauahi Bishop, the last of the royal Kamehameha line. Pope furthered her own education with courses at the University of Chicago. Inspired by John Dewey and others, she shaped and reshaped Kamehameha's curriculum through a process of conflict and compromise. Fired up by the era's doctrine of social and vocational relevance, she adapted the curriculum to prepare her students for entry into meaningful careers. Lili`uokalani's daughter, Lydia Kaʻonohiponiponiokalani Aholo, was placed in the school and Pope played a significant role in mothering and shaping her future, especially during the years the queen was fighting to restore her kingdom.  


As Hawai`i moved into the 20th century under a new flag, Ida tenaciously confronted the effects of industrialization, the growing concentration of outside economic power and worked tirelessly to attain social reforms to give Hawaiian women their rightful place in society. But, the male-dominated society and their Victorian view of the female role sought to thwart her efforts. Undaunted, Pope, the pragmatic activist, achieved on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, what other extraordinary women like Jane Addams, Ida Tarbell and Lillian Wald did concurrently in her homeland.

Light in The Queen's Garden: Ida May Pope, Pioneer for Hawaii's Daughters

In the darkest era of Hawaiian history, the queen gave her people a garden as a sanctuary, a safe gathering place when it was illegal for them to gather in public . This event coincided with the Ida’s opening of the Kamehameha School for Girls in 1894. The garden’s name, Uluhaimalama, allegorically translates “as the plants grow out of the dark into the light so shall light come to the nation. ” For many Hawaiian girls, the school was their “Uluhaimalama,” and Ida Pope was the bright shining light in that garden. Her legacy as a guiding light for Hawaii’s daughters may be seen in this poem, penned by the renowned Mary Dillingham Frear:


How many darkened ways her presence lightened
In days of yore!
What cheerless hearts her courage brightened!
Still ring the echoes of her children’s laughter.
God help the helpless ones and frightened
To whom she held a torch-lit door
And guide them feebly, feebly, groping after Her—
Gone before

Light in The Queen's Garden: Ida May Pope, Pioneer for Hawaii's Daughters

The Lovely teachers of Kawaiahao'o Seminary in the 18880's. They were feisty!




Dear to the heart of the royal family, particularly Queen Lili'uokalani, was a nineteenth century girls' boarding school, Kawaiaha'o Seminary. It stood for a half century where the stately red-bricked Mission Memorial Buildings in downtown Honolulu are today. The Hawaiian Evangelical Association created today's landmark in 1915 to commemorate the arrival of the American Protestant missionaries in 1820. However, there is no memorial plaque among the tranquil shaded green lawns that point to the historical significance of the school that existed there first. United by the shared conviction that the education of Hawaiian girls was vital, an extraordinary partnership developed between the Hawaiian monarchy and the missionary community relative to Kawaiaha'o Seminary. The relationship was so significant that when the annual examinations of the school on June 2, 1888 took place, the Hawaiian Legislative Assembly adjourned specifically so that nobles and representatives could attend the public exhibition of ninety-three pupils. Observing were The Royal Highnesses Princess Likelike, an alumna, her daughter Princess Ka`iulani, and the Minister of the Crown ....

Ida Pope’s first graduates (Kamehameha School for Girls) holding their cherished diplomas in 1897. On the top bannister from left to right:Kalei Ewaliko (Lyman) (1879-1959) Louise Aoe Wong Kong (McGregor) (1881-1969) Elizabeth Waiamau (1877-1913) Harriet “Hattie” Kekalohe (Hanakahi) (1876-1910) Lydia Kaonohiponiponiokalani Aholo (1878-1979) Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keliinoi (Keawe) (1877-1915) Below the bannister, left to right: Keluia Kiwaha (Kini) (1878-1916) Jessie Mahoahoa (Horner) (1878 –1902) Julia Lovell Kahaunani Imaikalani (Bowers) (1878-1938), Helen Kahaleahu Kalola (Kinney) (1879-1920), Miriam Agnes Hale (Auld) (1877-1939), Lewa Kalai Iokia (1874-1913), Elizabeth “Lizzie” Holoaumoku Kahanu (Gittel) (1878-1932) Julia Mahealani Akana (Tavares) (1878-1919) Malie Kapali (Trask) (1876- 1919)
Ida May Pope's Quilt now housed at the Lyman Museum in Hilo.

Bonura tells Aholo’s story in an article titled “Lydia K. Aholo—Her Story, Recovering the Lost Voice,” written with Sally Witmer, in the 2013 issue of The Hawaiian Journal of History (volume 47).

The Queen and Lydia K. Aholo

The Hawaiian Historical Society members and friends heard the story of a remarkable woman who lived for more than a century and knew Queen Lili‘uokalani “as the only mother I had.” The woman—Lydia K. Aholo—was the subject of an illustrated talk presented by Sandra Bonura at the Society’s membership meeting on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Kana‘ina Building (Old Archives Building) to a standing-room-only crowd.

Lydia Aholo was born February 26, 1878, in Lahaina, Maui, to Luther Aholo, minister of interior during the reign of Kalākaua. He had earlier represented Lahaina in the legislature and served as postmaster general. Her mother, Keahi, died shortly after Lydia’s birth, and she became the hānai daughter of Queen Lili‘uokalani. She was reared in the royal household, attending Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary, Kamehameha School for Girls, and Oberlin College, where she studied music. She discussed her life with the queen and at school in oral history interviews with Helena Allen in 1969. She died at the age of 101 on July 7, 1979.


Sandra Bonura is the co-author of An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter 1890-1893. This book includes love letters by a Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary teacher to her fiancé that were found in a forgotten attic trunk. During her research for the book, Bonura located the taped interviews by Lydia Aholo and facilitated their return to Hawai‘i, where they are now held at Kamehameha Schools Archives.