Island History

Hannah Maria Rice

Hannah Maria Rice was born at Hana, Maui, in 1842, the eldest of five children of American Protestant missionaries William Harrison and Mary Sophia Hyde Rice. She was raised in Lahaina and Punahou prior to her father’s retirement from missionary service in 1854 to manage Lihue Plantation.

The letters and journals this bright, warm-hearted girl wrote thereafter during her childhood and through the maturing years of her short life — she died at age 25 of tuberculosis — happily portray everyday life on Kaua‘i in the mid-1800s.

Portions of her journal for July 4, 1859, are quoted as follows:

“Yesterday was the 4th of July and we agreed to celebrate it by a sail up the Wailua River.  G. Dole drove Mrs. Burbank in the carriage. The rest were on horseback. I rode a new horse, Victor. In reaching the beach we went into the verandah of a house to wait for the rest.

“We waited until 12 o’clock and went aboard. Then we came upon a beautiful place.  Beautiful Kukui trees grew down to the very water’s edge. Governor Kanoa came riding along. Cheers were proposed. One was given.

“At half past two we landed at a pretty place. Sardines, biscuits, three kinds of loaf cake, cookies, sandwiches, melons, oranges, and ale composed the rural feast. Pattie, Mr. Hardy and I passed the food. Mr. Widemann, McBryde, Melchers, Isenberg, and Marshall together. Miss Knapp and Mrs. Burbank, the Governor and Dr. Smith on a settee. Papa and Mr. Pomeroy by the table and the girls and boys together. Thirty in all.

“When we were pau we were all ferried over and climbed up the bank and found our horses.”

Hannah Maria Rice married sugar planter Paul Isenberg in 1861 and had two children.

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